The Conservative Party, under Margaret Thatcher, won the general election of 11 June 1987 with a majority of 102 seats, down 42 on the previous election. This was against the background of the Miners’ strike, the print workers’ industrial disputes, and the Westland affair. The Sun was running articles such as Why I’m backing Kinnock, by Stalin. The Conservative marketing campaign was being run by Tim Bell and the Labour campaign was being directed by an unknown called Peter Mandelson. I was completely oblivious to this because my diary was filled pretending to be one of the Secret Seven on my summer holidays.
The following September, I started secondary school. A scary time for anyone, what with all the warnings from cousins and older friends about getting thrown in the longjump pit, or having my head flushed down the toilet without warning. With all that, and Grange Hill’s warnings about my impending smack addiction, I was pretty nervous about the whole thing.
My school, Heaton Manor since you asked, was massive. Built in the 1920s, it was in a sorry state by the time I got there and the corner of the building with my form room in was permanently held up with scaffolding. Buckets would appear mysteriously in halls and corridors whenever it rained, the heating made strange noises when it was on, and the desks probably should have been on the antiques roadshow if it weren’t for decades of graffiti about the head of year’s hallitosis. Of course, despite all these things I had an excellent education, didn’t get my head flushed down the toilet, and managed to avoid heroin altogether. I grew very fond of my school.
So years later, whenever I go past the school grounds, it always puts a smile on my face to see the state-of-the-art building that was built shortly after Labour’s second term started. As part of a £33 million scheme, the new school gives kids who follow me into the alumni there incredible opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills to help them succeed in life. The best equipment, the best buildings, and more teachers. All of which happened because we have had Labour governments. It’s a change I see most days and a change I wouldn’t have seen under Tory governments.