In 1997, Labour gave the country hope. Now we need governments who share their D:Ream of a better future – Susan Dalgety
It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when the majority of the country was happy with the state of our nation. Optimistic about the future even.
But this unlikely scenario did once exist, and on Friday a group of Edinburgh folk will get together in a social club in Gorgie to celebrate this notable period in our recent history, Labour’s 1997 election victory.
Organiser Alex Foulkes has gathered together an impressive line-up of Edinburgh politicians to toast the glory days of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Labour’s only remaining Scottish MP, Ian Murray, is the master of ceremonies and MSP Sarah Boyack and council leader Cammy Day are among the line-up of speakers. There will be music, food, and quite possibly some dad dancing.
And there are bound to be a few tears as people look back 25 years to a time when all things seemed possible.
The Thatcher years were behind us. John Major was off watching cricket while a young Prime Minister and his canny Chancellor were rolling up their sleeves to build a better Britain. And here in Edinburgh, the Scottish Parliament, so long a dream, was about to become a reality.
“It will be a government that seeks to restore trust in politics in this country. That cleans it up, that decentralises it, that gives people hope once again that politics is and always should be about the service of the public,” said Tony Blair the day after he was elected.
It seems a long time since politics was about service to us, the public. And it’s not just politics we can no longer depend on. The rot set in with the great crash of 2008, when our once-trusted banking system nearly collapsed, brought to its knees by greed and stupidity. Big business cares not a jot about its customers, we are just a glitch in their algorithms.
Since 2010, a roll call of inadequate Prime Ministers – Cameron, May and Johnson – has seen us crash out of Europe and left the economy in tatters, with inflation heading towards ten per cent. And while the Scottish NHS – run by Holyrood – teeters on the verge of collapse, the First Minister obsesses about leaving the UK.
Last week, in an interview with this newspaper, one of the speakers at Friday’s event, council leader Cammy Day, warned that over the coming months, people are likely to lose their homes and many more will be afraid to turn their heating on “because they just can’t afford it”. Welcome to 2022.
The next few weeks will be dominated by the election of a new Prime Minister, but no matter who wins the support of Tory MPs and members, things will not change. Our country is held hostage by a Conservative Party that long ago ran out of ideas, and cares only about holding on to power.
No doubt on Friday night the comrades will indulge in a chorus, or two, of Things Can Only Get Better, the D:Ream song that, in 1997, became a national anthem for renewal. Twenty-five years on, it’s time the record was re-released.