May 1997: an unreliable memoir

In Uncategorized on May 1, 2017 by kmflett

May 1997: an unreliable memoir

As an historian I’m not keen on memory which I think is often unreliable, so my memories of May 1st and 2nd are unreliable.

Not surprisingly there have been numbers of memoirs of May 1st and 2nd 1997 on social media to go with those already published in print.

I’ve put together the below, which is not reliable in the specifics anymore than any memory is to underline that even those on the left who were no fans of Blair before 1997 were very happy to see the end of the Tories. There was also a sense of hope.

The archival world is currently in something of a turmoil moving away from the old print copies in libraries to digital back pages on-line (some chargeable some not). Even so I have spent time in the British Library (I’d have been there anyway) checking my back pages. I cant find a fletter criticising the new Labour Government until one in the Guardian at the 100 day mark.

On Thursday May 1st after voting Labour in Tottenham (the late Bernie Grant) I was on the May Day march organised as it still is by the South and East Region TUC. It was (I think) one of those years when it focused on NE London. I recall Clissold Park in Stoke Newington.

Later beer was involved, where I cant really recall, but given the pubs in those days in North London it was probably the Tollgate- a Wetherspoons in Turnpike Lane. Later still, there was a results party in Tottenham.

The result we were waiting for was Portillo in Enfield Southgate, a nearby constituency familiar to at least some of us. I had been out in that area in the previous few days and remember thinking- are these houses with two cars out at the front really going to vote Labour?

The answer was yes. The party was marked (in my memory) by someone- now a senior union official- shouting at regular intervals that we wanted Portillo out.

The morning brought a hangover but there was a picket line to attend- bakers at Arnoutti in North Tottenham were out on strike. I attended and returned to bed.

Later it was off to Reading for the CAMRA beer festival. The sun was still shining and it was a pleasant later Friday afternoon. The festival was a much less extensive event (and much cheaper to get in) than it is now.

In those pre interwebs, pre mobile phone days, I was listening to Labour Cabinet appointments on a transistor radio. The world seem a slightly better place.

The Tories were out at last and clearly not coming back for a good while. Perhaps a change for the better was possible.



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