JOURNAL - 1997 - MAY

Sunday 11 May 1997

There is no real excuse for not making an entry for nearly a month. No excuse at all. Well, perhaps, I could claim the garden has kept me busy, in the last few weeks, and it would be true that I did spend a lot of the previous two weekends digging and planting; and last weekend of course I was working on ECI-T 5 and ECI-E 45. The week I go to Brussels and the production week are still both very stressful, I really do have to put a lot of effort in, and I have very little energy spare for other activities. Last week, for example, I was not even able to organise Adam’s lessons in the morning, and in the evening I just flopped in front of the television.

Oh yes, of course, I have another excuse - the election. The general action. I was avidly listening to the news twenty times a day, until 1 May. Most people in the country surely watched with such satisfaction as the Conservatives were utterly humiliated. I remember, five years ago, feeling so angry when the Tories scraped in for another term, when they didn’t deserve it; and John Major has led his party and the government from one crisis to another, for five years. With such a small majority he should have gone to the country far sooner; but his arrogance and the arrogance of the Tories was well punished on 1 May. But Major showed the kind of metal he is made of, after the defeat. He nobly congratulated Tony Blair and then told his party he would be stepping down as soon as possible. My immediate reaction was ‘well done’, after all, the whole world expected he would have to go but no one knew how long it would take him. But a few seconds later, I realised it was the action of a small-minded coward. His party is absolutely devastated, rotten and broken to the core. They need a time of reflection and behind-the-scenes fence mending. By announcing his resignation immediately, all the Tories are out, fighting like cats and dogs, by comparison to the Labour Party, who suddenly seem so fresh, imaginative and, yes, stately in power. The Conservatives look like public school kids in the playground. History will judge Major very badly indeed. He was bad for the country, bad for government and bad for the Conservative Party. So intent were they on holding on to power, they let the weeds of greed and corruption strangle and swamp the truly regenerative young plants of growth and change.

Labour is moving swiftly on so many fronts it is hard to keep track of what they are doing. Gordon Brown has already announced that the Bank of England will have independence over interest rates and he appears likely to implement a budget soon with major changes. Robin Cook has already altered the tone of relations between the UK and its EU partners, and he has signalled the UK is ready to sign the Social Chapter - which presumably will now be introduced into the Treaty proper by the Amsterdam Treaty if and when it ever gets agreed and signed. Despite the UK’s turnabout, it’s far from clear that the EU leaders will manage an agreement that will truly pave the wave both for Economic and Monetary Union, on the one hand, and enlargement on the other.

Very sadly, Barbara’s mother Rosemary has lymphoma and is close to dying. She and Barbara are both being incredibly brave. B has had one or two crying sessions and takes a good share of hugs but otherwise is being very practical and helping her parents out as often as she can. Rosemary is making plans and organising her affairs. This Friday she plans to have a party for her neighbours - Adam and I will go to visit, but we can’t actually stay for the party, which is for ladies only, so we’ll go for a walk with Leslie while it’s on.

June 1997

Paul K Lyons


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