This blog is by Simon Hargrave, ICT advisor, LSS (all political views his own!). Simon reviews The Glob a student produced magazine in the 1980s, looking at politicians during the general election campaign of 1987
The first issue of The Glob, published by students during the general election campaign of 1987, contains many interesting features: there’s a truly terrible poem about curry and lager (starting ‘Curry and Lager is my Gaf’ … you get the idea), a funny cartoon about the trauma of a foot having a boot put on it and a satirical article purporting to reveal the secrets behind Thunderbirds – timely, given that ITV has just re-launched this 60s puppet action series.
But the highlight is an excellent cover cartoon of the leading politicians of the time. Dominating them, of course, is Margaret Thatcher, then at the height of her powers and seemingly invincible, eight years into her 11½ year reign as prime minister. But surrounding her are some long-forgotten opponents and colleagues. Nigel Lawson, now better known as non-scientific climate-change sceptic, and father of Nigella, but then the chancellor of the exchequer and credited with delivering an economy then enjoying a house-price boom.
His predecessor at the Treasury, Geoffrey Howe, is also there, gradually being shifted sideways by Mrs T. Both he and Nigel would eventually fall out with her over that never-ending Tory obsession, Europe.
Labour were seeking to recover from their disastrous campaign of 1983, when they had polled their lowest share of the vote since becoming a major party over 60 years before..
Never mind getting back into government, Labour had to see off the challenge from two parties in the middle: the Liberals and the Social Democratic Party, the latter having been formed just before the previous election by disaffected Labour MPs. Still separate parties, they were led by David Steel and David Owen respectively, shown in the cartoon as a two-headed beast.
Under Labour’s young, dynamic and energetic leader, Neil Kinnock, it was generally agreed that their 1987 campaign was slick, professional and effective. It was certainly better than the Two David’s, which largely consisted of them touring round the country in a coach, wearing horrific matching jumpers.
Towards the front is TV’s first confrontational interrogator of politicians, Robin Day. He appears to be proffering a question to the person in the foreground. This man I initially thought, was supposed to be Thatcher’s guru, the cerebral but troubled right-wing thinker, Keith Joseph. Nicknamed the ‘mad monk’, he did actually look like the Munch-like screamer depicted. But, no, is he supposed to be the harassed voter, driven mad by the campaign.
In this, the cartoon shows that cynicism about politics is nothing new- that, all too often, we are tempted to dismiss them as being all the same and that voting makes no difference, when it certainly does. The Tories and Labour had distinctly different visions for the country in 1987 and, had Labour won, we would be living in quite a different place now. As it was, the Tories were swept back into power in another landslide. Labour did manage to see off the SDP-Liberal Alliance, but they were still a long way from regaining enough support to win an election. It was to be another ten years before they managed that.
Now, more than ever, we are told that all the politicians are in it only for themselves and that all the parties are the same. The rise of UKIP is symbolic of this as they try to portray themselves as outsiders and challengers of this status quo. But listening to Ed Milliband’s speeches on big business, worker’s rights and taxing the rich, it is clear that Labour is more different than their main opponents than they have been for a generation. So rather than turning away, dismissing them all, we should engage, debate and, above all, vote.
This cartoon is just one page of many available for you to view at: