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Prime Ministers

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  • Prime Ministers

    The news that Theresa May will be quitting as Prime Minister very soon made think of a lot of her predecessors (whose faces mostly grace the pictures hung over the staircase at Number 10) who have left their Premiership over the years, mostly as a result of losing a General Election or simply resigning over one thing or another. The black door to Number 10, (so black, clean and polished that one can almost see one's reflection through it), is a British institution, and so many Prime Ministers have come and gone through those doors.

    John Major's resignation in 1997 was such a powerful one - handing over to Tony Blair, and Margaret Thatcher's resignation is vaguely remembered - I was at school in November 1990 and an ITN bulletin told us more. Blair meeting the people within the Downing Street gates on 2nd May seem like a symbol of optimism during the final quarter of the 1990s and up to the year 2000 and beyond - and then the Iraq backlash happened within his second term six years later.

    Blair's final stint in the House of Commons was powerful "...and that is that - the end", he concluded to be greeted by alien applause in the House, while David Cameron mentioned nine years later that "I was the future once" in an identical exit from the front green benches. One wonders what May's final speech will sound like.

    Prime Ministers tell the story of the changes in their country, and General Elections are often marked as a borderline between one PM and another - people can easily say which PM was in Downing Street on the day they were born.

    On Monday 5th April 1976, (40 years before former actress Tracy Brabin became a Member of Parliament), Elsie Howard (nee Tanner) returned to Coronation Street after two years away - Patricia Phoenix who played Tanner married Tony Booth a few days before her death in 1986, and Booth was the future father in law of Tony Blair, and so arguably, Phoenix became a stepmother-in-law to someone who would become a future Prime Minister. That day's episode was also the first one to be shown on Granada Plus when the channel began in 1996, and on that same day as that, we had a change of Prime Minister when Harold Wilson decided to end his second stint, and to give way to the PM who would be in charge on the day I was born - Jim Callaghan who lost to Margaret Thatcher three years later.

    Avoiding the core politics if you will, what are your memories of Prime Ministers coming and going from Downing Street - and where were you when it actually happened?
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

  • #2
    Re: Prime Ministers

    Churchill dies when I was two years old - obviously, I don't remember that, but I've seen references to it in many historical TV programmes.

    I remember the Wilson vs. Heath years, especially thanks to Mike Yarwood!

    My memories of PMs in my youth all seem to be based around the problems they had: miners' strikes, three-day-weeks etc.

    I remember the two elections under Heath and how he misjudged the support he could count on from the country when he called for a snap election (sound familiar?).

    I recall Wilson resigning and how it was perceived as a shock for a standing PM to do that. MacMillan was prop4elled into the position and seemed doomed from the get-go!

    The Thatcher years completely polarised the country!

    Major was a washout (although he now seems to be talking the kind of sense we could use right now).

    Blair was a welcome relief but was he a Thatcher in Labour clothing?

    As I grew up, the harsh realities of political turmoil impinged more and more on my life and so I became a Labour supporter (in name only, I didn't vote).

    Now, I am more Lib Dem but I no longer believe in our System as my views are not taken into account: where I live is such a staunch Labour area that any vote for anyone else is wasted!

    PR is the way forward!
    Time flies like the wind, fruit flies like bananas - go figure!