Friday 7 May 2010

1974 And All That

My earliest political recollections include the Carmarthen by-election in 1966 - but I didn't really understand what that was all about - and then Ted Heath's one General Election victory: the evidently Tory matron at my preparatory school joyfully announced the surprise Conservative win as she switched on the lights in the gloomy damp hangar they laughably called a dormitory early morning on 19 June 1970. Her message fell on deaf ears: as inmates of this Gulag for children of the middle classes we were only interested in day-to-day survival (raiding the kitchen for midnight feasts after lights out, for example). I was a bit more engaged by the time of the first 1974 election and recollect Heath trying to do a deal with the Liberals who wanted too high a price in electoral reform. I suppose that the outcome then, minority government by the former opposition, is quite likely now (and perhaps Cameron would call another election this Autumn like Wilson in '74): however, don't rule out a Lib-Lab coalition. But enough speculation! We will find out soon no doubt.

Either way given the hung Parliament there are some conclusions you might already draw about implications for public services including mental health. In these circumstances no permutation of government is going to be inclined or able to make unpopular decisions easily and this may delay major cuts in public services for longer than otherwise though the consensus is they will come eventually and they will be severe. Whether this delay is a good thing is for each of us to judge, but those of us who campaign for and provide mental health services will need to keep up our guard.

On the other hand I will eat my hat if VAT doesn't go up, however unpopular that may be.