When I was young I had a good friend with whom I would argue endlessly about politics. We were known at school for this and it became a bit of a spectator sport. At the time I lived in a Tory household with the Daily Hate delivered every day and Margaret Thatcher bestriding the stage so I was not surprisingly a Tory. My friend was Labour and we would go at it like cage fighters day in, day out, to our great enjoyment and the general amusement of our friends.
I grew up and moved into the light, becoming a Liberal in 1987 and then joining the Lib Dems in 1990, after a very brief period in, ahem, another party which used a rose as its symbol. My friend continued to be Labour and still is but our conversations about politics dwindled as we were simply less polarised.
Then came Tony 'I'll say anything' Blair who ushered in the New Labour project and all those mad old socialists who used to enliven TV and radio debates as they bemoaned the plight of the working classes from their Hampstead piles seemed to fade away. They had got a Labour government but not quite the one they had hoped for, yet still most of them kept mum as they kept a grudging faith and hoped against all hope that a glimmer of that old socialist zeal would emerge like a chink of light from within the deceptive TARDIS that was the New Labour project.
Then came Gordon Brown, kind of an old Labour lag but one intimately tied up with the New Labour project so he had to try to carry on with all the blather of his predecessor, pleasing neither himself, his party or his country. On May 6th the verdict was delivered and no one won but Gordon definitely lost. After a few days Gordon's pain was relieved and he was allowed to slope off to his roots to rediscover his mojo or whatever he had left behind when he signed his deal with the devil way back in 1994.
And that's where the story brightens, for out of the blue my old friend sent me an e-mail deriding the Lib Dems for the coalition and asserting amusingly that I had always been a Tory. I of course responded in kind and it was if the years had fallen away. We damned each other, we condemned our respective parties and we attacked the other one for his views. It was as refreshing as a cold shower.
For that, dear reader, is perhaps one of the most surprising outcomes of this enthralling political drama. Old Labour is back with a vengeance, like a slightly racy uncle who is a bit old fashioned in his views but who nevertheless enlivens any family gathering. I for one welcome it with open arms, so here's to debate based on principles and real differences, which the new Tories have not quite managed to offer. Here's to Old Labour. Welcome back!