History

From the Vaults: Guardian, May 14, 1982

I have invited readers to mention to me old articles that might be suitable for this series of “From the Vaults” posts.  “Exile,” in the comments boxes, has taken me up on this offer by mentioning an article by Polly Toynbee that appeared in May 1982 in the Guardian. The article was about her unsuccessful campaign to be elected to Lambeth Council on the SDP slate in 1982. While I do not tend to agree with many of the views that “Exile” expresses in the comments boxes of this blog, at least he does comment and I admit that I did find part of the article amusing. I therefore copy a small extract below. It is a classic example of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person when knocking on doors and campaigning for votes.

Vote, vote, vote for Polly Toynbee

Polly Toynbee

Guardian, May 14, 1982, p.12.

…. I guessed that dogs might get me into trouble. One woman in an owner-occupied house harangued me at length about the disgraceful way in which council tenants were allowed to have dogs, let them run around loose, fouling pavements and causing accidents. I agreed wholeheartedly, and said I was against urban dogs and in favour of much tighter controls. “All dogs?” she asked. “Yes, all dogs,” I said confidently. At which a great yapping started up indoors. “I have ten!” she said, shocked, and slammed the door.

I suspect that “Exile” had more sympathy with those that ran Lambeth Council in 1980s. I am sure many of the readers of this blog will recall that the Council was run for a period by Ted “Red Ted” Knight, a self-declared Marxist.  I am sure that if I were to spend some time in the vaults looking for stories about Ted Knight, suitable for this series of posts, I would find them in abundance.  Those that ran the Council did not get nicknamed the “loony left” for nothing. To provide but one example, mentioned by Will Bennett in The Independent:

Mr Knight once flew to Nicaragua, then ruled by the Sandinistas, at the ratepayers’ expense to tell the bemused Latin Americans: “I bring you greetings from the people of Lambeth and solidarity with your revolution.”

I wonder if “Exile” will comment below as to whether he thinks it right that a local council in the United Kingdom runs an independent foreign policy and, also,  whether he thinks that sending the council leader to Nicaragua, run by the odious Sandinistas, was a good use of ratepayers’ money.

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