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From the Attics: the 1983 General Election

Now we have blogs – but back in the 80s we vented our spleen in other ways.  Here is a piece of ephemera from 1983, a rather irritated perspective on the performance of MP Michael Spicer (now Baron Spicer) in the 1983 hustings, from a local alternative newsletter, Malvern Real News. I thought it might prompt thoughts about how far the issues – and the way we write about them – have changed.

A Voyage around my Spicer

The above title does not unconsciously reflect any father figure fixation, rather the fact that over the past two weeks leading up to the General Election I have had the opportunity to attend some seven Michael Spicer pre-election speeches. The psychological effect upon my personality, having been so intensively contaminated with a “dry”s’ eye view of the world, is open to conjecture, and for those who are anxious about my well-being, family and friends are closely monitoring any long-term effects … But seriously, my main motive for attending these meetings was to ask questions on the Nuclear debate and any other issues which required searching questions.  These meetings also gave me an opportunity to study the Tory mentality and formulate impressions of Mr Spicer.

The first meeting was at Welland Primary School, and interestingly there was an extremely apt picture display behind stage made by the children which pronounced: “Forgive them for they know not what they do”. I speculated on this – was god becoming subversive during our country’s self-imposed political haemorrhage? During all the meetings I attended there were only five questions put to Mr Spicer from the Tory audiences [I repeat I attended seven meetings].

There were two anxious queries from the pro-bloodsport loby, two businessmen after tax reductions and one question from a dear old Irish Gentleman living in Welland who wanted to know what Mr Spicer proposed to do with “all  these blacks” [I could only assume from the question that there is a high proportion of black people in Welland suffering poor racial integration]. Interestingly, all questions put were from men.  There were no Tory questions on unemployment, the Third World and Nuclear Weapons.  If we had not attended these meetings they would have been swift, calculated and stage-managed affairs, and one could have easily gained the impression that all was well with the world. BUT IT WAS NOT, for those of us who bravely took the verbal abuse and dared to ask pertinent questions. Mr Spicer did not oblige. He continually deflected questions into one-liners, giving trite, often ambiguous answers. This often led us into roles of frustrated protagonists – and our apologies for that.

At one meeting I gave Mr Spicer a leaflet entitled “Britian and the Arms Trade” and before his Chase School pre-election speech he mentioned that he had read it. I hope he will now ask questions in the House about electric shock torture equipment offered at the 1982 British Arms Equipment Exhibition to the Chilean Junta and to several other countries. I also hope he’ll do something about the £180 millions worth of arms sold to Argentina since 1979 – still continuing through the World Bank.

There are some respected members of the Malvern community who claim that Mr Spicer is a career politician totally uninterested in our questions.  Some claim he really thinks the Russians are a threat and is fed with mis-information. There are others who claim that he knows exactly what he’s doing, where he’s going, whose interests he represents and whose he does not. My final question to Mr Spicer was that if unemployment reaches 5 million over the next term of office would he [as a profound gesture of Gov’t failure] resign? He would not answer the question as he did not agree with the premise – what premise?

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