It was Friday April 10th 1992, and I was sat in the staff room, before the start of the day's education. Supposedly, teachers were in conversation. But there was not much to say.
I was a schoolteacher at the time, in a public high school (a Government comprehensive) in South Wales. You might find this hard to believe, given my articles on biblical reasons for holding conservative values, but at the time, I was actually a member of the UK's Labour Party. I had campaigned in this election. I had given out leaflets, knocked on doors, and cajoled my colleagues. The latter was not difficult. Most government school teachers in the UK are left-leaning.
We had high hopes! After 13 years of Conservative Government, all the opinion polls suggested that Labour was going to win, and their leader, Neil Kinnock, would be in Downing Street later that day. Some of us had gone out for a pre-emptive celebratory drink the night before, after a staff cricket match. The celebrations, however, had turned sour, when we learned that the local Labour MP had been defeated by his Conservative opponent. By Friday morning, it was clear that the Conservative Party, under its new leader, John Major, had won the election. Although his majority was small, he had actually achieved the largest vote for any party ever (14,093,007) – a record that still holds today.
Two of my colleagues – only two – had voted Conservative, and were crowing. The rest of us were stunned. Our world had come to an end. All our hopes, dreams and prayers were over. It was a bitter pill to swallow.
So, we went out and rioted against the government.
Everything I have written so far has been true, except that last sentence. Yes, I felt the bitter pain of defeat. I can still remember that sick feeling of defeat in my stomach. Some were nearly in tears. But the result was accepted, and we moved on. What else was there to do?
It did not occur to us to try to launch a petition to overturn the result. This is a tactic that was tried by the losing side in the 2016 Referendum on EU membership, and is currently being tried by the supporters of defeated Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton. And there are those being reported today as staging demonstrations, claiming “Trump is not my president”. Yes, he is. The winner under the constitutional rules is the President. That's just the way it is. Grow up, and suck it up.
How long did I stay miserable? Not long. I couldn't be miserable by 9:00am, when lessons started. I could not, as a professional, show my political views to my students. And, in any case, I enjoyed my job – it made me smile. And when I returned home, I had to be cheerful for my wife and children (we had just 2 at that time).
So, I do indeed understand the misery of defeat. I have been there. I have been in depths of despair, thinking that my fellow countrymen had made a terrible mistake. But you get over it, you know. You sometimes even grow up and realize that the political views of your 20s were nonsense. Life goes on. Stop whining, get up, and bounce back.