It's May 1st today, the 12 year anniversary of Labour's sweep to power in 1997. Tony Blair, then young, fresh with a head full of fluffy dark hair, took to the stage and announced that ''A new dawn has broken, has it not?'' The start of something better, a new era of hope and possibility had arrived. And oh my, was it overdue.
I was 8 years old and living in the rural Tory heartland of Northamptonshire. I remember the election well, and John Major being PM. That day, I awoke to my radio alarm and the local station's presenters complaining that ''This is awful - everything's going to change. The bins are changing, even the lampposts are going to change!'' Needless to say, my 8-year-old self wasn't filled with joy. I mean, what was wrong with the lampposts?!
I remember my Mum talking about the fact Tony Blair had won, and how he seemed like a good man, and sitting down to watch the news. It all just felt a bit strange, when I thought of the PM, I could only see John Major, and I felt a bit bad that he'd lost his job, but amazed at all the excitement everywhere. Everywhere, it seemed, except my school or my village...
May 1st 1997 has shaped that 8-year-old's life in more ways than I could ever have known or imagined at the time.12 years on, at 20, I'm sitting here a by-product of the Blair years. The national curriculum, double the amount of spending in schools, lower class sizes (my own down from 37), treble the amount of spending in our hospitals - and those are just the things that helped this 8-year-old.
For everyone else, there's the minimum wage, double the spending on overseas aid to and dropping the debt of the very poorest countries, the New Deal - helping over a million left unemployed by the Tories back into work, Sure Start, better maternity leave and the introduction of paternity leave, the halving of NHS operation waiting times, record numbers of police on our streets, the introduction of civil partnerships and negotiating peace in Northern Ireland.
And, of course, the Tories called the minimum wage 'dangerous' and even David Cameron opposed paternity leave (before taking it himself, that is).I am so proud to be a member of this Labour party - the only party with the values of fairness and opportunity for the many, and not just the few, running through it's veins.12 years in and of course there are calls for 'change' - but change for the sake of change will only drag us back to the way things were with the Tories 'do nothing, the market will fix it' approach.
Labour party members all received an email from the PM this week to mark the 12 year anniversary and this part just really showed why we can't take that gamble with the Tories. They are not only reluctant to come forwards with any real policy ideas, and have had no sense of direction over the current economic situation, but, as Gordon Brown quite rightly points out - ''While our party offers a £145 tax cut for 22 million basic rate taxpayers, the Tories talk of putting “some taxes up” and prioritising a multi-million pound inheritance tax cut for the wealthiest few.
And while our party focuses on spending money to help people back into work, David Cameron’s Conservatives refuse to spend a single extra penny to help the unemployed and talk about £20 billion of cuts to public services. He should be straight with the British public about where he’s going to cut and who will have the help they rely on dragged out from underneath them''.
The party of the many, and not just the few. 12 years on and Labour are still fighting for all of us.
This is why I am so proud to represent this Labour party.