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    Top 3: 1997 Election Moments
    May 8th, 2007 at 00:01

    I’d love to start this post by explaining how Blair has been in for ten years now, and to mark the great occasion I’m going to offer some insightful political analysis, being the great political activist that I am. Unfortunately, this is not the case- I haven’t been analysing Blair’s Premiership or even putting together a wry comparison of his face over the years (97: young Blair, 07: wrinkly Blair).

    Pretty much all I have been doing today is watching a repeat of the 1997 Election on BBC Parliament. I watched about twelve hours of it in the end. So, er, here’s my top three moments. Unless you have an incredible memory, or were one of the four people watching BBC Parliament today (two of them were in the BBC Parliament playout suite), this might not mean much to you.

    James O’Malley’s Top 3 Moments from the 1997 General Election

    3) David Mellor doesn’t mellow out

    There was an excellent moment early on in the evening when the man with one of the most unusual faces in politics got obliterated by Labour. Rather than accept defeat gracefully, he launched a tirade against moderately famous businessman James Goldsmith, who was standing against him with his Referendum Party.

    “Sir James … you have nothing to be smug about … I think we have shown tonight that the Referendum Party is dead in the water, and you can get back off to Mexico in the knowledge that your attempt to buy the British political system has failed.”, he hopelessly cried as the entire crowd chanted “Out! Out! Out!” whilst rhythmically clapping and cheering. It was like bullying him en-masse, but brilliant.

    2) Portillo loses his seat

    For the first few hours of the election programming, there were the likes of David Dimbleby and Paxman speculating on the Tory leadership after it became pretty apparent that they’d be slaughtered. “Maybe Portillo will run?” “He’s the most likely leader”, they speculated. A few hours later, boom, and Portillo loses his seat to Stephen Twigg. Rather than stay with Twigg, the cameras cut to a generic old Tory woman wearing a rosette looking completely gutted. It was brilliant – the camera stuck with her looking depressed for far too long.

    1) Champagne Socialists

    There was an incredible moment when the BBC cut across to some Labour people trying to open a bottle of champagne, clearly expecting an exciting shot of the champagne popping open and everyone cheering. Unfortunately this was not to be – they stuck with it for a couple of minutes, and all that was on screen were some people struggling to open the bottle. Eventually a third man waded in and used a handkerchief around the neck of the bottle to try and twist it, without any luck. As this was happening, you could hear the sound from another live broadcast, from the Labour celebration party, where the song “Things can only get better” was being played.

    Eventually, Dimbleby appeared in shot with the fiasco on the screen behind him and he quips “well people call them champagne socialists… but I don’t think they’ll be doing so any more”.

    I hope someone puts it on YouTube.

    Honorable Mention: All of the stupid candidates

    One of the best bits of any election coverage is when the returning officer declares who wins, in the midst of the serious political business of deciding the make-up of the next parliament, and standing next to terrified candidates wondering if they’ve got a job for the next five years or not, you’ve got a wanker in fancy dress with a stupid name taking the piss out of the proceedings. Its good because these idiot candidates are surprisingly clever: they specifically choose to stand against ministers or other well known politicians so they get on telly. And they’ll usually get quite a big cheer when its announced that they have seven votes too.

    I love elections, I wish there would be an election (that actually matters) where I don’t already know who’s going to win.

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