While writing that last post, I was reminded of the events of 9 April 1992, polling day in the general election. As press officer for the party in Scotland, I was despatched at ten o’clock to the studios of Scottish Television. My job was to brief Labour MPs on the “line to take” as they arrived throughout the night to join the panel of talking heads in the studio.
I was armed with an invaluable document faxed that evening from head office in Walworth Road. It very helpfully gave me the party lines in the event of either an outright Labour victory or, in the worst possible case, a hung parliament. Oops.
By the time the Basildon result came in and Cecil Parkinson was punching the air in victory, I had very little helpful advice to offer the panelists, unless you count sweating, wide-eyed panic and swearing as helpful.
One other interesting (in my opinion) anecdote from that day. A friend of mine, Kenny MacDonald, a journalist who I worked beside at the Paisley Daily Express, was regularly travelling to London to work shifts at The Sun. On polling day, after his plane touched down at Heathrow, the pilot made an unusual announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, today is polling day in the general election, and I just wanted to remind you that under the Conservatives, British Airways was privatised and has gone from strength to strength as a result. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.”
Never missing an opportunity for a scoop, Kenny duly filed the story in the next day’s edition.