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Monday, May 03, 2004
A day that shook the world

Twenty-five years later, the BBC's coverage of what could be described as the Second Glorious Revolution - the General Election of 3 May 1979 - is being replayed on BBC Parliament from 9am today London time. Happily, the broadcast can be watched online through Realplayer or similar software. Expect regular updates from me as the results come in.

UPDATE: The coverage just ended and immediately restarted as David Dimbleby asked the viewer to return following their programme poking fun at politicians. The programme was not shown this time, although it might have been interesting. One of the most striking details I have read of the pre-Thatcher period described how the Rory Bremners of the day would all get big laughs impersonating the trade union leaders. That such a thing would now be quite unthinkable is of course not entirely unrelated to the result of this election.

UPDATE II: Clips from the 1959 and 1964 Election coverage are being shown now, as then. In the first, Jeremy Thorpe said he was quite certain he would see a Liberal government in his lifetime, that his party was breathing down the necks of Labour and the Tories. The chasm between these claims and the political history of the last forty-five years may be worth bearing in mind when we hear identical statements from that same party's modern-day representatives.

Well, I took a long break from updates, but I'll continue now...

UPDATE III: When Bob McKenzie noted that Thatcher was the first woman leader of a great democracy, Dimbleby asked if he was leaving out Israel's Golda Meir. "A minor Middle Eastern democracy - a very fine one," McKenzie answered. Who can imagine the BBC saying that now?!

UPDATE IV: To add to the strangeness of the occasion, the weather forecast showed that it was actually snowing that night in Mrs Thatcher's native Lincolnshire ... in May.

UPDATE V: A long interview with the thoroughly nasty union barons who did so much to wreck Britain in the preceding year. Their arrogance and indifference to the expressed will of the voters seems almost forgivable when you realise that they utterly buy into the delusion that they are speaking for millions of people.

UPDATE VI (Wed, 5 May): Interesting to see Ivor Crewe appear on the coverage and explain what the Essex University election survey had suggested were the reasons for the result. It was also odd, given how much that coverage seemed part of another era, to see him again yesterday - albeit twenty-five years older - at a Politics Seminar at this university.

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