"During the early hours of May 2, 1997, I witnessed one of the
most symbolic moments of recent political history. On TV stood a
bemused Michael Portillo, the most powerful disciple of Thatcherism,
grinning in disbelief as his and the Conservative Party's aspirations
"My life had been dominated by Mrs Thatcher and the beliefs she
espoused. For many she gave Britain a strong, single-minded identity.
As a youngster, this period represented something very different.
I remember the fear that shook me as a four-year-old when watching
the Handsworth riots; completely misunderstanding why Britain needed
to go to war against Argentina in 1982; the tension that accompanied
the strikes and many other disputes of the decade.
"Like children rebelling against their parents, we jeered and heckled
on that fateful May morning unaware that our biggest political lesson
was still to come. The wave of optimism sweeping the country soon
vanished. Labour is as distant and aloof as its predecessors.
"The Government still appears riddled with scandal and corruption,
institutional racism still exists and NHS nurses continue to earn
"No politician has yet to give a satisfactory argument why we should
or should not enter the single European Currency, and the last few
months have proven that the "special relationship" with America
is that between a lap dog and its master. Symbolically, Mr Portillo's
fall may have meant a great deal but for the Thatcher generation
it increasingly means nothing at all."