I live in a staunchly Conservative area of England. I remember clearly the day in May 1997 when the current Labour government was voted into power. Or rather, I remember the sunny morning after the election result had been announced the night before. I walked my kids to school, feeling happy and elated that this party was back in power after eighteen years of Conservatism.
There was a gloomy atmosphere at the school gate that day, and it was easy to spot the few Labour supporters amongst the crowd of mostly miserable mothers. We were the ones who just could not keep the smiles off our faces. We laughed, and hugged each other, and fairly glowed with the sheer wonder of it all. It felt as though our country, stagnant for a long time, had finally come alive again.
Of course, since then there have been many, many things that have eroded people’s excitement about and support for the Labour government. But that morning, that moment, was a truly special one. It was a moment when change really seemed possible, when it seemed as though ‘politics as normal’ did not have to be the only way for politicians to behave. It seemed as though the depressing selfishness and constant grinding down of what it was to be part of a collective society was not an inevitable part of our lives.
This morning, for the first time in a very long time, I am proud that my country is an ally of America. Congratulations to all of you who voted for this extraordinary moment.
Tonight is […] the answer that led those who have been told for so long, by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful about what we can achieve, to put their hands on the arc of history, and bend it once more towards the hope of a better day. It’s been a long time coming, but because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
President-Elect Obama, 5th November 2008