Banbury Constituency Labour Party

Conkers, School View and Harold – Banbury Councillor Andy Beere reminisces

Andy Beere

Andy Beere

It is possibly only anoraks who have peculiar memories, but here goes –

Can you remember October 1964? Harold, Jim, Roy, Tony and Dick, Barbara and George. If you can you’d be as old as me or older, for I can remember that Autumn that was ours.

Labour’s narrow victory in October 1964 brings back memories of the days when Secondary Modern School pupils voted in Mock Elections. At my school, Grimsbury, we won. The Labour candidate was Wendy Clargo. Can anyone remember the Conservative? I cannot. But I can remember the conkers along School View. It will have been Banbury Fair time. It probably rained!!

Harold Wilson's 1964 election victory

Harold Wilson’s 1964 election victory

Our house will have had its Fowler sticker (red on yellow) in the window, and Grimsbury residents will have all voted at St Leonard’s School in Middleton Road. (East Street was not opened as a Polling Station until a few years later).

Poster Let's Go With LabourThere will have been “Let’s go with Labour” posters on billboards. (For years there were ones on the Castle Street side of the three pigeons). Neil Marten would have been facing his second parliamentary fight after getting in, in 1959, when McMillan’s “You’ve never had it so good!” secured a 100 seat majority.

As a 13-year-old in October 1964, the “13 years of Tory misrule” rang true – so too did Harold’s pipe and “Labour is a moral crusade or nothing!”

Social Security was replacing National Assistance. Helping the poor was seen as virtuous. Unemployment was under 1 million (not 2 million). Council houses were built by both Labour and Conservative councils. Water supply was under the auspices of the Borough of Banbury. (Remember the small green vans, anyone?) The Town Gasworks, next to Friswells, poured out fumes, long since gone. The old LMS Station still stood, and buses parked all the way down “Gasworks Road”, as villagers came into The Fair. Buses went from Broad Street instead of the front of the Town Hall.

The local politics of that year’s municipal election saw Labour win Grimsbury, Ruscote and Neithrop. The Conservatives took Easington, Calthorpe and Castle – a pretty small town (as always?) And come 15th of October 1964 Neal Marten’s 27,281 was 5123 above Gerry Fowler, who later won the Wrekin, and was a junior minister.

That era was one of optimism. We need that again. We need faith, not just in the moral virtue of equality, but a language that says responsibility lies not only to yourself and family, but to our community, our social purpose. And telling the truth that politics is not about greed, but what you, by your political choices, can do for others.

Cllr Andrew Beere.
October 16, 2014.

Roy HattersleyIn response to Roy Hattersley’s opinion piece “Harold Wilson’s moral crusade can still be a rallying call for Labour” the Guardian, 15th of October 2014

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