I wrote this piece back in February 2008. Obviously, a lot has happened politically since then; the defeat of Labour in the 2010 General Election, the advent of the Coalition and the election of Ed Miliband as Labour Leader. However, reviewing it in November 2013, in the light of Ed's speech to his Party Conference in September, I see no reason to revise it. If anything the conclusion is stronger than it was in 2008
Life on Mars was one of the more popular TV programmes last year. For those not familiar with the concept behind the show, it concerned a Detective who, following a hit-and-run accident, woke up to find himself in 1973, with all of the attendant horrors that entailed - not least the fashions in men's clothing and hairstyles. The show was extremely well done capturing the social attitudes of the early 1970's. However, my reason for raising it here is that 1973 just happened to be the year I first got involved in politics, when I joined the Party in what was then Barkston Ash and is now Selby & Ainstey.
Back in 1973 I was still at school but, even a 15 year-old could see that the prevailing political "post-war consensus" was failing Britain. Seemingly endless labour disputes in our key industries and services, power-cuts, overwheening trade union power and the image of this country as the "sick man of Europe", combined with a competition between the main parties as to who could run an interventionist economy best meant that our national esteem was at a very low ebb.
For me, the heart of the issue was that the state seemed to be taking the view that in a whole host of eveyday matters it knew better than the individual. The very same individual it was meant to be serving.
Life on Mars was just a TV show, the 1970's that I knew and lived through, were a continuing cycle of decline and economic disaster culminating in the "winter of discontent" and the defeat of Jim Callaghan's minority Labour Government.
Few people who weren't active in that period can understand quite what a revolution the advent of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister unleashed. Many of the things we take for granted today, the right to buy, the ban on secondary picketing and the closed shop, privatised industries and market competition, all came about in that incredubly fertile political era.
However, with the return of the Labour Government in 1997 - on a supposedly "free market" agenda - the tide once again started to turn. Fortunately, much of what we had achieved in the 1980's and 90's was too well rooted - and popular - for Tony and his cronies to reverse, however, in the place of wholesale intervention, what we now see is intervention by good intent. The "nanny knows best", micromanagement which assumes that top-down is best, when all the evidence shows that it is community based action with a focus on the individual which best enables people to thrive and succeed.
And, this time, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats have the European Commission to hide behind too. What the Commission proposes, Whitehall is inclined to dispose and, if it gets to add a few more regulations or conditions in the process then, it is happy.
So, as so often in politics the wheel turn full circle. The very things that brought me into politics in the Life on Mars era are once again at the heart of the battle. Albeit on a much larger, wider stage. The major difference today is that the Conservative Party has a new revolution to unleash, one which is rooted in the needs and cares of our fractured society and that I am in a much stronger position to play a role in helping to bring that change about.