It doesn’t seem like 10 years have passed since the Millenium, but today marks the end of what has been dubbed the “Noughties”. Looking back over the last decade I have to say that on New Year’s Eve in 1999 I would not have been expecting to end the decade as the Member of Parliament for Manchester Withington, and going into the next election with the bookies tipping us to hold the seat with a bigger majority.
Back in 1999 I had only been a Councillor for a year and a half, we had just won the third seat in my old Council ward of Barlow Moor, retaken the third seat in Withington with Brendan Jones and made a breakthrough in Didsbury ward with David Sandiford returning to the Council after a 4 year absence.
So what changed so much in 10 years? I think there were 3 big events that changed the political landscape in the Constituency. First of all in 2001 we overtook the Conservatives in the General Election and established once and for all the 2 party fight in the Constituency. Then in 2003 Tony Blair took us into an illegal war in Iraq, which alienated a lot of former Labour voters who vowed never to vote Labour again. And then finally we had all-out elections in 2004 where we made several gains in the Constituency, leaving us with 16 out of 21 Councillors across South Manchester, and Labour in disarray.