I took part in my first political campaign at the age of 10. Clement Atlee’s Labour government called an election in 1950, defending a majority of over 150 seats. Tired of deprivation and rationing, the people turned against the government, reducing its majority to a precarious 5 seats. It struggled on for a time, then hoping to increase its majority, it called an election 20 months later. It lost to a Conservative majority of 17, one that returned Winston Churchill to power for a second term.
My role in 1950 was modest. Like some other children I was placed outside a polling station with a placard atop a bamboo pole bearing a poster of Cyril Osborne, the Conservative candidate for Louth, in whose constituency we were located. My grandmother was a lifelong Conservative. We were told to greet voters going in to vote by occasionally singing the Tory song, “Vote, vote, vote for Mr Osborne, he’s the one to help the poor.” More amusingly, since the local Labour candidate was called Frank Dyer, we were told to chant, “We don’t want Dyer ‘ere,” pronouncing it like diarrhoea. Mr Osborne won locally, but the country had another 20 months of Labour government to run.
At that age none of us had the slightest idea what the parties stood for. It was more of a tribal thing of supporting our side against the other's. It was great fun, however.