Personally, I owe a lot to Norman. He was among those to have a formative influence on my emerging political views, as I told the Demos Open Left project last year.
What do you consider made you Left wing?
Without identifying any specific moment, I knew where I was coming from by the time I was fourteen or fifteen. I grew up in the north-west during the 1980s before the family moved to the south-east, so that had an impact. I was interested in history and in politics. We had the Daily Mail in the house, and I started getting The Guardian too. I discovered George Orwell and read as much as possible.
The other things that dominated my world somehow became more political. I was absurdly obsessive about football – and was interested in the emerging fanzine and supporters’ movement before the Hillsborough tragedy, when that seemed very urgent.
Then, when I was 16, Norman Tebbit proposed his ‘cricket test’. Well, I had supported England since I was seven or eight. My Dad didn’t – which was probably a good enough reason to go for England when they played India. (Viv Richards’ West Indies were magic: was that was the real ‘cricket test’?). I felt the divisiveness of that quite personally – my Dad worked for the NHS yet was being accused of treachery for liking Kapil Dev. So I was confused: could I keep supporting England now that had been made a loyalty test of support for Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbit?
Perhaps that explains my interest in Britishness and identity too.
So, thank you, Norman.