Election '97: HOW I WILL VOTE: BERNARD MANNING

Sleaze is no laughing matter but nor is it overly worrying

How will you vote?

Conservative.

Why?

Because, unlike a lot of people, I have a very long memory. Being a comedian, I've got to remember a couple of hours in an act. I remember when the Labour Party was in power. There were strikes every other day, with people like Dennis Skinner and Arthur Scargill leading the party. I don't believe that the 'New' Labour party is at all different from that. A leopard never changes it spots. I've been through a lot.

We're part of the greatest country in the world. Everybody wants to live here - nobody starves.

I'm not overly worried by the sleaze. It was bound to happen. That sort of thing goes on in all types of life. As long as a man can do his job, it doesn't matter what goes on behind closed doors.

What issues are important to you?

Education - people leaving school with brains, knowing what they want to do. Also family life - where brothers and sisters, mums and dads look after each other. Good housing is also crucial, with a little bit of money to spare to have some fun at the end of the week. I don't want to see everybody going into debt. We were brought up under the idea that if you couldn't afford it, you did without. I don't approve of credit cards and hire-purchase. We couldn't afford vacuum cleaners in the old days - we used to sweep the floor with brush. We couldn't afford washing machines, so our mothers went to wash houses. The Manning family motto: 'What you can't afford, you do without'.

Which politicians do you admire?

I used to like Aneurin Bevan - I thought he was a marvellous orator. Also Winston Churchill, Mrs Thatcher and Harold Wilson. I've entertained many of these great politicians in my past: London Hilton with Harold Wilson, Wembley Stadium with Mrs Thatcher. They all had good policies - like religions. There's no one who matches up to the likes of Winston Churchill: he was a hard act to follow. These days they all toe the party line. I rather like John Redwood: I think he talks a lot of sense and knows what he's about. I very much identify with the right wing of the Conservative party. You only have to think about socialism and Russia - Mr Gorbachev would tell you about that. There's no place in the world for socialism; it's gone.

Have you always been interested in politics?

I was born in 1930, came through the war, singing in the air-raid shelters; I know what the British people are like. When they bombed Manchester and London - I remember how good we were. Little old Britain stuck out against great odds. We won because of the conservative mentality that we had.

If Labour do get in, would you consider leaving the country?

No, I wouldn't. The Labour party aren't going to be in power for long. They will be voted out very quickly.

Interview by Sam Coates

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