Election '97: 'I've never lost that feeling of hope in Labour'

HOW I WILL VOTE: BARRY TOOK
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The Independent Online
How will you vote?

Really, I'm torn. I've always voted Labour, but I have more friends in the Liberal Democrats, and am more inclined to the Liberal Democrats right now.

There seem to be at least two Conservative parties right now, and there appear to be two Labour parties, although that crack is being papered over. I'm not so sure that my heart is not with the Liberal Democrats, but I have a feeling that my feet will take me into the booth to vote Labour. I must say, I like the Liberal Democrats - the ones I've met, Kennedy and Ashdown, they're really nice people. They seem decent people.

Ibsen said "the minority is always right", and I think there's something in that. The Conservatives are looking like a load of squabbling schoolkids. Nobody in their right mind, I don't think, could vote for them. They're like a bunch of puppies that you've spilled out on to the floor, and they're all going on scrapping with each other. There's no rhyme or reason ... I just think they're a load of rubbish. I think Aneurin Bevan was rather generous to them, calling them lower than vermin.

And the Labour Party is all promise, but they're so concentrated on the middle, they've left the left behind, which is a shame. Obviously, the old Labour party is still there. I have great sympathy with them, because I grew up at a time when I first remember the 1945 election. I wasn't old enough to vote, but it was such an exciting time.

We did really feel that the future was there, and it was going to be great. And I've never quite lost that feeling that there's hope in the Labour Party, there's always hope in the Labour Party.

Will your decision be affected by the fact that the Liberals are not going to get enough votes to be the majority party?

No, a vote for them is not a wasted vote. They're nice people, they're good people, and they deserve backing. And in areas that were Conservative but don't feel inclined to go that way any more, I think a Liberal Democrat vote will be a very useful one. But in the long run, I know a government can only be formed by the Labour Party or the Conservative Party. I hope to God it's Labour.

Are there policy issues which you are particularly concerned about?

I'm all for going for Europe now, which strengthens my Ashdown-Blair plans. Overall, I think the country's in a thorough mess; a cult of greed has taken the whole thing over. We've got to reapportion resources to the people that actually need them. The Liberals have always been honest about their intentions of raising money for specific purposes.

And in local government, they're the second largest party in the country, which is really important.

So you're more likely to be voting Liberal Democrat?

Well, I'm keeping my options open. I'll just say that they are my friends, but I feel that a Labour victory would be the best thing for the country.

Interview by Ben Summers

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