Agent’s Training 10 – ‘Seeing Roy Jenkins and Shirley Williams lose made me drink lots at the party – it improved my performance the next day!’

Seeing Roy Jenkins losing Glasgow Hillhead and Shirley Williams failing to win Cambridge turned me to drink, with interesting consequences...

The 1987 General Election was unquestionably a very poor one for the SDP/Liberal Alliance.  The ‘Two Davids’ appeared to be not singing from the same song sheet and the parties did poorly.

SDP luminaries Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins both went down to defeat in Cambridge and Glasgow Hillhead and moves began to merge the two parties in preparation for fighting the election afterwards.

But, before any of this could happen the local Alliance members in my constituency had a party that evening to see the election results come in. 

Being only 16 I was not used to drinking lots but as the results came in with Shirley Williams failing to gain Cambridge and Roy Jenkins losing to George Galloway in Glasgow I sank into the malaise that only Lib Dems can feel following an election – ‘another false dawn’.

So, when I was taken home at an unearthly time in the morning I was fully aware that the Alliance had been crushed, as were my hopes, but only slightly aware of my French literature mock ‘A’ Level later that morning.

Going to bed drunk at 5am, followed by an exam at 9am, and really being drunk until the following afternoon was no preparation for a 3 hour exam in a foreign language, as to be honest, I was struggling quite hard with English, let alone French.

Nonetheless I dutifully took the exam, in French, and left the exam room in only a slightly better state than when I went in.  I could not really discuss the questions with my school colleagues because I literally had no memory of anything that went on.

A few weeks later our French teacher, Mrs Percy, announced, ‘who thinks they have done badly in this exam?’ Unsurprisingly I raised my hand as to be fair I would have been surprised if I had even hit the paper with my writing. She looked at me rather severely and said, ‘No John, this is your best piece of work ever!’

I am sure there is a moral to this tale, but over the past 20 years I have still not been able to work it out!


David Howarth, MP for Cambridge, Happy Birthday, I wonder how many others will be wishing you unsolicited felicitations today?!


Fewer constituencies can be nicer to represent in Parliament than Cambridge, but I wonder how many people will be looking for their local credentials over the next few weeks?!

I am always very happy to wish people greetings for their birthday, my family will tell you I nearly always forget, which is why it is such a great boon to have Facebook to remind one when someone’s birthday is pending.

David Howarth is a particularly popular chap with 997 of his closest friends signed up on facebook.

But, I think David may be receiving more birthday wishes than usual this year, especially from people who have excellent local credentials, and those with less impressive ones, in Cambridge.

Personally, I love Cambridge, a beautiful place in the Fens, I was there only a few weeks ago, at the University, studying a course at their beautiful Madingley Hall, where they base their Institute of Continuing Education.

David has been an excellent MP for Cambridge, and a genuine liberal champion in Parliament, he will be very difficult to replace.

Good luck to all those that apply, there can be few nicer places to represent in Parliament.