05/05/05: THE ELECTION: BLUNKETT - Former Home Secretary DAVID BLUNKETT Joins the Mirror - to Give His Verdict on the Election
Byline: DAVID BLUNKETT
MY home in Sheffield is half a mile from the Orgreave Colliery. This was the site of a pitched battle between police and miners during the 1984 strike.
It was a symbol of Britain 21 years ago. A divided Britain. One where three million people were unemployed. A nation of high interest rates for homeowners - rates twice those today.
And it was a Britain divided between rich and poor - those who could buy themselves out of failing schools or under-funded hospitals and those who had to make do.
A Britain where industry was collapsing and community was disintegrating. We must remember what it was like to realise just how far we've come.
A long-time constituent of mine, Joan Barton, reminded me of the difference the other day.
She stood in a local park and looked around her. In the park there was a new children's play area and outdoor leisure facility.
S HE could see the new sixth form college which Tony Blair opened last December in an area where very few had stayed on to college beyond 16.
She turned to look at a new young children's centre, opened last November, giving tiny tots and their families a flying start in life.
She could see improvements to housing, a new library and the shopping centre with a facelift.
What a contrast to Sheffield Brightside even 10 years ago. They are the result of political decisions - made by a Labour government and a Labour city council.
But Joan's experience was not unique. You could apply the same test to your community.
Yet we mustn't take it all for granted. …