Our union had lasted for 45 years, though we had been going out for 47. Or to be precise I had been going out, pushing Conservative election leaflets through council house letterboxes in Longbenton during the 1970 general election campaign.
In a life otherwise consistently and carefully sheltered from danger, I definitely rate doing this in the solidly Labour constituency of Wallsend among my braver actions.
I joined the party at university and have been a member ever since. After a marriage this long, I rather expected it to last until death us do part. But then along came Philip Hammond yesterday, delivering another kicking to the self-employed in what must appear, to anyone who does not have a nerdish obsession with reading small print, to be a clear breach of the Conservatives’ 2015 election manifesto commitments.
And I have had enough. I have never objected to the confiscation of my child benefit, which I was reluctant to claim in the first place, though I did greatly resent the withdrawal of my personal tax allowance, which means that there is a band of my income on which I pay a marginal rate of 60% – the highest anywhere in Europe according to the Financial Times.
And now Mr Hammond thinks it is only fair to sting me for several hundred pounds more – because, apparently, I have the same entitlement to an old age pension as an employee. Not that I ever asked for that. I have made my own provision for a pension, and indeed for my healthcare.
As a sometime employee I am very conscious that I do not receive a whole host of more than fringe benefits that I once took for granted, ranging from employer pension contributions, sick pay, holiday pay and paternity leave to bonuses, share schemes and a company car.
In short, all I want from the State is to be left alone to do the best for myself and my family. I already pay tens of thousands of pounds in tax each year for them to spend on the things of which I approve (defence, roads, schools, hospitals etc) and the things of which I don’t (overseas wars and ludicrous vanity projects like HS2 come first to mind).
And all these years I thought, clearly foolishly, that the Conservative Party was on my side. Now I have finally had a rude awakening, much like those millions of socially conservative industrial workers in the North who have tribally backed Labour for generations, only to find that it is actually focused on the rather more specialised concerns of a small metropolitan elite and various minority client groups.
So it’s time for a divorce. As I so often said untruthfully, there isn’t anyone else involved. I wasn’t even slightly tempted by New Labour under Tony Blair, so I’m hardly likely to start backing Jeremy Corbyn. The Lib Dems are, as they have always been, loathsome opportunists.
And as for UKIP, whenever I felt tempted by some of their policies I used to give myself a reality check by going to my local market place on a Saturday and taking a look at the obvious loons manning their stall there. I wouldn’t have trusted Nigel Farage as my chauffeur, never mind my prime minister. And as for the obvious fantasist Paul Nuttall …
So that’s it for me. I shan’t be lending my support to any other party. In future, I will just be flicking past the political pages of the newspaper in the same way that I have always treated the sports section.
It’s a sad end to a long relationship but then, as an inveterate reader of obituaries, I know that there are many long marriages that come to a surprising end once the children have grown up and the husband (let’s face it, it’s nearly always the husband) cravenly submits to the lure of his younger PA.
“No fault” divorces seem to be all the rage these days but in the case of Hann v The Conservative & Unionist party I am going, as I always do where possible, the old-fashioned way. I shall be citing unreasonable behaviour.