From Things Can Only Get Better: Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter 1979-1997 © John O'Farrell, published 1998.
...I moved to London in the spring of 1985 just as the bill to abolish the Greater London Council was passing its final stages in the House of Commons. Yet again I was arriving to join a fight after it had already been lost...
...I turned up most days to canvass or deliver or address envelopes in a burst of enthusiasm that got me so deeply involved in the Labour Party that soon it would be impossible to escape. After all, this was a GLC election, the famous GLC, the largest local authority in the world; with 'Red Ken' and 'Fares Fair' and 'Working for London'. I had read with excitement about the innovative brand of municipal socialism pioneered by Labour's Young Turks in London and felt that by taking part in the last ever GLC election campaign I might just become a little part of it. If Margaret Thatcher wanted to abolish them, then they must be worth fighting for.
My mother had said that the only reason Maggie was abolishing the GLC was to get rid of that big poster on County Hall telling Parliament how many unemployed there were in London. I have to say that I think this simple analysis probably hit the nail right on the head. I was only there at the fag end of the GLC's existence, but nothing became that authority like the leaving of it. There were free concerts and festivals all summer long. The 'Jobs For A Change' festival took place in my very ward, in Battersea Park, and local party members worked as stewards. Me! A steward for a GLC festival! I nearly framed the T-shirt.
There were further concerts at Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank and elsewhere. Sometimes it was Billy Bragg supported by Hank Wangford and sometimes it was Hank Wangford supported by Billy Bragg. On the one occasion when they tried someone new, a concert by The Smiths was ruined by a group of skinheads climbing on the stage and Sieg Heil-ing to the crowd of lefties down below. That was about as constructive as the arguments against a London-wide authority got. On the night that the GLC was officially abolished thousands of pounds of fireworks lit up the sky. It was fantastic--if only all those Conservative voters in Bromley and Finchley could have seen how much of their money was being wasted! Then, on the stroke of midnight [ April 1, 1986 ] , workers from the London Residuary Body moved in and started ripping everything down, signs, placards, banners--anything with a GLC logo on it--while the crowd looked on and booed.