A LONG 18 years of continuous Conservative administration had left the country anxious for change and accompanied by a catchy D:Ream song a red revolution swept the country.

The five years of John Major’s premiership had been rocky as his cabinet had been rife with internal dispute and political scandal which cost 12 resignations from office.

The parliamentary cycle had started disastrously as in September, 1992 just months after the election Black Wednesday spectacularly forced the UK out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

With his party split over the issue of Europe the Prime Minister was forced into surviving a coup in 1995 from John Redwood and trailed Labour heavily in the polls.

Since the unexpected defeat in the 1992 election Labour had radically began to change itself and after the death of leader John Smith in 1994, Tony Blair lurched the party into the central ground.

Winning support of the Sun newspaper, New Labour as they now dubbed themselves, focused on reform with plans to cut class sizes and reduce NHS waiting lists.

The Liberal Democrats under the leadership of Paddy Ashdown were also promising an extra £2 billion for the schools system whilst they offered to restore fee eye and dental checks on the NHS.

In Salisbury fresh faced 33-year-old businessman Nigel Farage was was making a name for himself as a the candidate for the newly formed UK Independence Party (UKIP).

The party, which was formed by disenfranchised Tory’s in 1993, was fighting its first General Election as it campaigned against joining the single currency.

Early in the campaign he won the backing from leader of the Independent group on Salisbury District Council David Parker and Daily Mail political commentator Simon Heffer.

In a blistering attack on the EU at a packed Guildhall he was given a reception by a brass band and said that the election was the most important in 50 years.

“We must make it clear we want to govern ourselves,” he declared. “We should seek an amicable divorce from the EU and establish a genuine free trade agreement - which is what we first thought we signed up for in the first place.

“The idea that we should continue to fight within the EU is ludicrous. We must get out.”

Against the upstart party would be sitting MP and minister for roads Robert Key, Lib Dem Yvonne Emmerson-Peirce and Labour’s Ricky Rogers.

Mr Rogers promised that New Labour would “clean up politics” and reform party funding as well as promising a boost for the building industry.

He said: “Labour will kick start the building industry and tackle homelessness with a planned programme locally of social house building, using Salisbury’s £17 million from council house sales.”

Ahead of the vote two political heavyweights made ‘flying visits’ to the city as Paddy Ashdown made a passionate speech from the back of a classic charabanc on Blue Boar Row before Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine made a 20 minute whirlwind tour of Butcher Row.

On election day itself voting problems were widely reported in the Journal as too few staff left some polling stations with long queues. After the election day the Mayor of Salisbury Beryl Jay called for an enquiry to take place as the council defended itself by saying that the county council elections on the same day had put unprecedented strain system.

However like so many of the previous elections in Salisbury Key stood firm against the red and yellow tide albeit with a reduced majority of just over 6,000.

The Journal put his poor showing down to the support for Nigel Farage who polled an impressive 3,332 votes - still the best showing for a UKIP candidate in Salisbury.

Nationally Labour would be swept to power with a landslide majority and a subdued Mr Key - who would be sitting on the opposition benches for the first time - acknowledged the defeat.

He said: “A sea change has taken place in national politics, and those of us who have survived in the Conservative Party have a renewed responsibility to ensure that the voices of all the people are heard.”

By next morning for the traditional rendition of The Vly be on the Turmit he had regained his humour telling the crowd that night before when he heard of the safe Tory seats falling he had felt like an “endangered species”.

“Today I am a rare breed,” he said.