Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Economic Warfare




President Reagan visits Downing Street in 1982







“….One nanny said, feed a cold, she was a Keynesian.  Another nanny said, starve a cold, she was a Monetarist….”

Conservative Prime Minister (1957-1963) Harold Macmillan

The Prime Ministership of Margaret Thatcher began on 4th May 1979 following the Conservative victory in the General Election.  The Tory majority, in its own right, was 43 seats.  Mrs Thatcher had been Leader of the Opposition since 1975, having unseated the incumbent, former Prime Minister Edward Heath.







Read more about the general election, and about the Tory manifesto here;




The Conservative, or Dry, wing of the Tory Party looked back on their previous term in office, Heath’s 1970-1974 administration,  as a great wasted opportunity.  The lack of resolve demonstrated by Heath and his more moderate government, it could be argued, had laid the foundations for uncontrollable inflation, rising unemployment, huge government overspending,  unchecked union militancy  and general economic and industrial  decline that became a hallmark of the decade leading up to the Tory victory in 1979.  Now in firm control of the Party, Thatcher and her conservative faction had no intention of repeating the same mistakes.

Margaret Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts in 1925, the daughter of a Methodist grocery shopkeeper who was also a local councillor and Mayor.  Like her predecessor, Edward Heath, she had been active in Conservative student politics while studying chemistry at Oxford.  Upon graduation she worked as a research chemist and married Denis Thatcher in 1951.  She continued to study and by 1954 qualified as a taxation lawyer.

While still in her mid-twenties, she contested general elections for the Labour-held  constituency  of Dartford  in 1950 and 1951.  Despite losing in both contests, she made her mark; in those days a  young female Conservative candidate was a rare occurrence. The biography in the Margaret Thatcher Foundation website says of her experiences in Dartford,
  
“….(She) cut the Labour majority sharply and hugely enjoyed the experience of campaigning. Aspects of her mature political style were formed in Dartford, a largely working class constituency which suffered as much as any from post-war rationing and shortages, as well as the rising level of taxation and state regulation. Unlike many Conservatives at that time, she had little difficulty getting a hearing from any audience and she spoke easily, with force and confidence, on issues that mattered to the voters…”



In 1959 she became the Conservative Member for Finchley, which would remain her constituency until she was kicked upstairs with a life peerage to the Lords in 1992, becoming Baroness Thatcher of  Kesteven.

In 1960, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan appointed Thatcher Parliamentary Under Secretary for Pensions and National Insurance.  After the Labour victory in 1964, she progressively increased her influence within the Conservative Party in opposition. When her party regained power in 1970 under Edward Heath, she achieved Cabinet rank as Secretary of State for  Education.   It was in this role that she famously provoked outrage by ending the provision of free milk in public schools, for children aged 7 to 11.

With the Conservatives once again consigned to opposition by 1974, Thatcher joined  a successful leadership challenge against Edward Heath and assumed the duties of Opposition Leader in 1975. 

Following 2 election defeats in one year under Edward Heath, the Conservative Party was in no mood for forgiveness.  There were misgivings about Heath’s political abilities as well as his ideology, with the Dry faction of the party uncomfortable with his willingness to countenance nationalised industries and government interference in business, including statutory income policies. The Margaret Thatcher Foundation describes the Heath government as the most interventionist in history. MPs, during their constituency surgeries, were hearing that Heath was an electoral liability. The embattled Opposition Leader  refused to step down, but conceded changes to party rules allowing the annual re-election of the party leader.

Heath’s most likely successor, William Whitelaw, had hesitated to precipitate a leadership spill, as had  a number of other likely candidates from the Shadow Cabinet.  As a result, the first leadership ballot was, by default, principally between Heath, Margaret Thatcher and a Scottish MP without Cabinet experience, Hugh Fraser.  Both challengers were unlikely candidates, which perhaps led to a somewhat complacent campaign by Heath’s supporters.  With strong support from the 1922 Committee,  Mrs Thatcher unexpectedly polled 130 votes to Heath’s 119.  Accepting the party’s mood for change, Heath stood aside for the second ballot.  No longer restrained by residual loyalty, William Whitelaw re-entered the race along with a number of other lesser candidates. Whitelaw ran second to Mrs Thatcher, 79 votes to Mrs Thatcher’s 146, reflecting the strong campaign run by the future Prime Minister, who had now captured the Party’s imagination.

It was during her tenure as Opposition Leader that Mrs Thatcher had earned the title Iron Lady over her strident criticisms of the Soviet Union.  With a manifesto promising to reverse the economic decline, fight union domination, control inflation and reduce the size of government, she took the Conservatives to an election victory in 1979, defeating the beleaguered Labour Government of Jim Callaghan.

When Mrs Thatcher first arrived at Ten Downing Street, she spoke to reporters from out the front  of the Prime Ministerial Residence;

“…Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.  Where there is error, may we bring truth.  Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.  And where there is despair, may we bring hope…”





Clearly not everyone was convinced over Mrs Thatcher’s conciliatory speech.  Former leader of the Liberal Party, Jeremy Thorpe said, probably quite accurately;

“...I’m horrified.  She makes Ted Heath look like a moderate...”

It was probably a factually correct observation, although blatantly stating the obvious.  Any  credibility that Thorpe’s observation might have had must be tempered with the knowledge that he had just lost his own constituency of North Devon in what the BBC described as a crushing defeat, and was, at that time, due to stand trial in the Old Bailey for conspiracy and incitement to murder, although he would be later found not guilty. But the opinion, and concern over  the change in ideological  direction implied therein was not an isolated one.

Unlike the Keynesians of the Post War Consensus period, Mrs Thatcher was a Monetarist who rejected the consensus view that a government should spend to achieve full employment.   She accepted that some short term pain might be suffered by the tightening of economic policy, but, unlike her more moderate, or Wet, predecessor had no intention of abandoning reforms if things got tough.   She was a strong exponent of the theory, now conservative orthodoxy, that the taming of inflation should become the primary economic policy objective, and the free market should be allowed  to operate with minimal interference from a small government.  

The key was to be careful management of the money supply.

MV=PQ

(Money Supply x Velocity of Circulation)=(Average Price x Quantity of Goods and Services)


Five weeks after winning the election, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Geoffrey Howe, handed down the new Conservative Government’s first budget.  With inflation hovering around 8% and threatening to rise again, the government raised interest rates to slow growth in money supply.  The Value Added Tax, a broad based consumption tax, was almost doubled from 8% to 15%.  The Chancellor blamed a generation of economic underperformance on the Keynesian consensus and made it clear that a new approach was going to be resolutely prosecuted.



It was a politically courageous budget.   To compensate for the rise in VAT, major income tax cuts were made to the value of 3.5 billion pounds with the major beneficiaries being those on the highest tax brackets.  Public sector borrowing was cut by 3 billion pounds.  A mixed economy would no longer form part of the government’s economic renewal, with a further 1 billion pounds expected to be raised by the privatisation of nationalised industries.  The Bank of England raised the minimum interest rate to 14%, then 17% by year’s end, applying an ever tightening squeeze to the money supply in circulation. 

The initial positive response by the stock exchange to the Conservative victory lost momentum and the market went into decline.   The Sterling rate of exchange rose on the back of North Sea Oil which was expected to contribute 7 billion pounds and make Britain 80% self-sufficient in terms of petroleum, not quite the 100% self-sufficiency that had been predicted a few years earlier.   But the higher currency rate meant that exporters began to suffer, worsening the already consistently poor balance of trade position and pushing the deficit to 5 billion pounds, the worst trade result since the record deficit blowout of 1974.  Despite the anti-inflationary measures, the holy grail of low inflation remained elusive, and the cost of living rose dramatically.

The Bank of England joined in with the general pessimism, and in the September edition of their quarterly bulletin foresaw growing impoverishment and unemployment unless Britain’s economic and industrial decline was not reversed.

The Government looked to its own backyard and set about cutting civil service staffing levels by 20%, or 150 000 jobs.  Government-owned shares in Nationalised corporations like British Airways, British Aerospace, British Petroleum and the British National Oil Corporation were offered to the public for sale.   Significant cuts were announced for the BBC’s overseas services, but were thought better of after failing to gain support by Conservative backbenchers.

The Troubles remained an ongoing and often murderous thorn in the side of successive Governments.  A British intelligence report on Irish republican paramilitary activities, which the IRA themselves managed to acquire and then publicise, warned that Republican forces were embracing technology and had safe refuge in the Irish Republic.    The report stated that the IRA could not be defeated by police and military forced to work within the constraints of civil law, although their activities could be contained. The report further anticipated the intensification of targeted terrorist violence.

On 30th March 1979, just months before the General Election, Shadow Secretary of State for  for Northern Ireland, Airey Neave, had been  killed in a car bomb explosion within the precincts of the Houses of Parliament.  Responsibility was claimed by an IRA splinter who called themselves Irish Republican Liberation Army.  This was a particularly devastating blow for Mrs Thatcher, for whom Neave had been a mentor and strong supporter.

On the 27th August Earl Mountbatten of Burma,  on Summer holidays in County Sligo, was killed with 3 other members of his family, when a remotely controlled  bomb planted in his fishing boat exploded.  The IRA claimed responsibility, promising to tear out Britain’s imperialistic heart.  As a facilitator of India’s move to independence amongst a wider and distinguished military and public career, Mountbatten might have been a poor individual choice against whom to direct a protest against the evils of imperialism, although Mountbatten's role in the arbitrary partition of the subcontinent, which resulted in a post-independence bloodbath, would remain controversial. On the same day, 18 British soldiers were killed by an IRA ambush in County Down.

The Mountbatten assassination provoked global outrage, and the Government of the Irish Republic acted quickly, with two suspects in custody within a week.  One of the two, Thomas McMahon, was later found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.  His alleged accomplice, Thomas McGirl, was acquitted.

After Mountbatten’s funeral on September 5th, Irish Prime Minister ( Taoiseach) Jack Lynch met with Margaret Thatcher in London to discuss potential joint anti-terrorism initiatives.   Lynch stood firm on his government’s refusal to allow the  extradition of terror suspects to the United Kingdom.  He also declined to amend their policy that prevented Royal Ulster Constabulary officers from interrogating suspects held by the Garda Siochana (Irish Police) in the Republic.   No tangible progress was made during the meeting, with Lynch reportedly saying that change would depend on the political initiative of the British Government.  Each leader did at least promise to do all they could to maintain cordial relations between to two countries and step up security as much as possible within the existing framework.

Amongst other legislation enacted during the latter half of 1979, the government attempted to overturn Harold Wilson’s 1965 abolition of the death penalty.  Mrs Thatcher herself voted for the motion, which was defeated 362 to 243.  Home Secretary William Whitelaw had voted against.   The Thatcher Government also  announced restrictions that would place greater controls on immigration.

Unemployment and inflation were rising even as the money supply was tightly controlled.  The manufacturing sector was in decline. Britain was slipping into recession.  The new decade would be getting off to a rocky start, with the new government deeply unpopular, even with some of its own members.


THE EIGHTIES


As the recession began to bite, the government’s critics became more strident.  The ideological battle was gearing up. Those opposed accused the government of aggravating the country’s economic woes by steadfastly adhering to Monetarist policies.  Despite the Prime Minister using the fight against inflation as the key economic priority, inflation was, in fact, rising along with unemployment. 

The Conservatives maintained the view that inflation was the root cause of instability and a major inhibitor of national prosperity, and contributed to toward the ultimate disintegration of the nation generally.  The government’s position was that, although a relaxation of their monetary policies might have allowed for improved output and employment figures in the short term, the inevitable resultant spike in inflation would undo any benefits therein.  The dramatic reduction in  public sector borrowing,  achieved by massive cuts in government spending, would theoretically  ease  pressure on interest rates and afford  private industry, free from government ownership and interference,  some room to manoeuvre.

The Budget in 1980 forecast a continuing bleak picture for the British economy.   With the economic indicators heading almost exclusively in the opposite direction to the government’s stated objectives, the Labour Party, unsurprisingly, heavily criticised the Thatcher Government's economic performance, accusing them of blindly following the Monetarist doctrine at the expense of the shrinking numbers British workers. With the country now  well and truly in recession, the government’s line was to play for time, and call for patience while their policies took effect.

With unemployment heading toward an unprecedented 2 000 000, or over 8%, and inflation temporarily spiking to 21%, the government’s critics intensified their attacks.  Former Prime Minister, Edward Heath, still apparently smarting over his demise as party leader, was a strong critic from the Prime Minister’s own backbenches and became strongly identified with the so-called Wet faction of the party, calling for a more compassionate brand of Conservatism.

But this time, there would be no crumbling or back-flipping in the face of opposition from within or without.  Prime Minister Thatcher made this clear during the 1980 Conservative Party Conference, where she called upon the faithful to hold their nerve.

“…For those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase-The U-turn-I have only one thing to say..You turn if you want to…The Lady is not for turning…”

By the following year, the government was under attack from all sides, and internal dissent had grown into a full-on factional fight.  The Thatcherite Dry, or more Conservative, wing of the party against the Heathite Wets.   Meanwhile, 364 prominent economists put their names to an open letter urging moderation.  The uncompromising economic management was reflected in a famous headline of the time, referencing the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Geoffrey Howe;
                                         
“HOWE IT HURTS!”
                                   

The factional warring came to a head when, in an atmosphere of unemployment well over the 2 million mark and the government’s popularity in freefall, The Prime Minister was approached by the Conservative Party Chairman and elder statesman, Lord Thorneycroft, in company with two Cabinet Ministers, Humphrey Atkins (Northern Ireland Secretary then Lord Privy Seal)  and Lord Carrington (Foreign Secretary), and was asked to step down in the interests of the Party and the Country.   Mrs Thatcher dismissed the distraction. Tim Bell, PR consultant and special adviser to the Prime Minister, said that Margaret just told them to go away.

Disunity in the Tory Party was being played out in public, so much so that it  even  attracted the attention of the New York Times;

“...With little improvement evident in Britain's troubled economy and the unpopularity of the incumbent Conservative Party rising, voices of opposition to the economic policies of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher have risen to a chorus within her party.  In recent days, the mutterings of discontent by several members of the Cabinet have deepened to open statements of unhappiness by a variety of influential Tories, including Lord Thorneycroft, the Conservative Party Chairman who has been supportive of Mrs. Thatcher…
The grumbling moved into the public arena in large part because of a contention made last Thursday in the House of Commons by Sir Geoffrey Howe (Chancellor of the Exchequer) that we are at the end of the recession.  The statement was intended to provide a rationale for maintaining the Government's tough economic policies…”
Conservative Party Chairman, Lord Thorneycroft, a former Chancellor himself and hitherto strong Monetarist, disagreed, stating:  
''...I don't see it picking up where I am, My friends don't detect bottoming out. It clearly has not bottomed out. It's very, very rough indeed...''
Mr Howe subsequently softened his assertion that the recession was ending, however the Wets were vocal in their concerns as to the party’s direction, as the New York Times reported:
“...Sir Geoffrey's comments represented just one of several recent developments of concern to the so-called Wets as the left wing of the Conservative Party is called. The group's basic goal is modestly increased Government spending to combat the recession, even though the next general election need not be called before 1984.
The wets were equally unsettled when the Government's response to the recent riots and the Conservatives' devastating defeat in the key Warrington by-election was a more modest youth employment package than they had expected…The unsettlement became undisguised anger within days when it became clear that Sir Geoffrey expected the cost of the new program, estimated to be as much as $1 billion, to be matched by new spending cuts…”
The rising opposition, capped by Lord Thorneycroft's comments to reporters and an equally strong speech by Francis Pym, the Leader of the House of Commons, has captivated the British newspapers, whose headlines in recent days have included such words as rebellion,  mutiny and revolt
"...The British people will not be prepared for very much longer to tolerate the worst effects of the recession if there is not a clear sign that the sacrifice will have been worthwhile, said Mr. Pym in his address. They look to us as a Government for measures to alleviate our temporary programs and for a demonstration that hope in the long term is not misplaced...''
The strength of the Home Secretary and one time leadership aspirant, William Whitelaw reinforced the Prime Minister’s position and the dominance of the Dry faction along with newly appointed Employment Secretary, Norman Tebbit.  By autumn, a number of changes were made to solidify the Prime Minister’s support base in Cabinet.  The fact that rank and file Tories and the 1922 Committee  remained supportive somewhat alleviated any threat posed by the Wet faction, who were derided as weak willed.

As reported in the New York Times, there were some key ideological differences between the two Conservative Party factions.  The Thatcherite  faction were the dogmatic Monetarists who were prepared to, courageously or stubbornly depending on your point of view,  steadfastly adhere to the direction they had set, toughing out any temporary difficulties.

          Control of Money Supply in the pursuit of low inflation as a priority
          Reduction in Public Service Borrowing
          Less Government spending and intervention in private enterprise
          Restrictions on Trade Union power and militancy
          Privatisation of nationalised industries
          Lower taxes

The political difficulty faced by the Thatcherite  faction was that the (hopefully) short term consequences of their policies gave the appearance of economic disaster.  Claims to the electorate that a less inflationary, more competitive and productive economy to the betterment of all would be the result in the longer term, would appear increasingly without foundation as violent civil disobedience, urban poverty, record-setting unemployment figures and massive industrial unrest loomed large.

The Wet faction of the party remained as apparently unconvinced as the electorate.  Perhaps more politically pragmatic, they were looking as much to the next election as to the longer term economic future.  They had a point.   It was looking like the government might not see a second term, given the state of their unpopularity in the country. The Wets, as demonstrated by the actions of  Heath’s 1970-1974 government,  were more comfortable with elements of the discarded Post-War Consensus, including limited government intervention to counter out-of-control unemployment, and economic stimulation to moderate the recession.  They also gave the impression of being more concerned with the human and social cost of the current direction than the dominant Dries.

In spring 1981, the South London suburb of Brixton was engulfed by 4 days of rioting, arson and looting.  The manor  had a high concentration of Afro-Caribbean families.   Young black men made up a large proportion of the rioters.  Missiles and Molotov cocktails where thrown at Police.  Three  hundred Police and 65 civilians were injured and about 200 people were arrested amidst widespread damage.

The unrest was blamed, in part, on the actions of  a large contingent of undercover police who had been tasked to combat street crime which was rife in the area, and whose conduct was perceived as targeting suspects on racial grounds.  Poor housing and high unemployment were also seen as contributing causes, although Norman Tebbit, appointed Employment Secretary later that year, rejected unemployment as any sort of justification for civil unrest.

“...I grew up in the 1930s, with an unemployed father.  He did not riot.  He got on his bike and looked for work, and he went on looking until he found it…”

By 1981, unemployment had reached 12.4%, well over 2.5 million people.  By comparison, the percentage in 1931 as the Great Depression  took hold had been 25%.

By Mid-Summer, racial violence had broken out in Southall, South London, between skinheads and Asian youth.  In Toxteth, Liverpool, a combination of white and black youths went on a violent rampage during which tear gas was used by British civilian police for the first time in combatting civil disobedience.  Amidst widespread arson and looting, hundreds of police were injured.   Rioting and looting spread to Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester, Huddersfield, Newcastle-on-Tyne and Hull.  

The government’s social policies were suddenly under wide scrutiny.  Unemployment, a laissez-faire attitude to social and community issues, the effectiveness and morality  of policing attitudes and methods, the alienation of youth particularly in racially diverse communities, the state of the inner cities, and the lack of employment and other opportunities for young people were all brought into question. Anxious to counter the Government’s uncaring image, Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine moved his departmental headquarters to Merseyside to better assess the causes of the inner city crises and develop policies to improve conditions and opportunities.

The government also continued a trend, maintained  by both Labour and Conservative over the previous decade, of enhancing its abilities, through strengthening of legal powers,  to fight against sectarian violence arising from the Troubles in Northern Ireland.  Mrs Thatcher had made a powerful statement to the House of Commons the year before, effectively sidelining influence from the Government of the Irish Republic.  (Although there would be a softening of this attitude in 1985 with the promulgation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.)

“…The future of the constitutional affairs of Northern Ireland is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland, this Government, this Parliament and no-one else..”

During 1981, a number of Provisional Irish Republican Army prisoners along with Irish National Liberation Army prisoners embarked on a coordinated  hunger strike in Maze (formerly Long Kesh) Prison. The principal sticking point was the British Government’s refusal to reinstate political status, or effectively prisoner-of war status, to IRA and INLA soldiers held in custody.  

In November 1974 IRA activity on British mainland soil had been stepped up when two crowded Birmingham pubs were bombed, killing 21 people.  The Wilson Labour Government reacted by passing emergency legislation that proscribed the IRA and other republican paramilitary groups as terrorist organisations.  This in turn enabled the Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins,  to arbitrarily expel Irish nationals, including those from Northern Ireland, and increase the powers of police and British soldiers assisting the Royal Ulster Constabulary.  Under these  new powers, Police were able to detain terrorist suspects for an initial 48 hours without charge and then for up to 5 days if authorised by the Home Secretary.  The effectiveness and fairness  of these new powers would later be questioned after a number of convictions of alleged IRA terrorists were overturned.

In August 1971, the Heath Government had ordered the British Army to enact Internment; to preventatively  arrest those suspected of being members of paramilitary organisations, who would then be detained  indefinitely without trial, and without even being charged.  The practice of Internment was abandoned in 1975, after almost 2000 had been imprisoned, some for the entire period.  Three years later, the European Court of Human Rights found that prisoners had been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment.

An initial hunger strike, leading up to Christmas 1980, was called off when prison authorities offered a number of concessions in terms of the prisoners’ day-to-day regimes, but a strike resumed early in the new year with prisoners accusing prison authorities of failing to honour their commitments.   Prime Minister Thatcher refused to give any ground on the issue of political status, stating emphatically; Crime is crime is crime.  It is not political. 

The 6 strikers dropped the issue of political status in favour of a Five Point Plan concerning privileges.  This would include permission to wear their own clothes, associate with fellow paramilitary inmates, remission of their sentences and softening restrictions on letters and visits. 


In a by-election held in Spring 1981, leading hunger striker Bobby Sands, serving 5 years on firearms offences, was elected to the Northern Ireland constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, after what might have been described as the more peaceful voice of Irish Republicanism, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, withdrew to avoid splitting the nationalist vote.   Both the British Government and Ulster Protestants were stunned by the reality that a convicted IRA soldier, in prison, could carry a constituency with a majority of 1,446 votes.  Bobby Sands died of starvation two months later, and in another by-election his majority was actually  increased when his election agent stood in what amounted to a Prisoners’ Party.

The British Government told the prisoners that they might be receptive to some reform of prison conditions, but steadfastly refused to enter negotiations or grant any concessions while the hunger strike continued.  Attempts at mediation were made by Pope John Paul II, the European Human Rights Commission, the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace, and the International Red Cross. By October, 10 strikers had died, all of whom were publicly interred with paramilitary honours.  Five prisoners were saved after their families, supported by the Catholic Church, granted permission for medical authorities to intravenously feed the prisoners who had become comatose.  After the strike ended, the Government announced a raft of measures toward prison regime concessions.

Targeted IRA bombings continued. In November a Ulster Unionist member of the British Parliament, Reverend Robert Bradford, was gunned down in Belfast.  The British troop contingent in Northern Ireland was half of what it had been in 1972, down to 10,700, however following the Bradford assassination an additional 600 troops were deployed in support of Northern Ireland’s civilian police, the  RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary).

By the Spring of 1982, British troops would also be deployed in the South Atlantic.  A  short but brutal war  would provide the Prime Minister with a public triumph that would reverse her own, and her government’s, deep unpopularity and enable them to secure a second term with a greater majority and stronger mandate to pursue economic reform.

On election eve,  June 8th 1983, Margaret Thatcher gave an interview to the BBC;




The 1983 election saw the Conservatives dramatically increase their majority; their mandate to continue their economic and social plan was beyond dispute.  They now held 397 seats compared to 209  to the fractured Labour Party, which had been rocked by the defection of key moderate members, the so-called Gang of Four, whose Social Democratic Party (SDP) was now in alliance with the Liberals.   






Read more about the 1983 election here;



Having battled relentlessly against extravagant government spending, inflation, unemployment, terrorism, foreign military dictatorships, socialists and Tory Wets, the stage was now set for another major struggle that would come to define Margaret Thatcher’s premiership as much as the Falklands War had defined her first term. 

This fight would be violent and bitter and entrench hatreds that would still be felt more than three decades  years later.  In 1984, the direct fight would be against Arthur Scargill and the National Union of Mineworkers, but the collateral effect would go well beyond.

In October of 1983, Neil Kinnock succeeded Michael Foot as leader of the Labour Party, fought against the radical leftist Militant Tendency, and clashed with NUM leader Arthur Scargill.  But his attempts to steer Labour toward an electorally viable, more moderate position, was not enough to win government in in 1987, nor in 1992 with the Tories now being led by John Major.   Labour would finally return to power in 1997, under Tony Blair.



Read on here;








Credits and References

Photos public domain unless otherwise credited.  Generic pix by Pexels.  
Derry  mural by  @Trailguide via Twenty20.  Licenced for  for editorial use.  
Ronald Reagan photo courtesy  of Reagan Presidential Archives
Statistics from archived Collier’s Weekly and BBC reporting
BBC Witness and Desert Island Discs
Margaret Thatcher Foundation
UK Politics Info (website pages as per links
Archived New York Times
Spartacus Educational

Charts and Graphs by George Fairbrother © 2015-2018

If any copyright or attribution has been omitted in error, please advise using the contact options on the website,  and it will be rectified immediately.



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