Rejoice! Rejoice!: Britain in the 1980s
Alwyn W. Turner
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When Margaret Thatcher became prime minister in 1979 she promised to bring harmony where once there had been discord. But Britain entered the 1980s bitterly divided over its future. At stake were the souls of the great population boom of the 1960s. Would they buy into the free-market, patriotic agenda of Thatcherism? Or the anti-racist, anti-sexist liberalism of the new left? From the miners' strike, the Falklands War and the spectre of AIDS, to Yes, Minister, championship snooker and Boy George, Rejoice! Rejoice! steps back in time to relive the decade when the Iron Lady sought to remake Britain. What it discovers is a thoroughly foreign country.
Inherited, Gorbachev, as Ken Livingstone later noted, ‘seized on the tragedy to increase the pace of change, and within months the terms glasnost and perestroika [restructuring] were in use around the world’. The main effect of Chernobyl in Britain, however, was to reinforce a prejudice against nuclear power that had been growing with the rise of environmentalism. There had been a surge of interest in ecological issues in the early 1970s, which had faded somewhat as the economy steadily.
Body of the Community,’ she told the Commons. ‘He wanted the commission to be the executive and he wanted the council of ministers to be the senate. No! No! No!’ The intransigence implied by that triple negative was all the more powerful since it was televized, the House having recently agreed, against her wishes, to allow cameras into the chamber. Eurosceptics were much heartened by her position – the Sun addressed the issue of monetary union with one of its most famous headlines: UP YOURS.
London, 1982) Melanie McFadyean & Margaret Renn, Thatcher’s Reign: A Bad Case of the Blues (Chatto & Windus, London, 1984) Ian MacGregor, The Enemies Within: The Story of the Miners’ Strike 1984–5 (William Collins, London, 1986) John McIlroy, ‘Trade Unions and the Closed Shop’ (Workers’ Educational Association, London, 1981) Donald Macintyre, Mandelson: The Biography (HarperCollins, London, 1999) Andy McSmith, Faces of Labour: The Inside Story (Verso, London, 1996) Jonathan Margolis,.
Deal with these new circumstances, recommending that we stay at home, close the windows, turn off the gas and conserve our water stocks: ‘Water must not be used for flushing lavatories; until you are told that lavatories may be used again, other toilet arrangements must be made.’ Just as helpfully, some thought, Viz comic offered IMPROVE YOUR GOLF AFTER THE BOMB, a handy guide to how a nuclear holocaust may impact on your game: ‘After a nuclear explosion you may find that some of your fingers.
Familiar figure, slowly and carefully intoning the limited information that the government deemed appropriate to share with the public; he was frequently compared to a speak-your-weight machine in tribute to the dryness of his delivery. Finally (as it seemed to those at home) on 21 May, seven weeks after the Argentine invasion, and following ten days of heavy bombardment from air and sea, British troops landed on the Falklands, establishing a bridge head at San Carlos on the west coast of East.