Back to the future: 1979-1989
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UK politics

A Prime Minister with a presidential style, Margaret Thatcher dominated domestic politics during the 1980s.


'It's my party'

In Britain, the 1980s saw a new political philosophy emerge: Thatcherism. Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, and Britain was transformed as a consequence. She was elected in 1979, and re-elected in 1983 and 1987. But her election success could not conceal the growing divisions in her party over Europe. The extent of the divide in Britain that her policies led to found expression most notably in the Miner's Strike (1984-5).

The dominance of the Conservative Party in the 1980s was not the only political story of the decade. The Labour Party found it difficult to re-build after the 1979 defeat, and the decade was characterised by growing tensions between militant and far left politics, and centrist groups. Out of this tension, the Social Democratic Party was born. In Scotland, the campaign for devolution continued.

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