The Making of Modern Britain 15- The Impact of Thatcherism of Society

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How was Thactherism received in society?
IT had a deep impact on society- sometimes caused tension and opposition, both within parliament and outside.
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The Sale of Council Houses
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What was a key aim of the Thatcher govt in society?
To turn Britain into a property-owning democracy.
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What was the Housing Act of 1980?
It gave council tenants the right to buy thier council house.
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How much of a discount did they receive?
Between 33 and 50% depending on how long they have lived in the house.
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By 1988, how many new homeowners were there?
2 million. They had taken advantage of the new scheme to buy the homes they had previously rented.
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What was this seen as?
A symbol of of success of Thatcherism.
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How did Labour feel about the Right to buy scheme?
They initially opposed the Right to Buy scheme but dropped it's opposition when seeing how popular it is.
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But what were the negative consequences?
Sale of council houses was predominantly in better- off areas. Didn't have the greatest impact in less desirable areas.
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What were councils ordered to do?
To use the profits from council house sales to reduce debts not to build new council housing.
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What happened to the number of homes?
The number and quality of homes avaliable to rent were sharply reduced. Waiting lists for rented homes got longer. Some had to out up in emergency B&B accomedation.
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The miners strike and other industrial disputes
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Who did the Conservatives blame for inflation?
The unions.
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What did Thatcher's economic reforms cause?
Hostility from a number of trade unions.
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Give examples of trade unions who were upset?
Those representing public sector workers such as COHSE (Confederation of Health Service Employers) and NUPE (National Union of Public Employees) became more militant. The teachers union carried out a long industrial dispute over working conditions.
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How was the role of unions constrained by law, in particular the Employment Act of 1980?
1980- secondary picketing was banned. 1984- unions felt presure to hold ballots befores strike action was called.
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What was secondary picketing?
picketing in a location not directly involved in the dispute.
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What did employers try to do?
Tried to keep the unions out of their workplace.
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What was the Wapping Plant Confrentation in 1986?
Rupert Murdoch tried to reuce the power of the print unions- major confrentation at Murdoch's Wapping plant.
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What was the result of this confrentation?
Print unions failed to prevent the publication or distribution of any newspapers . Strike collapsed after 13 months.
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What was the most longest and symbolic episode of industrial struggles?
The Miners' Strike 1984/5. Comapred them to the 'enemy within'.
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1981- what did the National Coal Board (NCB) warn of?
The need to close 23 pits.
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How did the govt feel over this?
Did not feel ready for a re-run of 1973/4. Compromised by reducing amount of coal imported. Protetcted subsidy of the NCB- preventing the closures.
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By 1984, how was the govt feeling?
They felt ready. Fully prepared and confident. Huge stocks of coal had been built up in power stations.
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How did the flow of North Sea Oil help?
Made it much less likely that there would be an energy crisis like 1973.
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1984- NCB annouced what?
The need to close 20 pits.
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What did the leader of the NUM, Arthur Scargill believe?
There was a secret plan to lose 70 pits. Ian McGregor (chairman of NCB) rejected this.
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How was Scargill perceived?
A charismatic leader, but didn't gain total support for a national strike.
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What weakened his case?
His refusal to hold a strike ballot. failed to overcome the historic regional divisions among the miners.
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Who formed a breakaway union as a result?
The Nottinghamshire miners. Formed the Union of Democratic Miners (UDM)
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How did Scargillites react to this?
Accused the UDM of being 'scabs and traitors.
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What did the UDM respond with?
Accused Scargill of caring too much about hard-left politics than the interst of miners.
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What was one key factor involved in the miners strike?
The police. They now had new equipment, more experince of riot control and better tactics.
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What did critics of Thatcher say about this?
Blamed her for politicisation of the police- used to defeat the miners rather than be impartial protectors of the law.
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Name the most famous confrentation between the police and protestors?
The Battle of Orgreave 1984.
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describe the events of the Battle of Orgreave?
June 1984- mass picket at the coke plant at Orgreave in S. Yorkshire by 5000 miners. Faced by 8000 polcie officers. result was violent confrentations. more than 50 picketers, and 70 police officers were injured.
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What was a key factor in the defeat of the NUM?
Arthur Scargill himself.
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What did Scargill do?
He alienated moderates, never got support from the Labour Party.
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What did the public think of the miners?
They felt sorry for them. Easy for Thacther and allies in the press to demonise Scargill.
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Why were the last few months of the strike demoralising?
There was a steady drift back to work. Hard-core strikers wanted to stick it out, and depended upon charitable handouts.
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What was the outcome of Scargills campaign to prevent pit closures?
It was an utter failure. 1979- coal industry employed 200,000. 1990- 60,000 and falling.
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How did the result of the miners' strike go far beyond the coal industry?
The power of trade unions was dramatically reduced. 1990- total union membership was only 2/3s of what is was in 1979.
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What happened to other state industries?
Industries such as British Steel and British Airways were reorganised, with massive job losses.
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The poll tax
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What was the Poll Tax?
Final attempt to reform local govt finances.
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What was it's aim?
To make local councils more accountable to their electors by ensuring that everyone contributed.
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What was it like under the old system?
Local taxation was based on property, and so was only paid by homeowners.
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What did Thatcherites believe about it?
Believed that if everyone contributed it would be fairer, force councils to be more fairier and more efficient on their spending.
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What become quite clear about local taxation?
it would be likely to go up. Ministers found it difficult to justify why a poor pensioner would have to pay the same as a millionaire.
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When was the poll tax introduced in Scotland?
1989- extremely unpopular from the outset. Reputation of Conservatives were already damaged in Scotldn due to deindustrialisation of early 80s- damaged even further.
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Despte unpopularity, it was introduced where?
England and Wales in 1990.
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What did Thatcher's unwillingness to alter course show?
Her increasing aloofness and how out of touch she was of society.
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What were set up across the country in response to the Poll Tax?
Anti-Poll Tax Unions- urged people not to pay.
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In some areas, how many were non-payers?
30%. Police, courts and councils were unable to enforce payment.
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March 1990- what happened?
there was an anti-poll tax demonstration in Trafalgar Square. More than 200,000 attended. By the evening it had turned into a riot.
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How mnay were injured?
Nearly 5000 were injured, mostly rioters but also numerous police officiers.
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Name some examples of what happened during the riot?
Cars were overtuned and set on fire. Shop windows were smashed. Over 300 arrest were made, police seen to lose control.
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What was the Trafalgar Square Riot compared to?
The Battle of Orgreave in 1984, criticism that the police has been politicised.
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Extra-parliamentry opposition
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Education and the Arts
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What did Oxford University students deny to show their upset?
Voted against giving Thatcher an honourary degree, soemthing that had been given to every other Oxford-educated PM. Upset due to public spending cuts to higher education.
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What was the artisitic establishment's feelings towards Thatcher?
Tended to be anti-Thatcher- partly due to cuts in the public spending to the arts.
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Name examples of playwrights that satirised Thatcherism?
Caryl Churchill, David Hare and Alan Ayckbourn.
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Name a TV programme that showed the social consequences of Thatcherite policies?
Boys in the Blackstuff .
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The Church
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What did the Church of England publish in 1985?
Publsihed a report called Faith in the City.
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What did this call upon?
The government to do more to help deprived communities.
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Pressure groups
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What were there that worked outside of parliamentry politics?
Many protest movements, tht tried to involve people in direct action.
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Among these movements, what charities were there?
Shelter- campaigned against the increasing homelessness problem, and Age Concern, campaigned against pensioner poverty.
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From 1958- most significant protest movement has been?
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmement. Continued to attract lots of support- partly due to Thatcher's determind backing for policy of detterance and stepping up the arms race against the USSR.
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The Greenham women
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1979- what did Thatcher decide to do?
Station American cruise missiles at bases in Britain.
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Sept 1981- what happened?
Group of women protestors set up outside Greenham Common Base, where cruise missiles were placed.
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April 1983- what happened?
When cruise missiles were due to arrive, 70,000 protestors formed a 14-mile human chain.
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Envronmentalism
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What continued to grow during the 1980s?
Environmental concerns continued to grow.
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Why was this?
Due to a series of disasters.
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Name two of the global disasters.
1984 Bhopal gas Leak in India, and 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine.
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What else added to these concerns?
Growing understanding of long-term implications of pollution- 1985 Antartic ozone layer hole caussed by CFCs.
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What pressure groups grew in strength?
Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.
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