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1980s and Margaret Thatcher

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1980s and Margaret Thatcher

The Eighties were a time of great change in all aspects of society. It was a time of money, confidence and greed. The Government had changed in 1976 to the Conservative Party led by Margaret Thatcher, the first woman Prime Minister this country had ever had, and her style of leadership left its mark upon society for a long time. It was a time of economic growth thanks to a stable economy and everyone was encouraged to 'own' something, houses, cars, invested income. This had an effect on all areas of society right down to the youth of the time. Where the Punk movement in the Seventies had been a reaction against the unemployment situation, young people in the 1980s were put on Youth Employment schemes which were run by the Government. This meant that the unemployment figures were considerably reduced and there was much less opportunity for the youth of the time to protest. Whilst this seemed like a good idea, for some people it was not popular and was phased out quickly. However it did leave an impression upon many young people, that there was more to life than a Government pay cheque (dole money) and in the increasingly stable economy, it was a good opportunity for the business minded people to start to make money. Everyone was buying or selling something and making more money, in some cases, more than they had ever dreamed possible. Young men and women left school at sixteen or eighteen and went into business and became millionaires by the time they were twenty. Margaret Thatcher encouraged this idea for the individual to take control. The Eighties were becoming a time of excess, fast cars, fast money and everyone trying to get as much as they could for themselves. This confident attitude extended beyond the business world and in 1982 England was involved in the first major conflict with another country for forty years. The Falklands War lasted for a very short time but it gave Great Britain something to think about and raised the spirits of the nation who had started to become dissatisfied with the government in particular Margaret Thatcher. After the success of her Falkland Islands policy however, her reputation was restored and she led the conservatives to a sweeping victory in the parliamentary elections of June 1983. All the money that was being made so quickly was also being spent quickly. The young upwardly-mobile professionals (or yuppies) spent money in a style as never before. Designer labels were the fashion in clothing, as more and more people could afford to spend the sort of money that had only been available to very few until now. It became important to wear the right labels, drive the right car, be seen in the right places and live in the right areas of town. Parents could afford to spend money on their children and children came to expect to get what they wanted. Everything became bigger and better than the last model and that included toys and games too. Gadgets were popular and toys went in and out of popularity almost overnight. Fashion became more conventional, style was dictated by the chosen few and it was not cool to be different. Musically little happened than in comparison to previous decades, the charts were dominated by middle of the road bands who played a good tune but who did not challenge anyone's ideas or come up with any new ideas of their own. There were few notable exceptions to this such as Culture Club, a group that seemed to take up where punk dressing left off and wore make-up and outrageous clothes. The lead singer Boy George was a fashion icon of the time and started a trend for make-up for men. In October 1988 the London Stock Market crashed and many people lost huge amounts of money overnight. The confident and aggressive eighties gave way to the caring, sharing nineties and a change in the way that we saw ourselves and each other.

Margaret Thatcher and her Government

Margaret Thatcher is the second daughter of a grocer and a dressmaker who became the first woman in European history to be elected prime minister. She then went on to become the first British prime minister in the twentieth century to win three consecutive terms and, at the time of her resignation in 1990, the nation's longest-serving prime minister since 1827. Some people have seen her as a true political revolutionary in that she broadened the base of the Conservative Party to include the middle class along with the wealthy aristocracy. Thatcher was born Margaret Hilda Roberts on October 13, 1925, in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. A clever child whose father was an ardent worker in local politics, she decided early in life to become a member of Parliament. She was educated at Somerville College and at Oxford University, where she was the first woman president of the Oxford University Conservative Association. She earned a master of arts degree from Oxford in 1950 and worked briefly as a research chemist. In 1950 she ran unsuccessfully for Parliament, although she did increase the Conservative Party vote by 50 percent in her district. The following year she married Denis Thatcher, a director of a paint firm. After her marriage she read for the bar and specialised in tax law. On her second attempt, in 1959, Thatcher won a seat in Parliament. Analytical, articulate, and ambitious, she soon became prominent among other politicians. Because of her debating skills she was frequently called upon by fellow conservatives to respond to the policies of the Labour Party, their political opponents. She served as joint parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance from 1961 to 1964, then as secretary of state for education and science under Prime Minister Edmund Heath from 1970 to 1974. Thatcher's political career was not always well regarded, however. In 1972, when she was at the Ministry of Education, for instance, she was referred to in the Sun newspaper as "the most unpopular woman in Britain." Yet she continued to rise in the ranks, and after the Conservative Party lost two general elections in 1974 she succeeded Heath as party leader. When the conservatives won a decisive victory in the 1979 general elections Thatcher became prime minister. Upon entering office she advocated measures that would limit government control, such as giving individuals greater independence from the state, ending government interference in the economy, and reducing public expenditures. Although her conservative philosophy met with approval, during her first two terms unemployment nearly tripled, the number of poor people increased, and bankruptcies resulted from her efforts to curb inflation. Thatcher became known as the "Iron Lady" because of her strict control over her cabinet and the country's economic policies. Extending her firm approach into foreign relations, she helped Zimbabwe (formerly



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