How Thatcher wanted to arm the police in 1981

In April, 1981, Brixton exploded into a fury of rioting, which then abated. But this would prove to be a lull in the storm. Because when the summer came, city after city across Britain went up in flames. The two most violent disturbances were again in Brixton and in the Toxteth district of Liverpool.  But there were highly charged nights of violence in the Moss Side area of Manchester, Southall in west London and smaller upheavals in cities like Coventry, Leicester and Leeds.

What’s emerged this year in released files is that Thatcher was looking to arm the police – particularly, it turns out, because she was concerned about security at the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.  The wedding went ahead as planned that year but by one of those cruel ironies, the only protestor to die in the Toxteth riot – passed away on the same day that Charles and Di swapped their vows.


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