Who would have thought we would see a return to mass trade union action, waves of strikes by workers, civil disobedience, and even the revival of socialist ideas. Hmmmm….when did this last happen? Join me and learn some lessons from the past to inform the future. Climb aboard the Thatcher Crisis Years time machine and find out about Britain during the last period of major unrest!
This blog is mainly focussed on the years 1979 to 1983 – the first turbulent years of Margaret Thatcher. It was by no means assured that she would get another term in office – something that’s obscured by her later terms in office when she seemed totally triumphant.
Why run a blog on this?
Because they were stormy years very similar to the time of transition we are now experiencing. 1979 was when Thatcher started to dismantle the post-war consensus and usher in a period of neo-liberalism that may now be ending. It was an epochal moment.
But it wasn’t just the right wing in politics that hungered for change. Many on the left believed that fundamental upheaval was required. Thatcherism was faced with a new and bolder socialist opposition in the labour movement. The result was combustive.
Combine that political scenario with the amazing music of the period: ska, reggae, punk, new wave, rockabilly, NWOBHM, disco, new romantic, futurist, electronic, etc, etc. And a revolution in fashion with one youth fad after another. What’s not to be interested in?
My name is Tony McMahon and I have a vast collection of 70s and 80s memorabilia. Heaps of music mags, newspapers, political stuff and general trivia. It was a volatile era that seems increasingly relevant to the political storms we are now experiencing. So let me be your guide!
Some other bullet points about me:
- Co-author of two biographies set back in the early 1980s: Neville Staple, vocalist in The Specials, and Errol Christie, ex-professional boxer (the latter book put up for two major literary awards). Both books published by Aurum Press/Quarto. This involved years of research, mainly in Coventry where both Staple and Christie grew up. I became thoroughly immersed in the 2Tone scene and Neville’s book was published as The Specials reformed and toured in 2010
- In 2008, I optioned a screenplay “Ghost Town” about four young British blacks trying to get out of Coventry via music and sport. We had the life rights for Neville, Errol, Pauline Black and footballer Garry Thompson – represented by Blake Friedmann, optioned by EMU Films
- In 2010, Errol Christie was the boxing consultant and trainer to the play Sucker Punch first staged at the Royal Court Theatre in London and starring Daniel Kaluuya who went on to become a Hollywood star
- Author of Quest for the True Cross – published by Bertelsmann in Europe, a historical fiction that led to me becoming a regular on-screen contributor on Discovery, History, Smithsonian and documentaries on other TV channels
- Author of The Battle For British Islam published by Saqi Books and reviewed in The Sunday Times, New Statesman, CNN, BBC, Sky News and other global media
- Former BBC news producer
- Print journalist for 20 years
- 1984/85 Deputy President, Liverpool University Guild of Students
- Early 1980s – Labour Party activist
- I run the Beardy History website and appear on history programmes as a pundit on everything from the Tudors to the Templars!
Went through every youth cult of the late 70s and early 80s with varying degrees of enthusiasm from New Wave to New Romantic. The university student paper once said “Tony McMahon should decide if he’s a dedicated Marxist or a decadent disco kid”. I chose to be both!