The disastrous lead up to the 1983 general election


In 1983, Thatcher called a general election. The Tories had been in power since 1979 and had gone through a very rocky first two years with economic collapse, riots and rumblings within the government against Maggie. But a couple of things played into her hands: the war in the Falklands and a dreadful Labour campaign in 83.

The Labour slogan was utterly uninspiring: Think Positive, Act Positive, Vote Positive. Worse than that, it was abundantly clear to anybody inside or outside the party that the leadership didn’t believe in its own election manifesto. A month before polling, ITV’s “TV Eye” programme took a look at Labour and it wasn’t pretty viewing. Michael Foot is interviewed and I leave you to judge what went wrong.

Croxteth Comprehensive

Croxteth Comprehensive – an early 80s Merseyside campaign


Does anybody remember a campaign in 1982 to keep Croxteth Comprehensive open in Liverpool?  The closure of this school gave the impression – along with dozens of other policies – that the Tories in Westminster didn’t give a damn about inner city areas. It’s hard to imagine now – with our more touchy feely Tories – how Thatcher made it abundantly clear what she thought of Scotland, the North and traditional working class areas. They were not part of her future.

At this time, the Croxteth district of Liverpool had over 90% youth unemployment. I remember those official statistics of the time that showed how bleak things were – let alone the unofficial stats. The Crocky wasn’t just a school – it was a community facility, a beating heart in an area beaten up by recession.

Croxteth Comprehensive

Tony McMahon

My student union election poster from 1982


Tony McMahonIn my first year at university, I ran for the welfare officer position in the student union at Liverpool Uni. The Labour Club was heavily influenced by the Marxist policies of the Militant Tendency and so the programme I ran on included calls to nationalise the top 200 monopolies, a £90 minimum wage and a 35 hour week. I think the latter demand probably terrified some of the arts students!

Note the heavy fringe of the time. Think my hair would have been dyed jet black – think Phil Oakey of the Human League.

The poster was drawn with a felt-tip pen. Seems so weirdly amateur now but we had no digital magic back in those far off days.