Here’s an interesting front cover from a Sunday Times colour supplement in 1980 “celebrating” the first year of Thatcher in power. Me or my sister defaced Maggie’s face with a beard and moustache at the time! Around her head – framed like Joan of Arc – are winged angels representing (from left to right) Geoffrey Howe, Lord Carrington, Willie Whitelaw, Keith Joseph and Jim Prior. Down below is Michael Heseltine looking a little wistful. At that stage, Thatcher was embattled and rumours were flying that Heseltine had his eye on Number 10.
This is a T-shirt from the 1982 People’s March to London that saw thousands of young people converge on the capital to make the point that all over Britain – but particularly in the north – teenagers were out of work with no hope and no future. That outstretched hand sums up the desperation many were starting to feel. I lived near Toxteth in Liverpool in 1984 when 90% of those aged between 16 and 25 were out of work. Grim times indeed.
One million young people found themselves on the dole in the grim recession that gripped Britain at the start of the 1980s. Jobs Not Dole was a familiar slogan at the time. Maggie, Maggie, Maggie – Out, Out, Out – a very familiar cry on the countless demonstrations. The monetarist economic experiment had resulted in mass unemployment – but for the Tories, it was the price that had to be paid.
Young people are on the dole all over Europe once more – 50% of young people in Spain without jobs. It’s all a horrible echo of the 1979-81 economic downturn in the UK during the first term of the Margaret Thatcher government. I was at university in Liverpool from 1981 to 1984 and jobs were things that very lucky people had in that city. Disused factories and warehouses were everywhere.
So bad was the situation that a bleak humour arose – evidenced by this front cover of the satirical magazine Private Eye in 1980. Here we have arch-Thatcherite Keith Joseph saying it’s not so bad – he’s spotted at least one job.