It was a brave pop band that went to Northern Ireland at the start of the 1980s and loudly advocated a non-sectarian message – but that’s what The Specials and The Beat did in 1981.
On the UK mainland, 2tone bands had made racial unity central to their musical message. When it came to the violence torn province, unity of Catholic and Protestant youth was their plea. I write about this tour in my biography of Neville Staple – Original Rude Boy. And below is a press clipping from my archives.
In 1979, Thatcher pledged to bring back hanging during the General Election that saw her take power for the first time – beating Jim Callaghan and Labour. In one conversation made public in 2014 she made it clear that hanging should be re-introduced for terrorists in Northern Ireland.
Capital punishment had only been banned under 15 years earlier by a Labour government. But the movement against it had been gathering pace since the 1930s. Thatcher undoubtedly supported the rope and wanted a free vote in parliament. In answer to a question put to her in a newspaper attacking her over the issue, she replied:
For my part, I have always supported capital punishment for terrorists, and will continue to do so.