Student mugging in the 1980s


In the early 1980s, university students comprised a small percentage of the population compared to today – and most came from fairly middle class backgrounds. There was a strong anti-student feeling in many working class areas and this could lead to conflict.

I remember local people in Liverpool referring to the Uni as the “hotel on the hill” and there was a perception that we were the gilded youth. I’m not sure things were quite as golden as the locals thought but that said, our prospects were better than the average scouser aged eighteen in 1982.

Undergraduates were beaten up and attacked. One Liverpool University student who came a cropper allowed himself to be photographed by the student paper, Guild and City Gazette, sporting two black eyes and a busted nose above the headline:

VIOLENT TIMES

This student had been set upon by ten youths aged between 18 and 21 in the Aigburth area of the city.  As the paper discovered, this was by no means an isolated case.  In the course of its investigations, a litany of robberies and attacks was uncovered.

A lecturer had been mugged outside the Roxby building with £20 stolen; a History undergraduate was knocked to the floor and £300 taken; a woman saw youths trying to steal her car and was knocked down and mugged; another lecturer had recently been beaten up in Abercromby Square in broad daylight and a ‘gang of 15 locals’ had turned up at the Brook House pub on Smithdown Road to beat up some students inside.

The University’s Security Superintendant warned that “the number of incidents of this nature is definitely on the increase”.   A University spokesman agreed that there was a trend.  “We are concerned that such attacks are becoming fashionable among teenagers in the area.”

Violent Times - a mugged student
Violent Times – a mugged student

When I ran as a Labour candidate for the student union in 1982


It was my first year at university and the Labour Club decided I should run for the post of Welfare Officer of the Guild of Undergraduates at the University of Liverpool. The Labour Club was then very much under the sway of Militant – a Marxist group within the Labour Party that has now evolved into the Socialist Party.

Consequently, I ran on such policies as the nationalisation of the top 200 monopolies, a £90 minimum wage (generous in those days!) and the introduction of a 35 hour week. I even joked at the time that a 35 hour week would lose the support of arts students who barely managed ten hours a week.

Think I got about 120 votes. Though I remember a Militant saying to me afterwards: “120 Marxists at the university!!” Think that was a case of revolutionary optimism.

Running for Labour in 1982
Running for Labour in 1982

Monotony – the game for the unemployed in 1979


There was a dark humour among the unemployed under Thatcher – many knowing they would never, in all likelihood, work again. These were people thrown out of manufacturing jobs and facing a labour market that was unforgiving if you over 35 – let alone unwilling to up sticks.

Graduates couldn’t even find summer jobs in the early 80s as the unemployed competed for shop and bar work. Dole newspapers sprang up all over the north, Midlands and London. This one developed a game for the jobless called Monotony – a skit on Monopoly.