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1987 General Election

1987 General Election

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Political Parties

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Social Democratic Party




The first Westminster election in which the Ecology Party put up a candidate was the Walsall North by-election held on 4th November 1976. Johnathan Tyler stood for the Ecology Party gaining 181 votes (0.48%) and coming 8th defeating only serial by-election contender Bill Boakes. The election had been caused by the resignation of John Stonehouse, elected as a Labour MP but subsequently defecting to the English National Party before resigning. In the confusion the Conservatives gained the seat and an Independent came third with the National Front also saving their deposit and coming fourth pushing the Liberal into fifth place. 1

The next by-election in which Ecology stood was the one for Manchester Central held on 27th September 1979, five months after the 1979 General Election which Margaret Thatcher had won for the Conservatives. Again it was a safe Labour seat which Labour held with the same 70.7% share as at the general election. The Ecology Party candidate, John Foster, gained 129 votes, a 1.2% share, coming 5th out of 6 candidates (again defeating Bill Boakes). 2

The second by-election of the new parliament was in South West Hertfordshire held on 13th December 1979. The Conservative held the seat suffering a 7.4% swing to the Liberals. N.S.Jenkins for the Ecology Party gained 601 votes (1.6%) coming fourth out of six candidates. 3

Ecology did not stand in Southend East in March, but did contest Glasgow Central on 26th June 1980 where David Mellor came sixth out of seven with 45 votes (0.6%) 4

Feramanagh & S.Tyrone in April '81 saw only two candidates - a Unionist (UUP) stood against Bobby Sands who was on hunger strike in the Maze Prison and was elected as MP, dying 26 days later. The Republican movement then held the seat at the subsequent by-election in August. Ecology generally did not stand in Northern Ireland by-elections until

In the meantime in Warrington on 16th July 1981 Neil Chantrell for the Ecology Party got 219 votes (0.8%) coming 4th out of 10 candidates. This by election was notable for a safe Labour seat being challenged by the new SDP with Roy Jenkins, one of the gang-of-four defectors from Labour coming within 2000 votes of winning the seat. 5

The next three mainland by-elections saw gains for the Liberals and SDP with Bill Pitt, Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins being elected.

Croydon North West, 22nd October 1981. Ecology Party - John Foster 155 votes (0.45%). 6

Crosby, 26th November 1981. Ecology Party - Richard Small 480 votes (0.83%) down from 2.8% in the 1979 General Election. 7

Glasgow Hillhead, 25th March 1982. Ecology Party - Nicolette Carlaw 176 votes (0.6%). Nicolette's campaign focused on nuclear disarmament. 8

Ecology did not stand in Beaconsfield, a safe Conservative seat where Labour's Tony Blair standing for the first time lost his deposit (the threshold was 12.5%). There were no Ecology candidates in the 7 of the 8 subsequent by-elections before the 1983 general election.

In Bermondsey on 23rd February 1983 George Hannah stood for Ecology, one of 16 candidates in an acrimonious by-election that saw Peter Tatchell loose the seat for Labour on a massive swing of 44.2% to the Liberals. Hannah polled only 45 votes (0.2%), possibly a record low Ecology or Green parliamentary election vote.

After missing the first four by-elections of the new parliament Ecology stood again in Portsmouth South on 14th June 1984 with Terry Mitchell gaining 190 votes (0.5%). Thomas Layton stood as "Spare The Earth Independent Ecology" (as he had in 1982 in ) and got 50 votes. Laydon had also stood on the same ticket in Chesterfield in March. 10

The Ecology/Green party did not stand in any of the next nine mainland by-elections from June 1984 through till February 1987.

At the Greenwich by-election on 26th February 1987 Graham Bell standing for the Green Party came fourth (by a country mile) with 264 votes (0.8% of the turnout), but roundly beating all the other four fringe minor candidates (National Front came 7th just ahead of the Revolutionary Communist who had 91 supporters.

The final by-election of the 1983-87 Parliament was held in Truro on 12th March 1987. Howard Hoptrough stood for the Green Party getting 403 votes (0.8%)

The Green Party stood in all bar one of the first seven by-elections in England and Scotland of the 1987-1992 parliament 12 . They missed the Pontypridd contest in Wales in Feb'89. With the SDP in play as a fourth party occupying the space between Liberal and Labour the Greens generally came fifth but their vote share was starting to rise slightly.

Kensington 14th July 1988. Greens 5th - Philip Hobson 572 votes (2.42% +0.73 on 1987 election)

Glasgow Govan 10th November 1988. Greens 5th - George Campbell 345 votes (1.1%)

Epping Forest 18th December 1988. Greens 5th - Andrew Simms 372 votes (2.0%)

Richmond (Yorks) 23rd February 1989. Greens 5th - Robert Upshall 1473 votes (2.8%)

Vale of Glamorgan 4th May 1989. Greens 6th - M.Wakefield 971 votes (2.0%)

Glasgow Central 15th June 1989. Greens 4th - Irene Brandt 1019 votes (3.8% + 2.9 on 1987 election). The Greens finished ahead of both Liberal Democrat and Social Democrat. SNP took second place.

The Vauxhall by-election on 15th June 1989 was the first parliamentary election in which the Green Party saved their deposit (the threshold had reduced to 5% in 1985). The election, in a safe labour seat, was caused by the resignation of the sitting Labour MP Don Milligan who left the Labour Party to take up an academic post. There were 14 candidates - the most in any election in the 1980s. Henry Bewley was the Green Party candidate and polled 1,767 votes - a 6.1% share, coming in fourth place behind the Social & Liberal Democrat. There was another candidate, Dominic Allen, who stood for "The Greens" and was sponsored by a religious cult. He managed 267 votes. Despite some controversy over her selection (she was imposed against the wishes of the local Labour branch) Kate Hoey won a clear majority of 52.7%, an increase of 2.5%. 13

The next by-election was Mid-Staffordshire on 22nd March 1990, the Greens did not put up a candidate. For the remainder of 1990 Greens stood in most by-elections generally getting around 3% share, however in 1991 activity tailed of and vote shares where they did stand fell back to around 1%.

During the 1992 to 1997 parliament the Greens only stood in 2 by-elections - the first of the new parliament in Newbury on 6th May where they polled 0.6% and then not until Hemwsorth in February 1996 where they got 0.7%.


Labor Edit

Country Liberal Edit

Sitting members are in bold. Successful candidates are highlighted in the relevant colour.

Electorate Held by Labor candidate CLP candidate Nationals candidates Independent candidates
Arafura Labor Stan Tipiloura Dorothy Fox Peter Watton
Araluen CLP Di Shanahan Eric Poole Enzo Floreani
Arnhem Labor Wes Lanhupuy John Hancock Brian Dalliston Bruce Foley
Barkly CLP Keith Hallett Gary Smith Ian Tuxworth Maggie Hickey
Braitling CLP Mike Alsop Roger Vale Max Stewart
Casuarina CLP John Reeves Nick Dondas Giuseppe Nicolosi
Fannie Bay CLP John Waters Marshall Perron Stephen Marshall Edward Osgood
Flynn CLP John Omond Ray Hanrahan Jacqueline Anderson
Jingili CLP Bob Wharton Rick Setter Harry Maschke
Karama CLP Robyn Crompton Mick Palmer Lionel Preston
Katherine CLP Phil Maynard Mike Reed Jim Forscutt
Koolpinyah CLP Peter Ivinson Pat Loftus David Loveridge Noel Padgham-Purich
Leanyer CLP David Lamb-Jenkins Fred Finch David Wane
Ludmilla CLP Chris McMah Col Firmin Brian Thomas Sydney Cross
MacDonnell Labor Neil Bell J. Davis Ron Liddle
Millner Labor Terry Smith John Baban Michael Foley
Nhulunbuy Labor Dan Leo Pam Steele-Wareham Deane Crowhurst Pat Ellis
Nightcliff CLP John Rowell Stephen Hatton Brian Brent
Palmerston CLP Tony Henry Barry Coulter Michael Ting
Port Darwin CLP Russell Kearney Tom Harris James Maclean
Sadadeen Independent Meredith Campbell Shane Stone Lynne Peterkin Denis Collins
Sanderson CLP Peter McQueen Daryl Manzie Lawrence Armstrong
Stuart Labor Brian Ede Jim Sinclair Ian Drennan Vince Forrester
Victoria River CLP Leon White Terry McCarthy Ronald Wright Lance Lawrence
Wanguri CLP Peter McNab Don Dale Graeme Bevis

Seat Pre-1987 Swing Post-1987
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Barkly Country Liberals Ian Tuxworth 10.3 (CLP) N/A 0.5 Ian Tuxworth NT Nationals
Koolpinyah Independent Noel Padgham-Purich 12.5 (CLP) 31.3 18.8 Noel Padgham-Purich Independent
Sadadeen Independent Denis Collins 20.5 (CLP) 40.2 19.7 Denis Collins Independent

The following pendulum is known as the Mackerras Pendulum, invented by psephologist Malcolm Mackerras. The pendulum works by lining up all of the seats held in the Legislative Assembly according to the percentage point margin they are held by on a two-party-preferred basis. This is also known as the swing required for the seat to change hands. Given a uniform swing to the opposition or government parties, the number of seats that change hands can be predicted.

Wobbly Thursday

Labour’s campaign was so well organised, the Conservatives briefly feared they might lose the election. A week before election day, on what was to become known as “Wobbly Thursday”, a rogue poll for The Daily Telegraph showed the Tory lead down to 4% while Newsnight predicted a hung parliament. The poll compounded Thatcher’s unease at the way central office had advertised the campaign compared to previous elections. Thatcher was also suffering from a severe toothache, and became quite irritable and susceptible to unexplained outbursts of rage. One Minister claimed ‘we were walking on eggshells’ and ‘our nerves were on edge’.

Adding to this fear was a 7-page memo, produced by the Tories internal pollsters, stating that Labour support was improving as the campaign went on while the Government’s support was declining – referring to this trend as ‘dangerous’. It recommended the party shift focus by putting Thatcher at the centre of the campaign, and a renewed vigour of positive messages and anti-Labour material.

One week before polling day on 4 June 1987, Young and Tebbit had a major disagreement about the campaign strategy. It is claimed that Young grabbed Tebbit by the lapels and said “Norman, listen to me, we are about to lose this fucking election”. A concerned Mrs Thatcher handed the management of the campaign over to Tim Bell.

In a blanket newspaper advertising campaign, with the use of the use of positive messages in simple black font, Bell spent £2 million in a single week. The Tory message was simple: ‘Britain is great again. Don’t let Labour wreck it’.

Selling or Selling Out Nuclear Disarmament? Labour, the Bomb,and the 1987 General Election

In the British general elections of 1983 and 1987 the Labour Party campaigned to rid the United Kingdom of nuclear weapons. In 1986/7, there was a serious prospect of a government committed to ending Britain's status as a nuclear-weapons state and removing US nuclear weapons from British territory. This article traces the development of Labour defence and disarmament policy under Neil Kinnock in the run-up to the 1987 general election. It explores how internal and external factors informed the presentation of Labour's case for nuclear disarmament and non-nuclear defence to national and international audiences. Reaction from foreign governments, most importantly the United States and the Soviet Union, is examined. The central question is whether the articulation of labour's alternative in 1986/7 is best understood as an attempt to make the case for nuclear disarmament or as preparation for a defence and foreign policy framed by existing approaches to nuclear strategy and arms control. The general conclusion is that on key issues of defence policy Neil Kinnock followed a trajectory in which aspiration gave way to accommodation as the proximity of responsibility grew closer: Labour in power would move back toward orthodoxy and consensus on defence and disarmament.


I am grateful to the following for comments on drafts of this paper: Professor Nigel Bowles, Lord Healey of Riddlesden, and Dr Kris Stoddart.


1. For overviews of Labour party attitudes to defence see P. Jones, America and the British Labour Party: the Special Relationship at Work (London, 1996) D. Keohane, The Labour Party's Defence Policy since 1945 (Leicester, 1993) M. Phythian, The Labour Party, War and International Relations, 1945–2006 (London, 2007) L. Scott, ‘Labour and the Bomb: The First Eighty Years’, International Affairs, lxxxiv (2006), 685–700.

2. C. Hughes and P. Wintour, Labour Rebuilt: The New Model Party (London, 1990), 121–2. For discussion, see M. Westlake (with Ian St John), Kinnock, The Biography (London, 2001), 437–44.

3. P. Gould, The Unfinished Revolution: How The Modernisers Saved The Labour Party (London, 1998), 70.

4. See B. Fischer, ‘The Soviet-American War Scare of the 1980s’, International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, xix (2006), 480–518 R. Rhodes, Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race (London, 2008), 138–211 G. S. Barrass, The Great Cold War: A Journey Through the Hall of Mirrors (Stanford, 2009), 277–310.

5. D. Reynolds, Summits: Six Meetings that Shaped the Twentieth Century (London, 2008), 357–63.

6. F. Halliday, The Making of the Second Cold War (London, 1983).

7. Statement by Mikhail Gorbachyov, TASS, 15 Jan. 1986, reprinted in Soviet Weekly, 22Jan. 1986, 21–3.

8. K. Booth and N. J. Wheeler, The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in Cooperation and in World Politics (London, 2007), 145–58.

9. Beth A. Fischer, The Reagan Reversal: Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War (London, 1997) Rhodes, Arsenals of Folly, 163–8, 180–1.

10. J. Matlock Jr, Reagan and Gorbachev, How the Cold War Ended (New York, 2004).

11. For Reagan's views on SDI and nuclear disarmament, see F. Fitzgerald, Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War (London, 2000) and P.Lettow, Ronald Reagan and his Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (New York, [2005] 2006).

12. D. Butler and D. Kavanagh, The British General Election of 1983 (London, 1984), 95–7.

13. K. O. Morgan, Michael Foot, A Life (London, 2007), 433. Foot's own account provides little in the way of clarity, Michael Foot, Another Heart and Other Pulses: The Alternative to the Thatcher Society (London, 1984), 56–95.

14. K. O. Morgan, Callaghan, A Life (Oxford, 1997), 726.

15. Interview with Jonathan Steele, Marxism Today, April 1986, 27.

16. D. Healey, Labour and a World Society: A New Fabian Essay Revisited, Fabian Tract 501 (London, January 1985), 7.

17. D. Healey, The Time of My Life (London, 1987), 455.

18. Defence and Security for Britain, Statement to Annual Conference 1984 by the National Executive Committee (Manchester, 1984).

19. ‘Healey: My Fears for Kinnock's Prospects', Sunday Times, 6 April 1986, 1, reporting an interview with Arrigo Levi in La Stampa.

20. Interview, TV-am, Jonathon Dimbleby on Sunday, 13 April 1986.

21. ‘Michail Gorbachyov receives British parliamentary delegation’, TASS statement, 26May 1986, reprinted in Soviet Weekly, 28 May 1986.

22. L. Scott, ‘Polaris: Initial Reflections’, 15 May 1986, 7–10.

23. M. Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (London, [1993] 1995), 443.

24. For Parliamentary reactions, including hostile Conservative responses see Richard Ware, ‘Case Study II: the Libyan Raid’ in C. Carstairs and R. Ware (eds), Parliament and International Relations (Buckingham, 1991), 103–11.

25. S. Phillips, ‘The European Response’ in E.P. Thompson, M. Kaldor, and P. Anderson (eds), Mad Dogs: The US Raids on Libya (London, 1986), 41.

26. Interview, This Week Next Week, BBC 1, 20 April 1986.

27. Defence and Security, 21–2.

28. T. Benn and E. Heffer ‘The Case for Closing All American Bases in Britain’, 14 May 1986.

29. Peter Hennessy suggests that while a decision to recall and decommission Polaris would not have caused a crisis in Whitehall the unilateral expulsion of US bases would likely have been a ‘breaking point’ that would have led to resignations, New Statesman, 13March 1987, 15. This view was held by one very senior MOD official, conversation with author, 3 Nov. 2005.

30. ‘Disarm and Defend’, BBC 1 Panorama, 29 Sept. 1986.

31. Speech by the Rt Hon Neil Kinnock, Labour Party Conference Blackpool, 30 Sept. 1986.

32. Speech by the Rt Hon Neil Kinnock, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Boston, MA, 2 Dec. 1986.

33. In his Harvard speech, Kinnock listed the non-nuclear roles: interdiction counter-air attack, close air support air-defence suppression and maritime air support.

34. J. Newhouse, The Nuclear Age: From Hiroshima to Star Wars (London, 1989), 391–2.

36. In an interview at party conference in Oct. 1986, Kinnock accepted that while it was ‘highly unlikely’ that such discussions would last the lifetime of a Parliament it was impossible to ‘set a stop-watch’ on them. Thames Television, This Week: ‘The Next P.M.?’ 2 Oct. 1986.

37. J. Callaghan, Defence and Disarmament – We Need to Think Again, Address to the Cardiff Fabian Society, 18 Nov. 1982 (General & Municipal Workers Union, 1982), 3.

39. These were Spain, Portugal, Norway, Luxemburg, Iceland, Denmark, Canada (which after the war had taken a conscious decision to come out of the nuclear-weapons business) and France (which of course had its own nuclear weapons).

40. ‘Labour defence split revealed’, The Independent, 11 Dec. 1986, 1.

42. Transcript of Launch of Modern Britain in a Modern World Campaign on 10 Dec. 1986’, 6 Jan. 1987.

43. Ibid. This reversed a statement at Harvard where he argued: that: ‘There is no credible nuclear “cover” for [US service personnel in Europe] for … nuclear weapons cannot, bytheir very nature, give “cover” to troops.’ Kinnock speech, Kennedy School of Government.

44. For discussion of how Gorbachev was viewed within Western governments see Barrass, Great Cold War and P. Cradock, In Pursuit of British Interest: Reflections on Foreign Policy under Margaret Thatcher and John Major (London, 1997). For discussion of Reagan's views on nuclear weapons, see Fitzgerald, Way Out There Lettow, Ronald Reagan Don Oberdorfer, From the Cold War to a New Era: the United States and the Soviet Union, 1983–1991 (London, 1998) Fischer, Reagan Reversal Rhodes, Arsenals of Folly.

45. For accounts see Lettow, Ronald Reagan, 217–26 Oberdorfer, From the Cold War, 183–209 Reynolds, Summits, 357–63.

46. Oberdorfer, From the Cold War, 202.

47. Lettow, Ronald Reagan, 225.

48. Thatcher, Downing Street Years, 471.

49. None of the discussion made any reference to that fact that were three other declared nuclear-weapon states each equipped with ballistic missiles. Neither the British, the French, nor the Chinese were consulted or counted in any of the discussions.

50. Quoted in Oberdorfer, From the Cold War, 183.

51. Kinnock speech, Kennedy School of Government.

52. S. Talbott, Deadly Gambits: The Reagan Administration and the Stalemate in Nuclear Arms control (London, 1985).

53. I. Mather, ‘All Quiet on the Central Front’, The Sunday Times, 14 Dec. 1986.

54. Gould, Unfinished Revolution, 69–71.

55. Party Political Broadcast by the Labour Party, 3 Dec. 1986.

56. Labour Party, The Power to Defend our Country (London, 1986).

57. Westlake, Kinnock, 378–80.

59. ‘How Britain Could Break the Ice in the Cold War’, The Independent, 25 Feb. 1987.

60. CND, ‘Defence Briefing: Labour's Defence Policy’, March 1987.

61. B. Kent, ‘Resisting the British Bomb: the 1980s’ in D. Holdstock and F. Barnaby, The British Nuclear Weapons Programme 1952–2002 (London, 2003), 68.

62. ‘Tea Room Row as Defence Splits Labour’, The Daily Telegraph, 11 March 1987, 1 Morgan, Callaghan, 728.

63. ‘Labour's Great Vote Deterrent’, The Times, 10 March 1987, 14. The author, Richard Heller, adviser to Shadow Home Secretary Gerald Kaufman, immediately lost his job for publishing the article.

64. ‘Mr Kinnock in Wonderland’, The Financial Times, 15 Dec. 1986

65. See for example, M. Bundy, G. F. Kennan, R. S. McNamara, and G. C. Smith, ‘Nuclear Weapons and the Atlantic Alliance’, Foreign Affairs, lx (1982), 753–68 M. Bundy, M. H. Halpern, W. W. Kaufman, G. F. Kennan, R. S. McNamara, M. O’Donnell, L. V. Signal, G. C. Smith, R. H. Ullman, and P. C. Warnke, ‘Back From the Brink’, Atlantic Monthly, Aug. 1986, 35–41 R. McNamara, ‘The Military Role of Nuclear Weapons: Perceptions and Misperceptions’ Foreign Affairs, lxii (1983), 59–80.

67. Bundy et al., ‘Nuclear Weapons’, 764.

68. ‘Meeting of the Joint Commission of the Labour Party and the SPD on questions of security and foreign policies’, 14 Nov. 1986.

69. Westlake, Kinnock, 381–3 Hughes and Wintour, Labour Rebuilt, 20–1.

70. Charles Clarke, Office of the Leader of the Opposition, to Ray Seitz, US Embassy, 1April 1987.

71. See, for example, ‘A Dwarf among the Giants of World Politics’, Daily Express, 30 March 1987, 16 ‘Kinnock to explain his US “Shambles”’, Daily Telegraph, 30 March 1987, 1 ‘Neil’s White House Blues’, The Star, 30 March 1987, 8 ‘Reagan flays Kinnock’, Sunday Express, 29 March 1987, 1.

72. Healey, Time of My Life, 534.

73. Embassy London to Secretary of State, 19 March 1987, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California, USA cable 26948, box 90912.

74. Memo, Talking Points for the President’s Meeting with Neil Kinnock, March 1987, Reagan Presidential Library, ref. 26959, box 90912.

76. Public Attitudes to Defence and Disarmament, Market Research International Limited (MORI), 5 Jan.1987,

78. ‘Kinnock Warns Rogers Against “Interfering”’, The Guardian, 5 Dec. 1986, 32.

80. Kinnock, speech Labour Party Conference.

81. C. H. Price II, ‘Winds of Change in NATO’, University of Nebraska, Omaha, 4 Nov. 1986.

83. Charles H. Price II to Neil Kinnock, 15 Jan. 1987.

84. International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 1992–1993 (London, 1992), 13.

85. D. Healey, ‘A Labour Britain, NATO and the Bomb’, Foreign Affairs, lxvi (1987), 329.

86. Interview, Sir Robin Day, BBC1, 30 Sept. 1986, transcript, 1.

87. ‘Sanctions “would cost US key listening bases”’, The Independent, 2 Dec. 1986.

88. Westlake, Kinnock, 381.

89. N. Kinnock, ‘Labor's Plan for the Non-Nuclear Defense of Britain’, New York Times, 28March 1987.

90. T. Risse-Kappen, ‘The Global Elimination of Ground-Launched Intermediate-RangeMissiles: A Political Assessment’, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (March 1988), 9.

91. Hansard, HC Deb. vol. 114, col. 190, 7 April 1987. The term nuclearphilia had been coined by the Soviet Foreign Ministry to describe Mrs Thatcher's attitude to nuclear weapons.

92. ‘Russia Prays for a Labour Victory’, Daily Express, 12 May 1987, 1. He immediately added that ‘praying is perhaps an unfortunate choice of words’ but by then the damage was done.

93. Labour Party Policy Development Directorate, ‘Questions and Answers on Defence’, Question No. 23.

94. D. Butler and D. Kavanagh, The British General Election of 1987 (Basingstoke, 1987), 105.

95. ‘First Tuesday’, Yorkshire TV, 2 June 1987.

96. Butler and Kavanagh, General Election of 1987, 103.

97. United States Information Service, ‘Rogers Cites Need for European Military Balance’, 16 Oct. 1986.

98. J. Cole, As It Seemed To Me (London, 1995), 273.

99. ‘Shultz Condemns Labour Defence Aim’, The Guardian, 13 Dec. 1986, 1.

100. ‘Sir Frank Cooper – Talk to the PLP Defence Committee’, 15 July 1986.

101. For discussion, see L. Freedman, ‘Defence Policy after the Next Election’, Political Quarterly, lvii (1986), 365–75.

102. Lord Healey of Riddlesden, correspondence with author, 28 July 2009.

103. Britain Will Win (London, 1987), 16.

104 . An exception was L. Freedman, ‘Could NATO Live with a Labour Government?’ The Independent, 27 May 1987, 21.

105. Freedman, ‘Defence Policy’, 379.

106. P. Hennessy, The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War (London, 2003), 208.

108. ‘A Bloody Union Jack On It: Programme 2’, Analysis, BBC Radio 4, 12 May 1988.

109. Hennessy, Secret State, 205. He later stated: ‘I realised I would find it very, very difficult indeed to agree to use a nuclear weapon.’ BBC Radio 4, ‘The Human Button’, 2 Dec. 2008, BBC Radio 4 Today, ‘Finger on the Nuclear Button’, 2 Dec. 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7758000/7758347.stm,

110. McNamara, ‘Military Role’, 79.

111. Butler and Kavanagh, General Election of 1983, 97.

112. Hennessy, Secret State, 205.

113. Westlake, Kinnock, 443n. When he moved toward multilateralism his stated position shifted on the question of nuclear use and he adopted the traditional response of not answering the question.

Birth of Labour Party Leader Frank Cluskey

Frank Cluskey, Irish politician and leader of the Irish Labour Party from 1977 to 1981, is born in Dublin on April 8, 1930.

Cluskey is educated at St. Vincent’s C.B.S. in Glasnevin. He works as a butcher and then joins the Labour Party. He quickly becomes a branch secretary in the Workers’ Union of Ireland. At the 1965 general election he is elected as a Labour Party Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South-Central constituency. In 1968 he is elected Lord Mayor of Dublin. In 1973 he is appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Welfare, Brendan Corish. He introduces sweeping reforms to the area while he holds that position. He plays a leading role in initiating the EU Poverty Programmes.

The Fine Gael–Labour Party coalition is defeated at the 1977 general election resulting in the resignation of Brendan Corish as Labour Party leader. Cluskey is elected the new leader of the Labour Party. In 1981, the Labour Party enters into a coalition government with Fine Gael. However Cluskey has lost his seat in Dáil Éireann at the 1981 general election and with it the party leadership. He is appointed on July 1, 1981 as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Dublin, replacing Michael O’Leary, who had resigned the seat after succeeding Cluskey as Labour leader.

The coalition government falls in January 1982 over a budget dispute, and Cluskey is re-elected to the Dáil at the February 1982 general election. When the coalition returns to office after the November 1982 election, Cluskey is appointed as Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism. He then resigns from the European Parliament, to be replaced by Brendan Halligan.

On December 8, 1983 Cluskey resigns as Minister due to a fundamental disagreement over government policy about the Dublin Gas Company. He retains his Dáil seat in the 1987 general election.

Following his re-election Cluskey’s health begins to deteriorate. He dies in Dublin on May 7, 1989 following a long battle with cancer.

What was Tony Blair's majority in 1997?

The final result of the vote on 2 May 1997 revealed that Labour won a landslide majority, making a net gain of 146 seats and winning 43.2% of the vote, whereas the Conservative suffered defeat with a net loss of 178 seats, despite winning 30.7% of the vote.

Furthermore, what was Tony Blair's majority in 2005? The Labour Party, led by Tony Blair, won its third consecutive victory, with Blair becoming the only Labour leader beside Harold Wilson to form three majority governments. However, its majority fell to 66 seats compared to the 167-seat majority it had won four years before.

Simply so, what was Blair's majority?

After eighteen years in opposition, Labour ousted the Conservatives at the May 1997 election with a 179-seat majority. The Prime Minister Tony Blair, who turned 44 years old days after leading Labour to victory, was the youngest Prime Minister of the twentieth century.

What was Thatcher's majority in 1987?

The Conservatives were returned to government, having suffered a net loss of only 21 seats, leaving them with 376 MPs and a second landslide majority of 102.

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Scotland in the 1980s: The pivotal political moments of the decade

Fresh from the bitter disappointment of the failed devolution attempt and Thatcher’s subsequent election win in 1979, the SNP saw its number of elected MPs plunge from a high of 11 at the 1974 General Election to just 3 in 1987, when even party leader Gordon Wilson lost his seat.

One of the few bright lights for the SNP at that 1987 General Election was a certain Alex Salmond, who managed to emerge victorious over the incumbent Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, Albert McQuarrie. Within just three years, Mr Salmond would rise to become SNP leader.

Seemingly turning their backs on nationalism, the Scottish electorate appeared hellbent on helping the Labour Party dethrone Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government whose rampant de-industrialisation policies saw Scotland, a nation which once prided itself on its heavy industries, lose around a third of its manufacturing capacity by the end of the 1980s.

Sewing the seeds of a post-industrial economy that would begin to take root in the 1990s, the Tories were blamed for the unprecedented levels of hardship experienced in Scotland’s former industrial heartlands where tens of thousands of people were left unemployed.

The closure of the Linwood car factory meant the loss of almost 5,000 jobs, while a further 4,000 were left on the breadline due to the demise of Leyland and Plessey in Bathgate.

These dire events would provide inspiration for The Proclaimers, whose 1987 hit Letter From America bemoaned Scotland’s industrial losses.

Scottish mining communities were also hard hit. Mrs Thatcher’s prolonged battle with the National Union of Miners raged for much of the decade and, within just three years of the 1984 miners’ strike, a total of 13 Scottish pits were closed for good.

Party like it's 1987: What happened when Australia last had a double dissolution

It was 1987, the year of Australia's first mobile phone call, Kylie Minogue's first single and the Hoddle Street massacre. Bob Hawke, four years into his prime ministership, decided to do something only four of his predecessors ever had: call a double dissolution election.

Queensland National Party premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen had launched his "Joh for PM" campaign, prompting a formal split between the Liberal-National Coalition.

Meanwhile, Jeff Kennett, then Victorian opposition leader, and frontbencher Andrew Peacock were caught bagging Liberal leader John Howard in the most colourful terms ("I feel a lot better having told you you're a c--t," Kennett claimed to have told Howard). The pair were speaking on an early car phone and a man with a radio scanner picked it up. Howard promptly sacked Peacock when the conversation was leaked to the media.

Lacking a Senate majority, Hawke spied an opportunity to steamroller a divided opposition by going to the polls early. The official pretext was a proposal to create a new "Australia Card", a compulsory identity document designed to help crackdown on tax and welfare fraud. Although originally popular with the public, the Senate knocked back Hawke's bill twice. This was his only "trigger" for a double dissolution and he pulled it, calling an election for July.

The way they were: Prime Minister Bob Hawke with wife, Hazel, at the Labor Party campaign launch and policy speech at the Sydney Opera House in June 1987. Credit: Rick Stevens

Any hope Howard had of overcoming conservative division was dashed when he released the Liberal Party's tax policy during the campaign. Under attack from treasurer Paul Keating, he was forced to admit some of the calculations underlying the policy had been "double counted" - an error costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hawke also made a bad mistake - pledging that no Australian child would live in poverty by 1990 - but that didn't come back to hurt him until later.

The Australia Card, ironically, was barely mentioned during the campaign. By contrast, Malcolm Turnbull is expected to make improved union governance a focus of a double dissolution campaign if the Senate again rejects his government's workplace relations bills.

Although Labor's share of the vote dropped slightly at the election, the party was returned with an increased majority in the House of Representatives. But Hawke's desired Senate majority remained elusive.

Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen launched his 'Joh for Canberra' campaign. Credit: Lorrie Graham

By now, public opinion had turned decisively against the Australia Card, which was widely seen as a fundamental threat to civil liberties. This posed an awkward dilemma for Labor, given it now had the numbers to make it law in a joint sitting of Parliament.

But a retired public servant, who combed through the legislation, noticed that some aspects of the card could be overturned by the Senate alone. This gave Labor an excuse to ditch the idea, and it did.

You sang along with the radio to Kylie Minogue's 'Locomotion' with the rest of Australia.

As 1987 showed, double dissolutions can be seriously weird - a lesson Australia may soon re-discover.

Watch the video: 1987 General Election - Looks Familiar (August 2022).