Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady

Excerpt

Now is the Winter of our Discontent.
RichardIII, William Shakespeare

It was called the “Winter of Discontent,” the United Kingdom’s winter of 1978-1979. The Labour Government, under Prime Minister James Callaghan, struggled desperately to hold onto power, helped by opportunistic Liberals, Ulster Unionists, and Scottish Nationalists — depending on the issue of the moment.

Successive British governments, both left and right, had not only failed to bring the labor unions under the rule of law but also given the country dire levels of currency inflation leading (with one exception of 8.3%) to annual double-digit price increases .

Decades of abject policy failure culminated in three months of anarchy. It started on January 3, 1979 and ended on March 28, 1979 when Her Majesty’s Government lost a no-confidence motion by just one vote, thus precipitating a General Election.

1 In the six years from 1974 through 1979, annual price increases were 16.0%, 24.2%. 16.5%, 15.8%, 8.3% and 13.4% so what you could buy for £100 in 1974 cost £240 in 1979.

2 Minority governments may lose many day-to-day votes and still press on governing but not a vote of “no confidence” which necessitates a visit by the Prime Minister to Buckingham Palace to ask Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to dissolve Parliament and call a General Election. This happened on only one other

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