At the outset, the 1980s did not promise to be the Thatcher decade. But events developed in a way that made the period a ripe seed-bed for the values and the style of government that Margaret Thatcher represented. The Falklands war established in the public mind her strength and her patriotic drive, and the turn-around of the economy suggested a general picture of Conservative competence. Her party’s ascendancy was enormously aided by the division of the opposition between a Labour party, dragged down electorally by its unpopular left wing, and a new-born Alliance, full of drive and middle-class idealism, but never quite able to establish itself as the real alternative to the Conservatives. In a world of three-party politics, 42% of the votes were enough to give Mrs Thatcher a comfortable hold on power.
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