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Marketing Triumphant: Falklands Fallout

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Abstract

Thatcher’s progress to the 1983 election landslide and, seemingly, complete dominance of the political scene could not have been predicted in the early months of her tenure. The government’s ‘honeymoon’ with the voters quickly began to wane. Inflation soared, aided by the doubling of VAT in Chancellor Howe’s June 1979 budget, and so too did unemployment, climbing to more than 2.5 million by April 1981.1 The Social Democratic Party, launched in March 1981, threatened to break the mould of British politics with two sensational by-election results, culminating in Shirley Williams’ win at Crosby in November. Opinion polls in the autumn of 1981 showed Thatcher as the least popular prime minister in modern British history: only 25 per cent of the public were satisfied with her performance and 62 per cent dissatisfied, according to Gallup. In December, the Tories trailed the SDP/Liberal Alliance by 27 per cent (23–50 per cent).2

Keywords

Prime Minister Opinion Poll Direct Mail Conservative Party Chief Information Officer 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    For an excellent account of the economic difficulties and policies in this period, see Peter Riddell, The Thatcher Government (1983).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gallup polls quoted in D. Butler and G. Butler, British Political Facts 1900–1985 (1986).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Some scholars doubt the long-term impact of the Falklands, arguing that it had little effect on voting decisions at the 1983 election. See, for example, Ivor Crewe, ‘Why Labour Lost the Election’, Public Opinion, July 1983.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For inside accounts of the early conflicts within the Cabinet, see Jock Bruce-Gardyne, Mrs Thatcher’s First Administration (1984)Google Scholar
  5. James Prior, A Balance of Power (1986)Google Scholar
  6. and Peter Hennessy, ‘The Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Thatcher Personality’, in K. Minogue and M. Biddiss (eds), Thatcherism (1987).Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Denis Healey, The Time of My Life (1989) p. 488.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Quoted in Hugo Young, One of Us (1989) p. 396.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Quoted in Wendy Webster, Not A Man to Match Her (1990) p. 156.Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    Andrew Thomson, Margaret Thatcher: The Woman Within (1989) p. 179.Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    David Owen, Personally Speaking (1987) p. 199.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    Michael Cockerell, Live from Number 10 (1988) p. 275.Google Scholar
  13. 19.
    The MORI poll analysis of the Falklands is taken from Robert Worcester, ‘Changes in Politics’, in Madsen Pirie (ed.), A Decade of Revolution (1989).Google Scholar
  14. 21.
    Tam Dalyell, Misrule (1987) p. 6.Google Scholar
  15. 22.
    For accounts of government information, censorship and media coverage, see Glasgow University Media Group, War and Peace News (1985);Google Scholar
  16. Robert Harris, Gotcha! (1983);Google Scholar
  17. Michael Cockerell et al., Sources Close to the Prime Minister (1984);Google Scholar
  18. D. Morrison and H. Tumber, Journalists at War; for accounts of alleged misinformation and deception, see Clive Ponting, The Right to Know (1985) and Dalyell, op. cit.Google Scholar
  19. 26.
    Bernard Ingham, Kill the Messenger (1991) pp. 294–7.Google Scholar
  20. 27.
    See Nicholas Jones, BBC political correspondent, in The Guardian, 4 March 1991.Google Scholar
  21. 33.
    House of Commons Defence Committee, The Handling of the Press and Public Information during the Falklands Conflict, HMSO, 8 December 1982, vol. II, p. xxxviii.Google Scholar
  22. 37.
    For an account of the battle between Ingham and Cooper, see R. Harris, Good and Faithful Servant (1990) pp. 93–100.Google Scholar
  23. 44.
    D. Butler and D. Kavanagh, The British General Election of 1983 (1984) pp. 333–4.Google Scholar
  24. 48.
    Harvey Thomas, Making an Impact (1989) p. 177.Google Scholar
  25. 50.
    For a discussion of the benefits that the sincerity machine can bestow, see Max Atkinson, Our Masters’ Voices (1988).Google Scholar
  26. 58.
    Butler and Kavanagh, The British General Election of 1983 (1984), p. 36.Google Scholar
  27. 64.
    Nick Grant, ‘A Comment on Labour’s Campaign’, in I. Crewe and M. Harrop (eds), Political Communications (1986), p. 82.Google Scholar
  28. 66.
    See Tony Benn, Conflicts of Interest: Diaries 1977–80 (1990);Google Scholar
  29. also Robert Harris, The Making of Neil Kinnock (1984).Google Scholar
  30. 67.
    For a tabloid-style exposé of the Sun’s leading role in the assault on the ‘loony left’, see Peter Chippindale and Chris Horne, Stick It Up Your Punter (1990).Google Scholar
  31. 81.
    Ivan Fallon, The Brothers (1988), p. 179.Google Scholar
  32. 84.
    For a detailed account of the Alliance’s 1983 campaign, see H. Semetko, ‘Political Communications and Party Development in Britain: The Social Democratic Party from its Origins to the General Election of 1983’ PhD Thesis, University of London, 1987.Google Scholar
  33. 92.
    For contrasting accounts of the argument about the Alliance leadership, see David Steel, Against Goliath (1989), pp. 245–6 and David Owen, op. cit., p. 221.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Margaret Scammell 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics and Communication StudiesUniversity of LiverpoolUK

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