1987 A Terrible Year now online

Chapter 11 1987: A Terrible Year is now available on the site.

Chapter Summary

Labour lost 9 council seats in the May 1987 local elections. Budget decisions were made for 1987/88 in the optimistic hope that a Labour government would win a general election, but when this was called in June 1987, Thatcher disappointingly won a third term. Further resignations of Left councillors and then subsequent loss of 2 more seats in by-elections in August 1987 eroded the Left’s balance of power. A strategy change was championed by Graham Stringer trying to balance making the required cuts with protecting jobs and services. This chapter gives an insight into the machinery of local politics, how critical the numbers can be and how difficult it was trying to implement a left-wing agenda when the country was controlled by a right-wing government. It also goes into a lot of detail about divisions within the local Labour Party and the relationship between the City Party and the Council Labour Group.


Some things that happened in 1987 from the timeline on this website to give the chapter some context.

  • 6 March 1987: Herald of Free Enterprise sank in North Sea; 189 died
  • 7 May 1987: Seats on Manchester City Council: Lab (77) Cons (13) Alliance (9) – Lab: 49 Left and 28 Right (see chapter 11).
  • 11 June 1987: Conservatives won 3rd term in general election
  • 11 June 1987: Diane Abbot, Labour, became the first black woman MP.
  • August 1987: Two Manchester Ward by-elections resulted in seats on Manchester City Council: Lab (75) Cons (14) Alliance (10) – Lab: 47 Left and 28 Right (see chapter 11).
  • 19 August 1987: Hungerford Massacre, Berkshire (documentary 1hr)
  • 19 October 1987: Black Monday – Stock market dropped 22%, largest stock-market drop in Wall Street history
  • The Chinese Arch was erected in Manchester’s China Town and Chinese Arts Centre opened the same year.


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