Second Thatcher ministry
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|Second Thatcher ministry|
|Date formed||10 June 1983|
|Date dissolved||12 June 1987|
|People and organisations|
|Head of state||Elizabeth II|
|Head of government||Margaret Thatcher|
|Head of government's history||1979–1990|
|Deputy head of government||[note 1]|
|Member party||Conservative Party|
|Status in legislature||Majority|
|Opposition party||Labour Party|
|Election(s)||1983 general election|
|Outgoing election||1987 general election|
|Legislature term(s)||49th Parliament (UK)|
|Predecessor||First Thatcher ministry|
|Successor||Third Thatcher ministry|
Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 4 May 1979 to 28 November 1990, during which time she led a Conservative government. She was the first woman to hold that office. During her premiership, Thatcher moved to liberalise the British economy through deregulation, privatisation, and the promotion of entrepreneurialism.
This article details the second government Thatcher led at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II from 1983 to 1987.
The Conservative government was re-elected in June 1983 with a majority of 144 seats, with Labour in opposition having a mere 209 seats after its worst postwar electoral performance, seeing off a close challenge from the SDP–Liberal Alliance who came close to them on votes though not with seats.
With inflation firmly under control and union reforms contributing towards the lowest level of strikes since the early 1950s, the Tories were now faced with the challenge of reducing unemployment from a record high of 3,200,000.
March 1984 saw the beginning of a miners' strike which would last for 12 months and divide the country as Mrs Thatcher announced extensive pit closures which would ultimately cost thousands of miners their jobs as well, while the remaining pits were set to be privatised in the proposed sell-off of the National Coal Board. Privatisation of utilities and heavy industry was becoming a key symbol of Thatcherism, with the likes of British Telecom also transferring from public to private ownership.
Michael Foot had stepped down as Labour leader after the 1983 general election. The man elected by Labour with the task of getting them back into government was Neil Kinnock. He proved himself as a fierce rival to Thatcher, and more than once during the 1983–87 parliament, the opinion polls showed Labour (and very occasionally the Alliance) in the lead, although a huge swing was required at a general election if the Conservative government was to be ousted.
The challenge from the SDP–Liberal Alliance was becoming weaker, despite their brief lead of the opinion polls during 1985.
However, economic growth following recession had been re-established by the beginning of this parliament and by 1987 the economy was well on the road to recovery. However, unemployment which had peaked at nearly 3,300,000 during 1984 was barely above 3,000,000 by the turn of 1987, and with the opinion polls all showing a Tory lead, it was anticipated that Thatcher would call the next general election earlier than the deadline of June 1988.
A general election was called for 11 June 1987, and the Tories triumphed for the third election in succession. Labour, on the other hand, achieved a better election result than it had the previous time (and also managed to reduce the Conservative majority), with more than 30% of the vote, while the SDP-Liberal Alliance floundered and was soon disbanded as the Social Democratic Party and Liberal Party merged to form the Social and Liberal Democrats (who soon became the Liberal Democrats).
June 1983 to June 1987
- Margaret Thatcher – Prime Minister
- The Viscount Whitelaw – Lord President of the Council
- The Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone – Lord Chancellor
- John Biffen – Lord Privy Seal
- Nigel Lawson – Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Peter Rees – Chief Secretary to the Treasury
- Sir Geoffrey Howe – Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
- Leon Brittan – Secretary of State for the Home Department
- Michael Jopling – Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
- Michael Heseltine – Secretary of State for Defence
- Sir Keith Joseph – Secretary of State for Education and Science
- Norman Tebbit – Secretary of State for Employment
- Peter Walker – Secretary of State for Energy
- Patrick Jenkin – Secretary of State for the Environment
- Norman Fowler – Secretary of State for Health
- Lord Cockfield – Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
- James Prior – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
- George Younger – Secretary of State for Scotland
- Cecil Parkinson – Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
- Tom King – Secretary of State for Transport
- Nicholas Edwards – Secretary of State for Wales
- John Wakeham – Chief Whip
- October 1983 – Tom King succeeds Norman Tebbit as Secretary of State for Employment. Norman Tebbit succeeds Cecil Parkinson as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Nicholas Ridley succeeds Tom King as Secretary of State for Transport.
- September 1984 – Lord Gowrie succeeds Lord Cockfield as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Douglas Hurd succeeds James Prior as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Lord Young of Graffham enters the cabinet as Minister without Portfolio.
- September 1985 – Lord Young of Graffham succeeds Tom King as Secretary of State for Employment. Kenneth Baker succeeds Patrick Jenkin as Secretary of State for the Environment. Norman Tebbit succeeds Lord Gowrie as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Tom King succeeds Douglas Hurd as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Kenneth Clarke enters the cabinet as Paymaster-General. Leon Brittan succeeds Norman Tebbit as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. John MacGregor succeeds Peter Rees as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Douglas Hurd succeeds Leon Brittan as Home Secretary.
- Early January 1986 – Malcolm Rifkind succeeds George Younger as Secretary of State for Scotland. Younger succeeds Michael Heseltine as Secretary of State for Defence.
- Late January 1986 – Paul Channon succeeds Leon Brittan as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
- May 1986 – Nicholas Ridley succeeds Kenneth Baker as Secretary of State for the Environment. John Moore succeeds Nicholas Ridley as Secretary of State for Transport. Kenneth Baker succeeds Keith Joseph as Secretary of State for Education and Science.
List of Ministers
Members of the Cabinet are in bold face.
- Hennessy, Peter (2001). "A Tigress Surrounded by Hamsters: Margaret Thatcher, 1979–90". The Prime Minister: The Office and Its Holders since 1945. Penguin Group. ISBN 978-0-14-028393-8.
- "British Cabinet and Government Membership". Retrieved 20 November 2007.
- "British Government 1979–2005". Retrieved 20 November 2007.
First Thatcher ministry
|Government of the United Kingdom
Third Thatcher ministry