Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Riots in Thatcher's Britain

Easington Colliery 1984. Photo by Keith Pattison
Dr Peter Hayes has published a chapter entitled 'Riots in Thatcher's Britain' in Crowd Actions in Britain and France from the Middle Ages to the Modern World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). He takes a fresh look at three violent confrontations during Margaret Thatcher's period as Prime Minister: the inner city riots, the Miners' Strike and The Poll Tax Riot.  The chapter suggests that Thatcher's response to the inner city riots was not one of mere condemnation as she recognised that racist policing and unemployment were contributory factors. It explains how the decision not to hold a strike ballot caused some of the violence in the Miners' Strike, and contributed to its failure. Finally it considers how the Poll Tax Riot reflected the broader unpopularity of the tax.  This was not only because the poll tax was seen as being unfair but also because local governments had deliberately set the new charge at a high rate.

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