British Politics Mini Timeline

Here’s a little mini-TL I started in the PM lists thread; considering it’s no longer a list but is now something a bit different and more substantial, I thought I’d put it in a new thread.

Note that the POD is premised on the late swing hypothesis for 1970, which I’m not entirely sure I accept myself. But let’s go with that, and say Enklund go through to the the final of the World Cup, and those balance of trade figures are massaged by Woy and ‘Arold, unlike OTL…


Harold Wilson (Labour 1964-1973)

Labour’s win in the 1970 general election seemed to set the seal on the Wilsonian hope that Labour would displace the Tories as the natural party of government. Securing a greatly reduced majority of twenty-five, Labour was free, in the words of their manifesto, to ‘make Britain great to live in’ and lead the country into the 1970s. Wilson’s judgement in respect of his presidential-style campaign and his choice of the election date had been fully vindicated, and he stood at the peak of his powers – a far cry from only twelve months before, when his position as Prime Minister appeared fundamentally threatened due to the fallout from In Place of Strife.

The government’s main policy objective for its third term would be EEC entry, an objective which had so far signally eluded the Prime Minister and his predecessor-but-one due to the repeated objections of de Gaulle. That block had now been removed, and President Pompidou seemed more open to an approach. Roy Jenkins as Foreign Secretary and George Thomson as chief negotiator proved to be a formidable duo of convinced pro-Europeanism; although Wilson’s government suffered from resignations over the issue, notably those of Peter Shore and Judith Hart, Wilson succeeded, as in 1967, in holding together a coalition of the right, centre, and centre-left to complete entry in 1972, with Britain acceding the following year.

Increasingly, economic problems beset the government, with inflation and unemployment being problematic, and with the government having to step in to save struggling firms such as Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. The unions also were increasingly unable to enforce voluntary wage restraint on their members. Such difficulties were a mere prelude to the problems which the economy would encounter after the oil shock of 1973, however. By that time the government’s economic policy looked in tatters and the Labour Party was polarised due to Europe, but Wilson, by this point jaded and mildly exhausted, retired in the legacy afterglow of European accession, in August 1973, after he had overtaken Asquith as the longest continuously-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century.

Roy Jenkins (Labour; 1973-1975)

Roy Jenkins had been seen as the likely successor to Wilson ever since his post-devaluation economic management had secured Labour a third term in office, and his centrality to the process of EEC entry as Foreign Secretary had only boosted his status, claims to the leadership, and, so his critics charged, already redoubtably inflated ego. A highly divisive figure in Labour, Jenkins was nevertheless almost overpoweringly Prime Ministerial, and to some he gave the impression of being the natural choice for a party of government that had come of age.

To some, at least; some preferred his rivals on the right, Chancellor Denis Healey, and Home Secretary Jim Callaghan. Healey, however, lacked a cultivated or broad network of support in the PLP, while Callaghan still had not recovered from memories of devaluation in 1967, and the high level of violence and disorder in Northern Ireland also featured as a policy blot on his record. Peter Shore, Tony Crosland, and Barbara Castle also stood, though none received a substantial measure of support. The final round of voting came down to a choice between Callaghan and Jenkins; Jenkins pipped Callaghan by a mere eight votes. The closeness of the result highlighted the relative divisiveness of Jenkins’ candidacy; in contrast, Callaghan was a more reassuring figure with the left of the party and the unions. Nevertheless, it was Jenkins and not Callaghan who won, and Callaghan will have to remain one of the great ‘what ifs’. After losing the election, Callaghan accepted an offer to become head of the IMF, and retired from frontline domestic politics.

Jenkins came into his inheritance at a horribly unpropitious time, just as the oil shock was beginning to impact the economy with runaway inflation and stagnant growth. Inflation only resulted in a vicious circle of greater wage demands from the unions to combat the cost of living increases. Jenkins’ preferred solution was for a statutory incomes policy, but this was strongly rejected by the trade unions. Labour’s ‘social contract’ instead offered advances in employment rights in exchange for voluntary restraint, but with militant shop stewards in the driving seat, this proved to be a difficult policy to co-ordinate. Although Labour did introduce race and gender discrimination legislation, there was little tangible to offer the unions as their demands became greater.

Jenkins’ government had little space to introduce a substantial amount of legislation before the election, although, notably, the principle of devolution was wholeheartedly accepted by the government after the report of the Kilbrandon Commission (though a white paper was published in 1974, Labour did not have time to legislate before 1975 and the election) The Redcliffe-Maud recommendations were also implemented largely in full, leading to substantial overhaul of local government, with a broadly uniform reform of single-tier local authorities established, with regional councils as a median layer between local and national government.

With the party divided and bickering in the aftermath of European entry, after eleven years in government and with the economy swiftly running out of control, Labour’s prospects always appeared bleak in 1975. A poor campaign – Jenkins proved to be middling on television, and unable to rouse any passion amongst Labour grassroots, other than animus towards him – also contributed to a heavy defeat and a fifty-three seat Tory majority.

Edward du Cann (Conservative; 1975-1978)

Although a Tory defeat had been expected in 1970, the lash of electoral rejection still stung bitterly, a sensation only heightened by Edward Heath’s obdurate refusal to countenance resigning the leadership. That too, however, had been expected, with plans afoot for Maudling, Whitelaw and Home to assemble at Home’s house in Scotland the day after the election to ‘assess’ the situation. During the meeting, the three men agreed to lead a delegation to Heath - along with the chair of the 1922 committee once that body had elected its new officers - hopefully to convince Heath to step down immediately in favour of a caretaker leader.

This delegation of the senior Shadow Cabinet and Harry Legg-Bourke did convince Heath to resign, but only to do so on Heath’s own terms - in order to re-submit himself to the party. This was pure foolishness on Heath’s part, which ran the risk of an outside candidate – Powell was the obvious name – being able to steal away the leadership on an anti-Heath upsurge. Heath’s self-destructive (and potentially party-destructive) obstinacy forced the hand of mainstream opinion. Such opinion coalesced, Reginald Maudling submitted his name as a leadership candidate and, in a rematch of 1965, Maudling comfortably beat both Heath and Powell. Heath became the first Conservative leader to be defenestrated by parliamentary ballot. One of Maudling’s first acts as leader was to establish a party committee to devise a mechanism for triggering a confidence ballot in future leaders.

Maudling’s leadership provided a mixing of tendencies. Maudling himself strode out in a more interventionist fashion economically than Heath, moving the party towards an incomes policy; on the other hand, the Tories became more critical about the move towards European accession; the fact that a Labour government was the eventual agent of British entry fostered a certain amount of partisan reaction in the Conservatives in the opposite direction. Maudling's early, pioneering euroscepticism would be in many respects set the mood for the future on the issue. A more collegiate figure than Heath, Maudling also broadened the Shadow Cabinet, bringing out of the cold individuals from the right, such as Angus Maude, Airey Neave and Edward du Cann.

Maudling’s tenure was short. In 1972 the Tory leader was engulfed in accusations surrounding a corrupt architect, John Paulson, originating from his period in opposition prior to becoming leader. Reggie’s position, never unassailable to begin with, became untenable and he resigned as leader.

After the depatures of Heath and Maudling, the party was not overburdened with heavyweights. The number of Tories who could recall cabinet government was becoming fewer and fewer. Again, the old fear was revived. Powell had now been badly rejected by the party twice, yet showed no signs of being chastened. A mood in the party, increasingly more sympathetic to the new preaching of free market doctrine, was gathering. Powell was an obvious potential beneficiary, and the allure of this forbidden fruit also grew as the Tories’ time in the wilderness lengthened.

But the party did not pick it. Instead, it turned to a more palatable right-wing alternative in the shape of the Edward du Cann. A Maudling loyalist in the Shadow Cabinet, there was already a substantial body of opinion favourable to du Cann before Maudling’s resignation. The support of Keith Joseph, who had ideologically reassessed himself since the 1970 defeat, added to an aura of intellectual ballast. Against such a more respectable, emollient and palatable alternative, Powell was forced into the role of John the Baptist. The centre and left of the party, increasingly disorientated and rudderless, splintered between Willie Whitelaw, Robert Carr, and young turk Jim Prior. du Cann won comfortably.

du Cann was not a well-respected leader in the Tories, and often trailed in direct polls between him and Wilson, and then Jenkins. His Shadow Cabinet did not evoke confidence. The 1975 election would be won largely on a negative reaction against the poor state of the economy under Labour, and Labour’s internal division. du Cann’s proposal of putting EEC membership to a referendum caused equally serious divisions in the Tories, but proved a useful electoral tactic which equally stirred Labour, and secured du Cann the throaty endorsement of Enoch Powell.

The du Cann government is not well-regarded by historical commentary, despite the efforts of some revisionist political historians to rehabilitate it. Nor was it well-regarded at the time. It was a government economically guided by men like Chancellor Keith Joseph, who believed that the nation was in a serious economic crisis and a radical departure from post-war orthodoxy was necessary. This primarily took the form of a injecting a serious level of deflation into the economy, which however, lead to growing unemployment. The government’s position as a bête noire with the left was further enhanced by the passage of the 1976 Employment Act, which banned secondary picketing, restricted the closed shop, and restricted the circumstances under which a strike could take place. The government would also sell off many of the lower value state assets, such as Pickfords and Thomas Cook.

The ‘loss’, if so it can be termed – du Cann eased collective responsibility and allowed ministers to campaign how they wished – of the 1975 referendum on EEC membership ended the government’s extremely truncated honeymoon. The voters defied their Prime Minister who asked them to vote for exit. The economic difficulties rapidly mounted, and by 1976 the Prime Minister was historically unpopular. Naturally in such circumstances, internal party troubles mounted, with the left of the party demanding a re-think over the economy. The resignation of Local Government Secretary Ian Gilmour in summer 1978, after rioting in London, Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester, threatened a serious split in the party, and many have argued it was only the Falklands War which prevented a move against du Cann’s leadership.

The trigger for this conflict was the loss of the 1978 World Cup. The hosts, Argentina, would go through to the final, but would be beaten by the Netherlands in a sensational performance from the Dutch. Riots erupted across the country. The hold of the junta looked to be in peril. Deciding to salve the country’s domestic problems with a universally long-established method, Argentina invaded the Falklands. Although du Cann acquitted himself well in his personal conduct of the war, after the failure of the task-force in the seas of the South Atlantic the press excoriated a government which had cut the defence budget and then asked men to fight; and with the Cabinet in rebellion, du Cann announced his resignation, pending peace talks which would deliver an honourable settlement. This deal, brokered by US Secretary of State Elliot Richardson, provided for the ‘neutralisation’ of the islands, to be governed by a UN-selected representative, with joint Argentine and British representation. This was perhaps the best that Britain could hope for in the circumstances; but it was not enough to prevent the collapse of the government’s lingering reputation amongst the electorate, or the du Cann government’s reputation in history.

In retrospect, the loss of the Falklands is viewed as a key turning-point in post-war history. In the immediate term, it would lead to a serious upswing in support for the National Front, which would not level out until the eighties. But it would also lead to a reassessment of Britain’s global pretensions, and many have argued that it would directly lead to the Europeanism of the eighties and nineties, and the associated reactions against.

Airey Neave (Conservative; 1978-1980)

There is little doubt that Airey Neave was one of the few Conservative beneficiaries of a Falklands factor. In the light-headed mood after defeat, Conservatives wanted a figure who could bring stability, assurance, and competence. Neave’s ‘hard’ record as Home Secretary and military background appealed to the right of the party, while his easy-going approachability, pro-Europeanism, and One Nation instincts appealed to the centre and the left. Neave proved to be an excellent party and factional manager, though his government struggled to ever break out of the ‘caretaker’ label for much of his brief period at Number Ten.

Although Neave eased the headlong monetarism of the previous years, relations with the unions remained cool at best, and opponents of the government sensed real potential weakness. This perhaps misread the situation. After the loss of the war, the government was sensitive to restore the impression of confidence and the smack of firm government. Neave was not a young man, and the government’s electoral prospects were bleak. Far from constraining the government, circumstances in many respects liberated it.

Striking and its attendant loss of productive man hours had been a growing problem since the sixties, and the government’s attitude to the issue since 1975 had only worsened relations between the government and the unions, and striking was, despite the 1976 act, still a serious problem. The energy crisis of the seventies had increased the bargaining power of the NUM in particular, and an inability of the coal board and the NUM to agree on a pay rise in 1979 lead to the miners going out on strike.

The Neave government, however, had learned from previous experience. The 1976 miner’s strike had caused serious problems, with power shortages, mass demonstrations, and economic disruption, before the miners settled with the government. Under Neave, the government readied itself against a further strike from this most potentially disruptive of unions. When the strike finally came, therefore, the government had the ability to sit the strike out. The defeat of the ’79 strike is often given by historians as marking the end point of the industrial turmoil originating in the sixties, the end of the post-war consensus, and more controversially, as eventually being a key foundation stone in the birth of Britain’s later social market economy. Neave’s government would certainly reinforce previous legislation, delineating when a strike could take place, and the necessity to be authorised by a membership ballot.

The end of the 1979 miners’ strike also more concretely marked the high point of Neave’s government. Going into the 1980 election, Neave’s personal popularity was high; but it was not enough to salvage the Tories as a party at the ballot box. The failure in the Falklands still remained in the memories of the electorate; the Tories had shown themselves to be, at turns, incompetent, divided, and socially confrontational, and after the upheavals of the last few years, the electorate perhaps preferred a more reassuring and stable alternative. Although the last two years had done much to restore the Tories’ standing, it was not quite enough when set against the longer count. Considering the dire position the government had been in two years previously, however, when many had predicted electoral apocalypse for the Tories, a narrow twenty-nine seat majority for Labour was, relatively speaking, a good result for the right. The 1980 election was also notable for marking serious growth of the National Front vote, a problem for mainstream politics which would continue well into the eighties.

Roy Jenkins (Labour; 1980-1982)

Like many leaders throughout history, Jenkins’ reputation has suffered due to who came after him. Although commentators now rank Jenkins, both in his first government and second, as being a relatively significant Labour leader and Prime Minister, there was always a feeling of malaise, a semi-detachment, to his time in office. Jenkins in many ways acts as a bookending of the post-war consensus, and the social market consensus, than he emerges as a figure, a force, in his own right.

If the 1970-1975 period had not been easy on the Tories, Labour’s 1975-1980 period was just as tough on the party, if not more so. Jenkins was a leader who even many in the centre of the party never entirely liked of trusted; on the left, he was actively loathed, both personally and politically. For the left, the recriminations began quickly. Jenkins’ electoral powers were always more assumed than in evidence; one of the points advanced in his favour in ’73 had been his supposedly electability and appeal to moderate opinion – though you may not like Roy, he’d keep Labour in power. The 1975 election blew even that weak, half-hearted endorsement of Jenkins apart.

The seventies were also a time of increasing grassroots radicalisation within Labour, and a time of serious revival for the party’s left-wing. Defeated by a right-wing Tory government, the left demanded an equally distinctive response. Jenkins, and the party establishment, had absolutely no desire for this. The 1975-1980 parliament would, consequently, be a running battle between the left and the right for control of the party. The right had its victories, but they were largely rear-guard actions against left-wing advances. An electoral college was established, albeit, as a compromise, with a preponderant weight for MPs. Mandatory re-selection of MPs was conceded, though by party members as a whole rather than CLP executive committees. A sole bright spot was the narrow upholding by the NEC of the proscribed list, which restricted what organisations Labour members could be a part of.

Jenkins went into the 1980 election largely as a passenger riding within Labour. He had not, as some had expected, been challenged as leader under the new election rules, perhaps largely because no serious challenger ever emerged; shadow cabinet minister Michael Foot, who some invested their hopes in, resolutely refused. But his clear distance, personally, emotionally, and philosophically, between him and his increasingly left-wing party was evident. Some charged that, like Gladstone, Jenkins was viewing himself as almost an above party permanent fixture. Jenkins’ appeal in 1980 was implicitly as an experienced hand and as a ‘return to normalcy’ leader. The Tories charged that Jenkins represented the worst of the old and his party was a dangerous and increasingly ramshackle coalition. Perhaps, however, Jenkins sufficiently held together a coalition that won; of swing voters that regarded him as a likeable, acceptable and moderate alternative, and core Labour voters, desperate to remove the Tories and end the social conflict of the last few years by any means.

Jenkins regarded the 1980 election as a personal mandate, and relations with his party’s left wing were even more strained than they had been in his first government. Dissent was almost immediate. In particular, Jenkins more forcefully pressed for a statutory incomes policy as now the only realistic alternative to the monetarism of recent years, but the unions were as resistant as always; Jenkins instead pursued his earlier policy of voluntary restraint. Jenkins, while continuing the relaxation of policy begun under Neave, would also pursue a tight fiscal and interest rate policy. While economic strategy rumbled on to no discernible conclusion, Jenkins engaged himself in the kind of reforms which were always close to his heart. Devolution still ranks as one of his most notable achievements. Although it failed to pass muster with Welsh voters, badly, Scotland clearly endorsed it, and when Dickson Mabon, as First Secretary, stood up for the first time in the chamber of New Parliament House in 1982, a new chapter in Scottish history had dawned.

Another source of deep anger against Jenkins from the left was the government’s refusal to fully repeal the 1976 Industrial Relations Act. Although Labour would loosen the restrictions on the closed shop which it had imposed, they notably did not repeal the ban on secondary picketing or much of the requirements for legal strikes. As a trade-off, the government extended the rights of employees in the workplace, gave unions better legal recognition, and established a new conciliation service. Although derided by the left at the time, these reforms have been seen by some as the foundations stones of the social market.

The abruptness of the end of Jenkins’ time in office was shocking at the time, and his precise motivation remains debated. Ostensibly, his acceptance of the Presidency of the European Commission was part of a long-held ambition to finally pin Britain at the heart of Europe and change the paradigm of domestic thinking on the issue. This seems doubtful. Jenkins’ enthusiasm for domestic politics was certainly tiring and his stature within the Labour Party was almost rock-bottom. A leadership challenge could not be discounted, and Jenkins showed no appetite for a fight. His detachment was almost, by ’82, total. His party seemed increasingly unable to be lead from the right. The Presidency of the Commission offered him the statesmanlike role he desired, with none of the need to uphold the position through the politicking that he now all but totally shunned and had tired of. It would be a fateful decision, both for Europe and for Britain.

Betty Boothroyd (Labour; 1982-1993)

The 1982 Labour leadership election was a defining moment for the Labour Party, and for Britain, and its result would irretrievably change the nature of British politics and shape its contours in a way which still holds to this day. Such was not the expectation when the party convened to elect a successor to Roy Jenkins. The party was still mired in an attempt to resolve the sometimes poisonous divisions which had shaped its post-war history, between the left and the right. Few held high hopes for the next general election. Although the economy was showing signs of recovery, the Labour party was seriously split and the Conservatives, still lead by the ageing Neave, were more united than they had been for years. The policies pioneered by Neave seemed like a more coherent alternative to anything that Labour could muster. For Labour, the future seemed bleak.

The election seemed like a straight fight between the left and the right, unlike the more homogenous contest of ’73; Tony Benn on the left, Peter Shore, an increasingly more centrist figure, but hailing from the left, and Chancellor Bill Rodgers and Foreign Secretary Denis Healey on the right. And, unlike the ’73 contest, it would not be MPs alone that decided the election, but the party in concert. One candidate alone seems to have broadly remembered this. Her name was Betty Boothroyd.

By 1982 Boothroyd was Employment Secretary, and had been an MP for the better part of twelve years. First elected at Rossendale in 1970, she had served as a junior whip, then a junior Employment minister, under Wilson and Jenkins. Though she lost her seat in 1975, narrowly, she was quickly returned as an MP at a by-election in Rotherham the following year, and in 1978 she was elected to the Shadow Cabinet. When Labour returned to office, Jenkins appointed her as Employment Secretary, drawing on her earlier ministerial experience. Although the Jenkins government’s relations with the unions were chilly at best, the unionist’s daughter’s personal relations with the union leaders proved to be excellent, balancing support for government policy with natural sympathy towards the unions institutionally. When Jenkins resigned, it seemed natural that the first port of call of union leaders was Boothroyd. Not only was she a known quantity, but neither Denis Healey or Bill Rodgers inspired much confidence, indeed in the latter case his prior close relationship with Jenkins proved a serious hindrance. The early backing of Boothroyd by the unions gave her a platform on which to win over MPs, a great many of whom were closely affiliated with their parent unions. Boothroyd’s election was a surprise, but it also demonstrated the newly-enfranchised power of Labour outside parliament, which the more established candidacies had largely assumed would be taken for granted.

The nature of her election meant that Boothroyd was almost immediately painted by critics outside the party as a union stooge. She was dismissed as a weak leader, a nonentity who stood in poor comparison to her predecessor. In a barnstorming introductory speech at conference in Blackpool, Boothroyd rounded on such accusations, and set out a vision for Labour which was moderate, and strove for national economic efficiency, but also aimed to build the New Jerusalem. Delegates, who had grazed for years on the moor of Roy Jenkins’ self-importance and ponderous style of leadership, were electrified. The reaction from opponents, however, would be dismissive.

Such criticisms, tinged as they were with more than a hint of misogyny, appear to have seriously irked Boothroyd, and furthered her desire to win her own mandate with the voters. Good council election results the following year, and an economy which continued to improve, convinced Boothroyd to go to the country in 1983. The Tories proved to run a slack, and somewhat complacent campaign – Neave was battling increasing divisions over policy in his shadow cabinet - while Labour charged that the Tories would take the party back to the confrontation and division of the mid-seventies. Labour won a comfortable forty-nine seat majority. Betty had her mandate and Britain had its first elected female Prime Minister.

The 1983 Parliament would marked the height of Boothroydism and its most radical phase, and the creation of Britain’s social market economy. Boothroyd and her Chancellor, John Smith, would oversee not only sweeping structural changes, but also the method of economic management which would set the tone for the rest of the century and beyond. The background to such upheaval was the still intractable problem, for Labour, of how to engage the trade unions in the economy without overly empowering them. This was now a problem which had confronted successive Labour leaders for the better part of two decades, to no discernible conclusion. If, by electing her, the unions had expected Boothroyd to show blunt favouritism to them, including outright repeal of the Conservative reforms, then they were mistaken. The trade union reforms of the seventies had proven not only popular with the electorate, but had restrained union militancy. Never again would advancement be attempted via strikes, and the Alright Jack workplace culture of the post-war period would be left behind, permanently.

What Boothroyd instead forged was a new, consensual means of industrial relations. Originating from the proposals of the Borrie Report, the government instituted what it called ‘Mandated Industrial Relations Laws’. These laws established a new system of industrial democracy and co-determination, which Smith consciously drew from the German model. Works councils were established and given statutory underpinning, and worker representation on boards was instituted. Co-determination between unions, employers, and mediating committees was introduced. Workers in declining industries would be given re-training to move into other sectors, creating a ‘mobile labour economy’. Workers, unions, and employers were all brought together into what was designed to be a consensus-building atmosphere. It was the most radical change to British national economic organisation since the war – and it was fiercely resisted because of it, by almost all involved. Employers fundamentally, fiercely objected to the intrusion the new structures brought, and unions deeply resented what they viewed as an attempt to undercut their monopoly on representation of their members through the new changes, and the further statutory mandating of their originally unlicensed, voluntary status. The Tories painted it, luridly, as an attempt to institute a Socialist command economy. The 1983 Parliament continued the now well-established pattern of domestic political acrimony. The laws were, however, pushed though.

Boothroyd also brought forward a series of policies which have been called ‘working class economic populism’, which tapped into the growing aspiration of the rising, consumerist working class. These included allowing council tenants to buy their properties, with the money raised going back into a new national fund to reinvigorate social housing. Backed by the money from nationalised North Sea oil, taxes were lowered for the low-paid, and the old wages councils were replaced by a national minimum wage. Nationalised industries were brought into a new ‘social ownership’ in which they were jointly owned by employees and shareholders, including but not limited to the government.

Boothroyd’s government would therefore go into the 1987 election as the most radical reforming government since Attlee’s. The Tories, meanwhile, had sank into a trough of hard-right positioning. Following Neave’s resignation after 1983, the leadership was won by former Cabinet Minister Nicholas Ridley – a shock result which many attributed in part to the unpopularity of Ian Gilmour, and the supposed passivity of Geoffrey Howe, Ridley’s other main challengers. Ridley would take the Tories into an outright rejectionist strategy. Almost everything done in Boothroyd’s second term was decried, and complete repeal was promised. Even council house sales were objected to on the basis that they would destabilise the housing market. Ridley also, controversially, strongly flirted with anti-Europeanism, raising the prospect of re-negotiation of, or a referendum on, British membership of the single market. This caused serious splits within the Tories, and perversely had the effect of invigorating pro-Europeanism in the party, which felt that the Tories were falling into extremism. With a strong economy, a split opposition which had written itself out of the picture, and a popular set of policies, it was little surprise that Boothroyd was returned with a landslide one hundred and fifty-seven seat majority in the 1987 general election.

Boothroyd was at the peak of her powers, and although the pace of change would slow after 1987, many of her government’s most controversial policies would be effected in her third term. Devolution of administrative powers to the English regions established under Redcliffe-Maude was a relatively uncontroversial change; and Welsh devolution, rejected by the voters earlier in the decade, would follow two years later. But many viewed the abolition of the House of Lords as a piece of ideological and partisan indulgence; and the final ‘phasing out’ of grammar schools as just as bad. Although the Lords had provided serious opposition to the economic reforms of the second term, the abolition of the second chamber, over reforming it, smacked to many of a simple power grab and ideological pandering.

Though Boothroyd remained, the faces in her Cabinet changed. Denis Healey retired as Foreign Secretary after the ’87 election, and John Smith’s premature death due to a heart attack two years later removed perhaps the most substantial personality from the government. Smith’s death in particular is often used as a marker for when the government began to ‘lose its way’; Smith had worked hard to keep himself and the government on good terms with all wings of the party, and had served as an adhesive between the government, the right, the unions and the left. After Smith’s death, the government seemed increasingly high-handed and overly-willing to pick fights. Militant, a small Trotskyite entryitst group, which had for many years had dominating influence over Labour’s youth section, but had advanced little further in the party, was the subject of sweeping expulsions in the late eighties, as Boothroyd took the fight to the ‘extremists’ which she had always made clear she had little truck with. These actions, which eventually lead to the resignation of deputy leader Eric Heffer from the government, seriously damaged Boothroyd’s position with the left of the party. It would not recover during her time in office. On Heffer’s death, the party would shrug off Boothroyd’s favoured candidate for the deputy leadership, Neil Kinnock, and instead easily elected John Prescott, with left-wing backbencher Peter Tatchell also making a surprisingly good showing.

Divisions in Labour only deepened due to the re-emergence on an old issue: Europe. Within Labour, the battle over commitment to Europe seemed to have been definitively settled in favour of membership in the seventies. Though scepticism had largely fell away from frontline debate, there remained within Labour a strong residual undercurrent. That would be revived by the re-framing of the debate not as one between membership and exclusion, but as to what pace of integration was acceptable. Roy Jenkins’ presidency had revived the process of integration, making it a serious live issue. It would be Boothroyd’s signing of the 1990 Dublin Treaty, committing the UK to the creation of a new European Federation and European Monetary Union, which would force the issue within Labour, and lead to the resignation of Foreign Secretary David Owen. Owen would immediately gain a following in the country and within Labour over what many viewed as an act of putting principle before career. Others charged that Owen had deliberately tried to undermine the government for personal reasons.

Within the Tories, the issue was no less polarising or contested. After 1987, the party had elected John Biffen to the leadership. Although Biffen hailed from the right of the party, he had grown increasingly concerned and critical of the lurch to the right after 1983. Biffen would move the Tories more closely to the centre, in accepting some of the Boothroydite reforms; and part of this involved removing the doubt over Conservative commitment to Europe, which had sprang up during Ridley’s leadership. Not only was this seen as vital to re-establishing the party as electorally credible, but in personality terms, the shadow cabinet was increasingly dominated by pro-Europeans like Geoffrey Howe, Douglas Hurd and Michael Heseltine. Biffen’s tacit acquiescence in membership of the single currency was therefore as much about the continuance of his leadership as it was an act of principle. It would, however, lead to the bolting from the party of much of its anti-Europeans; and during the passage of the Dublin Treaty through Parliament, Biffen chose to assert his leadership at the expense of the rebels. Biffen’s status on the right of the party ended with the core rebels parliamentary careers. Much of the antis would go on to form the Anti-Federalist League, and eventually the National Party; but the rebels would be electorally extinguished at the 1991 general election, and it would be many years before anti-Europeanism would again be a serious feature of the political scene.

Although Labour would win the 1991 general election, an election which had practically been won four years earlier, it would be with a sharply reduced majority of eighty-three. Boothroyd, an increasingly divisive figure presiding over an increasingly divided party, no longer seemed the driving electoral force she once was, nor her senses as surefooted. A declining economy, increasing rumblings within the party, and a general air of political discontentment was the backdrop for the final stumble: student tuition fees. As a result of the serious expansion of higher education in the eighties, the cost of funding the system not only increased, but looked set to greatly increase in the future. While the goal of making higher education affordable was noble, both the concept and the implementation of fees were strongly criticised. Conceptually they were deeply challenging within Labour; in their implementation, they excluded many poor or even middle-income students, but this in turn made it appear that the burden was unfairly being narrowly foisted onto richer students. Provoking repeated riots in London and other cities, the government looked to be increasingly losing its grip.

As the 1993 conference season neared, it became increasingly clear that Boothroyd was in for a leadership challenge from Owen. It became increasingly clear that Owen would gather the required level of nominations to force the issue at conference. This opened the scenario of Boothroyd’s fate being decided by a floor vote at party conference. All the momentum was swinging away from the Prime Minister, and should conference authorise a contest, it would be as good as a vote of no confidence in her leadership. Owen’s bandwagon was gathering pace in the party and the Maxwell press. The Prime Minister took her last, and most difficult decision – that she would retire as soon as a new leader had been elected. It was the end of an era.

Vince Cable (Labour; 1993-1999)

Boothroyd’s decision to resign undercut the momentum for Owen. The party collectively breathed a sigh of relief. There would be none of the associated rancour of a leadership contest. In an atmosphere of free choice, the party would turn not to the divisive character of Owen, but to the government’s neophyte Chancellor, Vince Cable.

Vince Cable, in retrospect, appears a doomed leader, a fag-end prime minister who was hopelessly ill-prepared to be thrust from a supporting role into that of leading man. This was not how Cable was received in the early days of his premiership, when his unassuming, more laid-back style was seen to contrast favourably with Boothroyd’s. What were later seen as his defects – his underwhelming personality, his lack of leadership – were initially seen as positives. Change seemed to have happened without changing government. His consensual approach, bringing together the left and the right of the party, was admirable.

Cable’s first action was to announce the scrapping of tuition fees, but it was one of the few, decisive, active initiatives his government would take. Preferring a technocratic, rather than political approach, Cable seemed to have little to offer other than the continuance of Labour in office. Gone was the more populist approach of the eighties, and in its place was a bland stress on economic efficiency, mixed with throwing red meat to the party’s base through penalising ‘fat cats’ and big earners; an approach which backfired once MPs own accounts, grown fat after years in government, were brought under inspection. The appetite of the party appeared to have gone out of it, and it drifted limply towards the 1996 election, rather than powered towards it.

Biffen’s stabilisation of the Tories, and his sharp reduction of the Labour majority in 1991 had been real, and credible, and he had been retained after the defeat. He would go into the 1996 election as a tired man, however, after nearly a decade as leader, and with much of his status with the electorate impaired by his history. The 1996 election, though closely fought, would be neither good-tempered or one notable for exciting the electorate. The weariness Labour was suffering from after sixteen years in power, and the drive of political momentum took its toll, however. Labour’s majority was slashed, squeezed down to the bone at merely nine.

The 1996 election was in retrospect probably an election too far for Labour. The loss of the government’s majority would remove its ability to pass serious legislation; and almost as the result was declared the party began squabbling over personality, and policy. A newer generation of Labour politicians and activists were coming of age, and were demanding policies commensurate with their self-assurance. The tight restrictions on spending required by EMU caused rancour within the party and revived the eurosceptics. Scandal piled upon incompetence, division and disunity. The Scottish Assembly, Labour-held since its creation, would be taken by a Conservative-Liberal coalition in 1998, and by-election defeats would pile upon the agony. When Labour lost a confidence vote in early 1999, there was a sense of inevitability to the result; and Labour was swept aside in a landslide defeat by a rebranded, fully modernised Tory Party, headed by a fresh-faced young leader, who had made his party accept the social market consensus, and who appealed to a vague if urgent spirit of change. There was an indefinable if tangible sense than Britain had moved on, shifted, changed; but if the 1999 election was the coda to an older era, it was also the preface to a new one.

The End


The TL went in a way which I never really planned, and which just emerged, and it turned out a bit like one of those inverse OTL timelines. I played up to this shamelessly in the epilogue. If it was someone else’s timeline, I suspect I’d find this more than a bit corny and silly, but who knows if it works or not. As I say, I never really planned that. I’m just ultimately not sure how enthusiastic I am about this creatively. As I say, it seems more than a bit derivative at the end of the day. In fact, I’ll be honest: I was thoroughly sick of this when I completed it. You can see where I lost my interest near the end. It seems pale and inadequate from start to finish. Though it has the excuse that it was written deliberately in haste and was never ruminated on, this is a lazy piece, fundamentally. I think the problem for me is not only the lack of detail, which makes it seem flimsy, but the way I rushed writing it, and just belted it out without any kind of plan. There was too much hinging of the thing on OTL-style events, too little interest in engaging beyond the domestic scene. Altogether a very rushed piece. I would totally avoid any kind of OTL parallels in a future timeline, it just makes it look silly and derivative. I'm comfortable in so much as this was ultimately an exercise rather than a fully fleshed-out timeline.

The failings of the timeline are entirely of my own devising and many thanks go to Meadow, who was endlessly encouraging and helpful, and all who offered to help with infoboxes and the like.
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1963 - 1964: Alec Douglas-Home (Conservative)
1964 - 1973: Harold Wilson (Labour)
1973 - 1975: Roy Jenkins (Labour)

1975 - 1978: Edward du Cann (Conservative)
1978 - 1980: Airey Neave (Conservative)

1980 - 1982: Roy Jenkins (Labour)
1982 - 1993: Betty Boothroyd (Labour)
1993 - 1999: Vince Cable (Labour)

1999 - ????: Anthony Blair (Conservative)

P.S: I like it.
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A list? A compliment, I suppose...

I actually quite liked it, although like you said it seems to hinge on OTL parallels a lot.

It's vey true, but I was playing around with this. I never had a real idea about where I was taking it, and it certainly wasn't meant to be of the same level of detail, or sophistication as a proper timeline.

The epilogue was the most fun to write. I could, and perhaps should, have done it as a stand-alone piece. I'll put it up later on.
I thought it was very good until, and I think this is where you lost interest, you had Betty Boothroyd become a left wing version of Thatcher that started the OTL parallels and I thought that the way du Cann went was a bit odd but perhaps internal Cabinet calls for peace forced his hand and led to said humiliation at the peace table.

I won't say I wasn't somewhat disappointed but it was still a decent TL and I can sympathise with the plight of losing interest halfway through and not wanting to suddenly back out when everyone is interested. Considering that, it was good but not nearly as well-done as Building Jerusalem. I am curious about who led the Conservatives in the 1999 election over Cable.
I thought it was very good until, and I think this is where you lost interest, you had Betty Boothroyd become a left wing version of Thatcher that started the OTL parallels and I thought that the way du Cann went was a bit odd but perhaps internal Cabinet calls for peace forced his hand and led to said humiliation at the peace table.

I won't say I wasn't somewhat disappointed but it was still a decent TL and I can sympathise with the plight of losing interest halfway through and not wanting to suddenly back out when everyone is interested. Considering that, it was good but not nearly as well-done as Building Jerusalem. I am curious about who led the Conservatives in the 1999 election over Cable.

Thanks for the comments and criticism.

Who won the 1999 election is covered in the epilogue, though considering the nature of things it is probably predictable. The epilogue also has a nod of appreciation to Thaxted, so watch out for that.
Epilogue: The Grand Synthesis – Tony Town


2:28 PM, 2nd of May, 1999, Prime Minister’s Study, Ten Downing Street

He fell back onto the sofa and rubbed his eyes. His mind and body were still a sickly mixture of exhaustion and adrenaline. The whole of the last twenty-four hours had passed like a disorientating blur. The voluntary wing of the party must have celebrated harder than they’d ever done in their lives, but he couldn’t muster any level of vicarious satisfaction for them. He’d caught forty winks in the back of the car, on their way back to London in the small hours, but as productive sleep it had registered only at the barest level of usefulfulness. Even that congratulatory car phone call from Tom was only the vaguest memory. God. Talk about first impressions!

He realised Amanda was still talking to him, and she seemed to be expecting an answer.

“Sorry, completely blanked out there. What were you saying?”

Amanda waved the draft of a press release with the mildest hint of irritation.

“The release of the Cabinet names so far. Should we run with it?”

He rubbed his eyes again.

“Have you been able to get in touch with John yet?”

“No. I think he’s sleeping off the election back at his house. I’ll put it out and talk to him later.”

He shifted a little. “Well, I think we should probably tell him that he’s Home Secretary in advance…”

Amanda eyed him, blankly. “Why? If the idle bastard wants to sleep on a day like this, you have to expect things to pass you by. You and I are still up, why isn’t he?”

“Well…” He didn’t have the strength to argue with that caustic Australian voice.

“I’ll put it out.” She waved it again, with a little smirk. He yawned.

“You look shagged. Should probably get some sleep.”

He noded, wearily. “Yes Ma’am.” He shot her a little grin, which she returned.

“You know how Nigella hates me keeping you up.”

He nodded, a little more vigourously.

She smiled warmly at him, that warm, protective smile.

“Was Michael giving you shit?” she asked, quietly.

He sighed, deeply.

“Oh, you know, the usual stuff. I told him it might be best now to drop Gove, but he just wouldn’t take it. Says it would undermine his position. Doesn’t grasp that it’s counter-productive.”

Amanda gave a little growl at the back of her throat. “Bastard,” she muttered darkly.

“Nevermind. Give him enough rope and all that. Let him sleep on it.”

“You should have insisted.”

Amanda was good, very good, at what she did, but sometimes she was more aggressive than was helpful.

“He’ll come round. You go and put that release out, I’ll try for a kip.”

“Not going to go back to the flat?” They’d agreed with Michael that he, Nigella and the family would inhabit the flat above Number Eleven – it was more spacious for a young family.

“No, less risk of interruption here.”

“Good point. You get some sleep, I’ll make sure people keep out.”

Once Amanda had left, he popped off his shoes and swung his legs onto the sofa, and rested his head on the arm. They’d done a good job getting the furniture in early, he gave them that. Mind you, the civil service had been expecting the change for years now, so they’d had plenty of time to discuss it all with the Permanent Secretary. Some of those discussions had leaked out, and Amanda had been forced to brief against the PS as being a bit gaga, for fear that they seemed to be taking the electorate for granted.

He lay on his back, looking at the ceiling and recalled the events of the day. Motoring to the palace once Cable had resigned, taking the Queen’s commission, then coming back to Number Ten in the Prime Ministerial limousine, now his. Standing on the steps, addressing the country. A good speech, humble and sweepingly New Conservative. “We have secured a mandate to bring the nation together – to unite us – one Britain, one nation in which our ambition for ourselves and our families is matched by our sense of compassion, and decency, and duty towards others.” Then the staged photo op with Nigella and the kids outside the door. Then going in, and that rather wince-making mass applause from the Number Ten staff, as they all stood in a row, ready for inspection and introduction. A deeply non-New Conservative sight and he had said a silent prayer of thanks that the Labour papers would never see it.

Then discussions with Michael, and then dishing out the Cabinet jobs. Michael to the Treasury, obviously. Davis to the FO – the right would like that. John, Malcolm, Stephen, Andrew, Shaun, Matthew, Ginny, Chris, Michael, all sorted out so far. Careful balancing of his allies – the happy few - with Michael’s and the unaligned. Edwina, John, David, Ken, Eric, Steve, Ann, Michael, and Mark had to be in too - the awkward squad. They’d sent Edwina off to Northern Ireland. He was already regretting it. David was getting the Policy Unit sorted out. Tomorrow, after Cabinet, they would come over to discuss strategy and the legislative timetable. He, Amanda, Matthew and David would all sit down on the sofas and thrash it all out. He relaxed a little, and curled into the groove of the sofa, a wan smile on his face. Ian had reassured him, in their private conversations, but he’d worried that, at the end of the day, he’d just not be up to the job. But governing didn’t seem as difficult as he’d feared it would be.

It’d been a long haul, though. A lot had changed since his first dabbling in politics, back when he’d been with Michael at Peterhouse. In those days it looked like the right was the future. He’d adapted, subscribed to it all officially but he’d never really believed in it. It just wasn’t sensible. All that railing against the state, Europe, the unions. It was so negative. Unlike him Michael was still, in his heart, of the right, and he had adapted less easily to change. Many, many others in the party had been the same. Even the old left had been totally resistant to modernisation. God knows how many times they’d tried to get Ken to slim down – “I enjoy your wife’s recipes too much, Tony,” he had said in riposte, gurgling - or Malcolm to be a bit less stiff and patrician. You had to be thankful for small mercies, though; they’d finally convinced David to get his teeth fixed.

They’d sunk so low, and by the time John had started modernisation, things had already passed them by. It had taken a decade just to catch up. But he’d made sure of that, sure that people could see that the party had changed, giving it a constitution, and committing it to the social market and Europe. They’d cut Labour’s rug from under it. It had terrified and disorientated them. No idea how to respond. ‘New Tories, New Danger’. Demon eyes. Huh! Well, people had seen straight through it and saw Labour’s desperation.

Speaking of which, they would doubtless descend into terrible infighting about Europe and the direction of the party now. So much the better. Owen was a possibility but he was ageing now, and his scepticism about Europe was alienating and dated. Oakeshott was popular in the country but he’d made enemies in the party. Young Benn and Kilfoyle had their own problems. Probably wouldn’t stand. The hard left would put up a candidate, Tatchell or Abbott or somebody. Kennedy and Huhne were tipped for the future but this was too soon for them. Toynbee, the favourite, had lost her seat. People had cheered hoarse for that - she’d become a totemic representative of the kind of Labour arrogance popularised by people like Kaufman and Hewitt. Denham gone too. Booth was possible, and out of all of them she probably worried him the most. He admired and envied her intelligence and toughness, and above all her conviction. Not as much as Betty, but still, no-one was quite like Betty.

The Tories didn’t really have any original policies. He had made sure of that. Had been very insistent on that, in fact. Policies were dangerous. The last time they’d had policies, it hadn’t worked out well for them at all. Nobody wanted to go back to the seventies, that much was agreed. Union-bashing for God’s sake! Government against the pickets. Economic paralysis. Mass unemployment. Laissez-Faire. Rioting. It was like something out of the nineteenth century. No, no, there would be none of that while he was in charge, none of that at all. They had accepted the Labour reforms, the Boothroydite consensus. They were tolerant and open and modern and that was enough. They’d drawn a line under the past and moved on. He liked to draw a line and move on. No point living in the past. That was the problem with the right, they were always living in the past. Nevermind. He was the future, now.

It was true, it was proven now, despite his earlier worries that they’d have a tiny majority or a hung parliament. They’d made New Toryism a finely-honed electoral machine. A landslide victory. That was not the means, that was the achievement. An achievement that would stand, now. The Tories were a responsible party of government again, and the future was bright. He grinned to himself and closed his eyes.

Things could only get better.

I'm in love with Betty Boothroyd
I'm in love with Betty Boothroyd
I'm in love with Betty B
I'm in love with Betty Boothroyd
I'm in love with Betty Boothroyd
I'm in love with Betty B

Oh Betty Boothroyd is so sexy
She's the girl for you and me
I go red when she's on the telly
Cos I think she fancies me

I'm in love with Betty Boothroyd
I'm in love with Betty Boothroyd
I'm in love with Betty B
I'm in love with Betty Boothroyd
I'm in love with Betty Boothroyd
I'm in love with Betty B

Well, I really enjoyed it. The epilogue in particular is a masterclass in how to tell a lot with a little. We have a pretty good picture of where Labour are now and the paths open to them, the Tories have been dragged kicking and screaming into post-Boothroydism and we know exactly who by, and the touch about Booth being the one who frightens Anthony the most is lovely. Nigella made me smile, but she always does.

I think you're too hard on yourself with regards to OTL parallels - yes, there's obvious ones, but Betty's rise to power is very different - an in-power leadership election, part of a crowded field and no Falklands (thanks to the most interesting alt-Falklands I've seen around these parts) to save an unpopular first term. Cablemajor was an inspired choice, though. I like how (by the nature of ATL reporting not talking about Things Which Haven't Happened) the Liberals are just not talked about, as no SDP means no revival (at least in this world) and they remain an irrelevance. You don't talk about their death, either, so one imagines they've got a minibus-worth of MPs, if that.

This is, over all, a great one-shot and something that deserves to be read by anyone with an interest in British TLs. Its refusal to descend into cliché in the 1970s and then its parallel-but-not-really 1980s make it a joy to consume. Once again, don't feel bad about BettyMaggie - I've wondered for years how 1980s *LeftThatcher would have worked and, for that matter, what the left could have actually done that broke consensus in the same way that Thatcher did but put the country irreversibly on a left wing path. You've presented an extremely interesting option. Thank you for publishing this.

I hope you like the Thing, I may make another if something comes to mind.
I somehow managed to miss this first time round. I second Meadow's comments about OTL parallels; yes, they're there, but they're hardly blatant. Betty Boothroyd as *LeftThatcher is a really interesting concept, and one I'd really like to see explored in greater depth.

To summarise, TL presented surprising yet plausible take on late-20thC British politics. Would buy again.
Well, I really enjoyed it. The epilogue in particular is a masterclass in how to tell a lot with a little. We have a pretty good picture of where Labour are now and the paths open to them, the Tories have been dragged kicking and screaming into post-Boothroydism and we know exactly who by, and the touch about Booth being the one who frightens Anthony the most is lovely. Nigella made me smile, but she always does.

Thanks for all the lovely praise. Makes me tingle.

Nigella was the nod to Thaxted; I didn't realise the parallels until I started writing the epilogue, at which point it would have been, well, rude not to nod towards it.

'Tom' is not you, btw, but Tony's American counterpart Tom Kean Senior - this was part of an expanded universe which I never got round to writing up. (Tom was Tony's inspiration with regards to inclusive politics)
I think you're too hard on yourself with regards to OTL parallels - yes, there's obvious ones, but Betty's rise to power is very different - an in-power leadership election, part of a crowded field and no Falklands (thanks to the most interesting alt-Falklands I've seen around these parts) to save an unpopular first term. Cablemajor was an inspired choice, though. I like how (by the nature of ATL reporting not talking about Things Which Haven't Happened) the Liberals are just not talked about, as no SDP means no revival (at least in this world) and they remain an irrelevance. You don't talk about their death, either, so one imagines they've got a minibus-worth of MPs, if that.

Again, thanks.

I don't think the lack of a merger would wholly be a bad thing for the Liberals, though in my subjective judgement it would deprive them of the services of a lot of talented people. I suspect ITTL they continued their big boom of the seventies into the eighties, at the expense of the Tories. As the political spectrum swung left, and the Tories revived, I guessed that would present them with a serious challenge though, with Steel trying to hold a fairly fractious party together until he resigned some time after the '91 election. If they went for someone like Simon Hughes (or Michael Meadowcroft, if he somehow manages to keep his seat) to lead them after Steel, that could bolster them as Labour declined; if they went for someone like Alan Beith or Ming Campbell, they would probably be in trouble. In both circumstances they would be operating with the old, rather troublesome and diffuse Liberal Party internal structure, rather than the more professional SDP-style one they got after merger. I suspect ITTL they are still very much viewed as a beard and sandals party as a result. I don't think they would be anywhere near as clearly professional and mainstream as they are IOTL.

This is, over all, a great one-shot and something that deserves to be read by anyone with an interest in British TLs. Its refusal to descend into cliché in the 1970s and then its parallel-but-not-really 1980s make it a joy to consume. Once again, don't feel bad about BettyMaggie - I've wondered for years how 1980s *LeftThatcher would have worked and, for that matter, what the left could have actually done that broke consensus in the same way that Thatcher did but put the country irreversibly on a left wing path. You've presented an extremely interesting option. Thank you for publishing this.

Thanks again.

Smith was a big fan of the German economic model (Japan's as well, come to that) so he was really an obvious choice as the powerhouse of Betty's premiership. With regional devolution, the social market economy, and strong pro-Europeanism (for now) Britain ITTL looks very Deutsch. Objectively speaking the economic reforms are not actually that left-wing, (Betty was, like Smith, very much on the old right of the party) and fit very much within a sort of Labour right-at-it's-reforming-best approach. Although Boothroydism draws a lot of people off by presenting an alternative, I imagined Socialist command economics would still be very popular in Labour ITTL, as would Euroscepticism; neither would be discredited by OTL's eighties transformations.

I hope you like the Thing, I may make another if something comes to mind.

I do, very much so. It made me smile. Would love the creation of anything further.

I somehow managed to miss this first time round. I second Meadow's comments about OTL parallels; yes, they're there, but they're hardly blatant. Betty Boothroyd as *LeftThatcher is a really interesting concept, and one I'd really like to see explored in greater depth.

To summarise, TL presented surprising yet plausible take on late-20thC British politics. Would buy again.

As with Meadow, thanks for the warm words.
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