The flame of British Liberalism burns steady and brighter: A timeline from 1945

In April 1988 during the committee stages of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly Bills, an amendment was tabled by rebel Labour MPs, and supported by Conservatives and Liberals. It stated that there must be referendums in Scotland and Wales to decide if there was majority support in those nations for a parliament or assembly. The amendment was passed by 38 votes.

The referendums took place on Thursday 22 September 1988. In Scotland the vote was 56,7% to 43.3% in favour of a Scottish Parliament. In Wales the vote was 69.2% to 30.8% against a Welsh Assembly.

The Kensington by-election caused by the death of Brandon Rhys-Williams (Conservative) was held on 18 May 1988. There was speculation that Malcolm Rifkind, the former Secretary of State for Scotland, who had lost his Edinburgh Pentlands seat in the general election, would apply to be selected as the Conservative candidate. However he did not because the Conservative majority in the general election was only 1.1% over Labour, and he wanted to wait until a safe seat became vacant. Dudley Fishburn was chosen as the Conservative candidate (as he was in OTL) and was elected by a majority of 2.8% over Labour.
 
In his April 1988 budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, John Smith, increased child benefit, retirement pension, and personal tax allowances. He also raised higher rates of income tax, and duties on beer, spirits, and tobacco. He kept the standard rate of income tax unchanged.

The Scotland Act 1989 established an elected Scottish Parliament, and a Scottish Executive. Also the legislation which provided for the introduction of the poll tax in Scotland, and was enacted by the previous government, was repealed.

The Epping Forest by-election caused by the death of Sir John Biggs- Davison (Conservative) was held on 15 December 1988. It was won by Malcolm Rifkind. He increased the Conservative majority over Labour from 29.4% to 37.8%.

The National Minimum Wage Act 1988 provided for the payment of a minimum wage to all employees aged 16 and over. It came into force on 1 April 1989.

The Local Government Finance Act 1989 abolished domestic rates, and replaced them with a local property tax. This was calculated on the capital value of a house or flat, rather than their notional rental values as rents were.
 
The Prine Minister and other prominent cabiner ministers very much welcomed the end of the Berlin Wall, and overthrow of the Communist regimes in central and eastern Europe. In November and December 1989.

The Mid Staffordshire by-election caused by the suicide of John Heddle (Conservative) was held on 22 March 1990. The result was a small increase in the Conservative majority over Labour from 12.8% to 14.1%. After the relatively good
result for Labour in the by-election, there was speculation in the media as to whether Healey would call a general election. However it would not be held on 3 May 1990 because that was the date of the election to the Scottish Parliament. In that election the number of seats won by each party were as follows:
Labour: 59
SNP: 34
Conservative: 18
Liberal: 17
Green: 1
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Total: 129
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There were 73 constituency members and 56 regional additional members.

Donald Dewar became First Minister at the head of a Labour/Liberal coalition government. Dewar resigned as Secretary of State for Scotland. His place was taken by Gavin Strang who was promoted from Minister of State Scottish Office. Alistair Darling was promoted from Under Secretary of State for Scotland to Minster of State, and Charles Kennedy joined the government as Under Secretary for Scotland.

On Thirsday 5 July 1990, the Queen opened the first session of the Scottish Parliament in the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall on the Mound in Edinbirgh city centre.
 
In the local elections on 3 May 1990, Labour lost 173 seats. This was fairly good for them because they did very well when these seats were last contested in 1987. The Liberals gained 136 seats compared with 1987.

On Tuesday 8 May, the Prime Minister, Denis Healey, announced in a statement to the media that a general election would be held on 14 June 1990. After the polls closed on election day, the first result declared was Basildon, which was an increased Labour majority. As results came in, there were a moderate number of Labour and Liberal gains from Conservative. When all the results had been declared the number of seats in the House of Commons won by each party were as follows (October 1987 general election):
Labour: 354 (312)
Conservative: 238 (301)
Liberal: 33 (13)
Ulster Unionist: 9 (9)
SNP: 5 (3)
Plaid Cymru: 4 (3)
SDLP: 4 (4)
Democratic Unionist: 3 (3)
Ulster Popular Unionist: 1 (1)
(Speaker: 1)
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Total: 651 (650)
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There was an increase of one in the number of MPs, because Milton Keynes was divided into two constituencies. The Labour majority over all parties was 57.
 
In the general election Labour gained 42 seats from Conservative, and Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber from Liberal, where Russell Johnston lost his seat, and won the new constituency of Milton Keynes South West. One of the new Labour MPs was Glenda Jackson who took Kensington from the Tories. (1) Labour lost Brecon and Radnor, and Rochdale to Liberal. Liz Lynne was the new MP for Rochdale.

The Liberals gained twenty seats from Conservative. These were: Bath, Cheltenham, Conwy, Cornwall North, Devon North, Edinburgh West, Hazel Grove, Hereford, Isle of Wight, Kincardine and Deeside, Littleborough and Saddleworth, Oxford West and Abingdon, Richmond and Barnes, St. Ives, Somerton and Frome, Taunton, Torbay, Torridge and West Devon, Twickenham, Weston-super-Mare. They lost Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire North to Plaid Cymru. It was the best Liberal result since 1931.

The SNP gained Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, and Perth and Kinross from Conservative. The Tories won the new seat of Milton Keynes North East. They lost Milton Keynes becauae of redistribution. Because the Speaker, Bernard Weatherill, retired, his seat of Croydon North East returned to the Tories. Among the Tory MPs who lost their seats were Chris Patten in Bath, and John Patten in Oxford West and Abingdon.

The percentage votes for each party were as follows (October 1987 general election):
Labour: 39.8 (38.7)
Conservative: 33.7 (37.0)
Liberal: 20.6 (19.6)
SNP: 1.9 (1.7)
Plaid Cymru: 0.5 (0.4)
Others: 3.5 (2.6)
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Total: 100.0 (100.0)
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(1) In OTL Jackson was elected Labour MP for Hampstead in the 1992 general election. In this TL John McDonnell was the Labour MP for Hampstead.
 
In the days following the general election, the Prime Minister made changes to his government following the resignation of some ministers. Here is the new cabinet (previous minister if different)
Prime Minister: Denis Healey
Lord Chancellor: Lord Mishcon
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons: Peter Shore
Lord Privy Seal: Lord Richard (Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos)
Chancellor of the Exchequer: John Smith
Foreign and Commonwealth Relations Secretary: Shirley Williams
Home Secretary: Frank Dobson (Michael Foot)
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Robert Maclennan
Culture, Media and Sport Secretary: Chris Smith (John Grant)
Defence Secretary: William Rodgers
Education and Science Secretary: Neil Kinnock
Employment Secretary: Bryan Gould
Energy Secretary: Eric Heffer (Stan Orme)
Environment Secretary: Michael Meacher
Health and Social Security Secretary: Frances Done (Frank Dobson)
Minister of Housing and Local Government: Gwyneth Dunwoody
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for Women: Maria Fyfe (Jo Richardson)
Northern Ireland Secretary: Robin Cook
Minister of International Development: Alf Dubs (Eric Heffer)
Scotland Secretary: Gavin Strang
Trade and Industry Secretary: Gordon Brown (David Ennals)
Transport Secretary: John Prescott
Wales Secretary: Alan Williams.

Some ministers outside the cabinet:
Attorney-General : Sir John Morris (Sir Peter Archer)
Solicitor-General: Harriet Harman (Sir John Morris)
Minister of Environment Protection: Jack Cunningham
Paymaster-General : Jack Straw
Chief Secretary to the Treasury: John McDonell (Gordon Brown)
FInancial Secretary to the Treasury: Roy Hattersley (Frances Done)
Economic Secretary to the Treasury: Margaret Beckett (John McDonnell)
Minister of State Foreign Office: David Owen (Roy Hattersley)
Minister of State Home Office: Paul Boateng (Alf Dubs)
Minister of State Scottish Office: Alistair Darling
Under Secretary of State Scottish Office: Charles Kennedy.

Among the new junior ministers were the following:
Under Secretary of State Department of Education and Science: David Blunkett
Under Secretary of State Foreign Office: Chris Mullin
Under Secretary of State Home Office: Tony Blair
Parliamentary Secretary Ministry of International Development: Anne Clwyd.
 
It’s been a pretty underwhelming ministerial career for David Owen TTL (so much so I initially thought you’d forgotten him entirely)…
 
In the June 1990 general election, George Galloway stood as Labour candidate for the marginal Conservative seat of Eastwood, west of Glasgow. (1) However he was not elected. Peter Mandelson was not appointed Director of Communications for the Labour Party. However in the general election he was elected Labour MP for Ealing North, having won the seat from the Conservatives.

On 15 June 1990 Geoffrey Howe announced his intention to resign as leader of the Conservative Party when a new leader was elected. Having lost two consecutive general elections his position had become untenable. The leadership candidates, in alphabetical order, were Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine, Malcolm Rifkind, and Margaret Thatcher. They were all in the shadow cabinet. Clarke at Health and Social Security, Heseltine at Trade and Industry, Rifkind at Housing and Local Government, and Thatcher was shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. She was a divisive figure in the party. Though she had her supporters, many Tory MPs did not want her to be leaders. Also at 63 years old, she was the oldest candidate. Rifkind was 44 years old, and therefore the youngest candidate.

The first ballot of Conservative MPs was held on Tuesday 17 July 1990. The number of votes for each candidate were as follows:
Thatcher: 78
Heseltine: 71
Clarke: 57
Rifkind: 32.

Rifkind was eliminated and there was a second ballot on 24 July. The result of which was:
Heseltine: 89
Thatcher: 83
Clarke: 66.

Clarke withdrew and the result of the third ballot on 26 July was:
Heseltine: 156
Thatcher: 81.
So Heseltine became leader of the Conservative Party. He appointed Clarke as shadow Chancellor, Rifkind as shadow Home Secretary, and Thatcher as shadow Foreign Secretary.

(1) In OTL, Galloway was elected Labour MP for Glasgow Hillhead in 1987. However in this TL, Richard Mowbray was the Labour MP for Hillhead.
 
In the June 1990 general election, George Galloway stood as Labour candidate for the marginal Conservative seat of Eastwood, west of Glasgow. (1) However he was not elected. Peter Mandelson was not appointed Director of Communications for the Labour Party. However in the general election he was elected Labour MP for Ealing North, having won the seat from the Conservatives.

On 15 June 1990 Geoffrey Howe announced his intention to resign as leader of the Conservative Party when a new leader was elected. Having lost two consecutive general elections his position had become untenable. The leadership candidates, in alphabetical order, were Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine, Malcolm Rifkind, and Margaret Thatcher. They were all in the shadow cabinet. Clarke at Health and Social Security, Heseltine at Trade and Industry, Rifkind at Housing and Local Government, and Thatcher was shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. She was a divisive figure in the party. Though she had her supporters, many Tory MPs did not want her to be leaders. Also at 63 years old, she was the oldest candidate. Rifkind was 44 years old, and therefore the youngest candidate.

The first ballot of Conservative MPs was held on Tuesday 17 July 1990. The number of votes for each candidate were as follows:
Thatcher: 78
Heseltine: 71
Clarke: 57
Rifkind: 32.

Rifkind was eliminated and there was a second ballot on 24 July. The result of which was:
Heseltine: 89
Thatcher: 83
Clarke: 66.

Clarke withdrew and the result of the third ballot on 26 July was:
Heseltine: 156
Thatcher: 81.
So Heseltine became leader of the Conservative Party. He appointed Clarke as shadow Chancellor, Rifkind as shadow Home Secretary, and Thatcher as shadow Foreign Secretary.

(1) In OTL, Galloway was elected Labour MP for Glasgow Hillhead in 1987. However in this TL, Richard Mowbray was the Labour MP for Hillhead.
Thatcher would be 65, not 63 years old in 1990.

Surprising that she would lose votes in the final round.
 
Thatcher would be 65, not 63 years old in 1990.

Surprising that she would lose votes in the final round.
Thatcher was born on 13 October 1925, so she was 64 at the time of the leadership election. She lost one vote to Heseltine and one vote to abstention in the final round.
 
Chris Smith was the first openly gay cablinet minister. Outside the cabinet, Paul Boateng was the first Black minister, and Harriet Harman the first woman law officer.

In this TL there were several differences from OTL. There was no Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. This prohibited local authorities from 'promoting homosexuality', or the teaching in any state school of the 'acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship'. (1) There was no Education Refotm Act 1988, and therefore no national curriculum, and tests for school children at different ages, Because there was not the NHS and Community Care Act 1990, there was not an internsl market in the NHS and hospital trusts Also the electricity and water induatries were not privatised, though the gas industry had been by the Conservative/Liberal coalition government in 1986.

(1) For Section 28 see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_28.
 
The Department of Health became the Department of Health and Comnunity Care. The Minister of State for Community Care was Malcolm Wicks. The Minister of State for Science in the Department of Ecucation and Science was Giles Radice. Vince Cable was appointed a Minister of State in Department of Trade and Industry.

When the House of Commons met on 26 June 1990, after the general election, Betty Boothroyd, Labour MP for West Bromwich West, was elected Speaker. The Labour majority over all parties was now 56.

Among the bills promised in the Queen's Speech were the following: To establsh a National Investment Bank which would invest in long term regional and national infrastructure; to establish the British Technology Trust and local Technology Trusts; to create the Work Programme which would provide for unemployed people, properly paid work for three days a week, and two days training and job search; to give all employees, whether full or part time, permanent or temporary, equal rights and status under the law; to end selection at 11 for school children, where it still existed, and to establish a Reading Standards Programme. (1)

(1) I have taken these bills and the appointment of Ministers for Community Care, and for Science, from the Labour Party manifesto for the 1992 general election in OTL. See http://www.labour-party.org.uk/manifestos/1992/1992-labour-manifesto.shtml.
 
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