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Pre-round news
Yes Mac this is for you
Steve | A-Team
March 1990

Violence flares in poll tax demonstration

[Image: Poll-tax-riot-009.jpg?width=620&quality=...7777e8822f]

An anti-poll tax rally in central London has erupted into the worst riots seen in the city for a century. Forty-five police officers are among the 113 people injured as well as 20 police horses.

A total of 340 people have been arrested in the heart of London's West End. Four tube stations have been shut for safety reasons as police try to clear the streets, with much of central London now cordoned off.

The violence erupted just after 1600 BST following a peaceful march against the poll tax which saw up to 70,000 people take to the streets in protest at the new government levy.

David Meynell, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, in charge of the operation, said a peaceful march had been "completely overshadowed by the actions of about 3,000 to 3,500 people in minority groups".

The Home Secretary David Waddington is expected to make a statement to the House of Commons on the rioting tomorrow.
Steve | A-Team
July 1990

First rise in unemployment since 1986

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Unemployment, on both survey measures and those on unemployment benefit, rose slightly for the first time since 1986 this month. The LFS measure of unemployment - which estimates all unemployed individuals, whether or not they claim unemployment or not - registered 2,009,000 unemployed individuals this month, up from 2,007,000 in June. The number claiming unemployment benefit rose from 1,584,300 to 1,607,000, the second consecutive month that measure has risen.

The figures stoke fears that the UK economy is entering its first recession since 1981, when unemployment rose above three million. Economists have warned that a recession is “very likely” and that unemployment could go even higher than in the early 1980s.
Steve | A-Team
November 1989

Berliners celebrate the fall of the wall

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The Berlin Wall has been breached after nearly three decades keeping East and West Berliners apart.

At midnight East Germany's Communist rulers gave permission for gates along the Wall to be opened after hundreds of people converged on crossing points. They surged through cheering and shouting and were be met by jubilant West Berliners on the other side. Ecstatic crowds immediately began to clamber on top of the Wall and hack large chunks out of the 28-mile (45-kilometre) barrier.

It had been erected in 1961 on the orders of East Germany's former leader Walter Ulbricht stop people leaving for West Germany. Since 1949 about 2.5 million people had fled East Germany. After 1961, the Wall and other fortifications along the 860-mile (1,380-kilometre) border shared by East and West Germany have kept most East Germans in. Many of those attempting to escape have been shot dead by border guards.


The first indication that change was imminent came earlier today when East Berlin's Communist party spokesman, Gunther Schabowski, announced East Germans would be allowed to travel directly to West Germany.

The move was intended to stem an exodus into West Germany through the "back door" which began last summer when the new and more liberal regime in Hungary opened its border.

The flow of migrants was intensified last week when Czechoslovakia also granted free access to West Germany through its border.

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has hailed the decision to open the Wall as "historic" and called for a meeting with East German leader, Egon Krenz.

(*Shamelessly stolen from the real BBC -
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June 1990 - Major's cautious European currency proposal divides Conservative Party

British Chancellor John Major is proposing a new European currency which would circulate alongside existing national currencies.
Mr Major's plan, to be announced in a speech to German businessmen later, is a response to European Commission President Jacques Delores' more radical proposal for a single currency and European bank.

The Conservative Government is sceptical about full monetary union and regards this new proposal as a way of putting forward a genuine alternative.

It is envisaged that the currency, which Mr Major calls the "hard Ecu", would be used initially by businesses and tourists, and managed by a new European monetary fund.

Although the proposal does not rule out the abolition of national currencies, it represents a more cautious substitute to Mr Delores' plan for economic unity.

Mr Major said: "What we're seeking to do is to provide a currency that those who wish to use it could use, either for business transactions or personal transactions, without going down the route of a single currency across the whole of Europe, which we think has enormous difficulties and enormous dangers too."

The announcement follows Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's comments earlier this week that she did not believe a commitment to a single currency would be made in her lifetime.

Reaction from Conservative MPs was mixed.

From the Eurosceptic wing of the party, Bill Cash MP said: "Without a doubt it's a victory for common sense, a victory for the prime minister and for the cabinet, and a victory for Britain."

But others were disappointed by the plan's caution, fearing that it might be perceived as another delaying tactic by Britain's European neighbours.

Hugh Dykes MP said: "It seems a pity that always when these proposals are coming forward we're always holding back".
Max | A Team
August 1990

Inflation rises above 10%

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Prices rise by more than 10% over the last 12 months, the government’s official figures said today. Inflation is now at its highest level since March 1982.

Inflation has been rising steadily since 1986, but the pace of increase has accelerated in the last year. Inflation was 2.4% in August 1986, 4.4% in August 1987, 5.7% in August 1988, and 7.3% in August 1989.

Rising inflation has been blamed on the booming economy. Many economists have dubbed the so-called “Lawson Boom”, which saw economic growth above 5 percentage points in both 1987 and 1988, a bubble fuelled by tax cuts and financial deregulation.

The pace of economic growth has since slowed considerably, with interest rates rising to 15% this year and many economists expecting the economy to fall into a sharp recession.

High inflation has strengthened the argument of cabinet ministers arguing that Britain should join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, which some economists claim could help reduce inflation by ensuring that the pound is tied to the value of the DM and the German economy’s low inflation.
Steve | A-Team
August 1990

One in five yet to pay poll tax

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One in five people in England and Wales had paid nothing towards their community charge - or poll tax - by the end of June, a survey has revealed.

It is based on information from three quarters of all authorities in England and Wales. It concludes that next year's poll tax bills could be more than £40 higher per adult because of the non-payment.

The first poll tax bills went out in April and replaced the rates system which critics say was fairer than the new charge.

Most non-payers are to be found in urban areas with 27% of Londoners yet to pay a penny. Experts say the level of defaulting bodes ill for next year with councils nationally facing a deficit of up to £1.7bn.

Environment secretary Chris Patten has already won an extra £3.3bn for government grants to councils next year in an effort to keep the average bill below £400. But many local authorities may still be faced with the choice of either increasing the poll tax or cutting back spending on services such as health and education.

However, the government remains confident that councils will collect a lot more of the money owed before the end of the financial year.
Steve | A-Team
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14 November 1990 - Kinnock resigns after heart attack | John Smith rules himself out for Leader

In what is shaping up already to be one of the most momentous weeks in British politics, the Leader of the Opposition Neil Kinnock has today resigned as Labour Leader after being rushed from his London residence to St Bartholomew's Hospital following what has now been confirmed as a major heart attack earlier this week. He said in his resignation statement that it was on the advice of his Doctor, and at the urging of his wife Glenys that he was stepping back from front line politics to concentrate on his own health.

As Neil Kinnock left hospital this morning, he appeared to be in good spirits - telling the press: "We're alright."

John Smith, the Shadow Chancellor, who had a minor stroke earlier in the week also, following a heart attack in 1988 - immediately ruled himself out as the next Leader of the Party, citing his own health problems.

Reaction to Kinnock's resignation has been largely one of sorrow within the Labour Party, Mr Kinnock's tenure as Labour Leader has not been without its drama, he has been instrumental in shifting Labour away from leftward drift under Michael Foot, confronting Militant and losing the 1987 election albeit increasing Labour's number of MPs. There was criticism of his leadership latterly, with his 'one more heave' style of opposition being seen as too timid to bring Labour back to Government, and concern that Labour's poll leads and by-election wins this year have been because of Tory failure rather than Labour's alternative offer.

As Labour heads in to yet another leadership election, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the party truly does find itself at a critical crossroads, with Mrs Thatcher's own premiership in question and the Conservatives imploding - their next Leader has the best chance of becoming Prime Minister in well over a decade.
Max | A Team
November 1990

Thatcher quits as prime minister

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Margaret Thatcher is to stand down as prime minister after her Cabinet refused to back her in a second round of leadership elections. She will remain in office until a successor is elected, but will not continue to fight Michael Heseltine for the Conservative Party leadership.

The former secretary of state for the environment threw down the gauntlet after a string of serious disputes over Britain's involvement in the European Union.

The prime minister said pressure from colleagues had forced her to conclude that party unity and the prospect of victory in the next general election would be better served if she stepped down. Downing Street issued a statement at 0930 GMT after Mrs Thatcher had informed her Cabinet and the Queen of her intention.

It is expected that Chancellor John Major and Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd will now stand against Mr Heseltine in the next stage of the leadership contest. Transport Secretary Dylan Macmillan has also expressed interest in standing for the leadership of the party.

The decision comes less than 24 hours after the Iron Lady had vowed to "fight on and fight to win" after winning the first round - but not with the required majority.

Tory Party Chairman Kenneth Baker said it was a typically brave and selfless decision from the prime minister. "Once again Margaret Thatcher has put her country's and party's interests before personal considerations," he said.

And there were tributes to Mrs Thatcher from both sides of the House of Commons during Prime Minister's Questions.

The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Roy Hattersley, said the prime minister's decision showed she amounted to more than those who had recently turned against her while standing in for Neil Kinnock at Prime Minister's Questions.

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