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

The new cabinet appointments which attracted the most comments were those of Margaret Thatcher as Chancellor of Exchequer, and Nicholas Scott as Northern Ireland Secretary.

With Maudling expected to resign as Prime Minister in the next two to three years, Thatcher was now a serious contender for the Tory leadership. As Environment Secretary, she was responsible for the government's popular policy of selling council houses to their tenants at discounted prices. Television news stories of her handing over the keys of council houses to the tenants who had bought them, gained her favourable publicity.

Scott's mother, Teresa Mary (nee Murphy), was an Irish Catholic. He was sympathetic to a united Ireland and in favour of a power sharing government in Northern Ireland. His appointment was denounced by the Democratic Unionists, and met with coolness by the Ulster Unionists. Unlike in OTL there were no IRA hunger strikes and resulting deaths, but the campaign of violence by republicans and loyalists was still happening.
Mark Bonham Carter resigned as leader of the Liberal Party in the afternoon of 8 October 1982. Sir Emlyn Hooson took over as interim leader until a new leader was elected. Bonham Carter had been elected by Liberal MPs only in May 1968, but now the general opinion in the party was that the leader should be elected by the party members.

The two candidates for the leadership were Alan Beith, Liberal MP for Berwick-on- Tweed since a by-election in November 1973, and David Penhaligon, Liberal MP for Truro since the April 1973 general election. (1) Beith was 39 years old and P.enhaligon 38 years old. Neither man had been a minister in the Coalition government, but Penhaligon supported it only out of loyalty to party colleagues.

Penhaligon was the favourite from the start. He was more radical than Beith and appealed to party activists, and to party members in the south-west of England. He had the more dynamic personality. He was regarded as more rooted in the real world with greater popular appeal than Beith. He had been a research and development engineer, working on rock drilling, and was a qualified Chartered Mechanical Engineer. Beith had been a politics lecturer at Newcastle-upon-Tyne University. In 1967 Penhaligon took over from his father as the sub postmaster at a sub post office in his constituency. An office which he transferred to his wife, Annette, when he was elected MP for Truro, He was a cousin of the actress, Susan Penhaligon, which sprinkled stardust on his candidature. Beith appealed to more traditional Liberals and to party members in the north of England.

When the vote was announced on Saturday 11 December 1982, Penhaligon was declared the winner by 58.6% to 41.4% for Beith, and he became leader of the Liberal Party.

(1) For Beith see, and for Penhaligon see
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When Parliament met on 19 October 1982, after the general election, MPs elected Bernard Weatherill (Croydon North East - Conservative) as Speaker of the House of Commons. The Conservative majority over all parties was now 43.

Denis Healey and Michael Foot continued as leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party respectively. In the election for the shadow cabinet, the fifteen MPs elected in order of votes received from highest to lowest were as follows:
1. Peter Shore
2. Shirley Williams
3. John Silkin
.4. Jack Cunningham
5. Merlyn Rees
6. John Smith
7. William Rogers
8. Gerald Kaufman
9. Barry Jones
10. Gwyneth Dunwoody
11. Robin Cook
12. Eric Varley
13. Peter Archer
14 Eric Heffer
15. Roy Hattersley.

The Darlington by-election caused by the death of Edward Fletcher (Labour) was held on 24 March 1983. It was won for Labour by Oswald O' Brien with a majority of 11.3%, up from 1.8% in the 1982 general election. The Liberal vote rose from 8.4% to 13.5%.
In early April 1983 Tony Benn announced his challenge to Denis Healey for leadership of the Labour Party. On Sunday 2 October 1983 at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, the electoral college voted in the leadership election. Healey won by 69.6% to 30.4% for Benn. The opinion of political commentators was that Healey's decisive victory strenghened his position as leader.

On 14 October 1983, Cecil Parkinson resigned as Secretary of State for Energy, because his secretary, Sarah Keays, was expecting their child. In the subsequent cabinet reshuffle, Maudling moved Nigel Lawson from Chief Secretary to the Treasury to Energy Secretary, and promoted John Major from Financial Secretary to Chief Secretary to the Treasury. He appointed John Wakeham as Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
Prime Minister, Reginald Maudling, wanted an agreement with the Republic of Ireland to be his swan-song. The Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland by Maudling and the Irish Taioseach, Garret Fitzgerald, on Friday 17 February 1984, It was much like the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement in OTL. (1)

The Agreement was opposed by the Democratic Unionist and Ulster Unionist parties and republicans in Northern Ireland, by Fianna Fail in the Irish Republic, and by left wing Labour MPs, such as Tony Benn.

(1) See
The Chesterfield by-election, caused by the resignation of Eric Varley (Labour), was held on 1 March 1984. Tony Blair held the seat for Labour with a majority of 26.9% over Liberal. In the 1982 general election, the Labour majority was 24.3% over Conservative.

On 6 March, Reginald Maudling announced his intention to resign as leader of the Conservative Party when a new leader had been elected. The rules for the leadership election were as follows: To win on the first round, a candidate needed to have a lead of 15 per cent of Conservative MPs, over the runner up. There were 346 Conservative MPs , so to win on the first ballot a candidate needed a majority of 52 over the second place candidate.

The three candidates for the leadership were Michael Heseltine, the Paymaster-General; Geoffrey Howe, the Industry Secretary; and Margaret Thatcher, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Thatcher was the right-wing candidate, while Heseltine and Howe described themselves as One Nation Conservatives. The two men said that Thatcher would be divisive. There was also doubt as to whether Britain was ready for a woman Prime Minister. The result of the first ballot on 13 March was as follows:
Thatcher: 154
Howe: 120
Heseltine: 63.

Heseltine withdrew and the second ballot was held on 20 March. The result of which was:
Howe: 175
Thatcher: 169.
So Geoffrey Howe became leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.
Interesting. The right hasn’t quite taken over, with Howe describing himself as “One Nation”, but in OTL he was no “wet”. And the small margin of victory may indicate a fractious and assertive right wing.
Howe made the following changes to the government:
William Whitelaw resigned as Home Secretary. Ian Gilmour moved from Health and Social Security Secretary to Home Secretary; Peter Walker from Environment Secretary to Health and Social Security Secretary; Nicholas Ridley from Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to Environment Secretary; John Selwyn Gumner from Minister of State Environment to Minister of Agriculture etc; Michael Heseltine from Paymaster-General to Industry Secretary; Kenneth Clarke promoted from Minister of State Trade to Paymaster-General.
The nine Ulster Unionist, two Democratic Unionist and one Ulster Popular Unionist MPs all resigned their seats because of their opposition to the Anglo- Irish Agreement. They all stood for re-election. The subsequent by-elections took place on 12 April 1984. All were held by the Unionists seeking re-election.

There were two by-elections in Conservative seats on 3 May 1984. Stafford caused
by the death of Hugh Fraser, and South West Surrey caused by the death of Maurice Macmillan. Stafford was a Labour gain from Conservative by a majority of 0.5%. The Conservative majority in the 1982 general election was 18.9% over Labour. Virginia Bottomley held South West Surrey for the Tories, but her majority over Liberal fell from 36.8% to 11.0%. Labour won the Portsmouth South by-election on 14 June 1984, caused by the death of Bonner Pink, by a majority of 1.8%. The previous Conservative majority was 18.8%. The Conservative majority over all parties was now down to 39.

There was not a bombing by the Provisional IRA at the Grand Hotel in Brighton on 12 October 1984, during the Conservative Party Conference. Therefore Sir Anthony Berry MP was not killed, and there was not a by-election in Enfield Southgate in which Michael Portillo was elected.
The Brecon and Radnor by-election caused by the death of Tom Hooson (Conservative) was held on 4 July 1985. It was won for Labour by Richard Willey, the son of one time Labour MP and cabinet minister, Frederick Willey. The Labour majority over Conservative was 9.3% . The previous Conservative majority was 14.8%.. In the Tyne Bridge by-election on 5 December 1985, Albert Booth easily held a the seat for Labour. He had lost his Barrow-in-Furness seat in the 1982 general election.

The Fulham by-election caused by the death of Martin Stevens took place on 10 April 1986. This was a marginal Conservative seat with a majority of 3.6%. Labour were hopeful of winning the by-election, so they were careful to choose the right candidate. Jeremy Corbyn was on the short list, but was not selected. Instead Nick Raynsford was chosen. He won the by- election with a majority of 21.6% over Conservative.

The West Derbyshire caused by the resignation of Matthew Parris (Conservative), was held on 8 May 1986. Richard Wainwright took the seat for the Liberals with a majority of 2.0% Wainwright lost his Colne Valley seat in the 1982 general election. In 1982 the Conservative majority over Liberal was 31.1%. On the same day, Elizabeth Shields won the Ryedale by-election, caused by the death of John Spence (Conservative) for the Liberals with a majority of 1.5%. The previous Conservative majority over Liberal was 37.9%.

After four by-election losses the Conservative majority over all parties was now down to 31.
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Guy Barnett, the Labour MP for Greenwich, died on 24 December 1986. There were dozens of applicants for the Labour candidature in the subsequent by-election. Tessa Jowell was selected as the candidate. In the by-election on 26 February 1987. Jowell was elected with a majority of 18.2% over Conservative, up from 12.0% in the general election. However the swing of 3.1% from Conservative to Labour was the best for the Tories since the general election.

In the local elections on 7 May 1987, the votes for the parties. if projected nationally, were Conservative - 36%, Labour - 35%, and Liberal - 27%. However the Liberal Party usually does better in local elections, than in general elections. During the weekend of 9 and 10 May, the cabinet met at Chequers. One of the topics discussed was whether to have a June general election, or wait until October. After a weekend of intense media speculation, a government press statement said that the general election would take place in October.

On 7 September 1987, a statement from 10 Downing Street announced that a general election would be held on Thursday 8 October. Parliament would be dissolved on 18 September, and nominations close on 28 September. The new Parliament would meet on 20 October.
Polling stations were open from 7am to 10pm on election day. As the results came in they showed Labour gaining seats from Conservative, but not enough to win a majority over all parties. When all the results had been declared, the number of seats won by each party in the House of Commons was as follows (1982 general election):
Labour: 312 (270)
Conservative: 301 (347)
Liberal: 13 (10)
Ulster Unionist: 9 (9)
Social Democratic and Labour: 4 (4)
Plaid Cymru: 3 (2)
Scottish National: 3 (4)
Democratic Unionist: 3 (2)
Ulster Popular Unionist: 1 (1)
Speaker: 1 (n/a)
(Sinn Fein: 1)
Total: 650 (650)
After negotiations between the Labour and Liberal parties. it was agreed that the Liberals would give confidence and supply to a minority Labour government. Denis Healey became Prime Minister.

Among the new Labour MPs were Vince Cable who gained Cambridge from Robert Rhodes James, the Education Secretary; Jeremy Corbyn and Charles Kennedy, They took Bristol North West, and Ross, Cromarty and Skye, respectively from the Conservatives.
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Here are the percentage votes for each party in the 1987 general election (1982 general election):
Labour: 38.7 (36.4)
Conservative: 37.0 (42.6)
Liberal: 19.6 (15.2)
SNP: 1.7 (2.2)
Plaid Cymru: 0.4 (0.5)
Others: 2.6 (3.1)
Total : 100.0 (100.00)
Compared with the 1982 general election, Labour gained 43 seats from Conservative and 2 seats from SNP (Dundee East and Western Isles. Conservatives gained Amber Valley, Edmonton, and Erith Crayford from Labour, and Isle of Wight from Liberal. The Liberal gains from Conservative were Argyll and Bute, Fife North East, Gordon, and Southport. Plaid Cymru took Yns Mon from Conservative, and SNP gained Angus East from the Tories. Croydon North East was Speaker gain from Conservative. In Northern Ireland Joe Hendron (SDLP), took Belfast West from Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein), and Mid Ulster was a Democratic Unionist gain from SDLP. However the Tories regained Fulham from Labour, and Derbyshire West, and Ryedale from the Liberals, which they had lost in by-elections.

The Conservatives did badly in Scotland. They lost seven seats to Labour, three to Liberal , and one to SNP. One of the Labour gains from Conservative was Edinburgh Pentlands where Malcolm Rifkind, the Secretary of State for Scotland, lost his seat. Other notable Tories who were defeated were Alan Clark in Plymouth Sutton, and Anne Widdecombe in Plymouth Devonport. Margaret Beckett won back Lincoln for Labour. Michael Portillo was elected Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet in place of Reginald Maudling who retired from the House of Commons. Maudling was raised to the peerage as Lord Maudling of Barnet.
Here is the cabinet appointed by Denis Healey on 9 and 10 October 1987:
Prime Minister: Denis Healey
Lord Chancellor: Lord Mishcon
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons: Jack Cunningham
Lord Privy Seal: Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos
Chancellor of the Exchequer: John Smith
Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary: Shirley Williams
Home Secretary: Michael Foot
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Robert Maclennan
Defence Secretary: William Rogers
Education and Science Secretary: Neil Kinnock
Employment Secretary: Bryan Gould
Energy Secretary: Stanley Orme
Environment Secretary: Michael Meacher
Health and Social Security Security: Frank Dobson
Minister of Housing and Local Government: Gwyneth Dunwoody
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for Women: Jo Richardson
Northern Ireland Secretary: Robin Cook
Scotland Secretary: Donald Dewar
Trade and Industry Secretary: David Ennals
Transport Secretary: John Prescott
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Also Eric Heffer was in the cabinet as Minister of Overseas Development. Some of the higher ranking junior ministers were as follows:
Paymaster-General: Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede
Chief Secretaty to the Treasury: Frances Done (1)
Financial Secretary to the Treasury: Gordon Brown
Econonmic Secretary to the Treasury: John McDonnell
Minister of State Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Roy Hattersley
Minister of State Home Office: Alf Dubs. He was born in Prague on 5 December 1932, and was one of the children on the Kindertransport. (2)
Law Officers:
Attorney-General: Sir Peter Archer
Solicitor-General: Sir John Morris.

(1) Here is the Wikipedia entry for Done: In this TL she was elected Labour MP for Manchester Withington in the 1982 general election.

(2) Here is the Wikipedia entry for Dubs:,_Baron_Dubs.
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I have decided to make the following changes as regards Peter Shore. He did not retire from the House of Commons at the 1987 general election, but was re-elected as Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Stepney. Denis Healey appointed him to his cabinet as Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons. Jack Cunningham became Minister of Environment Protection, and John Grant was appointed Minister of Culture and Media. These ministries were new and Cunningham and Grant were not in the cabinet.

Among the legislation promised in the Queen's Speech on 27 October 1987 were the following bills. To provide for a democratically elected Scottish Parliament, and Welsh Assembly; the introduction of a statutory minimum wage, a disability income scheme, to require local authorities to use the proceeds of council houses and flats to their tenants, to invest in new homes. To be continued.
Bills promised in the Queen's Speech continued. To give leaseholders who own their own homes, the right to acquire the freeholds at fair prices; to establish a victim support programme which would fund a national network of victim support schemes; to provide for access to all common land; to abolish the poll tax in Scotland; to restore the right of every employee to belong a trade union, including those at GCHQ.

The government will support the support the imposition by the UN Security Council of comprehensive and mandatory economic sanctions against South Africa. Also the government will maintain the British nuclear deterrent, and continue with the purchase of Trident, as the replacement of Polaris. The government is committed to multilateral nuclear disarmament and fully supports the nuclear disarmament talks between the USA and the USSR.

I have taken most of the measures in the Queen's Speech in this post and my previous post from the Labour Manifesto for the 1987 general election in OTL. See
Robin Cook, the Northern Ireland Secretary, authorised the continuation of talks between officials of his department and the Provisional IRA. Also talks continued between John Hume of the SDLP and Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein.

On Thursday 3 December 1987 the Joint Declaration of Peace, commonly known as the Downing Street Declaration, was issued by Denis Healey and Charles Haughey, the Irish Taioseach. It stated that the British government did not have any economic or strategic interests in Northern Ireland, and was similar to the Downing Street Declaration in December 1993 in OTL. [1]

On 9 August 1988 the Provisional IRA announced a ceasefire. On 28 September 1988 the Combined Loyalist Military Command, representing the Ulster Defence Association, the Ulster Volunteer Force, and Red Hand Commandos, also announced a ceasefire.

On 26 January 1989, two documents were issued. A New Framework Agreement which dealt with north-south institutions on the island of Ireland, and a Framework for Accountable Government in Northern Ireland which proposed a single chamber 90 member Assembly, to be elected by proportional representation. [2]

[1] See

[2] These were very much like the Framework Documents issued in February 1995 in OTL. See