chapter  4
17 Pages

The Centre Cannot Hold

Although Mrs Thatcher's new majority was reduced by 43 to 101, it was still the largest since 1945, with the exception of her own 1983 landslide. She therefore could be forgiven for thinking that the troubles of the second term had been exorcised and that she had been given a fresh mandate to implement the undoubtedly radical policies that had featured in the 1987 manifesto. As early as July the government's renewed passion for privatisation was demonstrated with the flotation of the British Airports Authority. Water privatisation had been postponed in July 1986, when the government's authority was at a low ebb and thus ministers had decided not to try to push through a measure that many backbenchers opposed and which was deeply unpopular with the voters. Although Mrs Thatcher may have gained some public support from her strong line against the Iraqi aggression, to the British electorate Iraq was little more than a 'side-show'.