The Opposition to Margaret Thatcher's Policies

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In this essay I will be discussing the opposing view to Mrs Thatcher’s policies in the 1980’s and how this opposition emerged within popular music at that time. I will provide examples of different songs and artists that contributed to the large amount of music in the 80s that was a platform for protests and political debates. Music was starting to become more and more popular so these issues were injected into the music industry a lot, making more and more people aware of the certain debates, and in this case, Mrs Thatcher’s policies.

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Margaret Thatcher won the election and became the leader of the Conservative party and the first woman Prime Minister in May 1979. [1] Many people had different opinions to the outcome of the election and some heavily disagreed with Mrs Thatcher’s policies. She assured to bring Britain harmony, faith and hope, but at the start of her time as Prime Minister, it became evident that Britain had entered a time of intense division and uncertainty. For people who support Mrs Thatcher’s vision for Britain, the future offered them prospect of individual success and prosperity. For those who did not, ‘Thatcherism’ equated to a brutal ideology that represented a denial of social responsibility and the abandonment of core British values.

The start of Thatcher’s era in office overlapped with the coming of age of the largest cohort in British political history. The baby boom generation of the 1950s/60s was now reaching political maturity. They were young, however, very politically conscious. It seemed almost unavoidable that certain political debates would soon emerge within popular culture at the time, particularly music, but also in other art forms, for example graffiti. Policies such as unemployment and race issues, social upheaval and foreign policy and inequality and industrial relations created a lot of uproar, which then began to bleed into popular music culture.

Music in the 80s was more than just a soundtrack to their youth, it was integrated proof of developing political identity. Music in the 1950s/60s was not politically inspired, it was there for escapism and enjoyment, but later on in the 80s, people started to gain opinions to certain social complications and these opinions incorporated themselves in popular culture. Punk music exploded in Britain in the late 70s/early 80s. Bands like The Clash were very politically delivered. Their song ‘London Calling’ involves war and basic breakdown of society The lyric “meltdown expected” could be referring to an economic failure in most of the Western world during the late 70s. Influencers like The Clash would want to share their political ideas, and want people to pay attention to the issues that are facing them, without being aggressive, therefore, reaching out to people through music makes perfect sense, there’s no invasion, and people would start to form their own opinions on the topic.

One of the most successful and renowned bands of the 1970s/early 80s were The Jam. Their audience were very important to them, they wanted to provide a realistic picture of life at the time of writing their songs. Paul Weller, the lead singer and the bands songwriter, even said himself that music was, “a way of talking to an audience and making a dent on the peoples’ consciousness”. Bands and music influencers knew their music effected people, if they sang about something important, they knew people would then begin to listen and reiterate their ideas. The Jam created many politically focused songs, one titled, ‘Down in the Tube Station at Midnight’. “I first felt a fist, and then a kick” was referring to the attacks in London’s Tube Stations that would happen at those times. Weller believed that it was simplicity that people connected to within music, he would write songs that he knew the audience would enjoy. Before the punk ere emerged, John Lennon was the first British artist to involved issues of the 1970s in his music. The troubles in Northern Ireland, Feminism Apartheid in South Africa and the escalation of nuclear weapons. His approach didn’t help matters; no one really took him seriously. Mrs Thatcher was very far right with her political ideas, her manifesto involved the promise to improve education and health services, also more police support and a pledge to strengthen Britain’s defence systems. Her manifesto also included the promise to rebuild the economy and offer fresh hope to the people in society.

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