UK: THE FIRST 30 YEARS.

UK: THE FIRST 30 YEARS. - Since it first hit the newsstands, Management Today has seen the anachronism that was British industry gain far more credibility. We chart that progress - and review in detail global events and trends of the period.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Since it first hit the newsstands, Management Today has seen the anachronism that was British industry gain far more credibility. We chart that progress - and review in detail global events and trends of the period.

'The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there,' wrote the novelist LP Hartley. Thirty years ago, when Management Today first appeared, they did things differently in British business. The second world war had long since ended and the celebrations were an increasingly hazy memory, but the hangover would not go away. London and its newly liberated youth might be swinging, as Time magazine declared, but much of the rest of Britain spent its days tending antiquated machinery in dingy factories where the wind whistled through broken panes that had needed replacing even before the war.

Industry was also largely unchanged since the 1930s. Certain 'commanding heights', such as coal, steel, power and a lot of transport, had been taken into public ownership, but the landscape was much as it had been.

In the mid-'60s, and for some time after, Britain survived (just) by manufacturing and trading in traditional manufactures - and by financing both stages.

A disproportionate number of Europe's biggest businesses were British.

Indeed, in a European context, the country could provide leading players in engineering (including motors, electricals, electronics, aircraft, shipbuilding), in chemicals and textiles - as well as in oil, shipping, insurance, banking.

The problem was that, in most of these industries, Britain was fast losing ground. The big companies were failing to keep up with foreign rivals, and their position worsened with every swing at Westminster. 'Stop-go' economic policies discouraged investment, risk-taking, and growth. It became axiomatic that no genuine innovation could succeed if launched on the conservative UK market. On rare occasions when managers put their shirts on a major development, they looked to the US - witness Rolls-Royce aero engines or the EMI body scanner - and still they lost their shirts.

Low growth meant low expectations meant loss of confidence. At least managers could console themselves with their place in the pecking order. Organised labour, meanwhile, drew its satisfaction from warring with employers and, if possible, winning leapfrogging pay rises that proved of benefit to nobody. Some managements struggled to stay in control. Others abdicated: productivity was appalling, strikes multiplied, product quality deteriorated and delivery promises counted for nothing.

In an attempt to break from the downward spiral, Harold Wilson's Labour government opted for gigantism. If British companies were declining compared with overseas rivals, size (and international competitiveness) could be restored by creating industry-wide groupings. Hence more nationalisation, of shipbuilders and airframe manufacturers. And moves towards similar concentration in other industries, like motors. Which helped to ensure that all might go down the tubes together.

The then government proposed institutional solutions, creating intermediaries and talking shops that would point industry in the paths of righteousness: the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation, Prices and Incomes Board, Monopolies Commission (whose early findings were often inconsistent), National Economic Development Council (aptly reduced to Neddy) and many more. But depression only deepened as, one after another, tripartite working parties reported that their own sectors of industry had no hope of matching international competition.

The economy began falling apart. Inflation had taken off. In the early 1970s, the miners brought down Edward Heath's Conservative government, and their 35% pay claim was conceded the day Wilson returned to power.

Yet strikes and stoppages continued. The 1979 'winter of discontent' was pure British understatement. Then came Margaret Thatcher, and, at the next encounter, Arthur Scargill's army was utterly routed. But, having identified inflation as the dragon they had to slay, the Tories laid waste vast tracts of the manufacturing economy. A ruthless act, it was also probably for the best. At least a new start - of a kind - could be made.

On emerging from recession in the early 1980s, the Tories ran straight into another, more devastating, one at the decade's end. Naturally, the survivors were wary of investing in anything. There's not much sign of a new dawn yet, but at least the climate for business is more favourable than elsewhere in western Europe. And, while being lean and fit in a sclerotic Europe may not take Britain to the top in the new world order, a good part of British business at last understands what it means to compete, and knows the goals at which it must aim.

1966 - 1970.

1966

The World Leonid Brezhnev is clear winner in Soviet power games. Race riots flare up in US cities. Mao Tse-Tung proclaims Cultural Revolution in China. South African prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd assassinated.

Britain State of emergency declared to protect essential supplies during seamen's strike; Government later freezes prices and incomes in effort to beat inflation. Repeated gas finds in North Sea. Barclaycard is first British credit card. England beats Germany in World Cup final. Shifting slag heap at Aberfan, South Wales, kills 130.

Politics Labour wins general election with 96 majority - 'a clear mandate,' says prime minister Harold Wilson. Ex-union boss Frank Cousins later resigns as technology secretary over Government's incomes policy; successor is Antony Wedgwood Benn.

People Leslie O'Brien succeeds Lord Cromer as governor of Bank of England.

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley are convicted of Moors murders following a telephone call to the police by a witness.

Business British Motor Corporation and Jaguar to merge as British Motor Holdings. Lord Thomson buys The Times.

1967

The World Chinese president Liu Shao-chi accused of leading coup attempt.

China explodes its first H-bomb. Prime minister Indira Gandhi re-elected in India. Israeli army crushes Egypt in six-day war. Dr Christiaan Barnard carries out first human heart transplant.

Britain Tanker Torrey Canyon goes aground off Cornwall, spilling cargo.

Francis Chichester completes epic solo circumnavigation. Barclays introduces first cash dispenser. BBC begins regular colour broadcasts. Queen Elizabeth II launched on Clydebank. Britain bans meat imports from countries with foot-and-mouth disease.

Politics Jeremy Thorpe is leader of Liberals after Jo Grimond resigns.

French president Charles de Gaulle vetoes Britain's second attempt to join Common Market. Roy Jenkins becomes chancellor; James Callaghan moves to Home Office.

People Donald Campbell killed attempting new speed record on Coniston Water. William Rees-Mogg becomes editor of The Times, Harold Evans of The Sunday Times.

Stalin's daughter Svetlana defects to West. Former prime minister Clement Attlee dies.

1968

The World Reformer Alexander Dubcek comes to power in Czechoslovakia; later Russian tanks enter Prague. Tet offensive brings Vietnam war into Saigon; President Lyndon Johnson says he will not stand for re-election.

Martin Luther King's assassination causes riots in US. Senator Robert Kennedy also assassinated. Students and police fight street battles in France. Gaullists win election by a landslide. So does premier Pierre Trudeau in Canada. John Gorton becomes prime minister in Australia. Nuclear non-proliferation treaty signed by 36 countries.

Britain A dozen countries promise $2 billion credit to support pound.

First decimal coins introduced, also two-tier post, Booker Prize, Jaguar XJ6 saloon.

Politics George Brown resigns as foreign secretary. Arguing in favour of strict immigration policy, Enoch Powell predicts rivers running with blood.

People Jackie Kennedy marries Aristotle Onassis.

Business Year of mergers: BMC and Leyland form British Leyland Motor Corporation; National Provincial and Westminster create NatWest; Barclays merges with Martins Bank; GEC with English Electric. Rolls-Royce wins Britain's biggest aerospace order from Lockheed, for RB-211 engine.

1969

The World Richard Nixon is US president. Astronaut Neil Armstrong's 'moonwalk' is 'a giant leap for mankind'. De Gaulle resigns; Georges Pompidou is France's new president. Social Democrat Willi Brandt becomes chancellor of West Germany. Golda Meir becomes prime minister of Israel. Moamar al Gaddafi seizes power in Libya.

Britain Sectarian violence flares up in Northern Ireland. Many women workers at Ford win equal pay with male employees. Parliament votes to abolish death penalty.

People Former US president Dwight D Eisenhower dies. Gangland leaders Ronald and Reginald Kray get life sentences for murder.

Business Rupert Murdoch beats Robert Maxwell to win News of the World; Murdoch goes on to bid for the Sun.

1970

The World US National Guard soldiers shoot four student demonstrators at Kent State University, Ohio. Tidal wave in East Pakistan kills 150,000.

Palestinian terrorists blow up British, American and Swiss airliners in Jordan. Anwar Sadat is president of United Arab Republic. Salvador Allende becomes president of Chile.

Britain Golfer Tony Jacklin becomes first Briton in 50 years to win US Open Championship.

Politics Tories back in power under Edward Heath. Sir Alec Douglas-Home becomes foreign secretary, Reginald Maudling goes to Home Office. Roy Jenkins becomes Labour's deputy leader.

People De Gaulle; Earl Russell, mathematician, philosopher, nuclear campaigner; and paperback publishing pioneer Sir Allen Lane, founder of Penguin, die.

New peers this year include Sir Laurence Olivier and George Brown.

Business BP makes major oil find in UK sector of North Sea. Rover reveals multi-purpose, four-wheel drive Range Rover.

1971 - 1975.

1971

The World Major-general Idi Amin seizes power in Uganda, promotes himself to general and declares himself president. Civil war in East Pakistan follows declaration of independent Bangladesh; India recognises new state and trounces Pakistan in short, sharp war.

Britain Parliament approves UK entry to EEC. First British soldier killed in Northern Ireland since army arrived in 1969. New law makes 'irretrievable breakdown' sole grounds for divorce. Decimal currency introduced; purchase tax is cut and hire-purchase controls are ended.

People Prime minister Edward Heath leads British team to victory in the Admiral's Cup. Joe Gormley becomes president of the NUM. Russian composer Igor Stravinsky dies in the US. Former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev dies.

Business Rolls-Royce goes into receivership. The Daily Sketch ceases publication after 62 years.

1972

The World President Nixon makes triumphant visit to China, first by a western leader; he later overwhelms George McGovern in the US elections.

Britain recognises Bangladesh, and sends an ambassador to Communist China.

Willi Brandt's SDP returns to power in Germany. Labour wins in Australia.

Britain Bloody Sunday: 13 die as paras fire on demonstrators in Londonderry.

Seven civilians killed when IRA bombs Parachute Brigade HQ in Aldershot.

Government introduces direct rule of Northern Ireland from Whitehall.

Army clashes for first time with Protestant Ulster Defence Association.

Cod war breaks out when Icelandic gunboats fire on British trawlers. Government imposes 90-day freeze on prices and incomes. Race Relations Act bans discrimination on grounds of colour.

People John Betjeman becomes poet laureate. Bobby Fischer beats Boris Spassky to become first world chess champion. Former US president Harry S Truman dies; also Duke of Windsor, who was briefly King Edward VIII.

Business Distillers Company offers over £11 million compensation to the thalidomide victims.

1973

The World Arab producers announce successive hikes in oil price. Watergate affair blows up in US. President Nixon admits cover-up; aides Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman resign. Israel triumphs over Egypt in Yom Kippur war.

President Allende of Chile is killed in coup. In Argentina, Juan Peron is re-elected 18 years after being ejected by a coup.

Britain UK officially becomes member of EEC, along with Ireland and Denmark.

IRA bombs explode outside Old Bailey and in Whitehall. VAT introduced.

Open University awards its first degrees. Fire at Summerland entertainment centre, Isle of Man; 30 die. Government gives the green light to Channel Tunnel, and introduces 50mph speed limit to save fuel.

Politics Denis Healey announces that Labour will tax the rich 'until the pips squeak'.

People Princess Anne marries Captain Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey.

Eamonn de Valera resigns as head of state in Ireland. Pablo Picasso, Noel Coward, JRR Tolkien and WH Auden die.

Business Prime minister Heath condemns Lonrho dealings as 'the unacceptable face of capitalism'.

1974

The World Threatened with impeachment, President Nixon resigns; vice-president Gerald Ford succeeds. Chancellor Willi Brandt resigns over East German spy link, Helmut Schmidt succeeds. French president Georges Pompidou dies; Valery Giscard d'Estaing is elected. Following Juan Peron's death, power is transferred to wife Isabel. In Spain, General Franco dies; Juan Carlos is king. In Portugal, Marcello Caetano is toppled by a military coup. Pierre Trudeau returns to power in Canada.

Britain With trouble in pits and power stations coming on top of the oil crisis, the Government introduces three-day working week. Labour under Harold Wilson wins general election. Workers get massive wage increases, inflation soars, but five-day week is restored. Second election gives Labour majority of three. Museums and art galleries begin charging for admission. An explosion in the Flixborough chemical plant kills 29.

Business Court Line, the owner of tour operators Clarksons and Horizon, goes to the wall.

1975

The World Fall of Saigon marks end of Vietnam war. Portugal holds first free elections for half a century: Socialists, under Mario Soares, storm to power. Liberals win in Australia.

Britain Inflation surges to 25%. In a plebiscite, voters show firm support for EEC membership. Thirty-five people die in Moorgate Tube disaster; Balcombe Street seige, of four IRA gunmen in London flat, ends without bloodshed. Sex Discrimination Act and Equal Pay Act come into force.

Politics Margaret Thatcher unseats Edward Heath as leader of the Conservative Party.

People Dissident Soviet nuclear scientist Andrei Sakharov is awarded Nobel Peace Prize. Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek dies, also Eamonn de Valera.

Business The Bank of England rescues Burmah Oil. British Leyland passes into public ownership. Aston Martin is acquired by International Semiconductor of the US.

1976 - 1980.

1976

The World Israeli commandos free hostages in daring raid on Entebbe.

In Argentina, Isabel Peron is deposed in bloodless coup. In Japan, ex-prime minister Kakuei Tanaka is indicted for accepting bribes from Lockheed.

Britain Government seeks £2.3 billion from International Monetary Fund.

Days of drought and wide-spread water rationing; prime minister Callaghan appoints Denis Howell to coordinate relief measures. The women's peace movement launched in Northern Ireland.

Politics Harold Wilson resigns suddenly; James Callaghan becomes prime minister; Anthony Crosland is foreign secretary. David Steel elected leader of Liberal Party.

People Broadcaster Ian Trethowan is appointed director-general of the BBC. Mao Tse-tung dies, also artist LS Lowry, also composer Benjamin Britten.

Business Secondary banking problems: Slater Walker Securities reports £42 million loss.

1977

The World Jimmy Carter becomes president of the US. Leonid Brezhnev takes over as Soviet president as Nikolai Podgorny is sacked. Morarji Desai's Janata party crushes Indira Gandhi in Indian elections. Menachem Begin's Likud beats Shimon Peres's Labour party in Israel. Jack Lynch's Fianna Fail wins in Ireland, Adolfo Suarez in Spain. General Zia ousts Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan. In Madeira two jumbo jets collide killing over 570, the worst disaster in aviation history.

Britain Government abandons social contract as wage claims soar. Freddie Laker's cut-price Skytrain also takes to the air.

Politics Dr David Owen becomes foreign secretary on death of Tony Crosland.

People Roy Jenkins becomes the president of the European Commission. Michael Edwardes is appointed head of British Leyland. EF Schumacher, author of Small is Beautiful, dies; so does Sir Charles Chaplin.

1978

The World White leader Ian Smith promises to end minority rule in Rhodesia.

Aldo Moro, five times prime minister of Italy, is murdered by Red Brigade terrorists. Poland's Cardinal Wojtyla is elected Pope, takes name John Paul II. Ayatollah Khomeini is granted asylum in France. Super-tanker Amoco Cadiz breaks up off Brittany, spilling over 200,000 tons of crude.

Sweden bans CFC sprays.

Britain The world's first test-tube baby is born in Manchester.

People Princess Margaret is seeking a divorce. Jomo Kenyatta, who led Kenya to independence, dies; so does former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir.

1979

The World The Shah flees Tehran and goes into exile; Khomeini returns to Iran; US embassy staff taken hostage. Idi Amin flees Kampala. Whites vote to accept black rule in Rhodesia. Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin sign peace treaty in Washington. Carter and Brezhnev sign SALT 2 arms limitation agreement in Vienna. Pope John Paul II given hero's welcome in Poland. Ex-prime minister Bhutto hanged in Pakistan. Chinese invade Vietnam, and retire again. Russians enter Afghanistan in strength, and look as if they mean to stay. Indian fanatics take US embassy staff hostage in Tehran. Nuclear disaster narrowly averted at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania.

Britain Winter of discontent: rubbish piles up, bodies remain unburied.

Scots are marginally in favour of home rule and Welsh positively against it.

Politics General election: Margaret Thatcher rules OK; Lord Carrington goes to Foreign Office, Sir Geoffrey Howe becomes chancellor, Willie Whitelaw is home secretary.

People Art historian Sir Anthony Blunt admits spying for Russians. Former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe is found not guilty of murder. Earl Mountbatten is assassinated by IRA.

1980

The World President Carter's prestige collapses after bungled attempt to rescue Iran hostages. Ronald Reagan wins US presidential election, Republicans control Senate again after more than 25 years. Indira Gandhi is back in power in India after 33 months, then son Sanjay is killed in air crash. Robert Mugabe becomes prime minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

Solidarity trade union is established in Poland. Year of disasters: US volcano Mt St Helens erupts, killing eight; terrorist bomb in Bologna, Italy, killing 84; North Sea platform capsizes, killing 100; Algerian earthquake kills thousands; famine in Africa threatens death to millions.

Britain Steelworkers go on strike. Thatcher threatens to slash strikers' benefits, wins concessions on Britain's budget contribution to EEC, creates enterprise zones, axes quangos. TUC holds Day of Action. SAS storms Libyan embassy. Government agrees to deployment of cruise missiles at Greenham Common.

Politics Thatcher tells Conservative Party Conference that she's not for turning on economic policy. James Callaghan resigns; Michael Foot becomes Labour leader.

People Ian MacGregor headhunted as chairman of British Steel. The existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre dies, also Alfred Hitchcock, also Sir Billy Butlin, also fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley. Ex-Beatle John Lennon is shot dead in New York.

1981 - 1985.

1981

The World Francois Mitterrand becomes president of France at third attempt.

Egypt also has a new president: Hosni Mubarak succeeds the murdered Anwar Sadat. Maiden flight of space shuttle Columbia.

Britain Privatisation programme takes shape with announcement that 50% of British Aerospace is to be sold. Britain's towns rocked by worst riots of century. South Wales miners stop work because of threatened pit closures.

British Leyland workers also strike, over pay.

Politics The Gang of Four break with Labour and form own political party which, mid-year, joins forces with Liberals to create SDP-Liberal Alliance; Shirley Williams triumphs in Crosby by-election. Norman Tebbit tells Tory Party conference how his father tackled unemployment: he got on his bike.

People Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer. Arthur Scargill becomes president of NUM.

Business Newspapers are under spotlight as Rupert Murdoch buys The Times and Tiny Rowland the Observer. Stock market experiences second worst fall in its history. British Leyland closes three plants but planned link-up with Honda offers hope for future.

1982

The World Israeli forces invade Lebanon. Germany gets new head of government when minority Free Democrat party transfers support from Social Democrats to Christian Democrats: out goes chancellor Helmut Schmidt, in comes chancellor Helmut Kohl. New face in Soviet Union, too, where Leonid Brezhnev dies and is succeeded as leader by Yuri Andropov.

Britain Stirring times: the Falklands war dominates the news. Invasion in the spring almost immediately followed by departure of Task Force.

It's all over by mid-summer. War flares up nearer home when IRA terrorists bomb Horseguards Parade. In Hollywood, Chariots of Fire carries away Oscar for best picture.

People A son is born to Princess of Wales: William, second in line to the throne. A Pope of Rome visits Britain for first time in 450 years.

Business Laker Airways collapses. Likewise De Lorean Motors. Positive developments in communications, however: satellite television gets the green light and Mercury gets its licence to compete with British Telecom.

1983

The World President Reagan launches Star Wars programme. Rare show of unanimity at OPEC as all 13 members agree cut in prices. Chancellor Kohl retains power in German elections and prime minister Bob Hawke is re-elected in Australia.

Britain Seat belts made compulsory for front-seat occupants. Also in are £1 coins; wheel clamps; women peace campaigners - inside Greenham Common base. Out and away: 134 IRA prisoners from the Maze; gold bars worth £25 million, stolen in Britain's biggest-ever robbery at Heathrow.

Politics Margaret Thatcher returned to power at mid-year with increased majority. Michael Foot resigns - Neil Kinnock is the new Labour leader.

Roy Jenkins steps down at SDP.

1984

The World US astronaut takes space walk from Challenger - untethered.

Soviet leader Yuri Andropov dies after only 15 months, and is succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko. President Reagan overwhelms Walter Mondale. Indian troops storm Golden Temple in Amritsar. Indira Gandhi assassinated; son Rajiv wins by landslide. British and Chinese sign treaty for return of Hong Kong to China in 1997.

Britain Miners' strike begins in March and continues for the rest of the year. NUM president Arthur Scargill arrested in May after 40 police and nearly 30 miners hurt in South Yorkshire. In Brighton an IRA bomb at Grand Hotel leaves four dead at the Tory Party Conference.

Business Robert Maxwell buys Mirror Group for £113.4 million. Johnson Matthey Bankers, which has £150 million loan losses, is bought by Bank of England. Government floats 51% of British Telecom and announces TSB also to be privatised.

1985

The World Spain ends its blockade of Gibraltar after 16 years. French agents sink Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland. In Russia, Chernenko dies; Mikhail Gorbachev is the country's new leader. Anglo-Irish Agreement is signed. Anglo-French summit agrees to build cross-Channel link.

Britain As more and more miners return to work, the NUM calls off the strike after just under 12 months. The home secretary Leon Brittan announces new police powers to combat mob violence. Thirty-eight die in the Heysel tragedy: UEFA bans English clubs from playing in Europe. Over 40 people die in a fire at Bradford City, and 54 in a Manchester air disaster. There are riots in Brixton and Toxteth.

Politics Big gains for SDP-Liberal Alliance in council elections. Opinion polls put Alliance ahead of Labour, Tories third.

Business Sir Clive Sinclair launches C5 electric tricycle; nine months later his crisis-ridden company, TPD, calls in the receiver. Al-Fayed brothers win control of House of Fraser, including Harrods. Habitat and BhS to merge in £1.5 billion deal. Amstrad launches PCW 8256. Nissan agrees a single-union deal with AUEW for its Washington, Tyne and Wear, plant.

Murdoch prepares to move his newspaper operation to Wapping.

1986 - 1990.

1986

The World Space shuttle Challenger explodes, killing seven. Swedish prime minister Olof Palme is assassinated. In an unprecedented move, Mikhail Gorbachev denounces his predecessors. Cory Aquino ousts President Marcos in the Philippines. US bombs Libya. Reactor explodes at Chernobyl, sending radioactive cloud across Europe. Poison gas from Cameroon lake kills 1,500.

Star Wars puts paid to Reykjavik summit. John Poindexter quits and Oliver North is dismissed over 'Irangate'.

Britain Margaret Thatcher and Francois Mitterrand sign Channel Tunnel Treaty. GLC is abolished. Queen becomes first British monarch to visit China. Sculptor Henry Moore and Harold Macmillan (Earl of Stockton) die.

Halley's Comet is a damp squib.

Politics Michael Heseltine and Leon Brittan resign over Westland. Edwina Currie becomes health minister. Nigel Lawson announces a £4.6 billion increase in public spending and the Government cracks down on insider dealing.

Business Guinness wins takeover battle for Distillers. GM, Esso and Barclays pull out of South Africa. Four million apply for both TSB and British Gas shares.

1987

The World Terry Waite is kidnapped in Beirut. Herald of Free Enterprise capsizes off Zeebrugge. Over 70 nations sign Montreal Protocol to save ozone layer. Van Gogh's Irises sells for record $53.9 million. Over 300 are convicted in biggest ever Mafia trial. Reagan and Gorbachev sign first missile reduction treaty.

Britain Michael Ryan guns down 16 in Hungerford. Hurricane causes damage costing billions. Worst ever stock-market crash comes after five-year bull run. Thirty die in King's Cross Tube fire.

Politics Tories win with large majority. Government says poll tax will replace rates in 1990.

People Libya frees alleged British spy Robert Maxwell on Gaddafi's orders.

Andy Warhol dies.

Business Heads roll at Guinness over Distillers takeover probe. British Airways buys British Caledonian for £237 million and Ford announces it will buy Aston Martin.

1988

The World Mikhail Gorbachev announces Soviet willingness to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Oliver North and John Poindexter are indicted over Irangate. US shoots down Iranian airbus, killing nearly 300. Turin shroud declared a fake. Bush wins US election convincingly. Armenian earthquake; 70,000 feared dead.

Britain Security forces shoot dead three IRA members in Gibraltar. The Last Emperor takes nine Oscars. Piper Alpha oil rig disaster kills 167; Pan Am jet is blown up by terrorists over Lockerbie, killing over 200.

Politics Liberals vote to merge with SDP.

People Margaret Thatcher becomes longest-serving prime minister this century. Edwina Currie gets egg on her face over her remark about salmonella.

Business BP takes over Britoil. Rowntree accepts £2.5 billion bid by Nestle. Lord Young announces privatisation of British Steel.

1989

The World Soviet Union holds its first multi-candidate elections. Exxon Valdez spills 11 million tons of oil into Alaskan waters. Over 150,000 Chinese demonstrate in Tiananmen Square; 2,600 are later shot. Solidarity win Poland's first free elections since second world war. Iron Curtain falls as Berlin Wall is breached. US invades Panama, offering $1 million bounty for capture of General 'Pineapple' Noriega.

Britain Sky TV launched. Inflation is highest in Europe. Energy worries end briefly as Southampton University researchers claim to have achieved fusion in a test tube. Hillsborough stadium disaster kills 95, and 51 die when pleasure cruiser Marchioness collides with dredger on Thames.

'Guildford Four' are released.

People Ayatollah Khomeini dies, but not before issuing fatwa against Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses. Dalai Lama wins Nobel Peace Prize.

Politics Nigel Lawson resigns. John Major is promoted to chancellor.

Business Honda announces £300 million plant for Swindon. Interest rates rise and trade deficit worsens. Eurotunnel says it needs another £1.5 billion. Ford bids £1.6 billion for Jaguar.

1990

The World Soviet Central Committee votes to end Communist monopoly on power. Lithuania declares independence from Soviet Union; Latvia and Estonia follow. Boris Yeltsin resigns from Communist party. Iraq invades Kuwait.

Germany is reunited. Nelson Mandela is released.

Britain Police arrest 341 anti-poll tax demonstrators. Inmates seize Strangeways jail. Customs officials intercept Iraq-bound supergun components.

Britain's highest ever temperature is recorded: 37.1C. Unemployment rises to 1.7 million. British and French engineers shake hands as Chunnel breakthrough is made.

Politics SDP is disbanded. Nicholas Ridley resigns after saying Germans 'aim to take over the whole of Europe'. Heseltine and Thatcher in leadership battle: they lose. John Major becomes prime minister.

People Mikhail Gorbachev wins Nobel Peace Prize.

Business Sock Shop loses nearly £4 million. Perrier recalls bottled water after contamination scare. Satellite broadcasters Sky and BSB merge. Electricity privatisation is 10 times oversubscribed.

1991 - 1995.

1991

The World War in Gulf: Iraq torches hundreds of oil wells before leaving Kuwait. Boris Yeltsin is elected Russian president. Ukraine votes for independence and CIS is formed, ending Soviet Union. Yugoslav president Broislav Jorvic resigns. Croatia and Slovenia declare independence; Dubrovnik is later shelled.

Britain IRA fires mortar at 10 Downing Street. Helen Sharman becomes first Briton in space. Education reforms turn polytechnics into universities.

John Major launches Citizens' Charter. Jobless total rises to 2.4 million.

Terry Waite is released.

Politics Michael Heseltine announces a new council tax to replace the unpopular poll tax. Norman Lamont raises VAT to 17.5%. European leaders agree Maastricht Treaty.

People Norway's King Olav dies, also Robert Maxwell and Freddie Mercury.

Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf gets knighthood.

Business Gerald Ratner describes his merchandise as 'crap'. BCCI is shut down. Fraud investigation begins into Maxwell pension funds. Daily Mirror is put up for sale.

1992

The World George Bush is sick in Japanese premier's lap. Billionaire Ross Perot gets 19% of vote. LA riots flare after acquittal of police accused of beating Rodney King. US, Canada and Mexico sign NAFTA. UN imposes sanctions on Serbia. Czech Republic and Slovakia agree to 'velvet divorce'.

Britain Windsor Safari Park goes bust. Tories beat Labour in general election, confounding expectations. Betty Boothroyd is first female Speaker.

Ian and Kevin Maxwell are arrested. David Mellor's affair with Antonia de Sancha exposed. The pound drops out of ERM.

Politics Norman Lamont announces tax cuts for low earners, while shadow chancellor John Smith announces rises for high earners, and succeeds Neil Kinnock as Labour leader.

People Prince Charles and Princess Diana separate. Margaret Thatcher becomes life peeress, Jeffrey Archer life peer.

Business Cadbury Committee proposes corporate governance reforms. Hongkong & Shanghai Bank wins control of Midland. Co-operative Bank says no to unethical customers. Daily Telegraph flotation flops. BP and IBM plan job cuts, 11,500 and 25,000 respectively. Olympia and York, owner of Canary Wharf, calls in receiver.

1993

The World Western Europe is a single market - official. Clinton becomes 42nd US president. Waco siege ends; 87 dead. Yeltsin dismisses Russian parliament and seizes power. Sydney outbids Manchester for 2000 Olympics.

Britain Tanker Braer runs aground off Shetland, threatening wildlife.

James Bulger's murder shocks the nation. Grand National is declared void after two false starts. The City is 'ringed with steel' against terrorist threats. Parliament votes for limited Sunday trading.

People Rudolph Nureyev dies, also Bobby Moore. Queen agrees to pay income tax. Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk share Nobel Peace Prize.

Politics The Maastricht Treaty is ratified after a humiliating defeat for the Government. VAT put on fuel causes backbench revolt. Kenneth Clarke replaces Norman Lamont as chancellor. The British National Party wins a council seat in Millwall.

Business Richard Branson wins £610,000 damages against BA for libel.

IBM loses £3.3 billion, a world record. Interest rates are lowest since 1977. The Guardian takes over the Observer. Ferranti calls in receiver.

1994

The World Bosnia's troubles continue: Sarajevo mortar attack kills 66.

Israeli settler shoots dead over 40 Palestinians. Plane carrying presidents of Rwanda and Burundi is shot down, sparking conflict that will kill over a million. In South Africa, 22 million register to vote in first non-racist elections; Mandela wins. Gerry Adams granted US visa. OJ Simpson is accused of murdering his wife; televised car chase leading to his capture is watched by estimated 95 million.

Britain Sleaze is in: Tim Yeo has one love child, then another. 'Back to basics' is quietly buried. Fred and Rose West are charged with 12 murders.

Queen and president Mitterrand declare Channel Tunnel open. John Smith dies; Tony Blair is Labour leader. IRA announces ceasefire. National Lottery enters national psyche.

Politics The Conservatives lose heavily in local and Euro elections.

People Racing driver Ayrton Senna, Dennis Potter and Nixon die.

Business Cedric Brown kicks off 'fat cat' row with 75% pay rise, while British Gas employees are asked to take cuts.

1995

The World Kobe earthquake kills over 5,000. Gas attack on Tokyo underground.

Clinton receives Gerry Adams. Right-wing bombers kill 168 in Oklahoma City. Jacques Chirac is French president. Outrage as French test nuclear weapons in Pacific. Genocide in Rwanda. Yitzhak Rabin assassinated. Fighting stops in ex-Yugoslavia.

Britain Fred West hangs himself. Maxwell brothers trial begins. Drought reveals privatised Yorkshire Water's shortcomings. Leah Betts dies after taking Ecstasy. Headmaster Philip Lawrence is killed.

People Lord Wilson dies. Hugh Grant is arrested for lewd conduct in LA, where OJ Simpson is acquitted of murder.

Politics Annus horribilis for Tories: sleaze, defections and humiliation in local elections. Blair's star continues to rise.

Business Barings collapses; Nick Leeson is jailed. Shell does U-turn over disposal of Brent Spar. Microsoft launches Windows '95.

Exchange Rates

Since floating in the late '60s, sterling has fared badly against most major currencies, devaluing by nearly 50% against the dollar and 80% against the Deutschmark and yen. Though oil prices, currency speculation and the exit from the ERM have all had a hand in sterling's fortunes, the underlying trend has been ever downwards, to today's levels, which befit a currency that is no longer a major global player.

Interest Rates

Intimately connected with inflation

Interest rates are inextricably linked to inflation. It's worth noting, however, that, in the mid-'70s and early-'80s, real rates were negative, ie below inflation. That said, since the early-'80s, the defence of sterling mid-decade excepted, rates have followed inflation closely, with a typical premium of 2-3%. As with inflation, interest rates are now happily low and appear to be stable - a boon to those with mortgages.

Unemployment

Long dole queues become the norm

Unemployment has risen over fivefold since 1966. The oil crisis ended what had been a golden age, and the lengthening dole queues during the '70s were but a precursor to the high unemployment of the '80s. The late-'80s boom provided a brief respite but the jobless figures rose again with the recession.

Unemployment is now falling slowly but there is little likelihood of a return to the 'good old days'.

Inflation

Prices show strain of boom and bust bust

Inflation writ large is a creature of the past 30 years, hitting an all-time high point during the '70s oil crisis. A further peak in the early Thatcher years - the short, sharp shock cure - was followed by low levels until the '80s boom. Recession saw a sharp fall, and recovery, thus far, has seen little growth. The challenge for whichever party governs next is maintaining this level as the economy picks up.

Wages

Gap widens between rich and poor

Real wages have risen considerably since 1966 - by around 50% on average. Two distinct periods are visible: pre-1979, the salaries of the rich and poor converged; afterwards they diverged sharply. Overall, although everyone has certainly got richer, the rich have got richer quicker. Earners at the top decile receive 3.3 times the salary of those at the bottom decile; the equivalent figure for 1966 was 2.7.

GDP Growth

Swinging up and up ever since the '60s

Since 1966, real GDP has almost doubled. The general picture has been one of growth, especially apparent during the period before the oil crisis in the '70s and in the rapid, though unsustainable, spurt of the '80s boom. The worldwide economic slump of the early '80s saw a dip as did the recent recession but the moderate, steady growth we are currently experiencing is the kind that will hopefully endure of the day.

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