Conservative Government 1987-1990

Conservative Government 1987-1990
See also Thatcher Ministry and Conservative Government 1979–1990.

Contents

Election

The Tories were elected for a third successive term in June 1987, with a majority of 102 seats. It enabled prime minister Margaret Thatcher to become the longest serving prime minister of the 20th century, as Britain's economic recovery continued.

With the battle against inflation and strikes long won, an economic boom was in its early stages. Unemployment had fallen below 3,000,000 during the spring of 1987, and the tax cuts by chancellor Nigel Lawson sent the economy into overdrive. By early 1988, unemployment was below 2,500,000. A year later, it fell below 2,000,000. By the end of 1989, it was down to 1,600,000. A house price boom saw the average house price in Britain double between 1986 and 1989.

However, interest rates had risen dramatically into double digits and property was becoming increasingly difficult for first time buyers to afford, particularly in the south of England. The nation was effectively split by a north-south divide of wealth, with the south of the nation clearly much wealthier and prosperous than the north.

As early as September 1988, economists were warning that the economic boom would soon be over and that 1989 could see a recession set in. However, the economy continued to defy the odds and it continued to grow throughout 1989 and unemployment remained in freefall, despite several other world leaders - namely the United States of America - entering recession that year.

Britain had lost a significant percentage of its manufacturing and heavy industry base since 1979, and by the end of the 1980s employment was booming in the financial and retail sectors - particularly on new commercial developments that were built on old industrial sites, such as the Merry Hill Shopping Centre in the West Midlands, where some 6,000 retail jobs were created between 1984 and 1989 on an old steelworks site which had shed just over 1,200 jobs when it closed in 1982.

However, Tory popularity took a nosedive with the commencement of the unpopular Poll tax (Community Charge) in 1989. By the end of that year, in spite of the economy remaining strong, many opinion polls were showing a double-digit Labour lead and this was largely blamed on the Tory poll tax. Sir Anthony Meyer, a 69-year-old back-bencher, challenged Mrs Thatcher's leadership in December; his challenge was seen off by Thatcher but 60 of her own MP's failed to vote for her.

The poll tax saga continued throughout 1990, culminating in riots across London in early spring. Labour continued to benefit from the situation as their lead in the opinion polls widened. The new Liberal Democrats, after a weak start, were starting to gain ground in the opinion polls, seizing the safe Eastbourne seat in an October by-election.

The threat of recession finally became reality in October 1990, when it was confirmed that the economy had detracted during the third quarter of the year. Unemployment, which had fallen to 1,600,000, had started to creep up again. Inflation, which the first Thatcher government had famously conquered by 1983, was heading back towards double digits.

Fate

Then, on 1 November 1990, came the first of a series of events which would spell the end of Margaret Thatcher's years of power. Sir Geoffrey Howe, the deputy prime minister, resigned from the cabinet over its European policy. He then blasted Thatcher, having once been one of her closest allies, for her hostility towards the European Community. On 14 November, former cabinet minister Michael Heseltine challenged Mrs Thatcher's leadership. Thatcher polled higher than him in the leadership challenge, but failed to gain an outright victory in the first round of voting.

On 22 November, Mrs Thatcher announced her resignation of prime minister and Tory leader after more than 11 years, making way for a leader more likely to win the next general election.

Her successor was the chancellor John Major, who was elected on 27 November 1990 and at 47 became the youngest British prime minister of the 20th century.

Members of the Cabinet

Members of the Cabinet are in bold face.

Office Name Dates Notes
Prime Minister,
First Lord of the Treasury
and Minister for the Civil Service
Margaret Thatcher June 1987 – 28 November 1990  
Lord Chancellor The Lord Havers 13 June 1987  
The Lord Mackay of Clashfern 26 October 1987  
Lord President of the Council The Viscount Whitelaw June 1987 also Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Lords
John Wakeham 10 January 1988 also Leader of the House of Commons
Sir Geoffrey Howe 24 July 1989 also Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Commons
John MacGregor 2 November 1990 also Leader of the House of Commons
Minister of State for the Privy Council Office Richard Luce June 1987 – 24 July 1990  
David Mellor 24 July 1990 – 28 November 1990  
Lord Privy Seal John Wakeham 13 June 1987 also Leader of the House of Commons
The Lord Belstead 10 January 1988 also Leader of the House of Lords
Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson June 1987  
John Major 26 October 1989  
Chief Secretary to the Treasury John Major 13 June 1987  
Norman Lamont 24 July 1989  
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury David Waddington 13 June 1987  
Timothy Renton 28 October 1989  
Financial Secretary to the Treasury Norman Lamont June 1987  
Peter Lilley 24 July 1989  
Hon. Francis Maude 14 July 1990  
Lords of the Treasury Michael Neubert June 1987 – 26 July 1988  
Peter Lloyd June 1987 – 24 July 1988  
Hon. Mark Lennox-Boyd June 1987 – 25 July 1988  
Tony Durant June 1987 – 19 December 1988  
David Lightbown 26 July 1987 – 24 July 1990  
Alan Howarth 27 July 1988 – 24 July 1989  
David Maclean 27 July 1988 – 24 July 1989  
Kenneth Carlisle 27 July 1988 – 22 July 1990  
Stephen Dorrell 20 December 1988 – 3 May 1990  
David Heathcoat-Amory 26 July 1989 – 28 October 1989  
John Taylor 26 July 1989 – 29 November 1990  
Hon. Tom Sackville 30 October 1989 – November 1990  
Michael Fallon 10 May 1990 – 22 July 1990  
Sydney Chapman 25 July 1990 – November 1990  
Greg Knight 25 July 1990 – November 1990  
Irvine Patnick 25 July 1990 – November 1990  
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Sir Geoffrey Howe June 1987
John Major 14 June 1989  
Hon. Douglas Hurd 26 October 1989  
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Lynda Chalker June 1987 – November 1990 also Minister of Overseas Development from 24 July 1989
Chris Patten June 1987 – 24 July 1989 also Minister of Overseas Development
David Mellor 13 June 1987 – 26 July 1988  
The Lord Glenarthur 13 June 1987 – 24 July 1989  
Hon. William Waldegrave 26 July 1988 – 2 November 1990  
Hon. Francis Maude 24 July 1989 – 14 July 1990  
The Lord Brabazon of Tara 24 July 1989 – 24 July 1990  
The Earl of Caithness 14 July 1990 – November 1990  
Tristan Garel-Jones 14 July 1990 – November 1990  
Hon. Douglas Hogg 2 November 1990 – November 1990  
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Timothy Eggar June 1987  
Hon. Tim Sainsbury 24 July 1989  
Hon. Mark Lennox-Boyd 24 July 1990  
Minister for Overseas Development Chris Patten June 1987 also Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Lynda Chalker 24 July 1989 also Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Secretary of State for the Home Department Hon. Douglas Hurd June 1987  
David Waddington 26 October 1989  
Minister of State for Home Affairs The Earl of Caithness June 1987 – 10 January 1988  
John Patten 13 June 1987 – November 1990  
The Earl Ferrers 10 January 1988 – November 1990  
David Mellor 27 October 1989 – 22 June 1990  
Angela Rumbold 23 July 1990 – November 1990  
Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs Hon. Douglas Hogg June 1987 – 26 July 1989  
Peter Lloyd 25 July 1989 – November 1990  
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food John MacGregor 13 June 1987  
John Gummer 24 July 1989  
Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food John Gummer June 1987 – 26 July 1988  
The Baroness Trumpington 28 September 1989 – November 1990  
Under-Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Donald Thompson June 1987 – 25 September 1987  
The Baroness Trumpington 13 June 1987 – 28 September 1989  
Richard Ryder 25 July 1988 – 14 July 1989  
David Curry 26 July 1989 – November 1990  
David Maclean 26 July 1989 – November 1990  
Minister for the Arts Richard Luce June 1987  
David Mellor 26 July 1990  
Secretary of State for Defence Hon. George Younger June 1987  
Tom King 24 July 1989  
Minister of State for the Armed Forces Ian Stewart 13 June 1987  
Hon. Archie Hamilton 25 July 1988  
Minister of State for Defence Procurement The Lord Trefgarne June 1987  
Alan Clark 24 July 1989  
Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces Roger Freeman June 1987 – 15 December 1988  
Michael Neubert 19 December 1988 – 23 July 1990  
Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement Hon. Tim Sainsbury 13 June 1987 – 25 July 1989  
The Earl of Arran 25 July 1989 – 26 July 1990  
Kenneth Carlisle 26 July 1990 – 28 November 1990  
Secretary of State for Education and Science Kenneth Baker June 1987  
John MacGregor 24 July 1989  
Kenneth Clarke 2 November 1990
Minister of State, Education and Science Angela Rumbold June 1987 – 24 July 1990  
Tim Eggar 24 July 1990  
Under-Secretary of State, Education and Science Bob Dunn June 1987 – 26 July 1988  
The Baroness Hooper 13 June 1987 – 26 July 1988  
Robert Jackson 13 June 1987 – 24 July 1990  
John Butcher 26 July 1988 – 24 July 1989  
Alan Howarth 24 July 1989 – November 1990  
Michael Fallon 24 July 1990 – November 1990  
Secretary of State for Employment Norman Fowler 13 June 1987  
Michael Howard 3 January 1990  
Minister of State, Employment John Cope 13 June 1987 – 25 July 1989  
Tim Eggar 25 July 1989 – 23 July 1990  
Under-Secretary of State, Employment John Lee June 1987 – 26 July 1989  
Patrick Nicholls 13 June 1987 – 28 July 1989  
The Lord Strathclyde 26 July 1989 – 24 July 1990  
Robert Jackson 24 July 1990 – November 1990  
Eric Forth 24 July 1990 – November 1990  
The Viscount Ullswater 24 July 1990 – November 1990  
Secretary of State for Energy Cecil Parkinson 13 June 1987  
John Wakeham 24 July 1989  
Minister of State, Energy Peter Morrison 13 June 1987 – 26 July 1990  
Under-Secretary of State, Energy Michael Spicer 13 June 1987 – 3 January 1990  
The Baroness Hooper 26 July 1988 – 28 July 1989  
Tony Baldry 3 January 1990 – 28 November 1990  
Hon. Colin Moynihan 24 July 1990 – November 1990  
Secretary of State for the Environment Hon. Nicholas Ridley June 1987  
Chris Patten 24 July 1989  
Minister of State for Local Government Michael Howard 13 June 1987  
John Gummer 25 July 1988  
David Hunt 25 July 1989  
Michael Portillo 4 May 1990  
Minister of State for Housing Hon. William Waldegrave 13 June 1987  
The Earl of Caithness 25 July 1988  
Michael Howard 25 July 1989  
Michael Spicer 3 January 1990  
Minister of State, Environment The Lord Belstead 13 June 1987 – 10 January 1988  
The Earl of Caithness 10 January 1988 – 25 July 1988  
Michael Howard 25 July 1988 – 24 July 1989  
David Trippier 24 July 1989 – 28 November 1990  
Under-Secretary of State for Sport Hon. Colin Moynihan 22 June 1987 – 26 July 1990  
Robert Atkins 26 July 1990 – 28 November 1990
Under-Secretary of State, Environment Christopher Chope June 1987 – 22 July 1990  
Marion Roe 13 June 1987 – 26 July 1988  
David Trippier 13 June 1987 – 23 July 1989  
Virginia Bottomley 25 July 1988 – 28 October 1989  
The Lord Hesketh 31 January 1989 – 2 November 1990  
David Heathcoat-Amory 28 October 1989 – 28 November 1990  
Patrick Nicholls 26 July 1990 – 12 October 1990  
The Lord Strathclyde 26 July 1990 – 7 September 1990  
The Baroness Blatch 7 September 1990 – November 1990  
Robert Key 12 October 1990 – November 1990  
Secretary of State for Health and Social Security John Moore 13 June 1987 Reorganised into Office of Health and Office of Social Security 25 July 1988
Secretary of State for Health Kenneth Clarke 25 July 1988  
Hon. William Waldegrave 2 November 1990  
Minister of State, Health Tony Newton June 1987  
David Mellor 25 July 1988 under separate Office of Health
The Lord Trafford 29 July 1989  
Virginia Bottomley 28 October 1989  
Under-Secretary of State, Health and Social Security Edwina Currie June 1987 – 25 July 1988  
Michael Portillo 13 June 1987 – 25 July 1988  
The Lord Skelmersdale 13 June 1987 – 25 July 1988  
Under-Secretary of State, Health Edwina Currie 25 July 1988 – 16 December 1988  
Roger Freeman 16 December 1988 – 4 May 1990  
The Baroness Hooper 29 September 1989 – November 1990  
Stephen Dorrell 4 May 1990 – November 1990  
Secretary of State for Social Security John Moore 25 July 1988  
Tony Newton 23 July 1989  
Minister of State, Social Security Nicholas Scott 13 June 1987 under separate Office of Social Security 25 July 1988
Under-Secretary of State, Social Security The Lord Skelmersdale 25 July 1988 – 26 July 1989  
Peter Lloyd 25 July 1988 – 28 July 1989  
The Lord Henley 25 July 1989 – November 1990  
Gillian Shephard 25 July 1989 – 28 November 1990  
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Kenneth Clarke 13 June 1987  
Tony Newton 25 July 1988  
Kenneth Baker 24 July 1989  
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Tom King June 1987  
Hon. Peter Brooke 24 July 1989  
Minister of State, Northern Ireland John Stanley 13 June 1987 – 25 July 1988  
Ian Stewart 25 July 1988 – 25 July 1989  
John Cope 25 July 1989 – 28 November 1990  
Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland The Lord Lyell June 1987 – 25 July 1989  
Richard Needham June 1987 – May 1997  
Peter Viggers June 1987 – 26 July 1989  
Brian Mawhinney June 1987 – 28 November 1990  
Peter Bottomley 4 July 1989 – 28 July 1990  
The Lord Skelmersdale 24 July 1989 – 28 November 1990  
Paymaster-General Hon. Peter Brooke 13 June 1987  
The Earl of Caithness 24 July 1989  
Richard Ryder 14 July 1990  
Secretary of State for Scotland Malcolm Rifkind June 1987  
Minister of State for Scotland Ian Lang 13 June 1987 – 28 November 1990  
The Lord Sanderson of Bowden 13 June 1987 – 7 September 1990  
Michael Forsyth 7 September 1990 – November 1990  
Under-Secretary of State for Scotland Lord James Douglas-Hamilton 13 June 1987 – 6 July 1995  
Michael Forsyth 13 June 1987 – 7 September 1990  
The Lord Strathclyde 7 September 1990 – November 1990  
Minister for Trade Alan Clark June 1987  
The Lord Trefgarne 25 July 1989  
Hon. Tim Sainsbury 23 July 1990  
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry The Lord Young of Graffham 13 June 1987  
Hon. Nicholas Ridley 24 July 1989  
Peter Lilley 14 July 1990  
Minister for Industry Hon. Douglas Hogg 24 July 1989  
The Lord Hesketh 2 November 1990  
Minister for Corporate Affairs John Redwood 2 November 1990  
Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry John Butcher June 1987 – 26 July 1988  
Robert Atkins 13 June 1987 – 26 July 1989  
Hon. Francis Maude 13 June 1987 – 26 July 1989  
Eric Forth 26 July 1988 – 24 July 1990  
John Redwood 26 July 1989 – 2 November 1990  
Edward Leigh 2 November 1990 – November 1990  
Secretary of State for Transport Paul Channon 13 June 1987  
Cecil Parkinson 24 July 1989  
Minister of State, Transport David Mitchell June 1987 – 25 July 1988  
Michael Portillo 25 July 1988 – 4 May 1990  
Roger Freeman 4 May 1990 – 28 November 1990  
The Lord Brabazon of Tara 23 July 1990 – November 1990  
Under-Secretary of State for Transport Peter Bottomley June 1987 – 24 July 1989  
The Lord Brabazon of Tara June 1987 – 23 July 1989  
Robert Atkins 25 July 1989 – 22 July 1990  
Patrick McLoughlin 25 July 1989 – November 1990  
Christopher Chope 23 July 1990 – November 1990  
Secretary of State for Wales Peter Walker 13 June 1987  
David Hunt 4 May 1990  
Minister of State for Wales Wyn Roberts 15 June 1987  
Under-Secretary of State for Wales Ian Grist 15 June 1987 – 28 November 1990  
Attorney General Sir Patrick Mayhew 11 June 1987  
Solicitor General Sir Nicholas Lyell 13 June 1987  
Lord Advocate The Lord Cameron of Lochbroom June 1987  
The Lord Fraser of Carmyllie 4 January 1989  
Solicitor General for Scotland Peter Fraser June 1987  
Alan Rodger 14 January 1989 Not an MP
Treasurer of the Household David Hunt 15 June 1987  
Tristan Garel-Jones 25 July 1989  
Alastair Goodlad 22 July 1990  
Comptroller of the Household Hon. Robert Boscawen June 1987  
Tristan Garel-Jones 26 July 1988  
Alastair Goodlad 25 July 1989  
Sir George Young, Bt 23 July 1990  
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household Tristan Garel-Jones June 1987  
Michael Neubert 26 July 1988  
Tony Durant 20 December 1988  
David Lightbown 25 July 1990  
Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms The Lord Denham June 1987  
Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard The Viscount Davidson June 1987  
Lords-in-Waiting The Viscount Long June 1987 – November 1990  
The Lord Beaverbrook June 1987 – 28 July 1988  
The Earl of Dundee June 1987 – 26 July 1989  
The Earl of Arran 18 June 1987 – 24 July 1989  
The Lord Strathclyde 12 August 1988 – 24 July 1989  
The Lord Henley 13 February 1989 – 24 July 1989  
The Viscount Ullswater 26 July 1989 – 22 July 1990  
The Lord Reay 2 August 1989 – November 1990  
The Earl of Strathmore 2 August 1989 – November 1990  
The Baroness Blatch 15 January 1990 – 7 September 1990  
The Lord Cavendish of Furness 14 September 1990 – November 1990  
The Viscount Astor 11 October 1990 – November 1990  

References

Preceded by
Conservative Government 1983-1987
Government of the United Kingdom
1987–1990
Succeeded by
Conservative Government 1990-1992

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