The National Archives has released public records for 1981, which provide an insight into the workings of Margaret Thatcher’s government during her second full year in office.
It was a year of economic turmoil. Unemployment reached 2.5 million and austerity measures were introduced. Documents released show discussions on proposed defence cuts and divisions in the Cabinet over economic policy.
Widespread rioting broke out in London, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester.
There was unrest and civil disobedience in Northern Ireland.
The government refused to give imprisoned Irish dissidents political prisoner status and the records cover the IRA hunger strikers at the Maze prison, including Bobby Sands who died shortly after becoming a Member of Parliament.
Other files provide a unique insight into the Prime Minister’s relationships with political leaders in other countries, including French Presidents Giscard d’Estang and Mitterand and US President Ronald Reagan.