The Steel City and the Iron Lady, 1979-85

BOULTER, Ryan (2017). The Steel City and the Iron Lady, 1979-85. Masters, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00059

Abstract

This dissertation contributes to the historiography on the central-local government relationship in the 1980s by looking at the conflict between Sheffield City Council and the Thatcher governments from 1979-85. This dissertation also adds to the work of George Jones and John Stewart on the role of local government in a centralised state. Through their research they have advocated adopting a more localist approach to the central-local government relationship so that local government can be effective. Much work has been done on the central-local government relationship during the Thatcher era but detailed contemporary accounts of what happened in Sheffield are few and far between. Building on research recently conducted by both David Price and Daisy Payling this Council-centric investigation extensively uses archival material to analyse the day-to-day decision-making process of Sheffield City Council in its fight against certain aspects of Thatcherism. Through two separate but related chapters the Council's fight against the implementation of the Housing Act 1980 and local government finance reform will be discussed. It will be argued that the Council had only two weapons at their disposal in these two conflicts with Thatcher: obstruction and 'propaganda'. The Council could obstruct the implementation of legislation passed in Parliament while producing anti-Thatcher 'propaganda' to rally both local and national support for their cause. This approach would see the Council and its leader, David Blunkett, elevated to a position of national prominence as one of the leading figures in the local authority opposition. However, this was merely 'theatrics'. The theatrics of the Council gave the impression that they were an equal opponent in the central-local government conflict and were in a position to mount a significant challenge to Thatcher's agenda. Although the Council were fairly successful in hindering the implementation of Thatcher's agenda in Sheffield in the short-term, when they were presented with the possibility of venturing into illegality they buckled under central government pressure.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Supervisors: Niels Petersson, John Singleton
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Departments: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities > Humanities
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00059
Depositing User: Hilary Ridgway
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2018 08:46
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2018 01:31
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20977

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