A Borough Divided: Tameside and Thatcherism

How Tameside was affected by Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister and her successors

Over the last generation and a half, the United Kingdom itself has changed beyond recognition. In living memory, several may remember three month waits for landlines, militant unions or the dullness of our country. Some may consider pre-1979 Britain as a much kinder, more equal place, transformed by the post-Second World War consensus led by the Beveridge Report and Clement Attlee’s Labour Government. Some thought Thatcherism was a breath of fresh air, others thought that Margaret Hilda Thatcher and her Government were evil incarnate.

In the last three decades, Thatcher and her successors (I also include New Labour in this) oversaw a shift of industrial power, from an even keel, to one overwhelmingly London-centric. The former saw established manufacturing bases throughout Northern England and the Midlands, with stable communities around heavy industries. The latter has seen a shift towards the money markets centred at The City, with the UK’s proud manufacturing base undermined.

The neoliberal consensus, to the Chicago school of laissez-faire economics, has disproportionately benefited London and South East England at the expense of the rest of Britain. Whilst we talk of the prospect of a triple dip recession, there may be some people in Northern England thinking this is the continuation of their 35 year long recession.

Even with the gravitational pull of Manchester, the Greater Manchester City Region is a divided one. There are pockets of affluence in parts of Stockport, South Manchester, Bury and Trafford. On the other hand, abject poverty in North and East Manchester, Rochdale, Oldham and Tameside.

Therefore, for this piece, I shall be concentrating on the borough which I’ve called home since birth. I consider Tameside to be Greater Manchester in miniature: pockets of affluence in the Stalybridge South and Hyde Werneth wards, along with poverty in St. Peters, Stalybridge North and Denton South wards.

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How We Worked

From the start of Thatcher’s term, Tameside was in the midst of transition to today’s post-industrial economy. A previous Conservative Government’s reforms led to the demise of the borough’s cotton industry, as was the case with neighbouring Oldham. Small businesses, particularly light engineering took over former mills. Some, much bigger, included ICL who took over Park Road Mill, Dukinfield before moving to purpose built premises. Most of the borough’s mills were in multiple occupation. The local newspapers owned by the Reporter Group of Newspapers were printed at Whitelands Mill, before they too were affected by changes in technology.

Hyde was dominated by four major employers: Ashton Brothers, James North, Senior Service, and ICI. The latter spanned a massive area from Cartwright Street, Newton, up to the now closed Bay Horse pub on the junction of Talbot Street and Victoria Street. Just outside the borough, the heavy engineering companies in East Manchester provided stable employment.

That alas, didn’t last. Changes to the global economy and pressures caused by our domestic recession saw work exported to cheaper locations. This also meant a loss of skilled employment in the borough. The near-doubling of VAT from 8% to 15% made for higher manufacturing costs in the UK, which had a great affect on Tameside’s economy. Besides being counterproductive to the profitability of existing companies, that along with high interest rates and inflation, also deterred business startups. Yet, Thatcher’s government claimed to be on the side of small businesses.

Tameside’s loss of its manufacturing base continued till the late 1990s, most notably with the 1998 closure of the Senior Service plant in Hyde Mill. James North and Davies and Metcalfe (the latter by then moved from Romiley to Flowery Field) followed suit in the same decade. This year has seen the loss of Ashton Brothers’ plant, after being run down over a ten-year period.

Today, over 80% of private businesses in Tameside are small businesses. Though this may seem like a victory for Thatcherism’s entrepreneurial spirit, it belies the borough’s lack of major private sector employers. The public sector has, though less so in recent years, remained the borough’s biggest employer. Most transitions from public sector to private sector positions in Tameside have arose via privatisation. For example, the borough’s former council housing stock is owned by Ashton Pioneer Homes and New Charter Housing Trust. Most of Tameside’s public buildings are managed by a public-private partnership between Tameside MBC and Carillion.

Mass Unemployment

By 1981, the borough’s most enduring image of the Thatcher Years (and also mine too), was the long dole queues outside DHSS offices in Hyde and Ashton-under-Lyne. At the time, Hyde’s was opposite Ashton Brothers, whereas Ashton’s was based on Scotland Street. The latter reminded me of (and still does to some extent when I get the 346) Colditz Castle. Drawing Unemployment Benefit meant a long queue and being allocated a letter for your signing on point. By then, signing-on was done behind glass screens. At one time, you would get your Unemployment Benefit and any extra benefits from the same office.

By the 1980s, most job hunters would visit one of the borough’s Job Centres and check on the boards. Employers, prior to advertising at Job Centres, would have to check with the Wages Council to see if their position was paying the correct going rate. Though the Wages Council remained in situ under Thatcher, it would be abolished in 1993 by Major’s government.

In a bid to save costs, certain benefits and benefit entitlements were changed. 1982 saw the abolition of the Death Grant; undergraduates and college students were no longer entitled to Unemployment Benefit from 1989; Supplementary Benefit was abolished. Today, Iain Duncan-Smith’s Universal Credit is a continuation of the foundations set by Thatcherite thought in spite of reports about it being easier.

In the mid 1990s, Scotland Street would be surplus to requirements as Social Security legislation saw the amalgamation of DHSS Offices with Job Centres. The glass screens would go, but more conditions would be expected of jobseekers with increased use of sanctions. Claimants would detail job search activities in a paper diary, presented to a member of staff at a signing on point.

Today, paper has been dispensed with in favour of the internet. The Department for Work and Pensions’ introduction of Universal Jobsearch – and the piloting of Universal Credit at Ashton-under-Lyne Job Centre Plus – will mean increased surveillance, lengthier sanctions and greater job-seeking obligations.

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Home, Sweet Privatised Home

Another permanent memorial to Thatcherism remains intact today: the shift from public to private sector housing, or housing associations. October 1980 saw the Conservatives’ launch of the Right To Buy scheme, which enabled council housing tenants to purchase their own home. Though this being able to have a door of their own choosing, or double glazing, some residents had difficulties obtaining mortgages. Some were of non-standard construction, such as the tin houses on Pimlott Grove, Newton, or Morar Road, Dukinfield. Some were flats and maisonettes using proprietary building systems, such as the tower blocks on West End estate built to Bison’s prefabricated design.

Though few new houses were built by Tameside MBC, local housing associations bridged the gap with housing schemes, and compared well with sought-after private sector properties. Tameside MBC’s 1980s housing schemes were more in keeping with contemporary trends, particularly off-street parking, conventional building methods, courtyards and gardens – anathema to the tower blocks inherited from previous Borough Councils. The borough also inherited Manchester Corporation’s overspill housing in Carrbrook, Haughton Green and Hattersley.

As public sector bodies cut costs through land sales, some would follow their private sector counterparts by selling its land off to housing developers. In the last 40 years, private sector housing development saw continued urban sprawl in Tameside as farms gave way to less dense semi-detached and detached housing – all car friendly compared with the traditional terraced housing estate. The 1980s saw former schools and reservoirs turned over to semi-detached and detached housing. One local company rose to prominence thanks to this: Roland Bardsley. Based in Dukinfield, and now known as Bardsley (after the death of its founder), they would diversify towards commercial developments, with one of their projects a main stand for a certain little non-league club which I know and love in 1996.

Though the 1970s developments were dominated by Prenwain Developments’ dormer bungalows, Roland Bardsley, Barratt and Jones’ were the 1980s equivalent. Among their most prominent developments was the Richmond Park estate off Dewsnap Lane. This occupied a site which included the ACROW (Adamsons and Hatchett) engineering works, and a farm. Therefore, the private developers not only profited from cuts to public services, but also deindustrialisation and a mortgage boom. For some, the home became a cash cow besides a place to live. At the other end, hard to sell properties became the realm of buy-to-let landlords. With house prices and private sector rents being rigged, this increased the housing benefit bill.

This takes us to the current situation where the ConDems have introduced a cap on Housing Benefit, dependent on local rating criteria. Naively, they claimed rents would fall. In fact they haven’t, and have continued to rise owing to the lack of social housing, an issue which they’ve claimed to address by means of the ‘Bedroom Tax’. Therefore, the Thatcherite divide and conquer between private and social housing tenants, and owner-occupiers has found a new, more pernicious streak. As a consequence, more people would be made homeless by the Bedroom Tax and capping. Tameside would suffer greatly owing to its supply of social housing, and shortage of one bedroom flats.

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How We Played

In more recent times, solitary means of entertainment have thrived thanks to consumerism and the onward march of new technology. Another factor could be the depressed incomes of the average Tameside resident since 1979.

Thanks largely to major employers, each company would spawn sports clubs and social clubs. The pub would be a place for lunchtime drinking as well as post-work drinks. We would be likely to spend Saturday nights at the (now gone) Lime Street Working Mens’ Club or go further afield to Oldham for Baileys, Bredbury for Quaffers, or Manchester’s many pubs and clubs.

By the end of Thatcher’s term, we would have been more likely to watch a revived Generation Game or Blind Date, though still went to the pub. Therefore, as a consequence of their economic policy, cabaret clubs and working mens’ clubs suffered. Pubs faired a little better, thanks to the introduction of all-day opening in 1988 (except Sundays, which followed in 1994). For nightlife, Ashton-under-Lyne remained popular throughout Thatcher’s era, with Blues and Yuppies being popular spots. Stalybridge’s answer was Shades.

Sporting types would start 1979 using the new Copley Recreation Centre, with its baths, licensed café and gym, replacing the older Stalybridge baths on Corporation Street. Modern swimming baths in Ashton, Droylsden, Denton and Dukinfield were popular and remain so today. Stalybridge also had SIDS (Stalybridge InDoor Sports stadium), which as well as hosting exhibitions was a good place for tennis, 5-a-side football and its Whit Friday Brass Band Contest. Mossley were riding high in the Northern Premier League, whereas Hyde United, Stalybridge Celtic and Droylsden were members of the Cheshire County League.

Musically, the pub was – and remains today – a dependable source for local acts. By the end of the decade, The Witchwood started to come into its own as a live music pub. Tameside Theatre remained in municipal control throughout Thatcher’s term. This would change in December 1992 when Apollo Leisure took over. Apollo Leisure lavishly refurbished the lobby and renamed the theatre ‘Tameside Hippodrome’. The joy didn’t last as Apollo was sold to SFX, which in turn was sold to Live Nation (a subsidiary of the Republican supporting Clear Channel Group). An unambitious programme of shows and low investment by their owners in the noughties led to its closure on the 31 March 2008.

Cinemagoers could choose from the Palace, Theatre Royal 2 or the Metro. The latter was Ashton-under-Lyne’s ODEON cinema, which reopened as the Metro in November 1981 (first film ‘Escape from New York’). Along with The Witchwood, it was also a music venue: acts included Fat Larry’s Band and Bryan Adams.

Technology also had a great affect on the average Tameside person’s pastimes. In 1979, a computer in some eyes would have fitted a room. Ten years on, that would shrink to filling a desk, and take pride of place in a living room or bedroom. The success of home computing was very much a product of the entrepreneurial nature touted by the Conservatives. Successful games and software houses would emerge from bedrooms or shops. Tameside even had a software house, which spawned (in the eyes of some ZX Spectrum users), the worst ever Donkey Kong clone ever committed to audio tape.

For many, most Tameside folk’s first experience of computer gaming was a Space Invaders machine of some sort, or a Grandstand/Binatone TV Tennis Game. By the late 1980s, most well to do Tameside families would have had a computer of some sort. The ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 were popular choices, though the rich and academically minded types would have had a BBC Micro with disc drive and monitor.

For several more people, the video recorder would be their object of desire. After initial purchase, it made for a cheaper form of entertainment. Video shops would emerge, and Tameside MBC’s public libraries would include video sections. Today’s equivalent, DVDs, one’s Netflix/BlinkBox account, YouTube, or the Personal Video Recorder/TiVo system of a digital terrestrial/satellite television decoder.

And of course, one mention of culture in Thatcher’s era isn’t complete without reference to television. Tameside began 1979 being synonymous with Yanks. By the end of the decade, it became a popular filming location. The three, later four, channels remained popular throughout her term in the borough, though the start of the 1990s would see the emergence of cheap and cheerful satellite dishes. By the early 1990s, we were seduced by the extra channels, paying extra to watch City or United at home. And we’ve done so ever since, because it remains cheaper than actually going to the Etihad Stadium, Old Trafford or Bower Fold. Therefore, if you wonder why attendances have fallen at your favourite non-league club, a Tory-sycophantic American-Australian union basher has a lot to answer for. (The evidence is all to see in neighbourhoods and in public houses).

And you also wonder why the streets seem to be quieter. Today, a pint of lager hovers over the £3.00 mark (10 times over 1979 prices). Tameside’s picture house is a bland multiplex, its nearest mainstream theatres are in Oldham, Manchester and Stockport. Furthermore, the night time economy has shrunk, not only due to personal safety (and I shall leave that verdict to a popular karaoke standard by Jessie J).

Post-Industrial Tameside and Tourism

With Tameside in its post-industrial state, it turned its attention towards the service industry and tourism. The amount of unemployment and increased free time posed opportunities for inexpensive leisure pursuits. This led to the opening of Tameside Leisure Pool in February 1988 (albeit at the expense of Hyde’s Union Street pool), which along with the purchase of Ewen Fields, would include a Sporting Hall of Fame museum (which didn’t materialise). The previous year also saw the opening of The Museum of the Manchesters (opened with great pomp and ceremony by Queen Elizabeth the Second in April that year).

Shopping

Just outside Ashton, the way we shopped would change. By the start of 1980s, most of our non-food items would be purchased in town centre shops. The opposite end of that decade, and the 1990s, would see a shift towards the out-of-town retail parks such as the Snipe Retail Park. Shopping would become a form of recreational activity, entertainment rather than function. The most complete revelation of this would be sealed in 1998, by the opening of the Trafford Centre and completion of the M60 motorway in 2000. Soon, the new satanic mills would be shopping precincts, hotels and superstores. Ashton and Hyde saw revamped shopping centres in order to compete. With the former, another asset would be its outdoor and indoor market. Its Flea Market became an addition to its calendar, and a successful one which remains popular today.

By the end of Thatcher’s rule, bargain shops, charity shops and pawnbrokers increased in frequency. Under Major and Blair, secondhand shops with cheque-cashing facilities emerged. Their presence consolidated after the global financial downturn. Whilst such shops thrived in Ashton-under-Lyne, it was the rise of the superstore which affected the other eight towns in the borough, along with parking policies. Therefore, the only area where Tameside MBC could raise money (without illegal budgets, precepts and running the risk of being capped) came from car parking.

A fair number of chain stores moved from Ashton and Hyde town centres towards out of town locations. This continues today, with Marks and Spencer’s move this January. Mothercare have long since left Ashton-under-Lyne in favour of the Crown Point North retail park, Denton.

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How We Learned

Over Thatcher’s term, schools were underfunded. To cut costs, schools were merged: in Dukinfield, Crescent Road and Lakes Road High Schools merged with the former Astley Grammar School to become Dukinfield High School. A new school in Copley had replaced smaller premises around Stalybridge. 1987 saw the replacement of CSEs and GCE ‘O’ Levels with GCSEs. The General Certificate of Secondary Education would also be augmented by a short-lived entry level qualification, aimed at students with lower attainment levels.

The end of the 1980s saw great change to the borough’s schools. Audenshaw High School became one of the first to leave council control, becoming a Grant Maintained school. The Borough’s Catholic schools followed suit, with funding from the Diocese of Shrewsbury as well as the Department for Education’s direct grant. The launch of the National Curriculum in 1989 saw greater standardisation of syllabuses and – for many teachers on its arrival – more paperwork. This would be followed by examinations for pupils aged 7, 11, 14 and 16. Each point leading up to the test would be known as Key Stages.

Prior to 1993, colleges were originally funded by local authorities. The 1993 Education Act saw Tameside College of Technology spun off as an autonomous corporation, like today’s academies or late-1980s Grant Maintained Schools. Secondary Schools, such as All Saints and Audenshaw High were encouraged to form Sixth Form Campuses. Unlike the previous pluralistic model, colleges were free to discontinue less profitable courses, and sell off buildings. Or merge, as was the case with Tameside College and Hyde Clarendon College. In Tameside, the Stockport Road Campus and Warrington House centre were closed. The former, in Hyde, remains empty.

Besides colleges, Tameside MBC also had a Youth Training Scheme franchise. From 1982, they had two bases: one was the Business and Technology Centre in Ryecroft Hall, Audenshaw. The other one, was Heginbottom Mill, adjacent to Ashton Central Library. By the early 1990s, Ryecroft Hall staff moved to Ashton, and remained there till Tameside’s YT programme was transferred to the Ashton Centre of Tameside College in April 1996.

Under Blair’s government, schools could become specialist facilities in given subject areas. Dukinfield High School became Astley Sports College, All Saints Catholic College looked at languages. Therefore, it was under Thatcher where the Marketisation seeds were sewn. This continued under Labour with Academies (think modern day grant maintained schools) and Michael Gove’s universally derided Free Schools. Both Academies and Free Schools are being used either to maintain funding levels for each school, or as part of a privatisation programme.

Today, Tameside has Academies in Broadoak (the New Charter Academy off Broadoak Road), Audenshaw (once more, the pioneering Audenshaw High School of 1988 opt-out fame), and Copley. The last month has seen Copley High School become an academy, funded by New Charter. Tameside College remains the Borough’s centre for further education along with Ashton Sixth Form College. The YT programme, which moved in 1996, remains at the Ashton Centre albeit as an Apprenticeship programme under the name of ‘Tameside College Training’.

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Governance

Thatcher’s government, along with her successors, have centralised and stripped local government of its powers. Services over the last three decades have been reviewed, cut back or privatised. Tameside was no exception being in a metropolitan – mainly Labour – area, affected by the spending cuts more than Southern counterparts. Today, more of the same is in motion with our present company in Westminster.

Though Thatcher won the 1979 General Election, there was also local elections. Tameside switched from Conservative to Labour. Issues regarding Grammar Schools and a switch to the Comprehensive system swayed the vote towards Roy Oldham’s Labour council. There was also another tier of local government: the Metropolitan County Council, namely in our area Greater Manchester County Council. Before their abolition on April 1986, they had responsibilities for civil defence, integrating public transport (also via Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive) and consumer protection. Today, the civil defence (fire and police) services remain Greater Manchester County wide with funding via the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (successors to the Amalgamation of Greater Manchester Authorities which succeeded GMC).

During Thatcher’s term, the TAC Building opened in 1981, replacing facilities decentralised throughout the borough. For example, the Environmental Health department moved to Ashton from Stalybridge Town Hall, which was later demolished in 1989-90. For a brief period, Tameside MBC also offered affordable mortgages. The middle of the 1980s saw the opening of new libraries in Dukinfield (22 November 1984) and Hurst (1989), though some smaller branches such as Cheetham Hill Road [Dukinfield] closed.

By the end of the 1980s, Tameside MBC was suffering from a shortfall, probably exacerbated by the transition from rates to the Community Charge, and the inability to profit from council house sales. Therefore, the start of the 1990s saw its elderly care provision contracted out to TEL; the borough’s swimming pools – including the Tameside Leisure Pool – transferred to Tameside Sports Trust, an arms-length mutual company within the council. To avoid further financial problems, employees took a pay cut in the early 1990s – albeit in lieu of a ‘no redundancy policy’.

Besides the abolition of Greater Manchester Council, other significant developments have included a change from committee to cabinet system of governance. The other was the formation of Mossley Parish Council in 1999. Today, Mossley’s Parish Council is now a Town Council.

Tameside MBC remains a Labour council, though today’s position is more challenging in the light of recent cuts from the ConDems. Community Centre and library closures have been unpopular with vociferous locals wanting to see a 66.6% reduction in councillors in lieu of saving public services. To avoid future Council Tax capping (which the ConDems have considered for the future) and to maintain a decent level of public services, Council Tax rose 3.6% by means of a higher precept for civil defence and their part of Transport for Greater Manchester’s budget.

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How We Moved

The most dramatic affect to daily living in the Thatcher years concerned the way we moved. Planning, changes in industrial structure, leisure time and mundane journeys saw Britons turn to their cars. By the late 1980s, car ownership and classic Conservative divide and rule (among car-owners and non-car owners) made the family car a necessity.

Throughout Tameside during Thatcher’s term, car ownership remained lower than the UK average: bus, even in its later deregulated form remained king. Rail transport grew in popularity, through bus deregulation and improved services. This would change dramatically in 2000 when the M60 was completed (from below to above UK average car ownership).

The start of the 1980s saw the orange and white buses of Greater Manchester Transport dominate the borough. Our trains were mainly Rail Blue and light grey, and ageing DMUs or EMUs. Former SHMD and Ashton Corporation vehicles dominated the fleet till 1981 with conductor-operated services discontinued a year later. Breaking the orange and white would be Mayne’s red and cream, or the ochre and orange of Yelloway coaches.

Motorists were buoyed by the opening of the M67 motorway in 1981. The first stage from Denton [St. Ann’s Church] to Hattersley opened in 1979, with Hyde’s bus station rejigged to accommodate this. The second stage would terminate at today’s Denton Island, with plans for a section over the roundabout. Even now, the M67 isn’t complete: it was part of a plan for Britain’s second Trans-Pennine motorway, from the Mancunian Way up to today’s Junction 37a on the M1. One section would take over part of the Woodhead Line (closed in July 1981) and its tunnels.

Improvements were made to the borough’s railways thanks to GMPTE, British Rail and GMC, with new stations in Flowery Field and Godley. The Hadfield line was reenergised to 25kV, new diesel trains would replace the old order on the Manchester Victoria routes.

The second half of her term would see the white, orange and brown of GMT replaced by GM Buses and countless other independent operators. Bus deregulation not only stymied integration between bus and rail, it also enabled some drivers (using redundancy money from former employers) to set up new companies. Sometimes in competition with former employers. In Tameside, local coach operators added to the mix with Dennis’s and Mayne of Manchester competing with GM Buses. One independent [Pennine Blue] was formed in 1990 with blue and cream Bristol REs. The one company which would have a huge impact was The Bee Line Buzz Company. Its high frequency minibuses were popular with passengers, so much so that GM Buses rebranded their frequent minibus services as Little GeMs. Though competition was supposed to have lowered prices across the board, that wasn’t so with bus fares.

The effects of bus deregulation are still felt in the borough today, by means of higher car ownership, older vehicles and wasteful competition. It has also meant fragmentation with routes being operated by more than one operator at different times (take for example the 343, operated by Stotts on weekday daytimes, JPT Travel on Saturdays, and First Greater Manchester on evenings and Sundays). Another, albeit more positive development, is having a great effect today: 1988 saw the passing of Greater Manchester’s Light Rail Bill, leading to today’s Metrolink network.

Today, most of the competition from independent operators have gone, thanks to the consolidation of today’s transport owning groups. GM Buses was split under John Major’s term of office and is owned by FirstGroup and Stagecoach. Pennine Blue’s, Dennis’ and Mayne’s bus operations succumbed to the two groups. The Bee Line Buzz Company have long since left our borough’s streets and have been absorbed by Arriva. Tameside’s railways are now partially run by Anglo-European franchises thanks to the 1993 Railways Act. Local services are operated by an Anglo-Dutch company (Serco and NedRail) with FirstGroup, in conjunction with Keolis (a French company) operating Stalybridge’s express trains.

The Metrolink is set to reach Ashton-under-Lyne by the end of 2013, or start of 2014. Whether it will have a positive impact on Ashton remains to be seen.

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Divided We Are: Conclusion

So, 34 years down the line, Tameside has become a less equal part of Greater Manchester. Today, the wealthiness of residents in Stalybridge South and Hyde Werneth contrast with their fellows in St. Peters and Hyde Newton. A lot of the grunt work done by Thatcher’s cabinet remains in motion today. Though the previous Labour Government helped to improve the borough’s schools and parts of its transport infrastructure, it is still business as usual but name.

From 1974, Tameside was often referred to as a Cinderella borough, even though it had suffered from the cotton industry’s departure along with Oldham. Things could have been a lot worse had it not been for the cooperation of Greater Manchester Council, AGMA, GMCA and TfGM. Not least its stable leadership and governance which, though had its brickbats, still better than anything the likes of Wandsworth or Westminster Councils were performing under Thatcher.

Today’s cuts are going to be deeper as the ConDems have continued the Sado-Monetarist path advocated by their dearly departed former leader. Even with the lure of increased local power, electrified Trans-Pennine trains and light rail systems, Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven will be survived by contemporary policies, individual consumerist desires and the Great Car Oligarchy.

Unlike 1980, the service industries which replaced the engineering companies, large private sector employers and extractive industries, are now affected by continued Thatcherism in the north. From my recent experience, on a trip to Oxford I made last October, I noticed how buoyant the streets were, and how vibrant the shops were. I realised, more starkly than ever, that we have Two Englands.

Therefore, we have two different types of England. In Greater Manchester itself, there is also a North-South divide in the Manchester City Council boundary. In Oldham, it is a West-East divide with Saddleworth being a real contrast to Limeside. It seems as if this may be true with Tameside, but it seems as if the borough’s most affluent parts are along the Pennine foothills rather than along its Manchester bound arterial roads.

Whilst it is convenient to blame Thatcher entirely, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact it was her cabinet which were equally culpable. Ditto the above with today’s Thatcher Tribute Act who are going further and faster than her team, and are set to make our already unequal borough even more unequal.

S.V., 13 April 2013.

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One thought on “A Borough Divided: Tameside and Thatcherism

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  1. The HUGE flaw in your argument is that a Labour Council has overseen the demise of Tameside for many years and is as much of a gravy train quango as any alleged conservative organisation.

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