• 3 day week

    The Three-Day Week was one of several measures introduced in the United Kingdom by the Conservative Government 1970-1974 to conserve electricity, the production of which was severely limited due to industrial action by coal miners. The effect was that from 1 January until 7 March 1974 commercial users of electricity would be limited to three specified consecutive days’ consumption each week and prohibited from working longer hours on those days. Essential services (e.g. restaurants, food shops and newspapers) were exempt.

  • 21 as the age of majority

    1967: Latey Committee on the Age of Majority (Cm. 3342). Committee rejected the view that in order to alter the age of majority changes in society had to be shown. Recommended reduction in Age of Majority from 21 to 18 years.
    1969: Family Law Reform Act. With effect from 1970, the age of majority lowered from 21 to 18 years.

  • 1964 general election

    The election resulted in a very slim majority for the Labour Party, of four seats, and led to their first government since 1951. Labour achieved a swing of just over 3% although its own vote rose by only 0.2%; the Liberal Party won nearly twice as many votes as in 1959, but did so partly by nominating 150 more candidates. Harold Wilson became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, replacing Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

  • 1966 general election

    The 1966 UK general election on 31 March 1966 and was called by sitting Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Wilson’s decision to call an election turned on the fact that his government, elected only two years previously in 1964 had an unworkable small majority of only 4 MPs. Wilson’s hope that he would be returned to office with a larger majority had been encouraged by the government’s victory in a by-election in Kingston upon Hull North. In the end the hope was vindicated: the Labour government was returned with a much larger majority of 96.

  • 1966 World Cup

    The 1966 FIFA World Cup, the eighth staging of the World Cup, was held in England from July 11 to July 30. England was chosen as hosts by FIFA in August 1960 to celebrate the centenary of the codification of football in England. It was a year of triumph for the host nation, as England won the final, controversially beating West Germany 4-2, giving them their first (and so far only) World Cup triumph, and becoming the first host to win the tournament since Italy won it in 1934.

  • 1967 round of independent television franchise bids

    Unlike the ‘roll-over’ of contracts in 1963, the 1967 review (for contracts running from the end of July 1968) was to create dramatic changes to the structure of the ITV network. The purpose of this review was to ensure the ITV system was ready for the arrival of colour broadcasting in 1969, and also to again allow for the potential start of ITV2, should the Conservatives win any election held after 1970.

  • 1970 general election

    The United Kingdom general election of 1970 was held on 18 June 1970, and resulted in a surprise victory for the Conservative Party under leader Edward Heath, who defeated the Labour Party under Harold Wilson. The election also saw the Liberal Party and its new leader Jeremy Thorpe lose half their seats. The Conservatives, in coalition with the Ulster Unionists, would be given a majority of 31.

  • 1974 general election (February)

    The UK general election of February 1974 was held on 28 February 1974. It was the first of two United Kingdom general elections held that year, and the only election since the Second World War not to produce an overall majority in the House of Commons for the winning party, instead producing a hung parliament. The incumbent Conservative government of Edward Heath polled the most votes by a small margin, but the Tories were overtaken in terms of Commons seats by Harold Wilson’s Labour Party due to the decision by Ulster Unionist MPs not to take the Conservative whip. After failed negotiations between Heath and Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, Heath resigned and Wilson returned for his second spell as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He would call another election in October of the same year.

  • 1979 general election

    The United Kingdom general election of 1979 was held on 3 May 1979 and is regarded as a pivotal point in 20th century British politics. In it, the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher defeated James Callaghan’s incumbent Labour government in what would prove to be the first of four consecutive general election victories for the Conservative Party.

  • 1984-5 miners’ strike

    The miners’ strike of 1984 – 1985 was a major industrial action affecting the British coal industry. It was a defining moment in British industrial relations, and significantly weakened the British trades union movement.

    Coal was a nationalised industry and, as in most of Europe, was heavily subsidised. A number of mines in the United Kingdom were profitable and remained open after the strike, including some operating as of 2007, but there were also a number of mines that were unprofitable and the government wanted to close. In addition, many mines required efficiency improvements in order to attain or increase their profitability, which was to be done by means of increased mechanisation. Many unions resisted this as it would necessarily result in job losses.

    The strike became a symbolic struggle, since the miners’ union was one of the strongest in the country. The strike ended with the defeat of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) by the Conservative government, which then proceeded to consolidate its free market programme. The political power of the NUM was broken permanently, and some years later the Labour Party moved away from its traditional socialist agenda. The dispute exposed deep divisions in British society and caused considerable bitterness, especially in Northern England and in South Wales where several mining communities were destroyed. Ten deaths resulted from events around the strike, which is exceptional in the history of British industrial relations (although lower than accidental deaths in the mines in a typical year in the 1970s).

  • 1987 general election

    The United Kingdom general election of 1987 was held on 11 June 1987 and was the third consecutive victory for the Conservative Party under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher.
    The Conservative government had survived the industrial disputes with mine workers (1984–85) and print unions (1985–86), and had weathered the 1986 Westland affair even with the resignation of Michael Heseltine and Leon Brittan, and the overall economy was strong. The Labour party at the time was slowly returning to a more centrist stance under new leader Neil Kinnock and was expecting to do much better than in the 1983 election. The SDP and the Liberals renewed their Alliance but co-leaders David Owen and David Steel could not agree whether to support either major party in the event of a hung parliament.


  • “A Labour Party of New Ideas”
    The 1964 Labour election manifesto used the word ‘new’ 87 times.
  • AGA stoves

    The AGA cooker is a stored-heat stove invented in 1922 by the Nobel Prize-winning Swedish physicist Dr. Gustaf Dalén (1869 – 1937), who also founded the AGA company.

  • Albert Roberts MP (‘Arthur Watson MP’)

    Albert Roberts (14 May 1908 – 11 May 2000) was a British Labour politician.
    Roberts was Member of Parliament for Normanton from 1951 to 1983. His successor was Bill O’Brien. He was vice-chairman of the British branch of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

    Roberts was associated with corrupt architect John Poulson, who built Roberts a house for free. In addition, “Roberts had useful contacts with the Portuguese government and was offered a consultancy by Poulson at £2,500 per annum.”

  • Alcoholism

    The term “alcoholism” refers to a disease known as alcohol dependence syndrome, the most severe stage of a group of drinking problems which begins with binge drinking and alcohol abuse.

  • Alderman

    An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions. The title is derived from the Anglo-Saxon position of ealdorman, literally meaning “elder man,” and was used by the chief nobles presiding over shires.

    Under the Municipal Reform Act 1835, municipal borough corporations consisted of councillors and aldermen. Aldermen would be elected not by the electorate, but by the council (including the outgoing aldermen), for a term of six years, which allowed a party that narrowly lost an election to retain control by choosing aldermen. This was altered in 1910 not to allow outgoing aldermen to vote. Aldermen were finally abolished under the Local Government Act 1972 in 1974, surviving a few years later in Greater London. County councils also elected Aldermen, but not rural district and urban district councils.

  • Alderman Andy Cunningham (‘Alderman Herbert Sidebottom’/‘Councillor Bede Connor’)
    See Andy Cunningham.

  • Allotments

    Allotment gardens are characterized by a concentration in one place of a few or up to several hundreds of land parcels that are assigned to individual families. In allotment gardens, the parcels are cultivated individually, contrary to other community garden types where the entire area is tended collectively by a group of people.

    See also SelfSufficientIsh, Allotment Growing and Allotments UK.

  • Alzheimer’s

    Dementia is a term used to describe various different brain disorders that have in common a loss of brain function that is usually progressive and eventually severe. There are over 100 different types of dementia. The most common are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.

  • Anarchism

    Anarchism is a political theory which aims to create anarchy, ‘the absence of a master, of a sovereign.’ In other words, anarchism is a political theory which aims to create a society within which individuals freely co-operate together as equals. As such anarchism opposes all forms of hierarchical control – be that control by the state or a capitalist – as harmful to the individual and their individuality as well as unnecessary.

    See also Wikipedia and LibCom.

  • Andy Cunningham (‘Alderman Herbert Sidebottom’/‘Councillor Bede Connor’)

    Andrew ‘Andy’ Cunningham was a major political figure in North East England, brought down by, and jailed for his role in, the Poulson scandal of 1974, which also destroyed the careers of T. Dan Smith and Tory Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling.

  • Angry Brigade

    The Angry Brigade (also known as the Stoke Newington Eight) was a British libertarian communist terrorist group responsible for a long string of bomb attacks around Britain between 1970 and 1972.

    Strongly influenced by anarchism and the Situationists, their targets included banks, embassies and the homes of Tory MP’s. In total, 25 bombings were attributed to them by the police. The damage done by the bombings was mostly limited to property damage although one person was slightly injured.

    See also John Barker’s review of Tom Vague’s book Anarchy In The UK, Jean Weir’s introduction to the Angry Brigade and Spunk Library’s Angry Brigade catalog.

  • Anna Mendelson (‘Helen Windsor’/‘Moira’)
    Anna Mendelson was a political activist living at 395 Amhurst Road in Stoke Newington, north London, along with Hilary Creek, Jim Greenfield and John Barker. They were collectively accused of being behind the Angry Brigade, and who were convicted at the 1972 ‘Stoke Newington Eight’ trial. Their four co-defendants – including Stuart Christie – were acquitted.
  • Apprenticeships

    Apprenticeships have a long tradition in the United Kingdom’s education system. In early modern England ‘parish’ apprenticeships under the Poor Law came to be used as a way of providing for poor children of both sexes alongside the regular system of apprenticeships, which tended to provide for boys from slightly more affluent backgrounds.

    In modern times, the system became less and less important, especially as employment in heavy industry and artisan trades declined. Traditional apprenticeships reached their lowest point in the 1970s: by that time, training programmes were rare and people who were apprentices learnt mainly by example.

  • Arson

    Arson, called fireraising in Scots law, is the crime of setting a fire for an unlawful or improper purpose. The criminal damage of property in English law has been consolidated into a single offence in the Criminal Damage Act 1971 although the use of the word has been retained.

  • Assistant Chief Constable Leonard Burt (‘Deputy Chief Constable Roy Johnson’)
    See Leonard Burt.


  • Back-to-back houses

    Back-to-back houses are a form of terraced house in which two houses share a rear wall (or in which the rear wall of a house directly abuts a factory or other building).

    These had become common in Victorian English inner city areas, such as Leeds and Birmingham. In Leeds, this style of terrace continued to be built right up until the 1930s.

    Many were demolished during the early and middle years of the 20th century when council housing became more widespread and councils engaged in organised programmes of slum clearances which were all part of post-war redevelopment programmes.

  • Barometers

    A barometer is an instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure. It can measure the pressure exerted by the atmosphere by using water, air, or mercury. Pressure tendency can forecast short term changes in the weather.

  • The Battle For Bermondsey
    A book written by Peter Tatchell describing the 1983 Bermonsdey bye-election he contested as Labour candidate, in which he was subject to an extensive smear campaign not only from local Liberals but also those within the Labour Party, much of it based on his homosexuality and his perceived ‘far’ left wing views. He also received hate mail, threatening phone calls and was physically attacked.
  • “Battle of Orgreave”

    The Battle of Orgreave is the name given to a confrontation between police and picketing miners at a British Steel coking plant in Orgreave, South Yorkshire, in 1984, during the UK miners’ strike. In 1991, South Yorkshire police were forced to pay out half a million pounds to thirty-nine miners who were arrested in the events at the Battle of Orgreave.

    The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) organised a mass picket of Orgreave for June 18, 1984, with the intention of blockading the plant, and ideally forcing its temporary closure. Aware of the plans by means of MI5 infiltration, the police organised counter-measures.

    The NUM was represented by 5-6000 pickets from across the UK. The police deployed between 4000 to 8000 officers, and were deployed from ten counties. Of these a small number had been trained in new riot tactics following the Toxteth and Brixton riots, while most had little or no experience in dealing with such events. There were between 40-50 mounted police, and 58 police dogs. There were no women officers and only a handful of female picketers.

    Unlike most of the strikes of the time, where picketers were kept well away from their intended positions, the strikers were escorted to a field to the north of the Orgreave plant. The field was flanked by police on all sides except the south, where the Sheffield to Worksop railway line runs. Opinion is divided as to whether this was a deliberate arrangement.

  • Beat generation

    The Beat Generation was a group of American writers who came to prominence in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957), Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), Gregory Corso’s Gasoline (1958) and Bomb (1958) and William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch (1959) are often considered their most important works.

  • Beat groups

    Beat groups were British Beat-bands from the early 1960s, or bands from other countries that adapted the style originating in Liverpool (see Merseybeat). The best known beat group is The Beatles up to the mid 1960s.

  • Beatniks

    Beatnik is a media stereotype that borrowed the most superficial aspects of the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s to present a distorted (and sometimes violent), cartoon-like misrepresentation of the real-life people and the spirituality found in Jack Kerouac’s autobiographical fiction.

  • Bed & Breakfasts

    A Bed and Breakfast, which can also be referred to simply as a B&B, used to be considered almost exclusively as a type of boarding house typically operating out of a large single family residence.

    The abbreviation of “B&B” on roadside signs first became popular in the British Isles – typically with a detachable “Vacancies” sign swinging below.

  • Benefit gigs

    A performance, etc, given to raise funds for some cause.

  • Bent cops

    Police corruption is a specific form of police misconduct sometimes involving political corruption, and generally designed to gain a financial or political benefit for a police officer or officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest.

    An example is police officers accepting bribes in exchange for not reporting organized drug or prostitution rings or other illegal activities. Another example is police officers ignoring the police code of conduct in order to be fully able to catch suspects (for example using forged evidence). Another, very rare, example would be police and other government entities deliberately and systematically participating in organised crime themselves.

  • Big Bang
  • The phrase Big Bang, used in reference to the sudden deregulation of financial markets, was coined to describe measures including the abolition of the distinction between stockjobbers and stockbrokers on the London Stock Exchange by the United Kingdom government in 1986.

    This change in the rules of the London Stock Exchange occurred on 27 October 1986. The Big Bang was so called because the abolition of fixed commission charges precipitated a complete alteration in the structure of the market. One of the biggest alterations to the market was the change from open-outcry to electronic, screen-based trading.

    Other reforms were enacted at the same time, and it was the aggregation of the measures plus the expected increase in market activity that led to the event being called the Big Bang.

    In Britain, the Big Bang became one of the cornerstones of the Thatcher government’s reform programme. Prior to this event, the financial institutions of the City of London were seen as elitist and operated within tight-knit old boys’ networks. The Big Bang brought the free market doctrine of meritocracy to London, allowing a new class of nouveau riche to profit from the economic boom. Today, London is a global financial centre, perhaps the world’s most important, and is home to thousands of international institutions.

  • Biological clock

    Every woman is born with her lifetime supply of eggs – approximately 300,000 – and reaches her peak by the time she enters puberty. Then, the number of eggs begins to decline so that a woman’s fertility starts to decline in her late twenties making it more difficult to conceive. In addition, a woman’s risk for miscarriage rises as she ages. For men, fertility begins to decline around age 35.

  • Black Monday
  • Black Monday is the name given to Monday, October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped dramatically, and on which similar enormous drops occurred across the world. By the end of October, stock markets in Hong Kong had fallen 45.8%, Australia 41.8%, Spain 31%, the United Kingdom 26.4%, the United States 22.68%, and Canada 22.5%. (The terms Black Monday and Black Tuesday are also applied to October 28 and 29, 1929, which occurred after Black Thursday on October 24, which started the Stock Market Crash of 1929.)

    The Black Monday decline was the second largest one-day percentage decline in stock market history.

  • Blacklegs

    It’s in the evening after dark
    when the blackleg miner creeps to work,
    With his moleskin pants and dirty shirt,
    There goes the blackleg miner.
    Well, he grabs his duds and down he goes,
    To hew the coal that lies below,
    There’s not a woman in this town row
    will look at the blackleg miner.
    Oh, Delaval is a terrible place,
    They rub wet clay in the blackleg’s face,
    And around the heaps they run a footrace
    to catch the blackleg miner.
    And even down near the Seghill mine,
    Across the way they stretch a line
    To catch the throat, to break the spine
    of the dirty blackleg miner.
    They grabbed his duds, his picks as well,
    And they hoy them down the pit of hell,
    Down you go, and fare ye well,
    You dirty blackleg miner.
    It’s in the evening after dark
    that the blackleg miner creeps to work,
    With his moleskin pants and dirty shirt,
    There goes the blackleg miner.
    So join the union while you may,
    Don’t wait ’til your dying day
    For that may not be far away,
    You dirty blackleg miner.

  • Blackmail

    Blackmail is the act of threatening to reveal information about a person, or even do something to destroy the threatened person, unless the blackmailed target fulfills certain demands. This information is usually of an embarrassing or socially damaging nature.

    In a broader sense, blackmail is an offer to refrain from any action which would be legal or normally allowed, and is thus distinguished from extortion.

    The word is derived from the word for tribute paid by English and Scottish border dwellers to Border Reivers in return for immunity from raids. This tribute was paid in goods or labour (reditus nigri, or “blackmail”): the opposite is blanche firmes or reditus albi, or “white rent” (denoting payment by silver).

  • Braziers

    A brazier is a container for fire, generally taking the form of an upright standing or hanging metal bowl or box. Used for holding burning coal as well as fires, a brazier allows for a source of light, heat, or cooking.

  • Bribery

    Bribery is a crime implying a sum or gift given that alters the behavior of the person in ways not consistent with the duties of that person. It is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions as an official or other person in discharge of a public or legal duty. The bribe is the gift bestowed to influence the receiver’s conduct. It may be any money, good, right in action, property, preferment, privilege, emolument, object of value, advantage, or any promise or undertaking to induce or influence the action, vote, or influence of a person in an official or public capacity.

    It is a form of political corruption and is generally considered unethical. In most jurisdictions it is illegal, or at least cause for sanctions from one’s employer or professional organization.

  • Broken hips

    A broken hip is a common injury, especially in elderly individuals. In the United States, hip fractures are the most common broken bone that requires hospitalization; about 300,000 Americans are hospitalized for a hip fracture every year.

    Hip fractures in the elderly are most often caused by a fall, usually a seemingly insignificant fall. In younger patients with stronger bones, more common causes of a broken hip include high-energy injuries such as car accidents. Hip fractures can also be caused by bone weakened from tumor or infection, a problem called a pathologic fracture.

    A broken hip in the elderly can be explained primarily by weak bones and osteoporosis.

    Elderly patients with osteoporosis are at much higher risk of developing a hip fracture than someone without osteoporosis.

  • Bungalows

    A bungalow is a type of single-story house. The word derives from the Gujarati word ba?glo, which in turn came from Hindi ba?gl?. It means “Bengali”, used elliptically for a “house in the Bengal style”. Such houses were traditionally small, only one story, thatched and had a wide veranda. Bungalows today are a type of house that is usually single story or one and a half stories, and can be quite large.

  • Burlesque

    Burlesque refers to theatrical entertainment of broad and parodic humor, which usually consists of comic skits (and sometimes a striptease). While some authors assert that burlesque is a direct descendant of the Commedia dell’arte, the term ‘burlesque’ for a parody or comedy of manners appears about the same time as the first appearance of commedia dell’arte.

    With its origins in nineteenth century music hall entertainments and vaudeville, in the early twentieth century burlesque emerged as a populist blend of satire, performance art, and adult entertainment, that featured strip tease and broad comedy acts that derived their name from the low comedy aspects of the literary genre known as burlesque.

    In burlesque, performers, usually female, often create elaborate sets with lush, colorful costumes, mood-appropriate music, and dramatic lighting, and may even include novelty acts, such as fire-breathing or demonstrations of unusual flexibility, to enhance the impact of their performance.


  • Cafés

    A café or coffee shop is an informal restaurant offering a range of hot meals and made-to-order sandwiches. This differs from a coffee house, which is a limited-menu establishment which focuses on coffee sales.

    The most common spelling café is the French spelling, and was adopted by English-speaking countries in the late 19th century. Café can also be spelled caffè (the Italian spelling), especially if in Italy or if the café is owned by Italians. In southern England, especially around London in the 1950s, the French pronunciation was often shortened to [kæf] and spelt caff.

  • Carafes of wine

    A decanter is a vessel used to hold the resulting decantation of a liquid, which contains sediment (such as wine). Liquid from another vessel is poured into the decanter in order to separate a small volume of liquid, containing the sediment, from a larger volume of “clear” liquid, which is free of such. In the process, the sediment is left in the original vessel, and the clear liquid is transferred to the decanter.

    With wine, decanters can also act as a serving vessel for the wine. Decanting wine can also serve the purpose of aerating the wine. This controversial aspect may, depending on which view, ether benefit the wine by smoothing some of the harsher aspects of the wine (like tannins or potential wine faults like mercaptans) or it may be detrimental to the wine by causing it to oxidize and lose some of its aromatic qualities. While the exact design or shape of the decanter can be changed due to fashion, the typical functional aspects of a decanter involve construction from an inert material (such as glass) and the ability to hold at least one standard bottle’s worth of wine. The process of decanting is one of the most controversial topics in wine.

  • “Cardboard City”

    Cardboard City was an area of cardboard boxes lived in by homeless people in London near Waterloo station from 1983 until 1998.

    In the mid-1980s the site, in the pedestrian underpasses under the Bullring roundabout, was home to up to 200 people sleeping rough in cardboard boxes. It was famously regarded as a symbol of society’s failure to deal with homelessness.

    By early 1998, fewer than 30 remained and were evicted by the Borough of Lambeth in February 1998, to leave before the end of March 1998. All were offered free housing by the borough, though some were unsure the residents would be able to cope with housed life.

    The area is now the site of the London IMAX cinema.

  • “Cash for honours”

    Cash for Honours (also Cash for Peerages, Loans for Honours or Loans for Peerages ) is the name given by some in the media to a political scandal in the United Kingdom in 2006 and 2007 concerning the connection between political donations and the award of life peerages. A quirk of electoral law in the United Kingdom means that although anyone donating even small sums of money to a political party has to declare this as a matter of public record, those loaning money, even for an indefinite period, did not have to make a public declaration.

    The expression “cash for peerages” has a long history. Titles have constantly been granted to court favorites and allies. James I was more overt; he created the title of baronet and sold them for £1,500 each to raise money for his war in Ireland.

    In the 1920s David Lloyd George was involved in a barely concealed “cash for patronage” scandal managed by Maundy Gregory, which resulted in the 1925 Act which barred it (purchase of peerages had not previously been illegal), and in 1976 Harold Wilson’s resignation honours list was similarly embroiled in what became infamously known as The Lavender List (hand-written on lavender paper by Marcia Williams). This, though widely deemed to include some unsuitable and unsalubrious nominees, rewarded Wilson’s friends and carried no suggestion of overt reward for money — given or loaned. Lord Kagan, ennobled in the Lavender List, was convicted of fraud in 1980 — for some years he had been funding Harold Wilson’s Leader’s office. Sir Eric Miller, knighted in the Lavender List, committed suicide in 1977 while under investigation for fraud; he too had helped fund Harold Wilson’s Leader’s office.

    In the 1960s, Roy Thomson had some justifiable claim to a peerage as a Canadian and later British publisher. As even his company history observes, “Roy had noted that all proprietors of newspapers seemed to become members of the House of Lords. He had also noted this was emphatically ‘a good thing’” and he showed himself ready to do whatever was required to achieve this goal, believing at first that it could be a simple open purchase but moving on to explicit lobbying of prime ministers. He contributed money to charitable bodies which were deemed to improve his chances. Eventually, having bought The Scotsman, The Sunday Times and later The Times, he became sufficiently important to Harold Wilson that he was “raised to the peerage” as Baron Thomson of Fleet.

    As recently as 2004 the issue of large donations to a political party being linked to the award of a peerage arose when Paul Drayson donated £555,000 to the Labour Party. His company, Powderject (now part of Novartis), had also received a valuable government contract to make vaccines.

  • “Cash for questions”

    The cash-for-questions affair was one of the biggest political scandals of the 1990s in the United Kingdom. It began in October 1994 when The Guardian newspaper alleged that London’s most successful parliamentary lobbyist, Ian Greer of Ian Greer Associates, had bribed two Conservative Members of Parliament in exchange for asking parliamentary questions, and other tasks, on behalf of the controversial Egyptian owner of Harrods department store, Mohamed Al-Fayed.

    The Guardian’s story alleged that Al-Fayed had approached the paper and accused Ian Greer of paying Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith to table parliamentary questions on his behalf at £2000 per question. Smith resigned immediately after admitting to accepting payments from Al-Fayed himself, but not from Ian Greer as The Guardian alleged. Hamilton and Greer immediately issued libel writs in the High Court against The Guardian to clear their names.

    (Though the term “cash for questions affair” is used to refer to the events that followed the publication of The Guardian’s story, it was not actually the first time that a British newspaper had accused MPs of taking bribes to table questions. Three months earlier, in July 1994, a ‘sting’ operation by The Sunday Times reported that two Conservative MPs Graham Riddick and David Treddinick had accepted cheques for £1,000 for agreeing to table a parliamentary question. A reporter from the newspaper had posed as a businessman wishing to have a question tabled in the House of Commons, in breach of Parliamentary rules. The two were suspended from Parliament for 10 and 20 days respectively, Mr Riddick receiving a shorter ‘sentence’ due to his apparent decision to apologise quickly and return his cheque bribe.)

    When The Guardian’s story was published three months later, accusing the lobbyist Greer of bribing Smith and Hamilton, the furore prompted Prime Minister John Major to instigate the Nolan Committee, to review the issue of standards in public life.

  • Centre Point

    Centre Point (sometimes rendered as Centrepoint) is a substantial concrete and glass office building in central London, England, occupying 101-103 New Oxford Street, WC1, close to St Giles’ Circus and almost directly above Tottenham Court Road tube station. The site was once occupied by a gallows. The building was designed by Richard Seifert and was constructed by Wimpey Construction from 1963 to 1966. It is 117 m (385 ft) high, has 32 floors and 27 180 m? of floor space and is the 19th tallest building in London. It was one of the first skyscrapers in London.

    Centre Point was built as speculative office space by property tycoon Harry Hyams, who had leased the site at £18,500 a year for 150 years. Hyams and Seifert engaged in negotiations with the London County Council over the height of the building, which was much taller than would normally be allowed and was highly controversial; eventually he was allowed to build 32 floors in return for providing a new road junction between St Giles Circus, Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, which the LCC could not afford to build on its own. Hyams intended that the whole building be occupied by a single tenant.

    On completion, the building remained empty for many years. With property prices rising and most business tenancies taken for set periods of 10 or 15 years, Hyams could afford to keep it empty and wait for his single tenant at the asking price of £1,250,000; he was challenged to allow tenants to rent single floors but consistently refused. The prominent nature of the building led to it becoming a symbol of greed in the property industry. Some campaigners demanded that the government of Edward Heath should intervene and take over the building, and at one point in June 1972 Peter Walker (then Secretary of State for the Environment) offered £5 million for the building. Eventually Hyams agreed to let the building by floors but the arrangements were stalled.

    A more intriguing speculation was that the government was paying Hyams “a heavy but secret subsidy to keep it empty” for its own purposes. Various conspiracy theories circulated about what those purposes might be. One common theme was that since the building was 100% air-conditioned (a rarity in London at that time), and sited over Tottenham Court Road tube station and its deep tube lines, this would somehow make it useful to the government in the event of nuclear war. Most people regard this theory as far-fetched.

  • Children’s television

    Children’s television series are television programs designed for and marketed to children, normally aired during the morning and afternoon hours, mainly before and after school. The purpose of the show is mainly to entertain and sometimes to educate the young audience about basic life skills or ideals.

  • Class consciousness

    Class consciousness is a category of Marxist theory, referring to the self-awareness of a social class, its capacity to act in its own rational interests, or measuring the extent to which an individual is conscious of the historical tasks their class (or class allegiance) sets for them.

    Class consciousness, as described by Georg Lukács’s famous History and Class Consciousness (1920), is opposed to any psychological conception of consciousness, which forms the basis of individual or mass psychology (see Freud or, before him, Gustave Le Bon). According to Lukács, each social class has a determined class consciousness which it can achieve. In effect, as opposed to the liberal conception of consciousness as the basis of individual freedom and of the social contract, marxist class consciousness is not an origin, but an achievement (i.e. it must be “earned” or won). Henceforth, it is never assured: the proletariat’s class consciousness is the result of a permanent struggle to understand the “concrete totality” of the historical process.

    According to Lukács, the proletariat was the first class in history that may achieve true class consciousness, because of its specific position highlighted in the Communist Manifesto as the “living negation” of capitalism. All others classes, including the bourgeoisie, are limited to a “false consciousness” which impedes them from understanding the totality of history: instead of understanding each specific moment as a phase of the historical process, they universalize it, claiming it is eternal. Hence, capitalism is not thought as a specific phase of history, but is naturalized and thought of as an eternal stage. This “false consciousness”, which forms ideology itself, is not a simple error as in classical philosophy, but an illusion which can’t be dispelled. Marx described it in his theory of commodity fetishism, which Lukács completed with his concept of reification: alienation is what follows the worker’s estrangement to the world following the new life acquired by the product of his work. The dominant bourgeois ideology thus leads the individual to see the achievement of his labour take a life of its own. Furthermore, specialization is also seen as a characteristic of the ideology of modern rationalism, which creates specific and independent domains (art, politics, science, etc.). Only a global perspective can point out how all these different domains interact, argues Lukács. He also points out how Kant brought to its limit the classical opposition between the abstract form and the concrete, historical content, which is abstractly conceived as irrational and contingent. Thus, with Kant’s rational system, history becomes totally contingent and is thus ignored. Only with Hegel’s dialectic can a mediation be found between the abstract form and the abstract notion of a concrete content.

  • Class solidarity

    Social solidarity refers to the integration, and degree and type of integration, shown by a society or group. It refers to the ties in a society – social relations – that bind people to one another. Solidarity is commonly associated with political

  • Class War

    Class War was a UK class struggle based group and newspaper originally set up by Ian Bone and others in 1983. It subsequently mutated various forms, becoming specifically anarchist.

    The organisation had its origins in Swansea, Wales, developing from a group of community activists who produced a local paper called The Alarm, which focused on issues such as corruption within local government. Following a move to London, the London Autonomists (including Martin Wright and Pete Mastin) soon became involved and a decision was made to produce a tabloid-style newspaper which would reach a wider audience, particular aimed at young anarchists and pacifists[citation needed], including followers of the anarcho-punk band Crass.

    The articles in Class War criticised pacifism and the Peace movement, arguing the idea that violence is a necessary part of the class struggle. This stance was further justified with the statement that “democratic systems are all supported on a basis of coercion sanctioned by the use of force”, and “the ruling class are never more dangerous than when they are doing impressions of human beings”.

    Class War’s attitude to violence was summed up in ‘Britain’s most unruly tabloid’: While not giving unqualified support to the IRA you don’t have to be an Einstein to realise that a victory for the armed struggle in Ireland would be a crushing blow to the ruling class and to the authority of the British state.” 1992 (Class War No.52).

    The group maintained that the vast majority of people in Britain remained exploited by the ruling class and their official literature has long stated that about 75% of the country is working-class. Most other estimates put a much lower figure on the proportion (although it should be remembered that other estimates may not use the same definition of ‘working class’ as Class War).

    Stand up and Spit was the title of another early Class War magazine, aimed at inner city youth.

    The numerous titles released by Class War were eventually to be replaced by a national paper just called Class War. This paper declared that the enemy was not just a system-wide abstraction, but each and every person who belonged to the ruling class. It advocated active violence against the wealthy, and the paper used colloquial language and gallows humour. One early cover was of a cemetery, with the caption, “We have found new homes for the rich.” Another in 1986 suggested that recently married royal couple TRH The Duke and Duchess of York were “Better Dead than Wed.” This cover was reproduced as a poster, which was banned by the Ramsgate Police. Anarchists were required to remove the posters they had put up on a McDonalds fast food retail outlet and on the front of a W.H. Smith Bookstore. Class War also collaborated with anarchist band Conflict in releasing a ‘commemorative’ royal wedding single of the same title. Much of the organisations propaganda is intentionally provocative or illegal.

    The paper also featured pictures of injured policemen, “Hospitalised Copper” appeared on page three of every edition (a nod to The Sun’s Page Three girls). Class War explained that their intent here was to show that people could ‘fight back’ against the state rather than be ‘passive victims’.

  • Clip joints

    A clip joint is slang for a nightclub, store, or other establishment that cheats or overcharges customers. Typically, clip joints suggest the possibility of sex, charge excessively high prices for watered-down drinks, and then eject customers when they become unwilling or unable to spend more money.

    A number of clip joints (or “near beer bars”) still operate in London’s Soho area, alongside legitimate strip bars.

    The scam operated by these clubs is very simple: a customer is shown in from the door, typically by a hostess, and quickly offered a drink or the company of another hostess at their table. If they accept either offer, then as soon as they try and leave the bar, they will be presented with an outrageously high bill – often for several hundred pounds – for the drink, service charges, or hostess company. As with any bar bill, immediate payment is demanded on pain of criminal charges (or, occasionally, physical violence).

    Although strongly disliked, this scam is in a legal grey area if extortion is not involved, since there is no law against charging high prices and it is the customer’s own fault if they consume goods or services while unaware of how much they cost. It remains technically a confidence trick since customers order in the false confidence that prices will be around the standard market levels.

  • Coal mining

    Coal has been used worldwide as a fuel for centuries.

    Around 1800 it became the main energy source for the Industrial Revolution, the expanding railway system of countries being a prime user. Britain developed the main techniques of underground mining from the late 18th century onward with further progress being driven by 19th and early 20th century progress.

    Because it is found almost exclusively underground, it must be mined or extracted prior to use. Large-scale coal mining developed during the Industrial Revolution, and coal provided the main source of primary energy for industry and transportation in the West from the 18th century to the 1950s. Coal remains an important energy source, due to its low cost and abundance when compared to other fuels, particularly for electricity generation.

    However oil and its associated fuels began to be used as alternative from this time onward. By the late 20th century coal was for the most part replaced in domestic as well as industrial and transportation usage by oil, natural gas or electricity produced from oil, gas, nuclear or renewable energy sources.

    Since 1890, coal mining has also been a political and social issue. Coal miners’ labour unions became powerful in many countries in the 20th century, and often the miners were leaders of the left or Socialist movements (as in Britain, Germany, Poland, Japan, Canada and the U.S.). Since 1970, environmental issues have been increasingly important, including the health of miners, destruction of the landscape from strip mines and mountaintop removal, air pollution, and coal combustion’s contribution to global warming.

  • “Coal Not Dole”

    Coal not Dole was one of the famous slogans of the miners. The logic is so simple and they were only asking for the right to work with protection from unscrupulous bosses. The cost of policing the strike cost far more than actually conceding to the miners demands. The Miners were hard working decent folk trying to save there jobs and the very social wellbeing and fabric of their pit villages and close knit communities. They were treated like scum for doing so. The UK during the Miners Strike became a Police State and from that point on, the ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ image of the lone cop on a beat was history. In its place we get a response service, ‘robo cops’ on hold for picket lines and demos, speed cameras, CCTV, and police stations closing down left right and centre. We get 1000 extra MI5 spooks, more calls to arm the police and ‘on the spot fines’ for kids with no money.

  • Coffee bars & houses

    A coffeehouse shares some of the characteristics of a bar, and some of the characteristics of a restaurant, but it is different from a cafeteria. As the name suggests, coffeehouses focus on providing coffee and tea as well as light snacks. This differs from a café, which is an informal restaurant, offering a range of hot meals, and possibly being licensed to serve alcohol.

  • Committee for a Free Britain

    The Committee for a Free Britain was a right-wing political pressure-group in the United Kingdom. Its introductory letter to all MPs, and others, stated that it was “formed in the run up to the General Election in 1987 by Baroness Cox, the 6th Lord Harris, Downing Street Policy Unit member Christopher Monckton, and novelist and journalist David Hart”. In 1988 Colin Clark and Betty Sherridan joined the Committee.

    The CFB’s first public act was to place advertisements in national newspapers warning the country of the consequences of a Labour victory in the 1987 General Election.

    David Hart, the CFB’s chairman, was active in the miners’ strike, supporting miners who opposed strike action. Hart became a personal political advisor to Ian MacGregor (a close friend of Hart’s brother), then-Chairman of the National Coal Board. The Committee for a Free Britain boasted that it paid the legal costs of groups engaged in legal disputes with Labour-controlled local authorities.

  • (Metropolitan Police) Commissioner Sir David McNee (‘Michael Jellicoe’)

    Sir David McNee, QPM (born 1925 in Glasgow, Scotland) was Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police from 1977 to 1982 and Chief Constable of the City of Glasgow Police (later Strathclyde Police) from 1971-1977.

    Born in Glasgow, McNee worked as an office boy at the Clydesdale Bank before joining the Royal Navy as a rating in 1943. In 1946, McNee began his career in the police when he joined the City of Glasgow Police, serving as a uniformed constable before joining the force’s Marine Division as a Detective Constable in 1951. He rose up the ranks to Inspector and served in the Flying Squad and Special Branch, until attending a senior command course at the Police Staff College, Bramshill, after which he was appointed Assistant Chief Constable of Dunbartonshire County Constabulary. In 1961, he took charge of the City of Glasgow Police, which during his tenure as Chief Constable was merged with six other local Scottish police forces to form Strathclyde Police. He joined the Metropolitan Police in London in 1977 as the Met’s Commissioner, the first time he had served outside of Scotland as a police officer.

    McNee had commanded the second largest police force in Britain in Strathclyde, and was now in charge of the largest. However, his lengthy experience as a low-ranking beat officer in Glasgow was at odds with the academic and theoretical training he had received at Bramshill in the Senior Officers’s course. Determined to improve the working conditions of London’s beat bobbies, McNee implemented several reforms to the Metropolitan Police, some of which would be further refined by his successors.

  • (Metropolitan Police) Commissioner Sir Joe Simpson (‘Ted Jones’)

    Sir Joseph Simpson KBE KPFSM (1909–20 March 1968), commonly known as Joe Simpson to his men, was Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, the head of the London Metropolitan Police, from 1958 to 1968. He was the first Commissioner who began his police career as an ordinary Constable.

    On 1 March 1956, Simpson rejoined the Metropolitan Police as Assistant Commissioner “B”, in charge of traffic policing.[7] On 20 January 1957 he was appointed Deputy Commissioner,[8] and on 1 September 1958 he became Commissioner.[1][9] He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1959 New Year Honours.[10]

    Simpson was a fair and tolerant man, but also expected the same high standards of others that he set for himself and was a great believer in discipline. He believed in a more equal police force, where senior officers and lower ranks had a closer relationship. This was somewhat marred by the promotion of fellow Hendon graduates as Deputy Commissioner and all four Assistant Commissioners (the short-lived Hendon experiment never having been popular with most officers), although in actual fact these appointments were made by the Crown on the advice of the Home Secretary. He strove, with some success, to improve the deteriorating relationship between the police and the public and encouraged the public to “have a go” against crime (although he did issue a warning against tackling armed criminals). He was an enthusiastic supporter of crime prevention and the use of police dogs, and also greatly expanded the Police Cadets. He established the Obscene Publications Squad, Drugs Squad (1963), Special Patrol Group (1961), Art Squad (1967), and Antiques and Philately Squad (1967), laid the foundations for the Scenes of Crime Branch established shortly after his death, and greatly expanded the Flying Squad. He introduced personal radios and the Unit Beat system (1967), whereby the use of panda cars was greatly expanded for patrol purposes. He reorganised the Metropolitan Special Constabulary to integrate them more into the divisions. He introduced traffic wardens and fixed penalty parking fines.

  • (Metropolitan Police) Commissioner Sir John Waldron (‘Colin Blamire’)

    Sir John Lovegrove Waldron, KCVO (1910-1975) was Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police from 1968 to 1972 and Chief Constable of Berkshire Constabulary from 1954 to 1958.

    In 1958, Waldron returned to London where he was made Assistant Commissioner “B” (Traffic) by the then-Commissioner, Sir Joseph Simpson. After five years in charge of Traffic, he transferred to Assistant Commissioner “A” (Uniform). In 1965, Waldron was responsible for organising the policing of the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, a duty for which he was made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order by Queen Elizabeth II in 1966.

    By 1966, Waldron was promoted to Deputy Commissioner, the second highest rank in the Met. When the Commissioner, Joseph Simpson, died suddenly, Waldron was appointed his successor. The appointment was assumed by many to be a temporary fill-in role, but circumstances such as a rise in police salaries and pensions, and the fall of the Labour government in 1970 saw Waldron stay on for several years longer than expected.

    A management consultancy firm had been engaged to assess the structure and operations of the Metropolitan Police during Simpson’s tenure as Commissioner, and their report was released shortly after Simpson’s death and Waldron’s appointment. Waldron and his deputies decided not to proceed with many of the report’s more drastic recommendations, and the creation of the Greater London Council and the new London boroughs were causing significant strain on territorial policing of London.

    Waldron did, however, set in motion the move to Area-based policing, and renamed the former Police Districts into Areas, and the former Divisions were renamed Districts.

  • (Metropolitan Police) Commissioner Sir Robert Mark (‘Michael Jellicoe’)

    Sir Robert Mark (born 13 March 1917), GBE, QPM, is an English former law enforcement official who served as Chief Constable of Leicester City Police, having been appointed as the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in 1972.

    Robert Mark was the first Commissioner to have risen through all the ranks from the lowest to the highest. As Commissioner, he forced out many corrupt police officers and subsequently authored a book about his experiences.

  • “Community projects”

    During the 1960s and early 1970s there was a growing recognition of the extent to which poverty remained a major feature of UK society (see, for example, Coates and Silburn 1970). There had also been a fairly substantial series of debates around the significance and importance of people’s participation in various aspects of government activity – perhaps the best known being the Skeffington Report on planning (MHLG 1969). Following the efforts of the Democratic administration in the United States of America to wage a ‘War on Poverty’, the UK government sought a similar, but cheaper, initiative. Self-help and resident participation were seen to be possibilities for the improvement of inner city situations.

    The result, in 1969, was the launch of the Community Development Projects programme. It was the largest action-research project ever funded by government. The avowed intention was to gather information about the impact of existing social policies and services and to encourage innovation and co-ordination. The projects had a strong and explicit research focus and an emphasis on social action ‘as a means of creating more responsive local services and of encouraging self help’ (Loney 1983: 3). The projects were initially based in 12 areas of social deprivation. These were neighbourhoods of 3,000 to 15,000 people. Each project involved a small group of professional workers and researchers. The emphasis in CDPs on research meant that they produced a range of important material both about the nature of community work and about the social, political and economic condition of particular areas (full listing in Loney 1983).

    Workers in many of the projects came to reject the analysis and strategies of the original project proposals. They sought to organise and research around larger questions of inequality and deindustrialisation rather than more localized concerns around community organization. There was often a desire to bring about a much stronger link between the struggles of the workplace and those of the neighbourhood and community; and to develop means by which groups can join together in things like federations to better influence decision making on a city-wide, regional and national basis. As Loney (1983: 23) comments, the community workers who entered the field in the late 1960s and early 1970s frequently rejected the traditional (educational) models of community work. They replaced the process-orientated ‘non-directiveness of Batten and Batten (1967) with a commitment to organizing and a readiness to take up oppositional positions (Baldock 1977). By 1974 the Home Office had largely given up on the projects and they were wound up in 1976.

    In some respects, the optimism and enthusiasm with which community work and ‘participation’ were greeted in the early 1970s and late 1960s waned with the realisation that many of the issues the work sought to confront were not resolvable at the local level – a realisation that was underlined by the widespread public expenditure cuts after the oil crisis of 1974. There was a considerable growth in the political awareness of community workers in the mid to late 1970s and this has been reflected in the adoption by workers of very different ideological stances. This is sometimes represented by the contrasting of so called social work or community development traditions of practice, with political action traditions:

    The former focused on the community as a social unit or organism, and was concerned with so called ‘soft’ issues such as social disorganisation and the need to build up networks and resources. The ‘political action tradition’ identified the community as a political unit, and emphasised ‘hard’ issues such as oppression and powerlessness. People associated themselves with each tradition, and each was thought to have its own particular organising styles and methods (‘consensual’ and ‘conflict’). (Thomas 1983: 93)

    Three further dynamics were also at work: a more general movement away from associational and community group activity (perhaps best articulated in more recent years in the work of Robert Putnam); the rise of managerialism; and the coming to power of politicians who stressed market solutions. All can be seen in developments during the 1980s.

    In the early 1980s another report sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (and written by David Thomas) suggested that community work had three major aspects:

    First, to help people take action on specific issues of importance to them. These issues will almost invariably involve the influence of resources, either those held, for example, by local authorities, or to be found within communities themselves. I have referred to this as the distributive aspect of community work. It is equivalent to the conventional category of ‘product goals’ familiar in community work literature. Influence on the distribution of resources will be terminal goals for the people involved, but I have argued that we should see them also as instrumental in contributing towards:

    secondly, the development of political responsibility; and

    thirdly, that of communal coherence. (Thomas 1983: 102)

  • Construction Promotion (‘Edwards Overseas’)

    Another contact was the then Shadow Commonwealth Secretary Reginald Maudling, whom Poulson knew from his National Liberal activities. Maudling was anxious to build up a business career to keep up his income and Poulson needed a big name as Chairman of one of his companies, Construction Promotion. In 1966 Maudling accepted an offer to be Chairman for £5,000 per annum. In addition, Maudling’s son Martin, who had left Oxford University without taking a degree, went to work for another Poulson company. Poulson agreed to donate large sums of money to a charity patronised by Maudling’s wife.

    In return, Maudling helped to bring pressure on the government of Malta to award the contract for a new hospital on Gozo to Poulson. In Parliament, Maudling vociferously opposed the plans of the Labour government to reduce the amount of defence spending and number of UK troops on Malta. He traded on the goodwill this created to bring extra pressure, and also changed Conservative Party policy so that overseas development assistance to Malta would be 75% grant and 25% loan instead of the even split which the Labour government had introduced.

  • Corporal punishment

    Corporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain intended to change a person’s behavior or to punish them. Historically speaking, most punishments, whether in judicial, domestic, or educational settings, were corporal in basis.

  • Corruption

    Corruption is a general concept describing any organized, interdependent system in which part of the system is either not performing duties it was originally intended to, or performing them in an improper way, to the detriment of the system’s original purpose.

  • “Costa del Crime”

    n the late 1970s a gangster’s paradise was created in the heart of Europe. A diplomatic breakdown between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar led to the extradition treaty between the two countries being cancelled. British criminals were able to join the swelling tide of holiday makers heading for the Spanish sunshine.

    For five years a trickle of criminals on the run lived anonymously in Spain but in 1983 the fallout from a major armed robbery in London turned the Costa del Sol into the Costa del Crime.

    At £6 million, the Security Express robbery was the biggest cash haul in British history and the five suspects, the ‘Famous Five’, became Britain’s best known runaways. When they appeared on the Costa living lives of luxury in the sun, the trend of ex-pat criminals living in Spain was blown wide open. Security Express suspects Freddie Foreman and Ronnie Knight became unlikely celebrities in a tabloid tale that would fascinate the public and frustrate the authorities for the next decade. The British police knew who they were and where they were, but were powerless to apprehend them or bring them home.

    Behind the popular image of villains on the run having fun in the sun lay a darker truth to the Costa del Crime. British criminals in Spain quickly muscled in on the poorly organised drug routes from Morocco through Spain to Britain. This small-scale, hippy business was swiftly taken over by organised ex-pat criminals. The violence associated with fast drug money escalated as quickly as the shipments.

  • Council houses

    The council house is a form of public housing found in Ireland and the United Kingdom, sometimes called social housing in modern times. Council houses were built and operated by local councils for the benefit of the local population. As of 2005, approximately 20 per cent of the country’s housing stock is owned by local councils or by housing associations. The largest council estate in the country is Becontree, Dagenham, with a population of over 100,000. Building started in the 1920s and took nearly 20 years to finish.

    The pressure for decent housing arose from overcrowding in the large cities in the 19th century, and many social commentators (such as Octavia Hill) reported on the squalour, sickness and perceived immorality that arose. Some philanthropists had begun to provide housing in tenement blocks, while some factory owners built entire villages for their workers such as Saltaire (1853), Bournville (1879), Port Sunlight, Stewartby, and Silver End as late as 1925.

    It was not until 1885, when a Royal Commission was held, that the state took an interest. This led to the Housing of the Working Classes Act 1890, which encouraged local authorities to improve the housing in their areas. As a consequence the London County Council opened the Boundary Estate in 1900, and many local councils began building flats and houses in the early 20th century. The First World War indirectly provided a new impetus, when the poor physical health and condition of many urban recruits to the army was noted with shock and alarm. This led to a campaign known as Homes fit for heroes and in 1919 the Government first required councils to provide housing, helping them to do so through the provision of subsidies, under the Housing Act 1919. The government was no doubt encouraged by the increasing influence of the Labour party and the widepsread strikes and mutinies which characterized Britain in 1919. Many houses were built in cottage estates as in Downham Estate as well as in blocks of flats.

    While new council housing had been built, little had been done to resolve the problem of inner city slums. This was to change with the Housing Act 1930, which required councils to prepare slum clearance plans, and some progress was made before the Second World War intervened.

    Following the Second World War there was a major boom in council house construction, since nearly four million houses had been destroyed or damaged during its course. As well as this, slum clearance programmes were promoted.

    In the immediate post-War years and well into the 1950s council house provision was shaped by the New Towns Act 1946 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. Houses were typically semi-detached or in small terraces. A three-bedroom semi-detached council house was typically built on a 7 by 7 yd (6.4 by 6.4 m) grid and at a density of no more than 12 houses per acre (337 m©˜ per house), meaning that most houses had generous space around them. The new towns and many existing towns had countless estates built to this basic model.

    For many working class people, this housing model provided the first experience of private garden space (usually front and rear) and the first private and indoor toilets and bathrooms. The quality of these houses, and in particular the existence of small gardens, compared very favourably with social housing being built on the European continent in this period.

    Towards the end of the 1950s the influence of modernist architecture and the development of new construction techniques such as system building (a form of prefabrication) led to this model being abandoned in Britain’s inner city areas. Instead tower blocks became the preferred model. The argument was that more dwellings could be provided this way (a claim that research at the LSE has cast serious doubt on.

    Central government (under both the Conservative and Labour parties) saw the provision of housing as a major part of its policy, and provided subsidies for local authorities to build such housing. System building proved to have serious flaws and flats – which were initially very popular due to their generous space standards – suffered many problems, especially poor protection from damp, weather ingress, but also more serious design defects.

    The problem associated with tower blocks were brought into sharp focus after the partial collapse of Ronan Point, a tower block in Newham, east London, as a consequence of a gas explosion, on 16 May 1968.

  • Council house sell-off

    The Right to buy scheme is a policy in the United Kingdom which gives tenants of council housing the right to buy the home they are living in. Currently there is also a right to acquire for the tenants of housing associations.

    Individual local authorities have always had the ability to sell council houses to their tenants, but until the early 1970s such sales were extremely rare. However, the Conservative-controlled Greater London Council of the late 1960s was persuaded by Horace Cutler, its Chair of Housing, to create a general sales scheme. Cutler disagreed with the concept of local authorities as providers of housing and supported a free market approach. GLC housing sales were not allowed during the Labour administration of the mid-1970s but picked up again once Cutler became Leader in 1977. They proved extremely popular, and Cutler was close to Margaret Thatcher (a London MP) who made the right to buy council housing a Conservative Party policy nationally.

    After Mrs Thatcher became Prime Minister, the legislation to implement the Right to Buy was passed in the Housing Act 1980. The sale price of a council house was based on its market valuation but also included a discount to reflect the rents paid by tenants and also to encourage take-up. The legislation gave council tenants the right to buy their council house at a discounted value, depending on how long they had been living in the house, with the proviso that if they sold their house before a minimum period had expired they would have to pay back a proportion of the discount. The sales were an attractive deal for tenants and hundreds of thousands of homes were sold. The policy is regarded as one of the major points of Thatcherism.

    Proceeds of the sales were paid to the local authorities, but they were restricted to spending the money to reduce their debt until it was cleared, rather than being able to spend it on building more homes. The effect was to reduce the council housing stock, especially in areas where property prices were high such as London and the south-east of England.

  • Covers bands

    A cover band (or covers band) is a band that plays only cover songs. Most wedding bands can be considered cover bands.


  • “Dangerous dogs”
  • Dansmith Ltd (‘Donohue Public Relations Services’/‘DPRS’)
  • David Hart (‘Alan Roe’)
  • (Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir) David McNee (‘Michael Jellicoe’)
  • Day centres
  • Demolition
  • Dennis Skinner MP (‘Eddie Wells MP’)
  • Deselection of sitting MPs
  • Detective Chief Superintendent George Fenwick (‘Commander Harold Chapple’, ‘Detective Chief Superintendent John Salway’)
  • Dimpled pint mugs
  • Dinner parties
  • “Dirty Squad”
  • Disabilities
  • Discotheques
  • Divorce
  • “Dole scrounging”
  • Don McCullin (‘Nicky Hutchinson’)
  • Double D
  • Drugs Squad police officers selling drugs
  • Duplicators


  • Earthenware crockery
  • “East End businessmen”
  • Economic sanctions
  • Edward Short MP (‘Arthur Watson MP’)
  • “End of austerity”
  • Entrepreneurialism
  • Entrism
  • “Extra-Parliamentary opposition”
  • Extradition treaties and the lack thereof


  • Fascism
  • Federation bitter
  • Female empowerment
  • Feminism
  • Finance companies
  • Financial deregulation
  • Firestarting
  • Fish and chips
  • Fit-ups and frame-ups
  • Franco
  • Freemasons
  • Fridge-freezers


  • Gardening
  • Gardening programmes
  • Gas heaters
  • Detective Chief Superintendent George Fenwick (‘Commander Harold Chapple’, ‘Detective Chief Superintendent John Salway’)
  • Graffiti
  • “Great Storm”/”Great Storm Of ’87”
  • Greenhouses
  • Gypsies


  • Hilary Creek (‘Helen Windsor’/‘Moira’)
  • High rise flats
  • Home ownership
  • Home Secretary Reginald Maudling MP (‘Claud Seabrook MP’)
  • Homeless hostels
  • Homelessness
  • Homosexuality as a crime
  • Hurricane force winds
  • “Hurricane of 87”

One response to “OFITN (1)

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