Richard Holme

Richard Holme a former President of the Liberal Party, fought Cheltenham at the last election and is currently chairman of the cross-party Constitutional Reform Centre. His book The People’s Kingdom was published by Bodley Head in March (160 pp., £10.95, 0 370 30792 5).

Fear and Loathing in Limehouse

Richard Holme, 3 September 1987

The battle between the Conservative and Labour Parties during the last election was expressed almost exclusively in terms of menace. Which would the voters be more frightened of – loony Labour’s threat to Britain’s defence and personal prosperity or the hard-faced Conservatives’ dismemberment of health, education and welfare? ‘I wants to make your flesh creep,’ said the fat boy, and that is what the parties set out to do in 1987. As Rodney Tyler’s book shows, the key decision in the Conservative camp, on which all their three great warlords agreed – Margaret Thatcher, Norman Tebbit and Lord Young – as did their retinues of ad-men and advisers, was to run a campaign fuelled by fear, a re-run of ‘Don’t let Labour ruin it.’ Fear was a tune which the Prime Minister had practised assiduously over the years: fear of Scargill, fear of Galtieri, fear of inflation, fear of black and brown people. And in 1987, whatever the raggedness in the presentation of her own policies, she played it again to perfection.’

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