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3 Oct 2014
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This Sceptred Isle

The Death of Diana & the Election of New Labour
In 1997 the Labour Party had an overwhelming victory in the May General Election. The Conservatives were so defeated that, for example, they did not win a single seat in Scotland. The new government's manifesto was unrecognisable from the policies of the traditional Labour Party. It was as if the Blair campaign had simply taken the best of Conservative policies and got itself elected on the principle that they would produce better government using the same ideology. The Labour Party was effectively dead and a Government Party created. Here was the beginning of the end of the effective party political system in Britain.

This too was the year (1997) that Mother Teresa of Calcutta died and that Diana, Princess of Wales was killed.

In November, the Queen and Prince Philip celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

If the institution of government trembled in 1997, that in the capital of Britain's greatest ally, the USA, shuddered continuously throughout 1998. This was the year that, Bill Clinton, the President of the United States was impeached over the Lewinsky affair.

The international consequences of the President's distraction was felt in Kosovo where a workable peace plan for that area of the former Yugoslavia was neglected in Washington. The Paris Conference designed to bring all sides together and particularly President Milosevic to heel, failed and the bombing campaign of 1999 became inevitable.

The peace process in Northern Ireland went further than before during the 30 years of the present "Troubles". The so-called Good Friday Agreement opened the way for a Northern Ireland Assembly that would included the Nationalist Sinn Fein. The conditions for the formation of an Executive for that Assembly were immediately controversial. The Unionists argued for the rest of 1998 that no Assembly could properly start work until the IRA began decommissioning - a euphemism for giving up its weapons.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Tony Blair (born 1953)

  • Although the Labour MP for Sedgefield, Tony Blair's background is Scottish.
  • He was educated at the Edinburgh public school, Fettes College, before going up to Oxford.
  • In 1980 he married a lawyer, Cherie Booth, the daughter of an actor.
  • As a lawyer, Blair specialised in trades union and industrial affairs.
  • In opposition he became the Labour spokesman for Treasury questions and then Trade, Energy, Employment and Home affairs until he was elected leader of the Party on the death of John Smith in 1994.
  • He became Prime Minister in 1997 and is credited with modernising the Party following the work started by Neil Kinnock and continued by John Smith.

did you know?
The Queen and Prince Philip celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
The marriages of their three wedded children (Prince Charles, the Princess Royal and the Duke of York) had each ended in divorce.


Obituaries

1997
Mother Teresa
Diana, Princess of Wales
Dr Hastings Banda
1998
Ted Hughes
Archbishop Trevor Huddleston
Frank Muir
Enoch Powell
Roy Rogers
Frank Sinatra
Sir Michael Tippett
Dr Benjamin Spock
Select historical period
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Chronology
1981 Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer
Ronald Reagan President of the USA
1982 Britain wins the Falklands War
1983 Margaret Thatcher wins landslide victory
1984 Indira Gandhi of India assassinated
Death of poet, John Betjeman
1985Mikhail Gorbachev succeeds Chernenko as Soviet leader
1986 Elizabeth II first British monarch to visit China
1987 Worst storm of the century rages over Great Britain
1988 George Bush wins US Presidential election
Bruges speech
1989Tiananmen Square massacre
1990 Tories oust Margaret Thatcher
John Major new leader
Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
1991 The Second Gulf War
1998 President Clinton is impeached
Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland
1999 Kosovo War
Good Friday agreement fails to meet mid-year deadlines for establish Assembly executive
Scottish Parliament opens
Welsh Assembly opens
August Eclipse of the Sun


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