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Last Updated: Monday, 19 August, 2002, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
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Margaret Thatcher swept to power in 1979; in 1984 the cabinet survived the IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton; miners clashed with police during a bitter year-long strike; riots broke out in several cities, including at Tottenham in North London; the stock market suffered one of the biggest collapses in history; the IRA bombed a Remembrance Day service at Enniskillen, killing 11 people - including the daughter of a local businessman, Gordon Wilson; the deputy Prime Minister, Sir Geoffrey Howe, resigned; and three weeks later so did Mrs Thatcher.
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Britain dispatched a task force to recapture the Falkland Islands in 1982 after Argentina's invasion; there was controversy when a Royal Navy submarine sank the Argentine cruiser, General Belgrano; the destroyer HMS Sheffield was later hit by an Exocet missile; the Parachute Regiment captured Goose Green; days later the Argentine troops in Port Stanley surrendered.
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The 1980s were notable for a number of disasters in Britain. 55 people died when a British Airtours plane caught fire at Manchester airport; 187 were killed when the Herald of Free Enterprise capsized as it left Zeebrugge in 1987; the same year 30 people died when fire swept through Kings Cross underground station in London; the following year the Piper Alpha oil platform in the North Sea was destroyed by fire - 167 people died. 96 football fans were crushed to death at the Hillsborough stadium in 1989.
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A wave of political protest swept the communist world during the 1980s. The Chinese government crushed student protestors in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989; but within months the Berlin Wall had been breached; the communist government in Czechoslovakia fell; and the Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceaucescu, was forced from power and executed by firing squad. Months later the Soviet parliament approved Mikhail Gorbachev's plans for a multi-party democracy.
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