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BBC News Vote 2001 Vote2001 | Audio Video 
Election Battles 1945-1997
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Feb
1974
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1983
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1983: Maggie's landslide
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Overview
Battlefield
Campaign
Personalities
Issues
Results
1983: Falklands antelope
HMS Antelope explodes during the Falklands war

Watch and listen 1983
The election results from BBC Radio News
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Kinnock on the Falklands Factor
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Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announcing the election date: "You'll have difficulty in keeping up with me"
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Party leaders on the campaign trail
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Mrs Thatcher speaks after her landslide victory
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Key events
1980 Foot succeeds Callaghan
1981 Labour splits, SDP formed
1981 Liberals and SDP form the Alliance
1982 Falklands war

Margaret Thatcherís first administration got off to a fairly shaky start. Her attempt to take the economy by the scruff of the neck and wage a crusade against inflation saw massive unemployment.

With more than three million on the dole the governmentís popularity plummeted.

If such voter anger was to continue the Conservatives looked like they would be continuing the by now familiar merry go round of Tory governments followed by Labour.

But luckily for the Conservatives Labour had troubles of its own - in spades. The adoption of the principled and high-minded Michael Foot as leader saw the party shift dramatically to the left in opposition.

Leading members of Labourís pro-European wing felt the party no longer had any place for them and in 1981 more than 20 MPs left Labour as Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, David Owen and Bill Rodgers set up the Social Democratic Party.

The SDP quickly got into bed with the Liberals, forming the Alliance. The extent to which the new party captured the public imagination was shown when some polls placed them ahead of not just the Tories but Labour as well.

But their support was to wane with the onset of the Falklands War in 1982.

Thatcherís success in re-taking the Falkland Islands after an invasion by Argentina was a very risky venture, but for the loss of 255 servicemen the islands were re-taken.

This bold, decisive move seemed to have been in step with the times, and the Tories now had a grip on power that would remain unshakeable for years.