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1987: Thatcher wins record third term

VIDEO : Cameras follow Thatcher on election night

Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has been celebrating her third general election win after beating Labour by 376 to 229 seats.

The victory makes her the first prime minister for more than 160 years to win three successive terms of office.

Mrs Thatcher said she was "raring to go" back to work, while defeated Labour leader Neil Kinnock vowed to fight "on and on" to secure victory at the next election.

The SDP Liberal Alliance again failed to become the second largest party and "break the mould" of British politics, and questions are now being asked about its future viability.

Basking in her achievement on the steps of Conservative Party headquarters, Mrs Thatcher said: "It is wonderful to be entrusted with the government of this great country once again.

"The greater the trust, the greater the duty upon us to be worthy of that trust, and we will indeed endeavour to serve the people of these islands in the future as we have in the past."

The new government is expected to take measures to privatise water and electricity industries and airport authorities. Local rates are to be replaced by a community charge, or 'poll tax'.

Mr Kinnock, who was widely believed to have led the better campaign, said the election result would lead to "an even greater abyss of division than that which we witnessed previously."

Insisting that Labour party morale was still high, he said: "Any feeling that we have of depression is outweighed by the feeling of enormous concern about what the consequences of the re-election of a Conservative government will mean".

David Steel, speaking of the Alliance's poor performance, said: "It is a setback, it's a disappointment, and I don't disguise that. But to write it off as a disaster would be very foolish".

In Context
Although the Tories won by a landslide, they would preside over a politically divided nation.

The party's domination of the south east contrasted with its failure in the north, in Wales, and particularly in Scotland, where its number of MPs was reduced to a new low of 10.

The election saw black candidates elected to the Commons for the first time in modern history.

Among those who failed to secure re-election were Enoch Powell, famously accused of stirring up racial hatred with his 'rivers of blood' speech on immigration in 1968, and Roy Jenkins, founding member of the SDP.

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