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Margaret Thatcher signature. Catalogue ref: PREM 16/2081

30 December

Today sees the release of government records from 1979, including Cabinet minutes and memoranda and files from the Prime Minister's Office (PREM 16 and PREM 19 series), the highlights of which are now online.

1979 was an eventful year in post-war British political history. Following a vote of 'no confidence' in the government, a general election was called, which saw the end of James Callaghan's Labour government and hailed the first British female prime minister, as Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government was sworn in.

The files give insights into Jim Callaghan's mood as strikes mounted during the 'winter of discontent'; Margaret Thatcher's forthright approach to reducing the size of the Civil Service (and the difficulties this policy ran into); and Britain's relationship with Iran  - including the issue of the Shah's search for refuge. To discover more about the context of the files, see a selection of the newly released files, as well as lists of the British Cabinet under James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher, and news events in 1979, or listen to our podcast, New files from 1979 (MP3, 7.5Mb).