The list of files from the Conservative Party Archive at the Bodleian Library which will be declassified on 1st January, 2014 under the ’30-year rule’ is now available, here.
274 files have been opened up for research, encompassing all files deposited under general access restrictions whose end-date is 31st December, 1983 or earlier that year.
Being an election year, many of these files from 1983 are naturally devoted to the 1983 General Election preparations. More are preoccupied with the major policy review undertaken by the Conservative Party as it neared the end of Thatcher’s second Government, the focus of these policy groups indicating the priorities for inclusion in the next election manifesto: Promotion of Enterprise; Inner Cities; Transport; Europe; Law and Order; Tax and Social Security; Education; Employment Policy; Family; and Nationalised Industries.
Papers from the Party’s International Office provide an insight into the formation of the International Democrat Union (IDU) – the alliance of centre-Right Conservative and Christian Democrat political parties – in London in 1983. The Conservative Party was a founding member of the IDU, which provided an international dimension to the European Democrat Union which was founded in 1978. Similarly, papers are now available on the Conservative Party’s bilateral relations with other centre-Right parties, notably in France, West Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Canada and the United States.
As with previous years’ releases, the sheer bulk of the papers now available originate with the extensive research undertaken by the Conservative Research Department. The original letter books of CRD Desk Officers and Subject Specialists which are now released, cover the policy areas of Agriculture, Defence, Economic Policy, the Environment, Europe, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Health, Trade & Industry, and Transport. The numerous and detailed briefs prepared by the Research Department for Conservative MPs prior to parliamentary debates provide evidence of the Conservative Party’s approach to the whole range of parliamentary business during this period.
Together these papers form the essential core material for anyone studying the early Thatcher years. Anyone interested in consulting these papers may do so by contacting the Archivist.
Mrs Thatcher’s New Year message, published in the January 1983 edition of Conservative Newsline [Shelfmark: PUB 124/4]
‘Notes on Disarmament and East/West Relations’ by Robin Turner, the Conservative Research Department Desk Officer for Defence and Foreign Affairs, 15th November, 1983. In 1983 the Cold War was at its height and saw not only US Cruise missiles being sited in the UK for the first time, but discussions over replacement of the UK’s Polaris nuclear deterrent by Trident. [Shelfmark: CRD/L/4/56/16]