Historical lapels: 1980s politics edition

My 1980s British badge collection has been continuing to grow. Recent acquisitions include a number of general political badges from a single collection in Northamptonshire. These appear to be from between the 1983 election and 1986 – “Save Jobs: Sack the Tories,” “I didn’t vote Tory”, and a “save the GLC” badge. Possibly these could be from slightly later, perhaps after the GLC was abolished by Thatcher in 1986. The phrasing “keep the GLC working” leads me to think this is from the period after the 1983 Thatcher government White Paper “Streamlining the Cities” which proposed abolishing the Greater London Council and Metropolitan County Councils, ostensibly in the name of efficiency, though these governments had posed significant political opposition to the Thatcher government. The badge may even date from after the 1985 Local Government Act which formalised the GLC’s dissolution. In short it’s not surprising that the owner of the GLC badge would also own these anti-Tory badges. The presence of a CND campaign badge in this collection isn’t surprising given the way in which both Thatcher and Reagan were posturing regarding nuclear weapons during this period.

I unfortunately don’t know what British political campaign this badge relates to, but it is very intriguing. It reads “Defend Socialism at Birth,” and the graphic shows white arrows pointing out of South Africa into Angola and Mozambique, which are coloured red. I need to look further into what specific movements or events this is representing as my Angolan civil war history reading has not been detailed unfortunately. What’s also fascinating though is the presence of this badge in an “archive” of political badges in Northamptonshire in the 1980s – who was selling these badges, and if they were raising funds as well as raising awareness, are also interesting questions this one raises.

This handful of badges bought from their Northamptonshire owner reflects an interest in both local and global political concerns, which could sit alongside each other on the same lapel. I’m looking forward to purchasing more badges from this period and finding more parallels and interests to trace.

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