Key events of 1988


3 – Margaret Thatcher becomes the longest serving British prime minister this century, having been in power for eight years and 244 days

4 – Sir Robin Butler replaces Sir Robert Armstrong as Cabinet Secretary, on the same day that Margaret Thatcher makes her first state visit to Africa

7 – Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock calls for a further £1.3 billion to made available for the National Health Service

9 – One of the worst incidents of football hooliganism this season sees 41 suspected hooligans arrested at the FA Cup third round tie between Arsenal and Millwall

22 – Colin Pitchfork is sentenced to life imprisonment after admitting the rape and murder of two girls in Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986, the first conviction for murder in the UK based on DNA fingerprinting evidence

24 – Arthur Scargill is re-elected as leader of the National Union of Mineworkers

28 – The Birmingham Six lose an appeal against their convictions


3 – Nurses throughout the UK strike for higher pay and more cash for the National Health Service

4 – Nearly 7,000 ferry workers go on strike in Britain, paralysing the nation’s seaports

5 – The first BBC Red Nose Day raises £15 million for charity

16 – Thousands of nurses and co-workers form picket lines outside British hospitals as they go on strike in protest against what they see as inadequate NHS funding


6 – Operation Flavius: A Special Air Service team of the British Army shoots dead three unarmed members of a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) Active Service Unit in Gibraltar

7 – Margaret Thatcher announces a £3 billion regeneration scheme to improve a series of inner city areas by the year 2000

16 – Milltown Cemetery attack: Three men are killed and 70 are wounded in a gun and grenade attack by loyalist paramilitary Michael Stone on mourners at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast during the funerals of the three IRA members killed in Gibraltar

19 – Corporals killings in Belfast: British Army corporals Woods and Howes are abducted, beaten and shot dead by Irish republicans after driving into the funeral cortege of IRA members killed in the Milltown Cemetery attack


21 – The Government announces that nurses will receive a 15% pay rise, at a cost of £794 million which will be funded by the Treasury


The first 16-year-olds sit General Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, replacing both the O-level and CSE

2 – Three off-duty British servicemen are killed in The Netherlands by the IRA

24 – Local Government Act becomes law. The controversial Section 28 prevents local authorities from “promoting homosexuality”


2 – US President Ronald Reagan makes a visit to Britain

11 – Some 80,000 people attend a concert at Wembley Stadium in honour of Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid campaigner who turned 70 on that day and has been in prison since 1964

15 – Five British soldiers are killed by the IRA in Lisburn

16 – More than 100 English football fans are arrested in West Germany in connection with incidents of football hooliganism during the European Championships


28 – Paddy Ashdown an ex-Royal Marine commando is elected leader of the Social Democrats and Liberal Democrats


1 – A British Army soldier is killed by IRA terrorists at Inglis Barracks in North London


30 – A Gibraltar jury decides that the 3 IRA members killed on 6 March were killed “lawfully”


12 – As Pope John Paul II addresses the European Parliament, Ian Paisley heckles and denounces him as the Antichrist

13 – The House of Lords rules that extracts of the banned book Spycatcher can be published in the media

27 – Three IRA supporters are found guilty of conspiracy to murder in connection with a plot to kill Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Tom King


4 – Margaret Thatcher presses for freedom for the people of Poland on her visit to Gdańsk

9 – The Government unveils plans for a new identity card scheme in an attempt to clamp down on football hooliganism

30 – A government report reveals that up to 50,000 people in Britain may be HIV positive, and that by the end of 1992 up to 17,000 people may have died from AIDS


3 – Health minister Edwina Currie provokes outrage by stating that most of Britain’s egg production is infected with the salmonella bacteria, causing an immediate nationwide fall in egg sales

12 – 35 people are killed in a collision between three trains at Clapham in London

16 – Edwina Currie resigns as Health minister

21 – Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway killing a total of 270 people – 11 on the ground and all 259 who were on board. It is believed that the cause of the explosion was a terrorist bomb