The Week That Was March 29 - April 4 1981

LABOUR party officials in Bradford demanded the resignation of MP Edward Lyons this week in 1981, after he joined the ranks of those who had defected to the new Social Democratic Party.

Keith McBride, the new chairman of Bradford West Labour Party, said Mr Lyons needed to give the electorate their say in a by-election as soon as possible.

Mr McBride also urged others who were contemplating leaving the party “to get on with it”. He said the Labour Party’s internal wrangling over the previous year had weakened its ability to be an effect Parliamentary Opposition.

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Top class farmers were becoming top class conservationists, the chairman of the Royal Society For the Protection of Birds told its conference in York.

Derek Barber said there had been a change of mood in the countryside, and public concern was beginning to be felt by landowners and farmers.

He said farmers were realising unless they did something about conservation they might be forced to do so by an unsympathetic government. Preserving hedgerows and looking after woodland and ponds need add very little to the cost of farming, he said.

In other political news, the danger of racial conflict in Britain had been increased by Enoch Powell’s warning of civil war in our big cities, alleged Labour’s Roy Hattersley.

The shadow home secretary said Mr Powell had provided a spurious justification for “paranoid hooliganism” to attack ethnic minorities.

Mr Powell, a former Tory minister who was now Ulster Unionist MP for South Down, had just days before reiterated his view that at some point in the growth of the Commonwealth population of our big cities there would be “violence on a scale that could only be adequately described as civil war.”

Mr Hattersley told a meeting in Birmingham: “The increase in numbers of which Mr Powell speaks with such horror is not due to entry into this country but births within this country. They are families that are British – black British, but no less British for that.”

President Ronald Reagan was reported to be in a “stable and good” condition after a successful operation to remove a bullet lodged in his left lung, following an assassination attempt outside a Washington hotel. Three other people were critically injured in the attack.

The gunman, 22-year-old John Hinkley, a Yale University drop-out from Evergreen, Colorado, was overwhelmed by police agents after he pumped off several shots from a distance of around 10 feet. No motive was known for the attack.

White House press secretary James Brady, 40, was in a critical condition on life support after being shot in the head. Vice President George Bush flew into Washington from Texas to take over the reins of government.

More than 6,700 runners pounded their way around the capital to complete the first ever London Marathon this week.

The boom of a 25lb cannon sent them on their way, and participants aged from 15 to those in their 70s were cooled by drizzle as they plodded the route from Greenwich Park to Buckingham Palace.

The sporting spirit of the event was in evidence from the start, and American Dick Beardsley, 24, crossed the line hand-in-hand with Norwegian Inge Simonsen, 25, to take joint first place in two hours, 11 minutes, 48 seconds.

The first female athlete to complete the race was Briton Joyce Smith, in two hours, 29 minutes, 56 seconds.