5. Defining moments of the Thatcher years | The Brighton bombing | 12 October 1984

“All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.”

At 2.54am on 12 October 1984, an IRA bomb ripped through the Grand Hotel in Brighton, site of the Conservative party conference, killing five people and injuring many more. Margaret Thatcher's narrow escape and defiant speech helped consolidate her reputation as the Iron Lady, revitalising support for her party.

Insisting that the conference begin on time, Thatcher declared it "an attempt to cripple Her Majesty's democratically elected government", but that "the fact that we are gathered here now . . . is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail".

The IRA's response was eerily prophetic of present-day violence in response to British foreign policy; it said that "Britain cannot occupy our country and torture our prisoners and shoot our people in their own streets and get away with it".

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