On the roof of County Hall, the GLC's offices across the river from Parliament, a massive banner proclaimed the daily count of London's jobless. Red Ken's direct challenge to the government didn't end with annoying MPs using the terraces; a series of refusals, obstructions and challenges led the government in a fit of pique to abolish it - and didn't they wish they could have abolished every large metropolitan council in the country. This was the era when a new rainbow alliance of lesbians, greens, socialist workers, radical feminists and academic Marxists had displaced old Labour from the town halls; the archetypal Labour councillors - male, middle aged, white, ex-manual workers, proud to wear a suit, and who called the cleaners 'love' and 'petal' without thought - had been ousted.
In place of men who had done their national service we had Greenham Wimmin who promptly declared their municipalities nuclear-free zones, a Chief Executive who used 'sexist body language' was dismissed, and flying tribunals to root out sexism and racism swept the country. In the People's Republic of South Yorkshire attempts to eradicate 'love' 'flower' and 'pet' from the language met an unexpected reactionary pushback - from the Yorkshire miners, who could no more stop using these terms to their canteen ladies than they could understand their own inevitable demise.
In the face of this municipal anarchy, Thatcher centralised with single-minded ruthlessness. She took from local councils whole rafts of powers and competencies they had enjoyed for generations and instituted Direct Rule from Whitehall. It may be that she had little choice. But the effect was to mortally wound her own party; over a million members of the Conservative party walked away between 1979 and 1997, many because they had, at local level, been disempowered. Local government, in the form in which had previously existed, ceased to be. Councils became what they are now - branch offices of Whitehall departments, taking instructions predominantly from Brussels and Westminster rather than from their own aldermen, portmen and burgesses in Council assembled.