THE UK inflation rate has surged to a level not seen since 1982, new figures revealed last week.

But that’s not the only reminder of four decades ago. Once again there’s a divisive Tory Prime Minister in Downing Street. There are nationwide strikes led by a group of workers taking on the Government. There’s even the return of popular films and music from the past.

Here we look at how 2022 feels like going back to the 80s – and some of the differences between then and now.

Inflation nation

TODAY’S cost of living crisis shows no sign of easing, with inflation hitting a fresh 40-year high of 9.1% in May, according to last week’s figures.

The Bank of England has also warned it expected it to rise further past 11% in October, driven by the energy price cap lifting again.

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It was back in March 1982 that inflation last hit 9.1% – but that was nothing compared to the 1970s, when there was a peak of more than 25%, driven by a massive hike in oil prices.

One of Margaret Thatcher’s (below) first goals after entering government in 1979 was to tackle inflation, with the introduction of sky-high interest rates of 17% and tough public spending curbs.

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While this did have the intended effect, it also triggered a recession which lasted all of 1980 and early 1981.

By 1983, this along with de-industrialisation, led to the UK jobless figures topping more than three million. Rates of unemployment reached 15% in much of Scotland.

The picture in 2022 is somewhat different. Currently the interest base rate is 1.25%. Latest figures show there were around 1.3 million unemployed people in the UK and Scotland’s unemployment rate is 3.2%.

However, economists have warned it is increasingly likely the UK will sink into recession this year.

A return to the picket lines

A NO holds-barred group of workers determined to take on the Government. The Prime Minister facing a formidable opponent in the form of a union leader.

Sound familiar? Today it’s RMT boss Mick Lynch (below) leading rail strikes across the country.

The National: Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.during a protest by members of Unison and  the general public in a TUC national demonstration in central London to demand action on the cost of living, a new deal for working

In the 1980s, it was Arthur Scargill leading the miners against Thatcher in one of the most bitter and divisive industrial disputes in living memory. Now 84, he made headlines again last week as he joined rail workers on the picket line.

Lynch has drawn comparisons with Scargill, and been similarly berated by opponents.

Today’s rail strikes have also been likened to the beginnings of the “winter of discontent” in the 1970s, when there were widespread strikes by private and public sector trade unions over pay.

It has been reported Prime Minister Boris Johnson is prepared for the stand-off with the rail unions to last for months.

Other public sector workers such as teachers, postal and council staff are also gearing up for the possibility of taking industrial action. The 1980s also saw a series of national teaching strikes over long-running pay battles.

Lynch has won praise and a cult following for his masterly media performances justifying his members claims on pay and conditions.

Whether he succeeds where Scargill failed in winning his battle with the Tory government remains to be seen.

Divisive Tory prime ministers

IN the early 1980s, Thatcher was at the beginning of her 11 years of premiership.

She won a total of three elections, securing a majority of 43 in 1979, 144 in 1983 and 102 in 1987.

But she was a highly divisive figure and went through considerable periods of unpopularity – a familiar issue for Johnson.

In 1989, Thatcher faced a challenge from a little-known MP Sir Anthony Meyer (below), who took advantage of previous rules in the Tory party which allowed leadership elections once a year.

The National: Conservative backbencher Sir Anthony Meyer, who challenged Margaret Thatcher for the party leadership, in Westminster, lost his Leadership battle..

He wanted to test the level of opposition to the prime minister within the party – and she received the backing of 84% of MPs.

But feelings of disquiet grew and she faced another challenge a year later – in which she failed to secure a majority, ultimately leading to her resignation.

In the 2019 General Election, Johnson won a landslide majority of 80 seats – the Conservatives’ biggest majority at Westminster since Thatcher’s 1987 election victory.

While he survived a no-confidence vote earlier this month, 41%, had no confidence in his leadership – on a par with Thatcher’s grisly rating in the 1990 leadership contest.

After two crushing by-election defeats last week, Johnson remains under pressure, with talk of another no-confidence vote.

The ‘iron lung’ disease resurfaces

ONE unexpected and entirely unwelcome echo of the 1980s came last week with the news an outbreak of polio had been detected.

The virus was officially eradicated in the UK in 2003 and the last outbreak was in 1984.

But the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) raised the alarm after detecting polio in sewage samples collected from a treatment works which serves around four million people in north and east London.

While it is normal for the virus to be picked up as isolated cases and not detected again, experts found several genetically linked viruses in samples between February and May.

The UKHSA is working on the theory that a person vaccinated abroad with the polio vaccine – possibly in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Nigeria – entered the UK early in 2022 and was shedding the virus.

That person has now passed it on to other closely linked individuals in north-east London, who in turn are shedding the virus into their faeces.

Polio can cause paralysis and be life-threatening in some people – while others escape with flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all.

At its peak in the 1940s, around 7000 people were paralysed by the virus each year in Britain, mainly children under five.

Cumbersome life support machines known as “iron lungs” were used to help polio patients breathe.

Icons of screen and song return

WHEN it comes to harking back to the 80s, the biggest film of 2022 to date is a remake of a box office hit of 1986.

Top Gun Maverick, the blockbuster action sequel in which Tom Cruise reprises the role of US pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell nearly four decades since the original Top Gun, had taken £50.1 million at the UK box office by mid-June.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson issues defence of his leadership after disastrous by-elections

The speed with which it roared up the chart means it could end up as one of the highest grossing films of recent years.

Another 80s hit has found new success after reaching a fresh audience, 37 years after it was released.

The National: EMBARGOED TO 1800 FRIDAY JUNE 17
Undated handout photo supplied by
Official Charts Company / showing Kate Bush as she becomes 3 x Official Charts Record Breaker as Running Up That Hill lands at number 1 on the Official Singles Chart.

Kate Bush’s (above) Running Up That Hill skyrocketed up the charts after it featured in episodes of the fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things.

It means the singer has broken the record for the longest time taken for a single to reach number one, with the track also reaching the number one spot in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland, and achieving a new peak in the US charts at number four.

It originally reached number three in the UK on its release and it charted again in 12th place in 2012.

Bush said: “It’s just extraordinary. I thought that the track would get some attention.

“I just never imagined that it would be anything like this. It’s so exciting. But it’s quite shocking really, isn’t it? I mean, the whole world’s gone mad.”