Twenty years ago Manchester was in steep decline, its political bosses mortgaging off council assets to save the city from going bust. Today, billions of pounds in private investment in residential, commercial and retail development is pouring into Manchester and new skyscrapers stand as symbols of success. In the middle of those two decades, ten years ago on 15th June, 1996, the IRA detonated the biggest terrorist bomb ever exploded on the British mainland, devastating a third of Manchester city centre. The part played by the bombers in triggering Manchester's remarkable renaissance remains controversial and is explored in this book whose publication will mark the 10th anniversary of the blast. Author Ray King, a journalist in Manchester for over 30 years, recounts the events of that unforgettable day and probes the failure to bring the bombers to justice and explains how, remarkably, the city was able to turn catastrophe into opportunity. In the mid-1980s, Manchester had teetered on the brink of following Liverpool by refusing to set a budget.
But what the city's leaders saw on Merseyside "scared them to death" and instead they performed a dramatic political somersault and decided to do business with Margaret Thatcher's ministers and the private sector. The city's recovery provided the ultimate test for the new policy of partnership which was forged during Manchester's two Olympic bids and led to the successful delivery of the Commonwealth Games in 2002 - just six years after the city was devastated. Ray King, political correspondent, columnist and leader writer for the Manchester Evening News throughout the period, argues that the events in Manchester saw the real birth of New Labour. The book reveals how: UXB soldiers came within one second of defusing the bomb; the dramatic escape of 80,000 people from devastating blast was dubbed the Miracle of Manchester; compelling evidence against the bombers failed to result in arrests; a simple sketch on a scrap of paper became the Masterplan for rebuilding the city; hard left Labour politicians - secretly at first - collaborated with leading capitalists and Tory ministers in pursuit of Olympic gold...and created New Labour; the real reason for staging the Commonwealth Games had little to do with sport; and the national scandal over the new Wembley stadium began with a blatant double-cross in Manchester.