Key events of 1981
20 January - Iran
Iran releases 52 American hostages as Ronald Reagan is sworn in as US President. British government announces it will lift civil trade sanctions on Iran following the release of hostages.
5 February - Public sector pensions
Report published on the payment of inflation-proof pensions to public sector employees.
16 March - Leaks
Prime Minister announces that internal government inquiry had started to investigate 'leaks' to Sunday newspapers before the budget statement.
26 March - Politics
Social Democratic Party formed.
30 March - USA
Attempted assassination of US President Ronald Reagan outside a Washington, DC hotel.
3 April - Civil disorder
Over 80 people are injured in clashes between 300 'skinheads' and 400 asians in Southall.
10 April - Hunger strikes
Bobby Sands, an IRA member on hunger strike in the Maze prison, Northern Ireland, is elected MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone in a by-election.
11 April - Brixton riots
Over 300 people are injured and extensive damage is caused to property in Brixton riots.
23 April - Unemployment
Unemployment passes the 2.5 million mark.
5 May - Hunger strikes
Bobby Sands dies in Northern Ireland's Maze Prison after a 66-day hunger strike.
13 May - The Pope
Pope John Paul II is shot and nearly killed by a Turkish gunman in Vatican City.
21 May - France
François Mitterrand elected President of France.
16 June - Politics
Formation of the SDP-Liberal Alliance.
5 July - Toxteth riots
Toxteth riots break out in Liverpool.
17 July - Israel
Israeli aircraft bomb Beirut killing 300 civilians and resulting in global condemnation.
29 July - Royal wedding
The marriage of the Prince of Wales and the Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral.
3 October - Hunger strikes
Hunger strikes ends at Maze Prison after seven months and ten deaths.
6 October - Egypt
Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated.
10 October - IRA
Chelsea Barracks bombed by the Provisional IRA, killing two people.
12 October - British Leyland
British Leyland announces the closure of three factories - a move which will cost nearly 3,000 people their jobs.
14 October - Egypt
Vice President Hosni Mubarak is elected President of Egypt.
24 October- Nuclear policy
CND anti-nuclear march in London attracts over 250,000 people.
25 November - Brixton riots
Publication of report into the Brixton riots.
8 December - Mining
Arthur Scargill becomes leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).