‘Thatcherism has fundamentally altered conservative ideology in Britain.’ Discuss. (30 marks)

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  • Created on: 01-01-15 17:25
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  • ‘Thatcherism has fundamentally altered conservative ideology in Britain.’ Discuss. (30 marks)
    • ‘what are core, traditional beliefs and values?’
      • Conservatism desires to conserve
        • it seeks to defend existing social and political order and traditional institutions
        • It is very suspicious of abstract principles
        • Instead it prefers to place faith in traditional experience and history
        • It reveals a strong belief in social duty
        • It is prepared to support pragmatic intervention
        • It supports what has been termed ‘middle-way’ economics
          • in the 1950s and 1960s most British Conservatives accepted Keynesian demand management
            • a mixed economy and even some economic planning
    • These positions need to be compared with/ contrasted to the essential features of Thatcherism, namely neo-liberalism rather than the beliefs and values associated with One-Nation conservatism.
      • These include:
        • The acceptance of ideological blueprints, basically the ideas championed by the NewRight.
        • A radical rather than conservative approach to change
        • A rejection of the idea of organic communities and societies in favour of ruggedindividualism and personal advancement
          • Thatcher’s claim that ‘There is no such thingas society’, …etc.
        • The desire to create a more limited state (rolling back the frontiers of the state)
        • A rebuttal of Keynesian economics
          • in favour of free-market, supply-side economics soas to create a thriving enterprise culture
        • Looking to individuals to solve economic and social problems
          • attacking the ‘dependency culture’ created and perpetuated by the welfare state
    • The real discriminator in this question is the idea of fundamental transformation
      • comparative evaluation of the extent to which conservative values have actually been transformed by Thatcherism
        • Conservative thinking since Thatcher left office in 1990 through to Cameron becoming leader
          • continued resistance to over-governing and excessive regulation remains a salient feature in contemporary Conservative thinking
          • continued opposition to high personal and corporate taxation
          • social disorder is still largely seen by most Conservatives as a consequence oflimited individual responsibility
            • rather than a product of poverty and social dislocation
            • As seen with the response to the riots 2011
          • Euroscepticism also continues to characterise contemporary Conservative thinking regarding the EU
    • In many ways Cameron has moved mainstream Conservative thinking back to the centre of the political spectrum
      • using languagewhich would appear to have more in common with traditional One-Nation Conservatism
        • than itdoes with the New Right and radical neo-liberalism
      • Thus, there now appears to exist anacceptance on the part of many Conservatives of the view that laissez-faire policies havecontributed to the economic crisis of recent years and to a ‘Broken Britain’ characterised byalienation and anomie
      • Cameron has argued for a more compassionate and inclusive form of Conservatism accepting that ‘…there is such a thing as society’
        • some regulation is indeed required in the economic sphere, particularly with regard to the banking sector


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