conservative essay

·         ‘Thatcherism has fundamentally altered conservative ideology in Britain.’

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  • Created on: 04-06-14 17:21
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`Thatcherism has fundamentally altered conservative ideology in Britain.' (30marks)
Margret Thatcher took office in Britain in 1975-1990, largely influenced by US President Ronald Regan's style of
neo-classical liberalism, and much reliance on key philosophers such as Adam Smith and the long standing association
with Keith Joseph. Thatcher's ideology was defined manly through Laiseez-faire (let them act) economics; using many
free market policies such as privatisation of industry for example coal miners, attacking trade union power and an
emphasis upon the individual's responsibility to be self-reliant rather than the `dependency culture' upon the state.
Thatcherism as part of the new right was largely based upon liberal ideas of individualism rather than the traditional
value of an organic society. Libertarian and new right both believe that there is "no such thing as society only
individuals and their families" (quote from Thatcher) and the belief in negative freedom (the absence of external
restraints upon individual and freedom of choice). Thatcher therefore believed in Darwin's ideas of survival of the
fittest and of social Darwinism' Samuel smiles philosophy of self-help. Believing in minimal state intervention and low
taxation was the key to incentives individuals. Cameron has increased the tax free threshold from £10,000 to
£10,500 2014 as an incentive for those to work. Thatcher was a Eurosceptic, in 1980, she called for the UK's
contributions to the then EEC to be adjusted, warning that otherwise she would withhold VAT payments. "I want my
money back!" she exclaimed. This still holds true today as David Cameron has vetoed EU bailout scheme and
safeguard British Businesses. Both Cameron and Thatcher believed Brussels has too much power over the UK.
On the other hand there is evidence to suggest that contemporary conservatism still believe in One Nation Organic
society. Conservatives believe that that people are security seeking creatures that need a sense of rootedness
within a society that operates like a living entity, a collection of individuals working together. Disraeli supported a
One Nation Britain, where `noblesse oblige', the obligation of the rich to help the poor to create a fully functioning
society. This has been echoed in the 2010 Conservative Manifesto Cameron's `Big Society' encouraging active
neighbourhood groups and volunteering amongst the young. The recession party caused by deregulation of the
financial system proposed by supply side policies had created hardship and a `Broken Britain', it was a time for
hardworking people to come together as a society in the road to economic recovery.
Free market economics or monetarism introduced by Milton Friedman, using interest rates, inflation and quantitative
easing in order for economic growth. Thatcher believe in the non-accelerating rate of unemployment (NIRU),
highlighting the point that low inflation was at the opportunity cost of high unemployment. It has become consensus
in politics that low inflation is vital to maintain competitive UK goods abroad. Currently inflation stands at 1.7% as a
response from Cameron's austerity controls. The new right has always emphasised radicalism opposed to
conservatism, privatisation a supply side policy is an example of this, Thatcher privatised Coal and steel industry as
well as British Airways highlighting that it should be up market forces to allocate resources, Adam Smith's `invisible
hand' theory. Cameron in 2013 privatised Royal Mail, a controversial policy many say it was selling off the queen's
head'. Others have called it restored `rolling back the frontiers of the state'. It can be argued that this is not
ideological but pragmatic in the current economic climate.
However since Churchill's and Macmillan's pragmatic approach to keep the NHS and the use of Keynesian economics
as a use of middle way economics, post Thatcher there have been elements of the social approach today as part of
Cameron's Conservatism. In recent years the government has cut spending going against Keynes' theory however,
looking deeper at the budget spending on the NHS has been sustained, to improve both quality and efficiency of the
nationalised industry. Cameron has moved the party into the centre ground in order to compromise with the Liberal
Democrats and the left, `free school meals' is another example of protecting the less well-off and those stuck in the
poverty cycle.
To conclude after assessing the evidence that Thatcher has influenced Conservative ideology to a large extent;
mainly from the way the current government measures to reduce national debt and budget deficit. However to both
compromise with the progressive Liberals and doing what's popular with the electorate (electoral politics), the
Conservative Party has tried to rebrand itself from the `nasty party' to `compassionate conservatives, retaining
elements of One Nation conservatism.


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