History - The Fall of Margaret Thatcher

These revision cards examine three key areas to determine what primarily led to Thatcher's downfall.

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Was it the Community Charge (Poll Tax)?

Rates = banded rates; depending on property worth.

  • Adam Smith Institute - think tank found it to be wasteful (the Rates). Unfair and based on wealth. 
  • Poll Tax might have knobbled many Labour run city-councils.
    • The Poll Tax might have been part of a political agenda to destroy opposition in Local Government.
  • Poll Tax was a flat rate of Local Gov't tax. Equal for all who were on the Electoral Roll - spreads solidarity, unites people.
  • Yet the Poll Tax was more expensive to implement than the Rates.
  • 200,000 people protested in Trafalgar Square in 1990. This protest involved the middle class too, albeit the protest was much more peaceful. 
  • This shows the alienation of the middle class Tory voter.
    • Lost 4 by-elections, grassroots rebellion.
  • Backbench MPs revolted - Adley/Heath/Heseltine. 
  • Catalyst for Heseltine to challenge Thatcher; signifies disloyalty.
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Was it differences over Europe?

Time frame: 1989-1990

  • CONTEXT: Changes in the direction of the European Community - Delors imposing pro-labour legislation in 1988. 
  • THATCHER'S RESPONSE: Famous Bruges Speech, saying that she had not rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them reimposed by a Brussels superstate.
  • Once a common trade agreement that would enable free trade was becoming increasingly federal.
  • Becoming increasingly aggressive towards Europe. This marks a change in Tory ideal of which Macmillan and Heath fought for: Britain's better off in Europe. 
  • This change also divided the party - most of the Cabinet were pro-Europe - Heseltine especially.
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Was it Thatcher's style?

  • Refusal to allow certain Cabinet discussions - Heseltine resigned over Westlands. 
  • Two other resignations were more serious: Howe and Lawson resigned over disagreements with Thatcher. 
    • Offended by the PM's preference for the advice of private advisers rather than appointed officials. 
      • Alternative sources of information and advice made Downing Street function like a court. 
      • Thatcher was becoming increasingly more presidential.
    • Loyal press secretary Bernard Ingham handled the media; allegedly undermined Cabinet Colleagues who had fallen out of favour with Thatcher.
  • Historian Peter Hennessy states that she; "failed to combine the decisiveness of a chief executive with the ability to win support over a group of colleagues"
  • Thatcher favoured 'pressure cooker government' - periodic resignations (forced) to release the pressure. 
    • She was entering an autocratic phase of Government. With Willie Whitelaw gone over health issues, she became more reliant on private advisers.
    • A new breed of career politician was emerging. 
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Paul Yearley


Excellent Material!

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