What is Thatcherism
Thatcherism is an ideological agenda that was associated with the ideas and values of Margaret Thatcher inluding:
- Policies of her govt between 1979-1990.
- marrying two disctint traditions:
- Neoliberalism: This focuses on the free market and the self reliance on the individual.
- Neoconservatism which is a form of authoritarian conservatism which calls for a restoration of order, authority and discipline in society.(also known as Social Thatcherism).
- Getting rid of trade unions.
- To be able to compete with each other.
Start of Thatcherism
When the 'long boom' of the 1950s and 1960s ended, the post-1945 social democratic consensus broke down in the 1970s. This resulted economic problems:
- Unemployment rose and prises increased (stagflation).
This bought about Thatcherism by Thatcher in 1979-1990:
- Known as the New right.
- Most important political shift since 1945.
- Key principle was to 'roll back the state' where the govt will be less influential.
- Unregulated capitalism would lead to growth, removing the 'dead hand' of the state.
- To defeat the 'nanny state' which created welfare dependency.
Key features of Thatcherism
The key features of Thatcherism include:
- Many major industries, such as telecomes, gas, electricity etc were privatised and the state lost control of these.
- This would create profits, lower taxes, create competition.
- Reduced union power:
- Laws were introduced restricting the ability of unions to take industrial action.
- The minors went on a year long strike in 1984 but were defeated.
- This created a more flexible labour market and led to the growth of low wage and low skill economy.
- Low taxes:
- Brought about a broader shift from direct taxes to indirect taxes (VAT).
- where restrictions and controls on the economy were removed and the free market was able to flourish.
'There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women, and there are families.' quote by Thatcher which means that individuals should work hard and look after themselves, not depending on the welfare state.
The policies of Social Thatcherism include:
- Tough law and order:
- This has a greater emphasis on maintaining public orders through fear of punishment.
- Traditional Values:
- Thatcherists were traditional, Christian or defended family values.
- Liberal values were their enemy.
- National patriotism:
- Had a stress on stregnthening national identity, seen as one of the cornerstones of political strength and social stability.
- This became Euroscepticism which opposes the process of European integration based on the defences of national sovereignty and national identity. (they aren't necessary anti-European).
Ideas associated with Thatcher
The ideas associated with the New Right (Thatcher) policies:
- The UK to consider withdrawing from the EU.
- Most services should be privatised.
- Taxes, especially direct taxes, should be reduced.
- Social security benefits are too generous and are a disincentive to work and enterprise.
- Immigration should be reduced.
- The debt crisis should be met by reductions in both public expenditure and taxation.
- The promotion of industry and economic growth should not be jeopardised by environmental policies.
- Overseas aid should be reduced in the interests of the domestic economy.