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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.
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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.
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Key features of Thatcherism

The key features of Thatcherism include:

  • Privatisation:
    • 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).
  • Deregulation:
    • 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.

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Social Thatcherism

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).
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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.
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