To what extent has the Conservative Party abandoned Thatcherism? (25 marks)


Margaret Thatcher represented traditional Conservatism during her three terms as Prime Minister between 1979 and 1990. However, the Conservatives’ did not get back into power until 2005 with David Cameron, then in 2016, Theresa May became the new leader of the Conservative Party (and Prime Minister). Both of these Prime Ministers have different ideas, and some that both agree and disagree with Margaret Thatcher and Thatcherism. In comparison to 2016, Thatcherism has been abandoned and replaced with policies and legislation such as same-sex marriages alongside changes within the crime sector. Ideas that haven’t been disregarded by David Cameron or Theresa May include cuts to taxes and government spending, euro-scepticism and privatisation. Overall Thatcherism has been abandoned within the Conservative Party to some extent.

Margaret Thatcher was pro-privatisation, and did so to industries such as oil, coal and gas, alongside the privatisation of British Telecoms, British Gas, British Steel and British Airways (which has now proved to be a success) which led to a total of £60 billion for the sale of national assets. This is an economic policy that David Cameron adopted as it led to Royal Mail being privatised in 2013; this represents how Thatcherism has not been abandoned due to some policies still being implemented. From this, attitudes towards private ownership of public services changed from the right to centre ground within the UK political system. However, Thatcher privatising the steel industry caused millions of people to lose their jobs, as private companies try to increase profits and keep costs to a low. This was seen as radical, more so than the modern day Conservative Party. The scale of which the privatisation is progressing in 2016, is on a much smaller scale than during Thatcher’s rule and depicts that the Conservative Party are slowly drifting away from this Thatcherism policy; yet were still using privatisation in 2013, representing that the Conservative Party has not fully abandoned Thatcherism.

Another point representing that the Conservative party has adopted Thatcherism is with euro-scepticism. When Thatcher’s premiership began, Britain had been a member of the European Union for 6 years, from 1973. Thatcher however was against joining the EU and was sceptical with the membership. In 2002, Thatcher wrote a book called ‘Statecraft’ where she expressed views about the Euro being used to unite represent a ‘super state’ that she predicted would fail ‘economically, politically and socially’ being a false sense of security to bond Europe. She wanted a renegotiation with the EU over things such as defence, agriculture and foreign policies as she believed that most problems had come from mainland Europe. Thatcher’s strong anti-EU idea was not adopted by David Cameron, as due to the EU referendum in 2016, he was pro-Remain and fought strongly over it. However, Theresa May represents a more Thatcherist view as she is determined to pass Article 50 quickly and lead the way for Britain to exit the EU, as she said in a speech “Brexit means Brexit”. Although the scepticism of the EU was


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