Thatcherism describes the conviction politics
Conviction politics
Conviction politics refers to the practice of campaigning based on a politicians' own fundamental values or ideas, rather than attempting to represent an existing consensus or simply take positions that are popular in polls....

, economic and social policy, and political style of the British Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 politician Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

, who was leader of her party from 1975 to 1990. It has also been used by some to describe the ideology and wider political culture of the British government while Thatcher was Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 between May 1979
United Kingdom general election, 1979
The United Kingdom general election of 1979 was held on 3 May 1979 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons. The Conservative Party, led by Margaret Thatcher ousted the incumbent Labour government of James Callaghan with a parliamentary majority of 43 seats...

 and November 1990
Conservative Party (UK) leadership election, 1990
The 1990 Conservative Party leadership election in the United Kingdom took place in November 1990 following the decision of former Defence and Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine to stand against the incumbent Conservative leader and Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.Thatcher failed to win...

, and beyond into the governments of John Major
John Major
Sir John Major, is a British Conservative politician, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990–1997...

, Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

 and David Cameron
David Cameron
David William Donald Cameron is the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Leader of the Conservative Party. Cameron represents Witney as its Member of Parliament ....



Thatcherism claims to promote low inflation, the small state and free markets through tight control of the money supply
Monetarism is a tendency in economic thought that emphasizes the role of governments in controlling the amount of money in circulation. It is the view within monetary economics that variation in the money supply has major influences on national output in the short run and the price level over...

, privatisation and constraints on the labour movement. It is often compared with Reaganomics
Reaganomics refers to the economic policies promoted by the U.S. President Ronald Reagan during the 1980s, also known as supply-side economics and called trickle-down economics, particularly by critics...

 in the United States, Rogernomics
The term Rogernomics, a portmanteau of "Roger" and "economics", was coined by journalists at the New Zealand Listener by analogy with Reaganomics to describe the economic policies followed by Roger Douglas after his appointment in 1984 as Minister of Finance in the Fourth Labour Government...

 in New Zealand and Economic Rationalism
Economic rationalism
Economic rationalism is an Australian term in discussion of microeconomic policy, applicable to the economic policy of many governments around the world, in particular during the 1980s and 1990s....

 in Australia as a key part of the worldwide neoliberal movement. Nigel Lawson
Nigel Lawson
Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby, PC , is a British Conservative politician and journalist. He was a Member of Parliament representing the constituency of Blaby from 1974–92, and served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the government of Margaret Thatcher from June 1983 to October 1989...

, Thatcher's Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. Often simply called the Chancellor, the office-holder controls HM Treasury and plays a role akin to the posts of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the...

 from 1983 to 1989, listed the Thatcherite ideals as:
Thatcherism is thus often compared to classical liberalism
Classical liberalism
Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets....

. Milton Friedman claimed that "the thing that people do not recognise is that Margaret Thatcher is not in terms of belief a Tory
Toryism is a traditionalist and conservative political philosophy which grew out of the Cavalier faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It is a prominent ideology in the politics of the United Kingdom, but also features in parts of The Commonwealth, particularly in Canada...

. She is a nineteenth-century Liberal." Thatcher herself stated in 1983: "I would not mind betting that if Mr Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 were alive today he would apply to join the Conservative Party". In the 1996 Keith Joseph memorial lecture Mrs. Thatcher argued that "The kind of Conservatism which he and I...favoured would be best described as ‘liberal’, in the old-fashioned sense. And I mean the liberalism of Mr. Gladstone, not of the latter day collectivists". Thatcher once told Friedrich Hayek
Friedrich Hayek
Friedrich August Hayek CH , born in Austria-Hungary as Friedrich August von Hayek, was an economist and philosopher best known for his defense of classical liberalism and free-market capitalism against socialist and collectivist thought...

: "I know you want me to become a Whig; no, I am a Tory". Hayek believed "she has felt this very clearly".

But the relationship between Thatcherism and liberalism is complicated. Thatcher's former Defence Secretary John Nott
John Nott
Sir John William Frederic Nott KCB is a former British Conservative Party politician prominent in the late 1970s and early 1980s...

 claimed that "it is a complete misreading of her beliefs to depict her as a nineteenth-century Liberal". As Ellen Meiksins Wood has argued, Thatcherite capitalism was compatible with old-fashioned conservative political institutions. As Prime Minister, Thatcher challenged, not ancient bodies like the monarchy and the House of Lords, but some of the most recent additions to British politics: the trade unions. Indeed, many leading Thatcherites, including Thatcher herself, went on to join the House of Lords: an honour which Gladstone, for instance, had declined.

Thinkers closely associated with Thatcherism include Keith Joseph
Keith Joseph
Keith St John Joseph, Baron Joseph, Bt, CH, PC , was a British barrister and politician. A member of the Conservative Party, he served in the Cabinet under three Prime Ministers , and is widely regarded to have been the "power behind the throne" in the creation of what came to be known as...

, Enoch Powell
Enoch Powell
John Enoch Powell, MBE was a British politician, classical scholar, poet, writer, and soldier. He served as a Conservative Party MP and Minister of Health . He attained most prominence in 1968, when he made the controversial Rivers of Blood speech in opposition to mass immigration from...

, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman was an American economist, statistician, academic, and author who taught at the University of Chicago for more than three decades...

. In an interview with Simon Heffer
Simon Heffer
Simon James Heffer is a British journalist, columnist and writer.-Education:Heffer was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.-Career:...

 in 1996 Thatcher stated that the two greatest influences on her as Conservative leader had been Joseph and Powell, "both of them very great men".

Thatcherism before Thatcher

A number of commentators have traced the origins of Thatcherism in post-war British politics. The late historian Ewen Green identified a strain of resentment to the inflation, taxation and the limited constraints on the labour movement associated with the so-called Buttskellite consensus in the decades before Thatcher herself came to prominence. Although the Conservative leadership accommodated itself to the Attlee
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

 government's post-war reforms, there was continuous right-wing opposition in the lower ranks of the party, in right-wing pressure groups like the Middle Class Alliance and the People's League for the Defence of Freedom, and later in think tanks like the Centre for Policy Studies
Centre for Policy Studies
The Centre for Policy Studies is a British right wing policy think tank whose goal is to promote coherent and practical public policy, to roll back the state, reform public services, support communities, and challenge threats to Britain’s independence...

. For example, in 1945
United Kingdom general election, 1945
The United Kingdom general election of 1945 was a general election held on 5 July 1945, with polls in some constituencies delayed until 12 July and in Nelson and Colne until 19 July, due to local wakes weeks. The results were counted and declared on 26 July, due in part to the time it took to...

 the Conservative Party Chairman Ralph Assheton
Ralph Assheton, 1st Baron Clitheroe
Ralph Assheton, 1st Baron Clitheroe PC was a British Conservative Party politician.He was Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe from 1934 to 1945, for the City of London from 1945 to 1950, and for Blackburn West from 1950 to 1955.In the wartime government under Winston Churchill, he was Minister of...

 had wanted 12,000 abridged copies of The Road to Serfdom
The Road to Serfdom
The Road to Serfdom is a book written by the Austrian-born economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek between 1940–1943, in which he "warned of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning," and in which he argues...

(a book by the anti-socialist economist Friedrich von Hayek later closely associated with Thatcherism), taking up one-and-a-half tons of the party's paper ration, distributed as election propaganda.


Thatcherism is often described as a libertarian
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

 ideology. Thatcher saw herself as creating a libertarian
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

 movement, rejecting traditional Toryism. Thatcherism is associated with libertarianism
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

 within the Conservative Party, albeit one of libertarian ends achieved by using strong and sometimes authoritarian leadership. Andrew Marr
Andrew Marr
Andrew William Stevenson Marr is a Scottish journalist and political commentator. He edited The Independent for two years until May 1998, and was political editor of BBC News from 2000 until 2005....

 has called libertarianism the 'dominant, if unofficial, characteristic of Thatcherism'. However, whereas some of her heirs, notably Michael Portillo
Michael Portillo
Michael Denzil Xavier Portillo is a British journalist, broadcaster, and former Conservative Party politician and Cabinet Minister...

 and Alan Duncan
Alan Duncan
Alan James Carter Duncan is a British Conservative Party politician. He is the Member of Parliament for Rutland and Melton, and a Minister of State in the Department for International Development....

, embraced this libertarianism, others in the Thatcherite movement, such as John Redwood
John Redwood
John Alan Redwood is a British Conservative Party politician and Member of Parliament for Wokingham. He was formerly Secretary of State for Wales in Prime Minister John Major's Cabinet and was an unsuccessful challenger for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 1995...

, became more populist
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...


However, some commentators have argued that Thatcherism should not be considered properly libertarian. Noting the tendency towards strong central government in matters concerning the trade unions and local authorities, Andrew Gamble
Andrew Gamble
Andrew Gamble FBA, AcSS, FRSA is a British author and academic. Since January 2007 he has been Professor of Politics at the University of Cambridge...

 summarised Thatcherism as 'the free economy and the strong state'. Simon Jenkins
Simon Jenkins
Sir Simon David Jenkins is a British newspaper columnist and author, and since November 2008 has been chairman of the National Trust. He currently writes columns for both The Guardian and London's Evening Standard, and was previously a commentator for The Times, which he edited from 1990 to 1992...

 accused the Thatcher government of carrying out a 'nationalisation' of Britain.

Thatcherite economics

Thatcherism is associated with the economic theory of monetarism
Monetarism is a tendency in economic thought that emphasizes the role of governments in controlling the amount of money in circulation. It is the view within monetary economics that variation in the money supply has major influences on national output in the short run and the price level over...

. In contrast to previous government policy, monetarism placed a priority on controlling inflation over controlling unemployment. According to monetarist theory, inflation is the result of there being too much money in the economy. Thus the government should control the money supply
Money supply
In economics, the money supply or money stock, is the total amount of money available in an economy at a specific time. There are several ways to define "money," but standard measures usually include currency in circulation and demand deposits .Money supply data are recorded and published, usually...

 to control inflation. However, by 1979 it was not only the Thatcherites who were arguing for stricter control of inflation. The Labour Chancellor Denis Healey
Denis Healey
Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey CH, MBE, PC is a British Labour politician, who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979.-Early life:...

 had already adopted some monetarist policies, such as reducing public spending and selling off the government's shares in BP
BP p.l.c. is a global oil and gas company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the third-largest energy company and fourth-largest company in the world measured by revenues and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors"...


Moreover, it has been argued that the Thatcherites themselves were not strictly monetarist in practice. A common theme centres on the Medium Term Financial Strategy. The Strategy, issued in the 1980 Budget, consisted of targets for reducing the growth of the money supply in the following years. After overshooting many of these targets, the Thatcher government revised the targets upwards in 1982. Analysts have interpreted this as an admission of defeat in the battle to control the money supply. The economist C. F. Pratten claimed:
Thatcherism is also associated with supply-side economics
Supply-side economics
Supply-side economics is a school of macroeconomic thought that argues that economic growth can be most effectively created by lowering barriers for people to produce goods and services, such as lowering income tax and capital gains tax rates, and by allowing greater flexibility by reducing...

. Whereas Keynesian economics
Keynesian economics
Keynesian economics is a school of macroeconomic thought based on the ideas of 20th-century English economist John Maynard Keynes.Keynesian economics argues that private sector decisions sometimes lead to inefficient macroeconomic outcomes and, therefore, advocates active policy responses by the...

 holds that the government should stimulate economic growth by increasing demand through increased credit and public spending, supply-side economists argue that the government should instead intervene only to create a free market by lowering taxes, privatizing state industries and increasing restraints on trade unionism.

Trade union legislation

Reduction in the power of the trades unions was made gradually, unlike the approach of the Heath Government, and the greatest single confrontation with the unions was the NUM strike of 1984 to 1985
UK miners' strike (1984–1985)
The UK miners' strike was a major industrial action affecting the British coal industry. It was a defining moment in British industrial relations, and its defeat significantly weakened the British trades union movement...

, in which the union eventually had to concede.

Thatcherite morality

Thatcherism is associated with a conservative stance on morality. The sociologist and founder of the New Left Review
New Left Review
New Left Review is a 160-page journal, published every two months from London, devoted to world politics, economy and culture. Often compared to the French-language Les Temps modernes, it is associated with Verso Books , and regularly features the essays of authorities on contemporary social...

, Stuart Hall
Stuart Hall
-People:*Stuart Hall , British radio and television presenter*Stuart Hall , British cultural theorist and first editor of the New Left Review...

, for example, argued that Thatcherism should be viewed as an ideological project promoting "authoritarian populism", since it is known for its reverence of "Victorian values". David Marquand
David Marquand
David Ian Marquand FBA, FRHistS, FRSA is a British academic and former Labour Party Member of Parliament .Born in Cardiff, Marquand was educated at Emanuel School, Magdalen College, Oxford, St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and at the University of California, Berkeley...

 expressed the "authoritarian populist" sentiment in 1970s Britain that Thatcherism supposedly exploited: "Go back, you flower people, back where you came from, wash your hair, get dressed properly, get to work on time and stop all this whingeing and moaning." Norman Tebbit
Norman Tebbit
Norman Beresford Tebbit, Baron Tebbit, CH, PC , is a British politician. A member of the Conservative Party, he served in the Cabinet from 1981 to 1987 as Secretary of State for Employment...

, a close ally of Thatcher, laid out in a 1985 lecture what he thought to be the permissive society
Permissive society
The permissive society is a society where social norms are becoming increasingly liberal. This usually accompanies a change in what is considered deviant. While typically preserving the rule "do not harm others", a permissive society would have few other moral codes...

 that conservatives should oppose:

Examples of this conservative morality in practice include the video nasties scare, where, in reaction to a moral panic
Moral panic
A moral panic is the intensity of feeling expressed in a population about an issue that appears to threaten the social order. According to Stanley Cohen, author of Folk Devils and Moral Panics and credited creator of the term, a moral panic occurs when "[a] condition, episode, person or group of...

 over the availability of a number of provocatively named horror films on video cassette, Thatcher introduced state regulation
Video Recordings Act 1984
The Video Recordings Act 1984 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that was passed in 1984. It states that commercial video recordings offered for sale or for hire within the UK must carry a classification that has been agreed upon by an authority designated by the Home Office...

 of the British video market for the first time.

Thatcher is generally characterised as having being opposed to gay rights. At the 1987 Conservative Conference, she said “Children… are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay”.

Sermon on the Mound

In May 1988 Thatcher gave an address to the General Assembly
General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is the sovereign and highest court of the Church of Scotland, and is thus the Church's governing body[1] An Introduction to Practice and Procedure in the Church of Scotland, A Gordon McGillivray, 2nd Edition .-Church courts:As a Presbyterian church,...

 of the Church of Scotland
Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian church, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation....

. In the address, Thatcher offered a theological
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 justification for her ideas on capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 and the market economy
Market economy
A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...

. She claimed "Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 is about spiritual redemption, not social reform" and she quoted St Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 by saying "If a man will not work he shall not eat". 'Choice' played a significant part in Thatcherite reforms and Thatcher claimed choice was also Christian by stating that Christ chose to lay down his life and that all individuals have the God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

-given right to choose between good and evil
Goodness and evil
In religion, ethics, and philosophy, the dichotomy "good and evil" refers to the location on a linear spectrum of objects, desires, or behaviors, the good direction being morally positive, and the evil direction morally negative. Good is a broad concept but it typically deals with an association...



Towards the end of the 1980s Margaret Thatcher, and so Thatcherism, became increasingly vocal in its opposition to allowing the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 to supersede British sovereignty. In her famous 1988 Bruges speech, Thatcher declared that "We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at a European level, with a European superstate exercising a new dominance from Brussels".

While euro-scepticism has for many become a characteristic of "Thatcherism", Margaret Thatcher was far from consistent on the issue, only becoming truly Eurosceptic in the last years of her time as Prime Minister. Thatcher supported Britain's entry into the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

 in 1973, campaigned for a yes vote in the 1975 referendum and signed the Single European Act
Single European Act
The Single European Act was the first major revision of the 1957 Treaty of Rome. The Act set the European Community an objective of establishing a Single Market by 31 December 1992, and codified European Political Cooperation, the forerunner of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy...

 in 1986.

Thatcherism as a form of government

Another important aspect of Thatcherism is the style of governance. Britain in the 1970s was often referred to as "ungovernable". Mrs Thatcher attempted to redress this by centralising a great deal of power to herself, as the Prime Minister, often bypassing traditional cabinet structures (such as cabinet committees). This personal approach also became identified with a certain toughness at times such as the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, the IRA bomb at the Conservative conference
Brighton hotel bombing
The Brighton hotel bombing happened on 12 October 1984 at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England. The bomb was planted by Provisional Irish Republican Army member Patrick Magee, with the intention of assassinating Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet who were staying at the hotel for the...

 and the Miner's Strike.

Sir Charles Powell, the Foreign Affairs Private Secretary to the Prime Minister (1984–91, 96) described her style thus, "I've always thought there was something Leninist
In Marxist philosophy, Leninism is the body of political theory for the democratic organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party, and the achievement of a direct-democracy dictatorship of the proletariat, as political prelude to the establishment of socialism...

 about Mrs. Thatcher which came through in the style of government — the absolute determination, the belief that there's a vanguard which is right and if you keep that small, tightly knit team together, they will drive things through ... there's no doubt that in the 1980s, No. 10
10 Downing Street
10 Downing Street, colloquially known in the United Kingdom as "Number 10", is the headquarters of Her Majesty's Government and the official residence and office of the First Lord of the Treasury, who is now always the Prime Minister....

 could beat the bushes of Whitehall
Whitehall is a road in Westminster, in London, England. It is the main artery running north from Parliament Square, towards Charing Cross at the southern end of Trafalgar Square...

 pretty violently. They could go out and really confront people, lay down the law, bully a bit".

Dispute over the term

It is often claimed that the word "Thatcherism" was coined by cultural theorist Stuart Hall
Stuart Hall (cultural theorist)
Stuart Hall is a cultural theorist and sociologist who has lived and worked in the United Kingdom since 1951. Hall, along with Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams, was one of the founding figures of the school of thought that is now known as British Cultural Studies or The Birmingham School of...

 in a 1979 Marxism Today
Marxism Today
Marxism Today was the theoretical journal of the Communist Party of Great Britain and was disestablished in 1991. It was particularly important during the 1980s under the editorship of Martin Jacques...

 article, although the term had in fact been widely used before then. However, not all social critics have accepted the term as valid, with the High Tory
Toryism is a traditionalist and conservative political philosophy which grew out of the Cavalier faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It is a prominent ideology in the politics of the United Kingdom, but also features in parts of The Commonwealth, particularly in Canada...

 journalist T. E. Utley
T. E. Utley
Thomas Edwin 'Peter' Utley CBE was an English High Tory journalist.Utley, blind since his childhood, went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he achieved a double first in History. During the Second World War, he was a Times leader writer and then worked for the Observer and the Sunday Times...

 believing that "There is no such thing as Thatcherism." Utley contended that the term was a creation of Mrs. Thatcher's enemies who wished to damage her by claiming that she had an inflexible devotion to a certain set of principles and also by some of her friends who, "for cultural and sometimes ethnic reasons" had little sympathy with what he described as the "English political tradition." Thatcher was not an ideologue, Utley further argued, but a pragmatic politician; giving examples of her refusal to radically reform the welfare state
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

 and the need to avoid a miners' strike in 1981 at a time when the Government was not ready to handle it.

On another hand some claim that Thatcherism was moved actually by pure ideology and that her policies marked a turning point in economic policies which were dictated more by reasons of political power and interests than actually by economic reasons:
The Conservative historian of Peterhouse
Peterhouse, Cambridge
Peterhouse is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. It is the oldest college of the University, having been founded in 1284 by Hugo de Balsham, Bishop of Ely...

, Maurice Cowling
Maurice Cowling
Maurice John Cowling was a British historian and a Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge.-Life:Cowling was born in Norwood, South London, to a lower middle-class family. His family then moved to Streatham, where Cowling attended an LCC elementary school, and from 1937 the Battersea Grammar School...

, also questioned the uniqueness of "Thatcherism". Cowling claimed that Mrs. Thatcher used "radical variations on that patriotic conjunction of freedom, authority, inequality, individualism and average decency and respectability, which had been the Conservative Party's theme since at least 1886." Cowling further contended that the "Conservative Party under Mrs. Thatcher has used a radical rhetoric to give intellectual respectability to what the Conservative Party has always wanted."


Critics of Thatcherism claim that its successes were obtained only at the expense of great social costs to the British population. Industrial production fell sharply during Thatcher's government, which critics believe was the reason for increased unemployment during her early years as prime minister. There were nearly 3.3million unemployed in Britain in 1984, compared to 1.5million when she first came to power in 1979, though that figure had fallen to some 1.6million by the end of 1989.

When she resigned in 1990, 28% of the children in Great Britain were considered to be below the poverty line
Poverty threshold
The poverty threshold, or poverty line, is the minimum level of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living in a given country...

, a number that kept rising to reach a peak of 30% in 1994 during the Conservative government of John Major, who succeeded Thatcher.

While credited with reviving Britain's economy, Mrs. Thatcher also was blamed for spurring a doubling in the poverty rate. Britain's childhood-poverty rate in 1997 was the highest in Europe.

During her government Britain's Gini coefficient
Gini coefficient
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" ....

 reflected this growing difference, going from 0.25 in 1979 to 0.34 in 1990.

Thatcher's legacy

The extent to which one can say 'Thatcherism' has a continuing influence on British political and economic life is unclear. In 2002, Peter Mandelson
Peter Mandelson
Peter Benjamin Mandelson, Baron Mandelson, PC is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament for Hartlepool from 1992 to 2004, served in a number of Cabinet positions under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and was a European Commissioner...

, a Member of Parliament belonging to the British Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 closely associated with Tony Blair, famously declared that "we are all Thatcherites now."

In reference to contemporary British political culture, it could be said that a "post-Thatcherite consensus" exists, especially in regards to economic policy. In the 1980s, the now defunct Social Democratic Party
Social Democratic Party (UK)
The Social Democratic Party was a political party in the United Kingdom that was created on 26 March 1981 and existed until 1988. It was founded by four senior Labour Party 'moderates', dubbed the 'Gang of Four': Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams...

 adhered to a "tough and tender" approach in which Thatcherite reforms were coupled with extra welfare provision. Neil Kinnock
Neil Kinnock
Neil Gordon Kinnock, Baron Kinnock is a Welsh politician belonging to the Labour Party. He served as a Member of Parliament from 1970 until 1995 and as Labour Leader and Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition from 1983 until 1992 - his leadership of the party during nearly nine years making him...

, leader of the Labour Party from 1983–1992, initiated Labour's rightward shift across the political spectrum
Political spectrum
A political spectrum is a way of modeling different political positions by placing them upon one or more geometric axes symbolizing independent political dimensions....

 by largely concurring with the economic policies of the Thatcher governments. The New Labour governments of Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

 and Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

 were described as "neo-Thatcherite" by some, since many of their economic policies mimicked those of Thatcher.

Most of the major British political parties today accept the anti-trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 legislation, privatisations and general free market approach to government that Thatcher's governments installed. No major political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 in the UK, at present, is committed to reversing the Thatcher government's reforms of the economy. Such a convergence of policy is one reason that the British electorate perceive few apparent differences in policy between the major political parties.

Moreover, the UK's comparative macroeconomic performance has improved since the implementation of Thatcherite economic policies. Since Thatcher resigned as British Prime Minister in 1990, UK economic growth
Economic growth
In economics, economic growth is defined as the increasing capacity of the economy to satisfy the wants of goods and services of the members of society. Economic growth is enabled by increases in productivity, which lowers the inputs for a given amount of output. Lowered costs increase demand...

 was on average higher than the other large EU economies (i.e. Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

). Additionally, since the beginning of the 2000s, the UK has also possessed lower unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

, by comparison with the other big EU economies. Such an enhancement in relative macroeconomic performance is perhaps another reason for the apparent "Blatcherite" economic consensus, which has been present in modern UK politics for a number of years.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Thatcher's inauguration, BBC conducted a survey of opinions which opened with the following comments:
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