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What Was Thatcherism In What Sense Was It Radical Or Conservative - Essay Example

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By any estimation, Margaret Thatcher as a former head of the United Kingdom left a considerable impact on world history at the close of the last millennium. If the democratic will of the majority counts for anything there is a certain amount of radicalism present from several perspectives…
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What Was Thatcherism In What Sense Was It Radical Or Conservative
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Download file to see previous pages The first is that in 20th-century Britain she was the only leader to govern over three consecutive general elections, and through eleven years of service as Prime Minister she set the record for that century. Second, as the first and so far only woman British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher is strikingly the one individual to bequeath her name to an operative philosophy for a political course of action and modus operandi known as Thatcherism.1 Among other things, the philosophy is said to have initiated the movement from government to governance in which greater centralization, or a stronger state, is seen as paramount for the creation of a more energetic free market.2

In the wake of the 1978-1979 winter of discontent, after the Labour Party had been plagued with a stifling series of strikes by public service employees demanding better wages, the Labour government succumbed to union demands for a wage increase. The settlement met with scathing censure by Thatcher, who initiated the call for a vote of No Confidence. The subsequent 311-310 vote, left the ruling Labour Party and its government overwhelmingly defeated.3 Margaret Thatcher, as leader of the Conservative Party, campaigned for a fresh start by advocating energetic trade union control, an assertive market economy, free enterprise, radical reductions in government spending, tax cuts, a stable currency, and a reinvigorated foreign policy. Thatcher believed in private enterprise and personal accountability, and took a strong stand for family values, home ownership, reasonable personal savings, improved educational prospects, and renewed commitment to law and order.4
Thatcher's government steadily weakened trade union muscle, specifically with a determined response to the coal miners' strike of 1984-1985. The passage of measures such as rate capping and the introduction of the conflict-ridden Poll Tax in 1989 were initiated in an attempt to curb local government expenditure.5 In addition, the elimination of specific metropolitan councils, such as the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986, were moves intended to further check local government power.6 Another long-term effort to promote consumerism and individual initiative was to privatise a large number of formerly state-owned businesses such as British Aerospace, The National Bus Company, Associated British Ports, Jaguar, and British Telecom, to name just a few.7
In addition, Thatcherism professed a strong thrust for nationalism as evinced in the Conservative government's forceful response to the 1982 clash with Argentina over the Falklands.8 In Thatcher's last term, as a consequence of rifts in the cabinet over matters concerning the European Community, the wholesale antagonistic reaction of the public to the London Poll Tax, a negative stance on the part of many to her assertive style as Prime Minister, and ultimately the diehard intransigence of much of her own Conservative Party, Thatcher resigned in 1990.9 Even though the economy in the United Kingdom enjoyed improvement in the late 1980s, in the years following Thatcher's administration, a grave economic decline with high unemployment ensued.10
Still, Thatcherism seems to enjoy a certain theoretical resilience in the face of the rational and empirical imperfections of its ephemeral results.11 If Thatcherism reflects a governing philosophy built on the policies and style of leadership of Margaret Thatcher, the broader spectrum of its interpretation and application reaches beyond Thatcher's own elucidation to entail lasting political imperatives for a conglomerate of free markets, fiscal discipline, strong control over public expenditure, tax incentives, nationalism, Victorian ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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