Since 1979 the so-called 'Thatcher experiment' or the 'Thatcherism' was at the centre of many debates, partly because Mrs Thatcher's government has broken with many features of the postwar consensus and partly because her government's record is contested (Kavanagh, 1987, p1). But above all, the term 'Thatcherism' need to be define. There are three main visions of Thatcherism. Generally, for the authors, this is a purely political phenomenon, characterized by Mrs Thatcher's personality and style of leadership and her way to govern (King 1985; Minogue and Biddiss 1987; Jenkins 1987), a breakdown with the postwar policy consensus (Kavanagh, 1990; Kavanagh and Morris 1994) and traditional forms of Conservative Party's way of governing (Bulpitt, 1986). Others emphasize the ideological dimension of Thatcherism (Hall, S. 1979; Hay 1996). To them, the Thatcher project represented an alternative to social democracy, set up around a New Right discourse. Finally, for some writers, Thatcherism is, in economic terms, a national response to international crises (Jessop, 1988; Taylor, 1992; Overbeek, 1990). Actually, I will consider 'Thatcherism' as the style of leadership of Mrs Thatcher, her ideology and her politics.
[...] If in 1979, Thatcher insisted in her rhetoric that it was necessary to break with the consensus and the social democracy; in reality she did not achieve this revolution as quickly as she wanted. She had to adopt a step by step policy, and the break was not as deep as some have argued. Thatcher's strategy was not a revolution but it was gradually set up and implemented Often, the literature about Thatcher did not consider the development of the Conservatives' strategy over time. [...]
[...] (Roberts p.46) To achieve the implementation of all these policies, the government centralised power and used an authoritarian stance. In his book Gamble explains that the need to centralise power came from a paradox: The New Right would like to be conservatives but they are forced to be radicals. They have to struggle against the force which have gravely undermined the market order and which, if left unchecked will destroy (1988, p. 32) Thus to apply her politics and break up with the consensus, Thatcher had to concentrate so much power as possible into her hands, for instance to struggle against trade unions. [...]
[...] Concerning the economic explanations, the most of the analysis underline that Thatcherism was as a response to economic crisis. But, actually, the Conservatives' strategy was evolving due to a series of different inputs: the personality and style of Mrs Thatcher, institutional crises, electoral and political concerns as much as ideological conviction. Thus, the complexity of the evolution of Thatcherism remains under-theorized, and many writers simplify ‘Thatcherism' by considering it as a radical change and breakdown with the past. (Marsh, Kerr p. [...]
[...] As a result Thatcher wanted to reduce the State intervention and put an end to the social-democracy, thinking that public industries were inefficient and could not lead to a dynamic and flexible economy. Moreover public industries did not give any choice to the consumer how to spend his money because of the monopolies and the reliance on state subsidies. Another critic to the public sector was its lack of competition of the public industries and the threat of bankruptcy. She privatized in particular British Gas (1986) and British Petroleum (1987). [...]
[...] Thatcher's policies put an end to the consensus period The supporters of the conventional point of view also believe that not only Thatcher's electoral program put an end to the consensus but the record of her government as well. This was particularly obvious in important areas like welfare, privatization, industrial relations, economy, and bargaining with the unions. As a result, the government became more centralized and more authoritarian, a style completely different from the governments of the postwar consensus period. [...]
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