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Thatcherism And Conservatism Notes

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Part I Paper 4 Political and Sociological Aspects of Economics Supervision 02

"Thatcherism marked a decisive break with mainstream conservative thought." Discuss.

In 1975, Margaret Thatcher was elected the leader of the conservative party and won the general election in 1979 to become the first woman and longest serving prime minister in the postwar era of Britain. Her political agenda and governing style was a stark contrast to previous postwar prime ministers. The policies, the style and thoughts attributed to her government are referred to as Thatcherism. These do mainly comprise the shift to monetarism, privatization, a reduction of the welfare state, free markets and traditionally conservative views on foreign policy and values. In the following, I will examine the question if, and to what extent Thatcherism marked a decisive break with mainstream conservative thought. If we have a look on foreign policy first, we will find that there was no major shift in policies after Thatcher took office. She continued and intensified the special relationship with the US, especially when Reagan became President and kept a hard stance towards the USSR. Besides, Thatcher stood firm against Argentina in the Falklands war in 1982 and led Britain to victory subsequently. These policies were consistent with mainstream conservative attitudes. One field on foreign policy where Thatcher remained divided with parts of the Tories was the relation with the European Community, where Thatcher remained sceptical after several governments, which tended to follow a proEuropean approach. However, when it comes to the domestic policy, we can observe that Thatcherism marked a fundamental change to many aspects of contemporary conservative

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