Analyzing Thatcherism: An Economic and Social Reeducation by PJ

Essay by woogie310University, Bachelor'sA, April 2005

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Margaret Thatcher became Britain's first ever female Prime Minister following the general election in May of 1979. She and her cabinet inherited a country in peril. The economy was marred by a rising rate of inflation and levels of unemployment not seen since the early 1930s. The policy of past governments was for direct action on prices and wages to curb rising inflation rates and to adopt an expansionary fiscal policy to slow unemployment. Despite the best intentions of governments of both political parties, each successive government over the prior thirty years experienced a higher average rate of both unemployment and inflation than its predecessors. The outlook seemed bleak to most of society. Miseducated Britons, products of a shoddy education system, walked an uneasy path to the future. Thatcher's right-wing solution to this economic and social Labour plight was an ideology that came to be known as "Thatcherism." Pushed on the nation by Thatcher and her strong will and personality, the policies of her ideology transformed Britain from a nation plagued by "Socialist rot" in to a world power yet again.

Thatcherism was defined by its combination of monetarism, belief in market forces, a strong, yet unintrusive, government, anti-Socialism, strong nationalist beliefs and importance in the improvement of education. These sweeping changes, so contradictory to the previous governmental mindset, were only successfully adopted as Thatcher's government turned its back on the consensus politics that had dominated Britain since 1945. She preferred a confrontational style of politics and in her own words described the old consensus style to be "the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in the search of something in which no one believes but to which no one objects."

One of the first problems Thatcherism dealt with was the steeply rising inflation rate. Public spending...