To what extent did Thatcher and Thatcherism change Britain?


Essay, 2005

10 Pages, Grade: 1


Excerpt

Content Overview

1. Introduction

2. Post-war Britain – “The sick man of Europe”

3. The Thatcherite era (1979-90)

4. Traces of Thatcherism’s legacy in present day Britain

5. Margareth Thatcher: a controversial figure of modern politics

1. Introduction

When Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, she and the Conservative party had to face economic and social decline. However, the Iron Lady was determined to cure “the sick man of Europe”[1] ; her medicine was to roll back the state – building up a “stakeholder culture”[2].

Today, Britain is one of the freest and healthiest economies in the world – most of its businesses and industries are private-owned, trade unions have lost most of their influence, and unemployment and inflation rates are low.

Yet, one can ask to what extent Thatcherism has contributed to Britain’s present prosperity. Critics argue that Thatcher’s reign coincided with a general improvement in world economy and tax revenues from North Sea oil.

2. Post-war Britain – “The sick man of Europe”

Post-war British politics were characterized by political consensus – a tacit agreement on maintaining the high level of employment. Its policies refer to the theories of John Maynard Keynes[3], who had argued that “economic equilibrium could, and should, be restored and maintained by official action”[4], by which he stresses the need for state intervention.[5]

The Labour government’s programme focused on the following three main points: the completion of the welfare state, including the National Insurance Act (1946), the introduction of the National Health Service (1948), and subsidized education; the development of a planned economy that should prevent depressions, put a stop to unemployment, bring in monetary and fiscal controls, and impose austerity measures; and the nationalization of key services, concerning about one-fifth of British industry.[6]

The 1950s turned out to be Britain’s “golden years”.[7] Its domestic economy was recovering as agricultural production grew by 160 per cent between 1945 and 1957, its share of world exports was back at pre-war levels of 25 per cent, industrial productivity and GDP grew, and inflation and unemployment were low.

The other side of the coin revealed new competitors with faster growing economies – particularly Germany and Japan. In addition, Britain had to face remaining costs of the war, low levels of social mobility, and its declining world influence due to the end of the empire.[8]

[...]


[1] http://www.hausarbeiten.de/faecher/download/gog/11254.html, Entwicklung Großbritanniens seit 1945, 2001

[2] John McCormick – Contemporary Britain, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, p. 27

[3] (1883-1946) “An English economist whose ideas have had a great influence on modern politics and economics. He argued that governments could deal with the problem of a failing economy by spending more money on public projects such as roads, schools, etc. This was popular until the 1980s when it was argued that such a policy leads to inflation.”, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 7th edition, 2005

[4] http://www.hausarbeiten.de/faecher/hausarbeit/ank/18464.html, The Post-war Consensus – A First Aid Kit For Economy?, 2001

[5] Ibid.

[6] John McCormick – Contemporary Britain, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, p. 18

[7] http://www.hausarbeiten.de/faecher/hausarbeit/ank/18464.html, The Post-war Consensus – A First Aid Kit For Economy?, 2001

[8] John McCormick – Contemporary Britain, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, p. 20

Excerpt out of 10 pages

Details

Title
To what extent did Thatcher and Thatcherism change Britain?
College
Copenhagen Business School
Grade
1
Author
Year
2005
Pages
10
Catalog Number
V47192
ISBN (eBook)
9783638441919
File size
453 KB
Language
English
Tags
Thatcher, Thatcherism, Britain
Quote paper
Alexandra Dienst (Author), 2005, To what extent did Thatcher and Thatcherism change Britain?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/47192

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