Over 11 years she transformed her nation and gave birth to an -ism. Not widely loved, but was admired even by those who disagreed with her. Though her form of economic liberalism wasn't new, her will to implement it against the grain of politics was unique.
She bred a generation of politicians all of whom took her as reference.Her fall left the nation stunned. Essays saw it as so idiosyncratic that it could not survive her departure. Yet her departure = the end of the beginning.
Legacy was carried forward by John Major, Tony Blair (Thatcher's most devoted follower) and Gordon Brown. They were prisoners of a revolution effected by Thatcher. B/B had abandoned traditional Labor policies and espoused the revolutionto gain office in 1997. They went where even she had feared to tread.
The total conversion of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown was remarkable. Their project after 1994 may been sold as tactical, to “make the Labour electable”, but its consequence was to render Thatcherism irreversible. Labour's victories saw no return to high income tax rates, nationalization or employment protection. Blair droveprivatization into every corner of the public life services.
The 1st revolution set out to liberate the UK economy. Assault on the size of State and the advance of privatization, lower taxes, labour markets freed. Private sector invited to reinvigorate the public one. It assaulted the state to “roll back its frontier” and assert the supremacy of the individual.
The 2nd revolutionarose from the management of the first but led in a quite different direction. It was a revolution of power. Thatcher centralized government regulated both public and private sectors to an unprecedented degree.
Born in 1925. Left would have been her natural habitat. An old Oxford associate introduced her to the chairman of Dartford Conservative Association, who was looking for candidate. Shelost the 1950 election honourably. In 1958, aided by Central Office eager for women MPs, Thatcher selected for seat of Finchley. Most intriguing Thatcher's attitude to Macmillan's 1961 application to join Common Market. She later played down her support for it but at the time she argued that joining was not a detraction from sovereignty but a reinforcement of it. Thatcher became fiercelypro-European up to the moment she became PM.
In 1961, she won a government job as Junior Minister for pensions and national security. Advancement owed to being a woman. In 1967, Thatcher had the opportunity to get into the cabinet. Heath's aversion to Thatcher is attested but he had no choice : the only available woman. Thatcher's sex was crucial to her advancement. Thatcher's performance in theshadow cabinet was not a success. She was covering energy, then transport. In 1969, Heath appointed her as education spokesman.
Had no experience of man-management and little committee work. Convinced of the evils of nationalization and inquired into the possible privatization of electricity generation but rejected it as unpopular. Asking what was wrong with politics : “too muchgovernment”. It should stop meddling in people's life and stick to the control of money supply and management of demand. She declared consensus politics “fundamentally subversive of popular choice”.
The Heath government cut tax, public spending, refused to intervene in dock strike. Unions were made subject to a controversial Industrial Relations Act. Government instigated a platform ofpublic-sector reform. Winter 1971/2 came miners' strike and energy crisis. Unemployment broke. January 1972 must 'rate as the most dreadful short period of concentrated stress on government ever endured in peacetime'. Miners' demands were met and Heath introduced interventionist Industry Act. He abandoned his belief that free markets should determine personal incomes (creation of a statutory pay Board...