image courtesy of thinkdoctor
Like the yeast-based product we English spread upon our toast each morning, Margaret Thatcher definitely divided our proud little island in her 11 years at number 10, and we Brits certainly either ‘love her or hate her’ there is no doubt however, that the UK was a very different country before and after her time as Prime minister, both culturally and politically. In light of the Iron lady’s death on Monday 8th of April this year, Thatcher’s controversial term, policies, and the way she changed Britain has been tweeted, pressed, printed, blogged and talked about across the globe.
With such press coverage and exposure of Thatcher and her time as PM, can we prove whether the Iron lady was bad or good for the UK? and with her policies and the strident way she ran this country from 1979 to 1990, do we still need Thatcherism, or is this an outdated political ideology that has no place in a 21st century UK? whether for or against, right or wrong, these need to be answered.
What is Thatcherism?
Thatcherism refers to the political framework, ideas and policies of the late conservative politician, Margaret Thatcher. It also describes the views and beliefs of the british conservative party between 1979 and 1990 when Thatcher was Prime Minister of the UK. It also carrys beyond her time in office into the politics of John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and David Cameron. Thatcherism is founded on the claims to promote low inflation, the idea of the ‘small state’, and free markets, through the tight control of the money supply, privatisation, and constraints on the labour movement. The Thatcherite policy maintained that free markets, financial discipline, tax cuts, and a firm control over public expenditure were the way to save the ungovernable Britain as it was named in the 1970’s.
How did this effect Britain?
Thatcher’s time in office was prehaps the most controversial and divisive political rule this country has ever experienced, and there were many winners and losers in the thatcherite policy. The top rate of tax fell from 83% to 40%, and millions of people were given the chance to get on the property ladder by buying their own council homes. She led our country to victory in the Falklands war against Argentina, giving pride once again to our nation and it’s empire. The main divisiveness came from her reducing the power of the Trade unions, resulting in thousands of miners across the north of England striking, this biggest of these was the NUM strike of 1984-85, which led to riots and civil unrest throughout Britain. Some viewed Thatcherism as a major factor in increasing the class divide and conflict between them as many felt the Thatcher led government prioritized the southern middle class over the northern lower class.
Do we need Thatcherism in modern Britain?
Thatcherism has been described by many as an outdated and overly firm political ideology, but she was the only british politician to give her name to an ideology. Her ideas of running a country like a small business, through tight control of the money supply and public expenditure, privatisation and decreasing the power of the Trade unions, have been classed as outdated middle class values by some, and praised by others. Today our US cousins joke that you can tell the politics of a Brit by the face they pull when you mention Thatcher’s name, and this certainly sums up the way our country feels about Margaret Thatcher, and whether or not this country needs Thatcherism and its values in the future is, in the end, entirely down to opinion, so slate her for the miners strikes, or praise her for the national unity of the Falklands victory, it’s undeniable that this Iron lady changed the face of the UK, and will continue to be a subject of division for many years.