You may have heard of a woman named Margaret Thatcher – Conservative Prime Minister from 1979-1990.
As she was active sometime before many of us were born, most young people don’t really know who she was or what she did as Prime Minister, but have probably overheard some pretty expressive arguments about whether she was a good PM.
So I thought it would be a good idea to give you a quick rundown on the ‘Iron Lady’ so you can form your own opinion on her, and hopefully you can join in on the debate next time.
Thatcher and The New Right:
Margaret Thatcher belonged to what was known as the New Right, which had liberal attitudes towards the free market, but very conservative attitudes towards society…
Thatcher shaped what was known as Neo-liberalism, which believed that society should be shaped by the free market. This was a new take on classical liberalism and the idea that people should be able to do whatever they want with little interference from the government. It allowed for large companies to do whatever they wanted to gain profit. This benefits our economy, but monopolising, profit-seeking industries do not always help the common good. In other words, the working class often do not benefit from Neo-liberalism.
Thatcher also believes in Neo-Conservatism. This emphasised the restoration of authority and a return to traditional values. Neo-Cons believe in economic patriotism, which protects industries but also makes them sceptical of international trade. They are social conservatists, taking an authoritian stance on crime and believing that strict punishment is the only way to eradicate crime. Furthermore, they believe in monoculturalism. This teaches that all members of society should adopt the same culture and values. This has led to a lot of Conservatives being against immigration, seeing it as a threat to traditional British values. Thatcher herself took an unfavourable attitude to immigration, arguing that Britain was too densely populated and cannot become ‘swamped’ with other races.
Trade unions and mining:
One of the main reasons why Thatcher is resented among the working class is because of trade union reform. Trade unions had protected the rights of workers up until this point, fighting for fair wages and working conditions. Thatcher saw the unions as problematic, and responsible for industrial inefficiency as businesses would thrive more if employers were simply allowed to do as they pleased. As a result of this, she significantly reduced the amount of trade unions and this benefitted employers as they were not forced to adhere to unions and hire more people than they needed. However, with the absence of unions, workers rights are being eroded. Another big criticism of Thatcher is the way in which she completely scrapped the mining industry in UK, leaving hundreds of thousands unemployed. Although, many argue that this has helped move Britain forward and away from the primary sector which has been necessary for our long-term success.
Summary of Margaret Thatcher:
- Part of the New Right
- Shaped Neo-liberalism
- Believed in Neo-Conservatism
- Had a negative attitude towards immigration
- Reduced the number of trade unions
- Scrapped the mining industry
Overall what are your opinions on Thatcher? Was she an innovator who helped Britain move forward, or was she, as many in the working class suggest, a racist and cruel ‘Iron Lady’ with no regard for the common good.
Feel free to comment your opinions below 🙂