Was Thatcherism just old-fashioned liberalism?
Thatcherism is a system of political thought attributed to the governments of Margaret Thatcher, from 1979 to 1990. It’s characteristics include; decreased state intervention, privatization of state-owned industries, lower direct taxation and higher indirect taxation, opposition to trade unions, and a reduction of the size of the welfare state. Old-fashioned liberalism on the other hand is an ideology, which emphasizes the importance of individual rights, the limitation of government power for the protection of individuals and a belief in human rationalism, which would lead to a general increase in competition of individual minds. Both concepts can be seen to overlap on certain aspects, I intend to look at those aspects and discover whether Thatcherism was just an extension of classical liberal thought.
Thatcher’s ad vocation of liberal principles in ‘Thatcherism’ seemed to be onset by her inspirations, one most important being from a 20th century liberal thinker, Friedrich von Hayek. Hayek was an Austrian-British economist and political philosopher known for his defense of classical liberalism and free- market capitalism against socialist and collectivist thought.
Thatcher speaking about the famous economist at a memorial lecture 6 years after her term in office was quoted to say:
“The kind of conservatism which he and I …. favoured would be best described as ‘liberal’, in the old fashioned sense ... that is to say, we place far greater confidence in individuals, families, business and neighbours than In the state.”
(Margaret Thatcher, Keith Joseph Memorial Lecture, 11th January, 1996)
Thatcher’s approach to politics seemed to convey many liberal tendencies. One of which was her distrust in the government intervention, “What we need now is a far greater degree of personal responsibility and decision, far more independence from the government, and a comparative reduction in the role of the...