Oxford Dictionary of Politics:Thatcherism|
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The economic and social policies pursued by Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. There are many different notions of what Thatcherism comprises, but core elements include deregulation and privatization, combined with authoritarian social policy.
The word was first coined in the late 1970s, when the Conservatives were still in opposition. After the Party's election victory 1979 it became a regular item in the vocabulary of media comment on British politics. It also spawned a cottage industry of academic analyses. A minimalist definition of Thatcherism would push three themes: it is the most convenient shorthand description of what Conservative governments did between 1979 and 1990; it suggests that what they did had a heavy ideological or doctrinal base; and it implies that all the Conservative administrations in this period were dominated by their leader, Mrs Thatcher.
Much of the practice of Thatcherism is contested and debated. The classic interpretations of Thatcherism are rooted in the period of Mrs Thatcher's first two administrations, 1979 to 1987. Three emerged, all of which were associated with the predominant elite political cultures of the time, namely, the Thatcherite, ‘middle opinion’, and neo-Marxist.
For Thatcherites the origins were the Conservative Party's delayed realization that the post-war consensus was responsible for Britain's decline in both economic and international status terms. Thatcherites argued that by the end of the 1970s Britain had reached the stage of ‘last chance saloon’: without the radical change of course instituted 1979 Britain would have sunk to the status of an ungovernable ‘banana republic’. The most important initial objective...