Margaret Thatcher: Creating a Neoliberal Culture.
Margaret Thatcher had a resounding career as a Prime Minister in Britain. She was loved and hated for her strong handed nature to politics. She drove down unemployment and brought Britain out of a recession through utilizing neoliberal policies. Thatcher increased the power of the private sector with a reduction of government regulation and privatization of public facilities. She took charge at creating a culture that was focused on the individual. Lastly she battled any unions, which sought to challenge the neoliberal values she was fostering.
In order to claim Margaret Thatcher as a neoliberal, a solid definition of neoliberalism is needed. The ideology of neoliberalism is grounded in individual freedom. In order to achieve this, neoliberals ask for a system of government that is minimal. There should be almost no regulations that aim at restricting an individual's freedom (Hall 2011 11). This allows people to act as free agents in accordance to their personal aspirations. To supplement this goal there is a desire for open, competitive and unregulated markets. State-led social engineering must never prevail over corporate and private interests.(Hall 2011 10-11) Capitalism as a market system provides freedom from state intervention and social collectivities. Stuart Hall states how Neoliberals see this “as the optimal mechanism to social-economic development,” (Hall 2011 11). They want to provide equality of opportunity and understand that this has a propensity to create inequality. This inequality is seen as a necessary evil in the creation of freedom, and ask that government not make any attempts to ameliorate the gap between people. The government's role comes to the provision of securing the freedom of the people it sees over (Hall 2011 11). It does this through various things such as state guided military, police force, and law that protects private contracts. These state facilities protect the individuals and allow them to operate within the state. Neoliberalism is an ideology that acts to create individuals free to make choice and to succeed or fail by them.
One of the main facets of neoliberalism is the reduction of government to minimal levels. When Margaret Thatcher took office in 1979 she was determined to separate herself from the more socialist values of past leaders. Thatcher immediately sought to reduce power of the government in the private sector through flotation of government owned facilities. There where a series of small sell offs and then in 1984 the privatization of British Telecom proved hugely successful at reducing public debt. Then in 1987 opened the floodgates with the privatization of British Airways, Rolls-Royce, British Airports Authority, and later British steel (Hall 2011room and Sylvia 2011). After this Thatcher also was able to privatize British oil companies. She even privatized utilities such as water and electricity (Moore 2011). Besides the privatization of organizations, she also removed regulations on private corporations. The fair wages resolution created a wage floor that restricted the ability of corporations to pay competitive wages (Robertson 1986 288). In 1983 the government removed this resolution, opening a large gap in this wage floor (Robertson 1986 288). The Employment Act of 1975 gave workers the ability to submit low wage claims for government arbitration. Thatcher removed this with her updated Employment Act of 1980 (Robertson 1986 286). She was even willing to work around the law to increase the power of corporations When unable to make reparations to council law on minimum wages, she introduced the Young Workers Scheme (Robertson 1986 287). This grated subsidies to employers who paid less then legal minimum wage to workers 18 and younger (Robertson 1986 287). After the YWS was phased out she continued to avoid law with the New Workers Scheme (Robertson 1986 287). She...
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