Overturning the myths of Thatcherism


Margaret Thatcher

Posted on 07 January 2010

Love or loathe her, no-one could deny Margaret Thatcher transformed Britain.

But a new book by two British business academics offers a controversial new take on her 11-year reign as Prime Minister, overturning myths about the emergence of Thatcherism - and the basis for its enduring legacy.

Globalisation and Varieties of Capitalism: New Labour, Economic Policy and the Abject State by Dr Dan Coffey of the University of Leeds and Dr Carole Thornley of Keele University argues that Thatcherism was not a planned political philosophy, but rather an opportunistic movement arising from a series of coincidences between industrial unrest and deindustrialisation in Britain in the 1970s.

The authors also cast doubt on a central tenet of Thatcher's legacy, since adopted by New Labour, that her decision to tackle the trade unions, privatise national industries and introduce free market principles - which left uncompetitive companies to go to the wall - effectively 'rescued' Britain in the 1980s.

The authors believe that their book has implications for New Labour and Britain's future. They argue that while attempting to be active in a number of positive areas, by conceding to Thatcherism on this point New Labour effectively abrogated many of its economic responsibilities, using 'globalization' as an excuse.

Globalisation and Varieties of Capitalism: New Labour, Economic Policy and the Abject State by Dr Dan Coffey of the University of Leeds and Dr Carole Thornley of Keele University is published by Palgrave. The book is informed by new research as well as previous Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded and UNISON-funded research.

For more information contact Chris Stone, Keele University Press Office, on 01782 733375 or c.w.stone@kfm.keele.ac.uk