Monday, 15 November 2010

The myth of Thatcherism

On the twentieth anniversary of Margaret Thatcher's resignation as Prime Minister, Laurie Penny writes in the New Statesman This is what the "big society" is all about: not cuddly One-Nation Toryism, but the logical conclusion of Thatcherism, with the corporate iconography of society replacing the social even as the welfare state is destroyed. It is no accident the Camerons have employed a stylist and a photographer at public expense, while it has been decided that "wasteful" quangos such as the Youth Justice Board ought to be axed. In personality politics, image is everything. 

You could not be more wrong. If personality were the basis of criticism, then Thatcher is the wrong target. Almost alone amongst post-war Prime Ministers - although I would also make the case for John Major in this respect - you have chosen the least personality-obsessed Prime Minister, primarily known for her ideologically-driven record on policy implementation. In that respect strikingly similar to a left-dominated administration. Most of which was carefully and deliberately maintained throughout the New Labour years - as well as being something she persuaded the British electorate to back with sometimes huge majorities for three consecutive elections throughout the 1980's.

One result of that? A doubling of the health budget over the eleven years of her tenure - bet you didn't expect that from Mrs Thatcher. Doesn't really fit with the mythology does it?