The Reordering of British Politics: Politics after Thatcher

The Reordering of British Politics: Politics after Thatcher

The Reordering of British Politics: Politics after Thatcher

The Reordering of British Politics: Politics after Thatcher

Synopsis

Kavanagh assesses the influence of the Thatcher era and the reordering of British politics that has occurred in her wake. He looks at the transition to Majorism, the development of a new consensus, and the evolution of Labour without Socialism.

Excerpt

This study is a follow-up to Thatcherism and British Politics, the second edition of which was published in 1989. That book analysed the forces making for the rise of the post-war consensus and its collapse in the late 1970s and 1980s. As Jim Bulpitt pointed out in a review in Political Studies, the main concern of the book was to explore the interplay between political ideas and practice in twentieth-century British politics and to show, in particular, how the collectivist policy formulas were being undermined in the 1970s. Thatcherism was both an architect and a beneficiary of this change, but it was only one aspect of the book. It was a study of how political agendas change.

So much has altered since the 1989 edition that a new book has had to be written. Changes include Mrs Thatcher's downfall, John Major's struggles to cope with her legacy and make his own mark, the crippling Conservative divisions over Europe, and the efforts of the Labour Party at first to oppose and then to emulate much of the Thatcher agenda. in the twenty-two years since 1975, the year of Mrs Thatcher's election to the leadership, Labour has had five leaders, the Conservative party two.

Three chapters from Thatcherism and British Politics remain (Chapters 2, 3, and 5), but they have been substantially rewritten. These chapters are largely historical and deal with the making of the post-war consensus, its breakdown, and the critique advanced by right-wing think-tanks and policy advocates. in the present volume, Chapter 1 deals with a number of the key issues raised by the Thatcher experience--changes in political ideology, the role of political parties and political leadership, and the impact of ideas on policy. New chapters discuss the Thatcher record and legacy (Chapter 6), the translation of ideas into policy (Chapter 7), Labour's response (Chapters 8 and 10), and the extent to which John Major has carried on the Thatcher legacy (Chapter 9). a Postscript has been added so that the book's argument can take account of the outcome of the 1997 General Election (Chapter 11).

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