Magazine article The Spectator

A 30-Year Blip?

Magazine article The Spectator

A 30-Year Blip?

Article excerpt

Thirty years ago this Sunday, Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister with a Commons majority of 43. In the 11 years that followed, she took an economic basket case, the sick man of Europe, an offshore banana republic, and transformed it: inflation was curbed, penal tax ended, the unions tamed, and Britain's confidence on the world stage reasserted by victory in the Falkland Islands and the strength of the Iron Lady's alliance with President Reagan.

Her greatest achievement, paradoxically, was to transform not one party but two: New Labour was the offspring of Thatcherism too. And for many years it seemed that many core Thatcherite presumptions had become orthodox: in particular, Labour seemed to have grasped that prosperity and wealth creation were a precondition of the revenues the Exchequer needed to fund the party's ambitions for the public services. To an extent that made many uneasy inside and outside his party, Tony Blair insisted that Britain continued to punch hard on the battlefield. …

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