The end of the 1970s were not good times economically for either Great Britain or Norway, and the parties in power suffered the consequences. The British Labour party under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan had presided over an economy besieged by inflation, an unstable currency, a large balance-of-payments deficit, lagging worker productivity, and poor economic growth. The Labor party in Norway under Trygve Bratteli, Odvar Nordli, and Gro Harlem Brundtland had also governed during difficult times characterized by rapid inflation, massive foreign debt, and high government subsidies. In May 1979, British Labour was first to feel the electoral repercussions of economic hard times when it was thrown out of office following the bitter labor disputes of the 1978/79 "winter of discontent." 1 In its place was a Conservative government intent on radical reform. Norwegian Labor met the same fate in September 1981 after its efforts to halt inflation through wage and price freezes failed. It was replaced by a minority Conservative government, and later ( June 1983) a nonsocialist coalition government (comprised of the Conservative, Christian People's, and Center parties) that could not be considered radical in any way.
The Conservative party that emerged victorious in Britain in 1979 was a chastened and changed party. The dismal performance of the Heath government and the election defeats of 1974 forced the Conservatives into a period of soul-searching that challenged the party to its Tory core. Out of this ferment emerged a powerful new intellectual force within the party that both challenged and reaffirmed old Tory values. Under the intellectual guidance of Sir Keith Joseph and others who drew primarily on the works of Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek, the party began to espouse a social market philosophy that valued minimal government and the free market as the keys to national prosperity and the guarantors of individual freedom. 2 As