Thatcherism changed and affected not only the political landscape of Britain but also the mere social fabric that Britain had lived by for decades. Thatcher’s policies of the 1970s and 1980s would go on to shape the nation well into the millennium.
This essay will aim to analyze the extent to which New Labour having been elected in 1997 continued the implementation of Thatcher’s policies.
The many reasons why New Labour under Tony Blair continued Thatcherite policies will be explored throughout this paper. Once analysis of New Labour has been explored, this paper will attempt to narrow the consequences of Thatcher’s policy continuation to confer whether those policies were beneficial or destructive to British political discourse and British society.
It is important to give a brief explanation as to what is meant by the term Thatcherism in British political discourse. Thatcherism according to Heffernan suggests that there are several contradictory explanations to the meaning of Thatcherism. He contends that Thatcherism could be explained via “a short hand description of what the Thatcher-led Conservative governments did at any one time” or similarly it could be explained as “ a popular political movement, a policy style; a form of leadership; or.an ideological project, a vehicle which advanced a post-social democratic neo-liberal political agenda‘ (Heffernan, 2001). The term Thatcherism is therefore an umbrella term that not only describes the Leader of the ruling conservative party at that time but also the influences by which she and further successive conservative governments rule.
New Labours acceptance of neo-liberalism and Thatcher’s policies drove Labour lead by Tony Blair to a “Thatcherite settlement “as argued by (Hay 1999). The notion that New Labour was not New at all and simply continued the worked of the Thatcher government was criticised because at the time it was suggest that new Labour offered no left wing alternative to new times. At such a crucial time for new Labour and the Labour movement, they did not offer reform and instead and simply continued the neo-liberal response. According to some critics Blair used his globalisation narrative to bolster his argument that new Labour‘s response was a ̳third way and not merely a continuation of Thatcherism.
The British Labour party entered the 1997 general election with an enigmatic new leader. Tony Blair reformed the Labour party and guided the party into a new direction. The introduction of that national minimum wage created one million more jobs and created one of the biggest ever sustained investment in the NHS catapulted New Labour into election winning position. The comparisons to Margaret Thatcher begin from the offset; Blair followed Thatcher’s style of governing. Remarkably, there are various parallels between Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair one main parallel being the panache in which both leaders led government.
Thatcher and Blair although immeasurably dissimilar...