Thatcherism Economic Policies

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INTRODUCTION John Major as a successor to Margaret Thatcher was always going to find life difficult. He says himself he rejected any talk of his creating 'Majorism' as Margaret created 'Thatcherism', claiming instead that "The Conservative Party does not belong to any one individual" . His priorities (at least initially) as he saw them were clear; inflation, inflation, inflation. Further to that, he aimed to reduce unemployment, although not through artificial job creation, but by preserving a climate of low inflation in which growth would be encouraged. He aimed to privatise that which was feasible and had not already been done. But the climate in which John Major became Prime Minister was markedly different from that of 1979 and so, by necessity, the leadership and policy-making styles of Thatcher and Major were different. Significant in his priorities were consolidation and continuity; it was for this reason, primarily, he was elected by the Conservatives; and for this reason it is difficult to see a Major agenda as distinct from Thatcher. Nevertheless there were some interesting differences between the two leaders which I shall attempt to draw here, emphasising the areas in which Major departs from Thatcherism; particularly in his attitude towards EMU and industrial policy. During this essay I shall look first broadly at monetary and fiscal policy and subsequently examine the position within and attitudes towards Europe, an issue which, by its very nature, must have a profound effect on the direction of a nation's macroeconomic policy. Their styles of leadership of course diverge greatly which is a significant factor in the differing culture of the times. Finally I shall examine the how the attitudes of the two Prime Ministers differed towards industrial policy. I shall attempt to demonstrate that macroeconomic policy remained largely consistent through over the Conservative time in office, however Major took much greater interest in the microeconomic policy which had been largely ignored under Thatcher. MACROECONOMIC POLICY The Thatcher Legacy Where Thatcher had come in on a ticket of revolutionary policy, the general feeling when Major assumed office in 1990 was that, whilst the voters had taken as much as perhaps they could in terms of state retrenchment, there was no strong call for a radical new agenda. To this end, Major's leade... ... middle of paper ... ...lowing his former leader. Rather, it may be that, as asserted by Dennis Kavanagh, Major saw the Conservative Party as one of continuity not revolution (this would explain both his broad adoption of her policies and his less strident pursuit of them). Where the goals of the 1980s were necessarily economic, Major has taken them and tilted them toward the social; Thatcherism was defined by what it fought against; 'it is less clear what the dragons are in the 1990s' . BIBLIOGRAPHY · Chrystal and Price, Controversies in Macroeconomics, ch.11, (1994) · Crafts, N. F. R., 'Industry', from Kavanagh and Seldon, The Major Effect, (1994) · Hutton, W., The State We're In, (1996) · Jay, P., 'The Economy', from Kavanagh and Seldon, The Major Effect, (1994) · Kavanagh, D., 'A Major Agenda?', from Kavanagh and Seldon, The Major Effect, (1994) · Major, J., John Major, The Autobiography, (1999) · Minford, P., 'How Good a Chancellor is Kenneth Clarke?', from Economic Review, 12(3), (1995) · Oliver, M., 'The Conservative years: A Revolution in Economic Policy?', from Economic Review, 14(4), (1997) · Wilks, S., 'Economic Policy', from Dunleavy et al, Developments in British Politics Vol. 4, (1993)

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