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Margaret Thatcher and Thatcherism: Dead but not buried


The article divides the history of Thatcherism into seven main stages from its pre-history before 1979 through to the revival of the neoliberal project by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition of 2010–2015. This periodization is based on the changing strategic line of Thatcherism and is related not only to Mrs Thatcher’s practice of conviction politics as a political leader but also to the defining features of neoliberalism considered as an economic and political project. The analysis then reviews the features of the neoliberal regime shift instituted under Mrs Thatcher once it had been consolidated, including the strengthening of the City of London and a finance-dominated accumulation trajectory at the expense of uneven development elsewhere in the United Kingdom and, eventually, the financial crisis that undermined the New Labour Government in 2007–10. This crisis was the pretext for the previously noted revival of the Thatcherite project. The article then considers the dialectic of authoritarian populism and statism and ends with brief remarks on how the recent and continuing fisco-financial crisis has provided an opportunity for the revival of a ‘two nations’ neoliberal austerity politics.

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  1. I cannot trace a direct source, including via the Thatcher Foundation website, but a Google search shows it is part of conventional wisdom in many quarters at home and abroad.

  2. More recently, Chinese, Indian and Russian capital plus sovereign wealth funds have also joined in.

  3. To wit: growth is always accompanied by local congestion and regional imbalances; some financial services jobs are being decentralized; neither monetary nor regulatory policy are dictated or constrained by the City’s international role; and, compared with European rivals, financial intermediation is relatively efficient.

  4. This and the following four paragraphs summarize arguments in Jessop (2013).


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This article derives in part from an ESRC-funded professorial fellowship (Grant number: RES-051-27-0303).

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Jessop, B. Margaret Thatcher and Thatcherism: Dead but not buried. Br Polit 10, 16–30 (2015).

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  • authoritarian populism
  • authoritarian statism
  • Thatcherism
  • neo-liberalism
  • New Labour
  • financial crisis