Ideas and Politics in Britain: an American View

  • Nathan Glazer


One difficulty in discussing ‘an American view’ of Mrs Thatcher’s Britain is that the great majority of Americans have no view or any bases for a view, and this is true even of the best informed. In general, the view of Mrs Thatcher and what she has meant for modern Britain is positive, but less because of what is most interesting about her — the introduction of radical new ideas on how to remake Britain, its economy, its social services, and its social institutions — than because her foreign policy has been so supportive of that of the United States. But most Americans know little of all this because their newspapers and magazines tell them little. The American newspaper and news magazine is events-based, as is not surprising: something has to happen to draw any attention to a foreign nation, even one so large and important, and one so closely connected with us, as Britain. The things that have happened during Mrs Thatcher’s ten years and have been ‘news’, and which have therefore received attention, are her three electoral victories (but British campaigns are short, and don’t give American reporters much opportunity for coverage), and the Falklands war. As for the rest, if one doesn’t read the section on Britain in The Economist, as some of its 140,000 American subscribers must, one will not know much.


Welfare State Affirmative Action Executive Order American Enterprise Institute Electoral Victory 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Craig R. Whitney, ‘Thatcher’s New Health Plan: An Outcry on All Sides’, New York Times (24 June 1989): Al.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For example, Joseph Featherstone, Schools Where Children Learn (New York, 1971).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Richard E. Caves and Associates, Britain’s Economic Prospects (The Brookings Institution, 1968): 493–4.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Peter Jenkins, Mrs. Thatcher’s Revolution (Cambridge, Mass., 1988): 111. The criticism that the Labour Party was more responsive to government employees than the great majority of the people was also made from the left: ‘Labour leaders did not see education as a popular activity to stimulate and guide, but as state institutions for the professionals to run’, Richard Johnson, ‘Thatcherism and English education: breaking the mould, or confirming the pattern?’, History of Education, 18 (1989): 96, Johnson’s italics.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Joel Krieger, Reagan, Thatcher, and the Politics of Decline (Oxford, 1986): 76–8, 80–1.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Hugo Young, One of Us (London, 1988): 22.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Gary L. McDowell, ‘Affirmative Inaction’, Policy Review (Spring 1989): 32.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    See Nathan Glazer, The Limits of Social Policy (Cambridge, Mass., 1988) Chapter 3.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    James Brooke, ‘Desperate, Latin Nations Discover the Free Market’, New York Times (30 July 1989): E2.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Nathan Glazer 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan Glazer

There are no affiliations available

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