Towards an Enterprise Culture? Industrial and Training Policy under the Conservatives
When the Conservatives came to power in 1979 one of the major problems they faced was the effect of Britain’s long-term economic decline on industry and employment. This already bad situation was moreover greatly exacerbated by the downturn in the world economy which occurred in 1980 and by the policies pursued by the new government. The result was a massive decline in manufacturing industry and a dramatic rise in unemployment levels. The depth of the recession created serious problems for the Conservative government: for political and long-term economic reasons it had to be seen to be doing something, even though it remained strictly opposed to state intervention in these matters. Somewhat ironically therefore the government was caught on the ‘horns of a dilemma’ of its own making: either it followed its free-market principles and did nothing or it intervened to ameliorate the effects of recession using the very interventionist methods which it had diagnosed as being part of the problem.
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