Making Sense of Thatcher

  • Dennis Kavanagh


A problem for political scientists is that they can often see their subject changing before their eyes. In the 1970s the received model of the two-party, class-based, consensual and stable British political system was challenged by many of the events in that dismal decade. The rise of nationalism in Scotland, violence in Ulster, inflation, trade-union power and the weakness of government suggested a breakdown. Whether it was a crisis of capitalism (as the left asserted) or a crisis of social democracy (as the right proclaimed), political scientists were forced to search for new models and a new vocabulary. ‘Bankruptcy’, ‘Overload’, ‘Ungovernability’ and ‘Britain in Agony’ were typical book titles and themes.


Political Scientist Policy Unit Honorary Doctorate Political Commentator Petty Bourgeoisie 
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  1. 1.
    For example, see Anthony King ‘Political Overload’, Political Studies, 1975; Samuel Brittan, ‘The Economic Contradictions of Democracy’, British Journal of Political Science, 1975; and Richard Rose and B. Guy Peters, Can Government Go Bankrupt? (London, Macmillan, 1979).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Douglas Hurd, An End to Promises (London, Collins, 1979);Google Scholar
  3. Joel Barnett, Inside the Treasury (London, André Deutsch, 1982);Google Scholar
  4. Bernard Donoughue, Prime Minister (London, Cape, 1987).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dennis Kavanagh 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis Kavanagh
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NottinghamUK

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