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Conservative Economic Policymaking and the Birth of by Adrian Williamson

By Adrian Williamson

In this e-book, Adrian Williamson investigates the methods through which Thatcherism turned tested in Tory considering, and inquiries to what quantity the baby-kisser herself is accountable for Thatcherism in the Conservative Party.

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The Powellite challenge Before looking at the Powellite critique in more detail, certain contextual points should be emphasised. The Party of the 1960s did not contain two sharply defined factions arguing for economic liberalism and interventionism respectively. There was not a clear-cut division comparable to that between Labour revisionists and socialists, or ‘wets’ and ‘dries’ in the 1980s. 66 Furthermore, anyone expecting the Party to speak with one voice would be disappointed. 67 Moreover, certain things appeared to be absolutes in the 1960s.

Instead, they felt that the ground was generally moving in their direction. Spending policy changed much more. After 1974, the new Conservative view (and that of the authorities) was that public spending should fall sharply. Current spending in politically sensitive areas was largely protected. Capital spending would fall drastically, especially on housing and industry. The traditional Tory desire to encourage home and share ownership coincided neatly with these new priorities. However, the essential features of the Welfare State were to remain.

The aim was to discuss the issues raised by the archival material with surviving participants of the economic debates of the 1960s and 1970s. It has been possible to speak not only to numerous Conservatives, but also to those who dealt with them in the Civil Service, the CBI, the TUC and the commentariat. 18 Conservative Economic Policymaking and Thatcherism Inevitably, the project could not be comprehensive: memories have faded, the time available was limited, and some very interesting possible interviewees are no longer available.

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