Essay, 5 pages (1200 words)

Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society

Advertising We'll write a high-quality original custom paper on Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society just for you with a 15% discount for the 1st order Use a Discount Use a Discount

The aim of this assignment is to evaluate to what point the ‘Thatcher’ administration during its political reign had an effect on the British society. Some of the key points and policies that were adopted by the successive Conservative governments will be discussed, thus giving a broader viewpoint over topics such as, the reform within the welfare state, the divergence with the ‘Trade Unions’, the consecutive public sector privatisations and the handling of the ‘Education system’. It was in the 1980’s that the British education system was to begin a transformation, due to a governmental desire to improve the education provided in order to increase Britain’s competitiveness on the international market. The neo-liberals believed that with the introduction of a market system, the competition that would evolve between schools and other providers of education would greatly improve the education offered and therefore its efficacy (Fulcher & Schott, 2003). With the passing of the Education Act 1988, local education authorities (LEA), saw their powers reallocated to that of the school’s governing board and similarly teachers control transferred to that of the parents (Dearlove ; Saunders, 1984). Although the LEAs lost control of education, parents were encouraged to participate actively in their progeny’s academic well-being, as they now had the possibility to choose (Fulcher & Schott, 2003). Research performed by Gewirtz et al (1995) on the education system post conservative reform indicated a movement; schools were now enthusiastic to attract academically sound students, in order to boost rankings at GCSE examinations and consequently in the published ‘League Tables’. Amongst the most effective policies proposed by the Thatcher government, was that of its privatisation scheme, though it was omitted from the 1979 conservative manifesto, it was to become a significant factor (Gamble, 1988). In taking office following the general election, the government was faced with the failing ‘public sector’, shying away from its mixed economy ideology, the government believed that in continuing to subsidise these ailing industries would only result in undesirable tax increases supported by the ‘private sector’. Gradually between 1979 and 1997, the government was to sell off its stakes in companies such as automobile manufacturers, ‘British Steel’, ‘British Telecom’ and ‘British Gas’, to name just a few (Dearlove & Saunders, 1984). The privatising of these public industries produced a dual effect, initially raising capital that could be re-injected into other sectors as necessary, and secondly, it became evident to many individuals that there was a possibility of making a quick profit from such privatisation schemes (Dearlove & Saunders, 1984). The quantity of individual shareholders partaking rose from three million in 1979 to that of nine million in 1987 (Gamble, 1988). It should not be forgotten that although many of these industries produced profit, once their privatisation concluded, but this profitability came at the expense of employees’ redundancies, increased work schedules and enhanced prices (Wilson, 1992). Remaining within the domain of privatisation, it was with the passing of the ‘Housing Act 1980’ that the Thatcher administration wished to increase the possibility of property ownership to the least fortunate members of the British public: council housing tenants (Dearlove ; Saunders, 1984). Tenants were offered the right to buy their council accommodation with a substantial reduction ranging from 50% to that of 70%, though the offer appeared generous per se, a number of tenants were indirectly excluded, those living in high-rise apartments or neglected areas who did not wish to purchase (Edgell ; Duke, 1991). While the percentage of homeowners have increased since the act was passed, it is argued that the housing situation in Britain is seen to be the ” New Right’s greatest single failure”. As parallel to this increase in ownership, the number of homeless individuals and those in temporary lodgings have unfortunately increased at a faster rate, due to the lack of council property available and the reluctance to construct new accommodation, they are simply priced out of the market (Wilson, 1992). The social democratic consensus of the welfare state, was to experience a major overhaul following the 1979 general election, the conservative government favoured a ‘free market’ and therefore wished to promote self-help and personal enterprise and less dependency on the state (Giddens, 2006). To accomplish such goals, a collection of welfare reforms were introduced, namely, the ‘Social Security Act 1988’, these reforms ranged simple cuts in benefits for instance housing or child and the privatisation of certain sectors of the NHS, hospitals were encouraged to budget and organise their spending, markets were open to the public domain (Taylor, P. et al., 1995). The government strongly believed these measures would enable the public to have a larger choice and a service excellence, though critics argue differently ‘internal markets’ lessen the quality of service, while equally stratifying the system (Giddens, 2006). The newly elected conservative government promptly cut the ties between the state and the union forces and quickly found itself in direct conflict (Fulcher ; Schott, 2003). The government’s reaction was to introduce a number of governmental reforms, the Employment Acts 1980 and 1982 and the Trade Unions Act 1984, which undermined many of the ‘well established’ privileges of the Trade Unions (Green, 1987). Industrial action of the trade unions were now limited in diverse ways, secondary action were illegal, the rights to ‘picketing’ were redefined, pickets were now limited to six individuals and restricted to the workers workplace and ‘Flash’ strikes were curbed, in the measure, that all industrial actions should be put to a secret ballot of its members (Fulcher & Schott, 2003). It is important to underline that it was an integral element of Margaret Thatcher’s strategy to involve union members actively in the decisions relative to their employment (Subroto ; Clarke, 2005). In undermining the ‘Trade Unions’, the result was not completely positive, for a large majority of the British workforce, found themselves with very little protection, while forced to work longer hours and tolerate the lowest wage compared to other nations (Wilson, 1992). The government’s answer to tackling the inflation dilemma was ‘monetarism’, hence cutting back on public spending, through privatisation, free market and benefit reductions, and simultaneously controlling the quantity of capital in circulation. Although this perspective ‘succeeded’ in reducing the rate of inflation from 15% to 2. 4% in 1986, it was at the expense of the worst recession during the last fifty years (Dearlove & Saunders, 1984). It cannot be denied, when analysing the figures concerning unemployment between1979 and 1982/3, there was a massive increase, reaching just above the three million individuals, these levels were ‘tolerated’ by the conservative government simply to combat the raising levels of inflation (Moon, 1983). As the government put little effort in to correcting the problem of unemployment, believing it was better left in the hands of the ‘Labour Market’, with the arrival of mass unemployment, the government felt threaten, and worried that public opinion would weaken its credibility, quickly established a number of diverse proposals, which aimed to reduce the number of individuals becoming unemployed, especially amongst ‘school leavers’ and the younger members of the population (Moon & Richardson, 1985). When analysing the information provided throughout this composition, it was difficult to judge the impact of ‘Thatcherism’ on society negatively or positively, as for certain the ‘Thatcher Years’ provided them with the tools of improving their ‘life chances’, while other individuals were seen to be left on the ‘touch line’. Even though the measures submitted during the Thatcher administration were aimed to incite the nation as a whole, realistically only the upper working class, petty bourgeoisie and the middle class seem to profit. If one was to attempt to summarise ‘Thatcherism’, the most appropriate words would be ‘Recession’, Recovery’ and ‘Regression’.

Thanks for your opinion!
Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society. Page 1
Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society. Page 2
Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society. Page 3
Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society. Page 4
Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society. Page 5
Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society. Page 6

Your fellow student wrote and submitted this work, "Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society". This sample can be used for research and reference in order to help you write your own paper. It is prohibited to utilize any part of the work without a valid citation.

If you own this paper and don't want it to be published on EduFrogs.com, you can ask for it to be taken down.

Ask for Removal

Cite this Essay


EduFrogs. (2022) 'Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society'. 3 September.


EduFrogs. (2022, September 3). Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society. Retrieved from https://edufrogs.com/assess-the-impact-of-thatcherism-on-british-society/


EduFrogs. 2022. "Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society." September 3, 2022. https://edufrogs.com/assess-the-impact-of-thatcherism-on-british-society/.

1. EduFrogs. "Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society." September 3, 2022. https://edufrogs.com/assess-the-impact-of-thatcherism-on-british-society/.


EduFrogs. "Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society." September 3, 2022. https://edufrogs.com/assess-the-impact-of-thatcherism-on-british-society/.

Work Cited

"Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society." EduFrogs, 3 Sept. 2022, edufrogs.com/assess-the-impact-of-thatcherism-on-british-society/.

Get in Touch with Us

If you have ideas on how to improve Assess the impact of thatcherism on british society, feel free to contact our team. Use the following email to reach to us: [email protected]