Political parties and Ideas – Thatcherism
1) Using an example, define consensus politics.
Consensus politics is when there is an overlap of ideological positions between two or more political parties. This is typically shown through two parties having an agreement about their fundamental policy goals, such as all main political parties in the UK currently wanting to reduce the deficit. However, this agreement on the fundamentals of politics still permits disagreement on matters of detail or emphasis. This can be illustrated through the differing ways, or the speeds of which each political party wishes to reduce the deficit.
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The current co-alition formed between the conservative and Liberal Government parties in 2010 also illustrates how there can be consensus politics present along side disagreements on detail and emphasis of certain policies. Another example of consensus political is how each political party in the UK currently agrees on anti-terrorism. In this case, there is no disagreement on matters of detail or emphasis, it is an absolute consensus. Historically, there have also been examples of consensus politics, such as the post-war consensus between the Labour and Conservative parties over welfare and benefits.
2) Explain the ideas and policies that link the modern labour party to socialism?
A faction is a sub section of a party who have a specific set of ideas on how the specific party should lead itself. In the modern day conservative party there are 2 main factions, the one nation Tories and the new right conservatives. One nation Tories, originating from when Benjamin Disraeli was the head of the party, was first thought of to appeal to the working class vote; not the typical voters of the conservative party. One nation Tories take a pragmatic approach to politics as a whole and accept the need for flexible policies and understand that compromises must be made if a ‘one nation’ is to be achieved, as idealised by one nation Tories. New right conservatives believe in a less flexible type of politics and are often seen as a more liberal version of typical far right wing ideologies. New right conservatism in the UK was founded particularly by Margaret thatcher during her leadership. Key views of the new right are; the dismantling of the welfare state, privatisation of nationalised industries and the deregulations of business to create a freer market.
Define what is meant by the term Thatcherism.
Thatcherism is seen as a more liberal conservatism. Thatcher was a very powerful prime minister and therefore has now a form of governmental ideologies set around her views and practices.
Even in being a more liberal form of conservatism, Thatcher adopted a ‘lead from the front attitude’ expecting her MP’s to back her. Thatcherism needs a strong leader, who has a very strong attitude to implement their views. Thatcher’s followers were expected to agree with her, even her strategic placement of one nation Tories in important seats meant that she still had support from those who originally didn’t support her views. By placing MP’s who do not agree with you in important cabinet seats means that politicians from other standpoints then are made to publicly agree with you, as a cabinet who disagrees with their prime minister is undesirable and unlikely to get re-elected.
True to traditional conservative ideologies, the change in legislation of the power of trade unions came by relatively slowly and gradually. Trade unions are a typically a left wing idea, Thatcher disagreed with the amount of power that should be held by trade unions. Trade unions generally represent the poorer working class workers, such as miners and railway workers, or public sector workers, such as teachers and firemen. Trade unions had the power to lobby government and hold strikes, as well as demand higher wages and other desirable employment policies. Thatcher made the decision that strikes must not be held without first holding a ballot. This meant that trade unions could not impose strikes particularly often or without prior consent. Thatcher received particular threat from Arthur Skargill and the miners’ union over the change in legislature. Thatcher made trade union membership fall by 3.5 million during her time in office. The idea of no trade unions is a particularly strong Thatcherite view, as Thatcherites believe in a state run country, whereby pressure groups have little influence.
Thatcherites also believe in gross privatisation of the public sector. During her leadership Thatcher released £29 billion of public sector industries, as well as £18 billion of council owned housing. The increase in privately owned industries grew over Thatcher’s rule. Amenities like oil, gas and water are natural monopolies meaning that there is little competition for other companies to get involved and sell power and water. However being monopolies they do mean that there is no set price and companies can charge the public whatever they so wish for their specific product, this is one flaw of Thatcher’s public sector sale. Thatcherite politicians believe that with the increase of the public sector it will ease the work load of the public sector meaning that they can focus more on the core running of the country.
Thatcherism is associated with monetarism; the theory or practice of controlling the flow of money for stabilising the economy. This means that inflation is due to there being too much money in the economy. The government should seek control of monetary supply throughout the economy; the expenditure should be controlled by the state and be regulated. It has, however, been argued that Thatcherites are not strictly monetarism in practice as they still allow quite a free market and free spending from private and external investors. Thatcherite views are not to dissimilar to those of the current Chinese government whereby they do not allow over a certain amount of money to leave the country by one individual, meaning that Chinese people may not spend more money on foreign goods than their own.
Thatcherites in some ways seem more liberal, in the form of them choosing to use ideologies from the ‘handbook’ of the modern day labour party, as they do favour the poor more than other forms of conservatism in the reduction of inflation; which wouldn’t be an issue with the middle class. However they also do retain quite typical authoritarian and conservative values by their slow change approach and tough regulations.
In what ways do UK parties accept Thatcherite ideas and policies?
Thatcherite policies and ideas have presented themselves well beyond the days of Thatcher in office. Even labour governments have adopted the ideologies. Governments under the rule of John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron all present Thatcherite views and ideas in the way they run.
The modern day conservative party runs itself on a mix of traditional conservative and thatcherite ideologies. It uses Thatcherite ideas about how the economy should be handled. The modern day conservative party are all for cutting spending on public services, like Margaret Thatcher’s ideas about the sale of public sector industries. The sale of public sector industries is a Thatcherite idea that would ease the work load of parliament so that they can focus on more pressing matters such as education and the environment for example. This is a prime thatcherite view of a small state, as represented by the current conservative party.
Labour party represent a form of government that is more libertarian than the conservative party. Thatcher was seen as a libertarian conservative. However one thing in the labour party that does not adhere to the Ideals of a Thatcherite government is the membership of the Euro. The conservative party and Thatcherism are Eurosceptic whereas Labour at opposite opinions to the Tories. Thatcherism is against the euro as it believes that it will bring an end to British sovereignty, meaning that Britain will just fall in line with the rest of the EU and lose it’s ‘individuality’ as a country. Thatcherites believe that if new rules are made they could then be opposed on a European level. Therefore creating another higher government of the UK that has no economic or social connection with the country as a whole. This is an example of where Thatcherite views are opposed by parties as they do not fall in line with their core traditional ideologies.
Traditional conservatism is against homosexuality. The current Prime Minister, David Cameron, is also against such practices. Thatcherism is pro-homosexuality and pro-choice; Thatcherism is pro legal homosexuality and legalised abortion. Conservatives are strong advocates of the traditional family structure and father figure ideology, Thatcher broke that mould saying that homosexuality and single parent families are within her set of ideals. Traditionalist conservatives support the lowering of the current 24 week abortion limit, meaning that they believe that the foetus is too developed at such a stage that they should only be aborted when the foetus is in a less recognisably human form. This is because prominent members of the cabinet are Roman Catholic in religious views; they are typically pro-life over the Thatcherist view of pro-choice.
The Labour party of today are yet more removed from Thatcherism as they are supportive of trade unions. This is completely the opposite as during Thatcher’s leadership she dissolved the power of trade unions so that the state could more efficiently manage things such as pay and annual leave, which were previously dictated by the trade unions. The labour party do not adopt the Thatcherite view that trade unions should be affectively scrapped, instead they say that they should be encouraged as they represent a large number of people who could be affected by decisions made by the government. However the Labour party do not totally agree with power to the trade unions as they were the first to announce that trade unions could not present notions during their party conferences.
The UKIP party agree economically with Thatcherism. The party say that in order to recoup lost money, cuts on non-essential public sector industries should be cut in favour of core industries and services. UKIP however do not believe that overseas purchase of business should be encouraged. This means that UKIP, along with Thatcherism ideology believe in a small state and public sector. This would generate more money to spend on essential ‘front line’ services such as police and education. One way that Thatcherism and UKIP’s policies and ideologies are different is that UKIP does not support homosexual marriage; however dies show some lenience in that they support civil partnerships between homosexual couples.
The BNP claims to ‘reject the notion’ of Thatcherism in regards to its economic policies. The BNP claims that Thatcherism is ‘submitting to the dictates of the international marketplace’ and ‘has no loyalty to this country’. This means that they think that Thatcherism, by creating a free market for trade globally, provides loss of business to British owned companies. This notion is of course completely and utterly ridiculous as the restriction of foreign investors to British companies would ultimately cause overseas links to corrode as business links will become invalid. This would then leave the UK open to attack both politically and through combat. The idea that creating a free market that ultimately out competes UK owned companies is solely held by the far right, This doesn’t line up to the typically accepted Thatcherite view. The BNP is future removed from Thatcherite views in its opposition to both abortions and legalised homosexuality.
The Thatcherite views are generally accepted as a blanket form of views throughout many different political parties, however some parties, such as the BNP and part of Labour, Disagree as Thatcherite views are contradictory to their core ideologies.