Iron Lady versus economic crisis

What would be a strategy of Margaret Thatcher.


Margaret Thatcher She assumed the Office of Prime Minister 30 years ago. When we look at her policy principles what do you think she would do today in the time of the economic crisis?

Nicholas Randall, Lecturer in British Politics, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology University of Newcastle

In many respects, I suspect were Margaret Thatcher to find herself in office today she would not have to repeat many of the actions and decisions which she took in the 1980s because much of her legacy remains intact – privatisation has not been reversed. Her reforms of trade union law are largely intact. The broader neo-liberal economic framework still persists. What I think she would do (and what David Cameron also says he would do in office) is to try and tackle the debt the British government now holds by cutting public expenditure. Exactly where she would choose to inflict those cuts is very difficult to determine.

Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History, School of Politics and IR, University of Nottingham

Thatcher was more pragmatic than she liked people to think BUT I do wonder how she would have responded to the present crisis, much of which is due to lack of regulation of the financial markets – and she was largely responsible for that. I suspect that she would have done much less than has the Gordon Brown government and done that very slowly and unwillingly – but that in the end might have been forced to go along with what most other major economies are doing, even the US – and she was very keen about keeping on friendly terms with the Americans!

George Jones, Emeritus Professor of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Mrs Thatcher believed in the great power for good of markets, in the benefits of low taxation to encourage individual effort and enterprise, and in praising the attitudes of housewives who had to manage a family budget, keeping within their means and balancing the books.

This set of attitudes would have led her to be suspicious of the irresponsible schemes of bankers and financiers who caused the world crash. She would have spoken out and acted against their activities before the crisis erupted last year. She would not have nationalised the banks but let them face the consequences of their irresponsible behaviour, but she would have protected small depositors who had been thrifty.

She said you cannot “buck the market”. She would let the market solve the problem, leaving the Government to protect those hardest hit. She would not have introduced high taxes on the rich but carried on her, and Tony Blair’s, policy of encouraging people to use their skills to earn high salaries. In this way citizens would have innovated to find ways out of the current recession. Now they may leave the country and avoid paying tax. She would have been tough cutter of public expenditure, eliminating waste in government bureaucracy, and stopping grandiose projects, like the Olympic Games and Crossrail.

Peter Snowdon, Researcher, The Politics Show at BBC News, Co-Author (with Anthony Sheldon) of the book The Conservative Party: An Illustrated History

It would be difficult to say how much she would intervene in the financial crisis. There was a pragmatic streak to her leadership. She probably would have made clear that the State would have to relinquish its ownership of the banks as soon as possible.


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