ABSTRACT

Alone among twentieth-century prime ministers, Margaret Thatcher's name has been applied to a set of political ideas and a style of administration. Winning power at a time when Britain had been experiencing persistent economic decline and political disfunction, Thatcher believed she had identified the key elements of the "British disease", and set out to give Britain the hard medicine that she believed had to be applied if the decline was to be reversed. Above all, she felt, this meant an end to consensus, an abandonment of the agreement and continuity between socialist and conservative governments on the mixed economy and the welfare state. It also meant putting an end to compromise, bargaining and the search for policies acceptable to the majority. In its place, Mrs Thatcher wanted a new kind of politics, variously labelled adversarial, confrontational or conviction politics.