The Free Economy and the Strong State: The Politics of by Andrew Gamble

By Andrew Gamble

The Thatcher period used to be a turbulent and debatable interval in British politics. Andrew Gamble's authoritative account - now revised and up-to-date to hide Thatcher's fall and legacy - analyses the ideology, statecraft, and fiscal and social programme of the Thatcher govt. He explores rival interpretations of Thatcherism and assesses the proof for claims that the Thatcher executive remodeled British politics. a brand new end considers the Conservative get together after Thatcher.

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Additional info for The Free Economy and the Strong State: The Politics of Thatcherism

Sample text

What gave monetarism its practical importance, however, was not its coherence as a doctrine nor its academic credentials nor even its conquest of the financial press. What was decisive was the breakdown of the regime of fixed exchange rates in 1971-2. Keynesian economic management could be practised either within closed economies or in an international economy in which the degree of openness remained limited. One of the critical tests of openness was the exchange rate. If rates were fixed and the exchanges successfully policed by the central banks, then the limits within which demand could be managed in any domestic economy were tightly fixed.

They wanted a new, strong state that did not need to bargain with organised interests. They wished to assert a national interest beyond the sectional interests of the pressure groups and lobbyists. Restoring the authority of the state was a priority. The way to achieve it was through strong and decisive political leadership, and an end to compromises and concessions. Economic management The most direct challenge to social democracy came over the conduct of economic policy. If there had been one boast of postwar social democrats it was that mass unemployment had been eliminated and that the kind of problems that had plagued capitalist economies were things of the past.

The impulse behind such policies has been to mitigate the pressures towards inequality stemming from the way markets operate, although how far social-democratic regimes have succeeded in remedying inequality has been a matter of debate. 11 24 TheFree Economy and the StrongState The existence of a social-democratic regime does not ensure progress towards socialism or even greater equality in the final distribution of resources, but rather the mobilisation of pressure from below for state policies and programmes to correct extreme inequalities and disadvantage.

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