Thatcherism is the term that is still discussed in the politics of Britain. Experts are researching its impact and its aftermath. It is quite interesting to note how a person can become a brand that becomes a political theory.
But before we try to know about the theory let’s try to know about the person from where the term actually came.
Who is Margaret Thatcher?
Before we try to understand the whole business of Thatcherism, we must know about the biography of Margaret Thatcher. A lady who challenges the system and rose to the ultimate power. It is her sheer determination that changed the course of Great Britain and gave her nickname as Iron Lady because of her tough stand.
Margaret Thatcher (born as Margaret Hilda Roberts) was born on Oct 13, 1925, in Grantham a small town in Lincolnshire England. She hailed from a family of shopkeepers. Her parents were methodist, but besides being a shopkeeper, Alfred was a politician who served as a council member for 16 years before becoming mayor of Grantham from 1945 to 1946. Her upbringing was based on strong values of self-help and charity.
Margaret matriculated in 1943 at the peak of World War II. She worked as a Chemist but she was quite interested in politics. In December 1951, Margaret married Denis Thatcher in and gave birth to twins. She was then preparing for the BAR Exam.
She was candidate to the conservative party in the general election of 1950 -51 against the strong leader of labour seat of Dartford . Her candiature was much under gossip as she was the youngest candiadte of her times. She failed to win but what was she capable of, she had reduced the seats of labour party.
In 1959 she won her first constituency and started her political career from Finchley and there she gave her first maiden speech in the house of commons.
During 1970 to 1974, Margaret served the office as education minister in the cabinet of Heath government. But her ride was not smooth, she had to face various protests from students and press who vilified her. She and many conservative party leaders were not happy and uncomfortable with the education policy as it tilted towards left. Also, she did not share a good relationship with Heath.
When the conservative party loose election under the leadership of Heath, many agreed to try the newer approach as proposed by Margaret Thatcher. She contested against Heath in her first ballot and to her surprise, she became the first lady in the history of western politics.
Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister, Pioneer of Thatcherism
Her unique style of governing which include the free market along with strong family system came to know as Thatcherism. She was fascinated by the American style of governance where there is free market participation. She believed that socialism cannot take the society in the advance level neither it can generate wealth.
When she got into the office she made various changes. She had altered the Keynesian theory of economics. She shifted the dependence from the direct tax to indirect tax. She had controlled money supply with high-interest rate to tame inflation without restoring to union-negotiated pay and policies.
Traditionally state had owned industries including British Telecom, British Gas, British Airways, electricity companies, Thatcher had given those to the private players. Her new experiment had led to a recession in Britain and unemployment prevailed during that time. In her first term though she could not deliver to her tall promises dramatically Falkland war which she received popularity, sending armed forces from the Falk land island. She also got the nickname as the iron lady.
Interestingly she had a good relation with Reagan and she once said for Russian president ” Gorbachev is a man of business”. In her tenure, she had to face a lot of challenges too. The speech which she had given as a student in Oxford, she had envisioned to have a deal with both USA and USSR. She had executed that vision
Are we witnessing Thatcherism in India?
Like the rise of Margaret Thatcher during 70s when Britain was going under a very critical situation, present Prime Minister Modi also came as the promising leader when India saw the Anti Corruption Movement. With the slogan of “Ache Din”, it catches the eyes of the middle class and poor people. But soon that becomes a bubble.
Both Margaret Thatcher and Prime Minister Modi had focused on controlling inflation. Prime Minister Modi by demonetisation tried to control inflation, while Thatcher by combining 8 to 12.5% tax to 15% vat had helped her controlling inflation but both the leaders failed to generate employment.As per the Phillps Curve, it is said that inflation and unemployment had a stable and inverse relationship. So, while the Indian Government’s economic policy had created unemployment which is now 9.1%. Thatcher government had also faced an unemployment crisis and economic recession in her time unemployment.
Thatcher’s Right to Buy the house and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna is almost the same. In both cases, we can see both leaders envisioned the idea that common people would have their own home.
Another thing on which both Thatcher and present Modi Government had a similarity that we witnessed is the selling of some of the government sectors. Modi govt had made up their mind to sell off 23 PSU sectors so to get the money from disinvestment. Margaret Thatcher in her regime sold some of the strategic sectors like British Telecom, British Gas, British Airways. In India, we have Air India, where the government sold off its stake. Airports are being handed over to private players. There are many such examples.
So both the leaders were harsh on any protest in her time Miner strike and Irish Hunger strike such were suppressed by Thatcher. So in India, we had witnessed the same thing with Anti CAA NRC protestors. Both had the image of a strong leader who does not surrender to their blackmailing.
Like Thatcher had made up her image of the Iron lady after the Falkland war, Prime Minister Modi had made up his image as strong leader, doing surgical strike after Uri and Airstrike after Pulwama. Well,she was not successful in dealing with the economic affairs but the war / strike made both of them popular. This benefitted them in election.
In 1990, Thatcher resigned from the post of Prime Minister, she was baroness and was a member in the Upper House. She died at the age of 87 in Westminster London on April 8, 2013. She was known for her victorian principles of government. There are many such programmes which led to her criticism, for example ,she had stopped providing milk to the primary school in London for which she was called as Milk Snatcher.
She had interesting career, she challenges the time when politics was very men centric. Being a female she made herself as a masculine figure, people might hate or love her but she had made her own mark.
P.S. If anybody wants to suggest me or advice me some stuff on Thatcher, I would be more than happy.