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Is Boris Johnson a Thatcherite?

Mike McCartney

5th August 2021

Great article in the paper today offering a revisionist view of Thatcherism

Opinion piece by Aditaya Chakrabortty questions whether what we generally understand to be Thatcherite policies, principally, small statism were more words than actions.

So, a good stimulus piece if you are looking at conservatism, New Right ideas, liberalism, and even such areas as the Third Way when looking at socialism.

For instance, Chakrabortty writes:

"Let’s start with taxes, because if there’s one thing everyone knows about Mrs T it is that she cut them. Except she didn’t. Although she grabbed front pages for slashing income-tax rates, especially for top earners, she also jacked up national insurance contributions, and VAT for shoppers. The result is freshly laid out in a paper in the Cambridge Journal of Economics (CJE), which states: “The total value of central government receipts was 30.4% of GDP in 1979; by 1990, this proportion had risen to 30.9%.” Taxes actually went upunder Thatcher, and the increase fell hardest on the less well-off.

On public spending, reputation again doesn’t fit the record. Over her first four years in No 10, only a few programmes got cut, most notably foreign aid, even while she shovelled cash into domestic policing and an overseas war. Far from being the opposite of Johnson, Thatcher’s combination of free economy and strong state is not so far from his own instincts. The overall result, noted by Kevin Albertson and Paul Stepney in the CJE, is that after inflation, “total managed expenditure rose by 7.7% from 1979 to 1990”."

See the full article here: https://www.theguardian.com/co...

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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