Thatcherism: ideological project, statecraft, or messy compromise?

Thatcherism: ideological project, statecraft, or messy compromise?
05 Jun 2018, 17:30 to 05 Jun 2018, 19:30
IHR Peter Marshall Room, N204, Second Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Hugh Pemberton , University of Bristol

There are so many definitions of ‘Thatcherism’ that the term can sometimes obscure as much as it reveals. Nonetheless, there is less disagreement about its policy contours, in which privatisation, the free-market, and a high priority on individual freedom and initiative rather than state action loom large. This paper examines a policy area in which all three of these loomed large: the attempt to dismantle the entire architecture of UK pensions’ provision other than the minimalist basic state pension. This was an extraordinarily ambitious policy which sought not just to abolish the ‘state-earnings-related-pension scheme’ but to dismantle company pension funds which then owned more than half of all shares listed on the London Stock Exchange, in effect disintermediating much of the financial services sector in order to turn individual employees into direct investors in an attempt to transform British capitalism. The paper explores the underpinnings of this project and the gap between ideological ‘purity’ and the messy reality of pragmatic compromise in its implementation.

Chair: Dion Georgiou


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