The Thatcher Decade: Britain In The 1980s

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The Thatcher Decade: Britain In The 1980s

By Peter Riddell
Basil Blackwell, 1989
236 pp. $29.95
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The political editor of the Financial Times for most of the 1980s records the changes-accidental and intended-experienced by Britain during the Thatcher years. The emphasis is on the radicalism of intent and effect that Thatcher, inspired by her ideas of middle-class virtues, has had on Britain. The book is essentially a reckoning, with statistical data, of her economic policies: privatization, the promotion of popular capitalism and the attempt to cure Britain's stop-and-go malaise. The radical, and probably deleterious, effects of Thatcher on higher education are treated all too briefly and uncritically. With great respect throughout for Thatcher's leadership style, Riddell concludes: "In many respects Britain is a more divided, less secure and harsher society, but it is economically more competitive." The book was written before the uproar over the poll tax and the growing grumbling among Tories that Thatcher, with her plunging popularity, may not be the ideal leader for the next election.

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