The Discipline of the New Democracy: Mrs Thatcher's Domestic Statecraft

Bulpitt, Jim
March 1986
Political Studies;Mar86, Vol. 34 Issue 1, p19
Academic Journal
Interpretations of the first Thatcher Administration can be divided crudely into two groups, those which divine some grand purpose and consistency in its operations, and those sceptical of any such conclusions. The former are concerned primarily with its ideas or ideology, the latter with its policies. This article adopts a different perspective. It stresses the need to examine the activities of party leaders in terms of their statecraft—namely the art of winning elections and, above all, achieving a necessary degree of governing competence in office. It suggests that this Administration aimed to achieve a governing competence by reconstructing traditional Conservative concerns with centre autonomy in matters of ‘high polities’. This statecraft was consistently and successfully pursued, although some of the methods initially employed to buttress that autonomy had to be abandoned quickly.


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