Is Thatcherism Conservative?

  • Dennis Kavanagh


We are used to Labour leaders being accused of not being socialist or of betraying the workers — such accusations seem to go with the job. Indeed both Mr Callaghan and Mr Foot achieved some fame and internal party legitimacy by expressing such sentiments earlier in their careers. The criticism is usually at its most strident after the party has been voted out of office or when a Labour government has implemented unpopular economic measures. Socialism in Britain has usually meant obeisance to Clause IV, a statement penned by a retired civil servant in 1918 promising large-scale public ownership. More recently, socialism has claimed to promise ‘a fundamental and irreversible shift of wealth and power to working people and their families’. Yet no Labour government, with the partial exception of the 1945 administration, has ever been able to convince its own socialists that it has made the word flesh. Ideologists may be doomed to perpetual frustration in politics because of an inevitable shortfall between principle and practice.


Trade Union Labour Government Conservative Government Income Policy Conservative Party 
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  1. 1.
    R. J. White, The Conservative Tradition, 1950, p. 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dennis Kavanagh 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis Kavanagh
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NottinghamUK

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