The Iron Lady

  • John Charmley
Part of the British Studies Series book series


A distinction should be drawn between the philosophical and political roots of what became known as Thatcherism. Mrs Thatcher is the only British politician of the twentieth century to have had her name enshrined in an ideology, and because of this and her combative character it was easy for her critics to call her an ideologue; this is to miss the main point of naming a creed after the woman — which was that it was closely bound up with her personality. Hayek, Friedman and the Institute of Economic Affairs simply gave ‘substance and intellectual respectability to her beliefs and instincts, but most of these derive from her own experience and her idea of what is commonsense.’1 When she told the Party Conference in 1975 that ‘the economy had gone wrong because something had gone wrong spiritually and philosophically’, she was expressing her deepest feelings and those of millions who could identify with what she was saying; if Sir Keith told her that monetarism could help deal with this situation, all well and good. The personal nature of Thatcherism helps explain some of its contradictions.


Prime Minister Public Spending Conservative Politics Income Policy Conservative Party 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Simon Jenkins, ‘An Indigestible pill’, The Times, 14 June 1995, p. 16.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    John Campbell, ‘Defining Thatcherism’, Contemporary Record, vol. 1, no. 3, 1987, p. 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 5.
    Angus Maude, ‘The Conservative Crisis—l’, The Spectator, 15 March 1963.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Nigel Lawson, The View From No. 11 (1992), p. 249.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh, The British General Election of 1979 (1980), p. 151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 13.
    Hugo Young, One of Us (1989), pp. 138–40.Google Scholar
  7. 16.
    John Vincent, ‘The Thatcher Governments’ in Hennessy and Seldon (eds), Ruling Performance, pp. 274–5.Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    Jock Bruce-Gardyne, Mrs Thatcher’s First Administration (1984), p. 58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 19.
    Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (1993), p. 122.Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    See for example John Vincent, ‘Margaret Thatcher: Her Place in History’, in Contemporary Record, vol. 1, no. 3, 1987, pp. 23–4and his piece in Ruling Performance and also Cosgrave’s Thatcher: the First Term.Google Scholar
  11. 26.
    Simon Jenkins, ‘An indigestible pill’, The Times, 14 June 1995, p. 16.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Charmley 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Charmley
    • 1
  1. 1.University of East AngliaUK

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