describes the conviction politics, economic and social policy, and political style of the British Conservative politician Margaret Thatcher, who was leader of her party from 1975 to 1990. It has also been used to describe the beliefs of the British government while Thatcher was Prime Minister between May 1979 and November 1990, and beyond into the governments of John Major and Tony Blair.
Thatcherism claims to promote low inflation, the small state, and free markets through tight control of the money supply, privatisation and constraints on the labour movement. It is often compared with Reaganomics in the United States, Economic Rationalism in Australia and Rogernomics in New Zealand and as a key part of the worldwide neoliberal movement. Nigel Lawson, Thatcher's Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1983 to 1989, listed the Thatcherite ideals as:
Free markets, financial discipline, firm control over public expenditure, tax cuts, nationalism, 'Victorian values' (of the Samuel Smiles self-help variety), privatisation and a dash of populism.
Thatcherism is thus often compared to classical liberalism. Milton Friedman claimed that "the thing that people do not recognise is that Margaret Thatcher is not in terms of belief a Tory. She is a nineteenth-century Liberal." Thatcher herself stated in 1983: "I would not mind betting that if Mr. Gladstone were alive today he would apply to join the Conservative Party". In the 1996 Keith Joseph memorial lecture Mrs. Thatcher argued that "The kind of Conservatism which he and I...favoured would be best described as ‘liberal’, in the old-fashioned sense. And I mean the liberalism of Mr. Gladstone, not of the latter day collectivists". However, Thatcher once told Friedrich Hayek: "I know you want me to become a Whig; no, I am a Tory". Hayek believed "she has felt this very clearly".
But the relationship between Thatcherism and liberalism is complicated. Thatcher's former Defence Secretary...