Conservative Economic Policymaking and the Birth of by Adrian Williamson

By Adrian Williamson

In this publication, Adrian Williamson investigates the procedures through which Thatcherism grew to become proven in Tory pondering, and inquiries to what quantity the flesh presser herself is accountable for Thatcherism in the Conservative Party.

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However, those events and that opinion reinforced, rather than moulded, the Conservative approach. In respect of areas such as monetary policy, where Tory thinking did develop in the 1970s, a different process was at work. Here one needs to consider the 22 Conservative Economic Policymaking and Thatcherism complex network of relationships between, on one side, the politicians and those seeking to influence them, and, on the other, the Treasury, the Bank and the machinery of government. It is at this intersection that one should look for the sources of change.

Even after 1974, Tory re-evaluation was far from complete, despite the traumas of electoral defeat and economic crisis. The striking thing, in fact, was the way that Conservative policy moved in line with Labour, Treasury and Bank opinion. Thus, there was widespread concern to limit public spending and tighten monetary policy in accordance with the New Realism. The influence of the think tanks was modest. Powellism remained at the margins. This chapter begins with a sketch of Conservative economic thinking before 1964.

Consistently with this, they also supported British membership of the EMS, tying sterling to the DM and British monetary policy to the Bundesbank. In this respect, the Conservatives took a different line from Labour and the authorities. There was much wider agreement on other issues, such as the desirability of free trade and capital movement. Introduction 25 Within the Conservative camp, a fundamental, but largely unspoken, disagreement emerged between domestic and international monetarists. The former believed that ‘a fixed exchange rate ...

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