• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent is British Conservatism still committed to 'the free market and the strong state'?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent is British Conservatism still committed to 'the free market and the strong state'? Andrew Gamble was the political theorist who first argued that the dual character of Thatcherism was 'a commitment to the free market and the strong state'. At present, the Conservative Party is trying, or at least should be trying, to shake off the legacy left to it by Britain's first female Prime Minister. Margaret Thatcher was leader of the party when it first truly embraced the ostensibly contradictory elements of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism. These two concepts combined the ideas of a free-market, (to combat the problems caused by Keynesian economic policies) and the traditional conservative belief in a strong authoritative state. Although David Edgar argued that the Conservative New Right has been prepared to place 'the good' before 'the free', suggesting therefore that Thatcher's government placed more emphasis upon a strong state rather than a free-market. However, following the demise of Thatcher, the Conservative Party has watched their dismal descent down the opinion polls. More recently though, whilst still arguing for policies like tougher laws on asylum seekers, the party has been trying to modernise shown by policies such as their more recent commitment to public sector services. Having said that the two strands, neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism, were at face value incompatible, Letwin argues that the pair are consistent at a deeper ideological level. He maintains that Thatcherism was a 'moral crusade' designed to protect certain moral values such as uprightness, self-sufficiency, energy, independent mindedness, loyalty and robustness. ...read more.


In a dramatic break with the Labour Party's socialist base, it too advocated a free market; lessening the clear blue water between the new government and its opposition. The adaptation of Clause Four highlighted the extent to which the Labour Party had altered from the socialist days of old, and explains why the general election result was a triumph for 'middle Britain'. Although, Labour's shift on the political spectrum did not of course alter the basic fact that the Conservative Party still advocated the free market along with a strong state. So, as the media hyped up the furore surrounding the new young and 'trendy' Prime Minister and his introduction of 'Cool Britannia', the Conservative Party retired to lick their wounds under the instruction of their new young leader; William Hague. While still remaining distinctly right-wing Hague tried to update and modernise the party, or at least the image of the party. At his first party conference as leader Hague called for a more 'inclusive' conservatism which would 'reach out' to minorities and destroy the image of the Conservative Party as being 'stuffy or intolerant'. Parallels could perhaps be drawn between this speech and that of Theresa May, the present Conservative Party Chairwoman, calling for an end to the notion that the party is the 'nasty party' at this year's conference. However, by 2000 Hague appeared to have done a U-turn and he emphasised the 'traditional, common sense values of conservatism' instead of 'the trendy ideals of a liberal elite'. ...read more.


He writes 'In the 1980s, a Conservative government reformed and improved the performance of the economy keeping taxes low', and expands about his plans to follow in the footsteps of that government; an optimistic plan possibly when one considers the state of the city at present, and the threat of recession. Therefore, while the Conservative Party, at the moment, stands up for public services it still supports the free market and a strong state. The latter being most visible in the debates raging, like across many countries in Europe, over the numbers of asylum seekers being allowed into the country, and the arguments batted back and forth in the Commons over rising crime rates. However, politics has over the few years, had to become more 'user-friendly'. The empathy felt and illustrated by the last general election where 59% of the population turned out highlights the disenfranchisement felt by many people towards politics, and indeed politicians. If the turnout falls, as has been predicted, to 50% in 2005 the situation will have become dramatically worse. This is arguably why spin, and 'special advisors' have become such an important part of politics, trying to appeal to the populace. This explains the Conservative Party's new found feeling for exploiting the potential behind using the public service sector as a weapon with which to fight the stalwart government. The indisputable fact remains though, that while attempting toning down their image as extreme right-wingers, the Conservative Party remains as committed as ever to a free market and a strong state. All they need now is a few competent politicians able to preach their case for them. Sophia Money-Coutts Page 1 5/2/2007 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Politics essays

  1. Asylum seekers

    Asylum seekers are given money in order to purchase food and other goods. * Some claimants are removed to another EU countries to pursue their claim, if that country is responsible for the claim. Some other claimants are removed in order to pursue their claim in a safe country outside

  2. What did the post-war consensus in British politics amount to? Why did it ...

    They were moderate, cautious, and resistant to change. Ministers relied on them for advice about particular policies, as they were far more experienced in their respective fields; and ministers relied on them to execute those policies. It was easy, in an era of weak governments, for high-ranking civil servants to

  1. What, other than the personal beliefs of Margaret Thatcher was there to Thatcherism?

    A salient statistic can be extracted using the Google test, (typing a term into a search engine to gauge the volume of material on a particular subject) here 'Thatcherism' yields nearly one hundred times as many hits as 'Majorism' indicating that Thatcherism is a widespread term.


    The challenge is therefore to clean up the legal system and turn it from being an arena of corruption into an effective tool for can be used as an effective first step within broader governance reform is outlined. An independent competent and clean legal system is key in every anti-corruption strategy.

  1. Politics A: Analysing Theories of the State and Individual - Evaluation of Pluralism.

    In the pluralistic model the role of government is to act as umpire to be "an honest broker in the middle of the game". It has to see that participants observe the rules and play there part in the pluralistic model.

  2. To What Extent Did Socialism and Syndicalism Threaten the Establishment 1910-1914?

    The 1906 election had allowed Labour to gain political independence from the Liberals and 29 seats was a marked rise from the 2 seats they had in 1900. Many historians agree that the 1901 Taff Vale Judgement, a judgement which meant businesses could demand compensation for lost profits during strike

  1. Is New Labour a Conservative Party?

    Increasing numbers of council houses were sold to their tenants, the cash generated from the sale of these houses and the public companies served to ease the massive budget deficit considerably. In the above, Thatcher handed over power to others such as shareholders to help the economy grow.

  2. Were the policy intentions of the Thatcher governments assisted or hindered by the structure ...

    Furthermore, Thatcherism attempted to combine the two strands of the British right: conservative and liberal. This led to the broad policy aims of creating a free economy and creating a free state. The former comprised neo-liberal policies, resulting from 'conviction politics', which rejected planning and tripartism, and attacked intervention in markets.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work