Making Thatcher's Britain

Making Thatcher's Britain is a collection of essays edited by Ben Jackson and Robert Saunders, published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. Buy it from Amazon! Or read an Author Interview


'A treasure trove of new thinking and fresh perspectives … truly a must-have'

'a fascinating collection that illuminates a crucial period of recent history. Its essays demand a wide readership'

'simply an essential contribution to the literature … It must be studied by all with an interest in modern British politics'


'required reading'


‘Making Thatcher’s Britain is a treasure trove of fresh thinking and new perspectives on a prime minister and a period that continue to fascinate us all. Each and every chapter fully merits its place in a collection which is as wide in its scope as it is measured in its judgements. For anyone seeking to understand the origins and the impact of Margaret Thatcher and her eponymous ism, Jackson and Saunders’ book is truly a must-have.’
Tim Bale, author of The Conservative Party From Thatcher to Cameron

‘This impressive and wide-ranging volume assesses the nature of Thatcherism and the impact of the Thatcher governments in key areas of domestic politics and Britain’s relations with the wider world. Its well-integrated collection of essays, written by acknowledged experts in their fields, provide lucid summaries and insightful analysis which will be of great value to both students and specialist researchers.’
Stuart Ball, University of Leicester

Making Thatcher’s Britain is a fascinating collection that illuminates a crucial period of recent history. Its essays demand a wide readership by exploring familiar territory in innovative ways while mapping new landscapes, including Thatcherism’s impact upon class, its relationship to nationalism and the global context of Thatcher’s Britain.’
Stephen Brooke, York University, Toronto, Canada

‘A critical but fair-minded and contextual analysis of Thatcherism has long been overdue. The lucid and well-documented analyses provided in Making Thatcher’s Britain indicate that younger historians are now onto the case, and are well able to carry the discussion into wider areas and at deeper levels than have so far been achieved.’
Brian Harrison, University of Oxford

'Her record is set out dispassionately in this collection of essays by 14 academics which puts the spotlight on her and her involuntary Thatcherism. They are neither an onslaught on her, nor a defence … together they make a devastating read'.
Joe Haines, Tribune Magazine

'an excellent book'
Dan Atkinson, Daily Mail

'a perceptive collection of essays … The book provides what is probably the best available introduction to the historiographical problems of the Thatcher era, and it can be read both with profit and with pleasure. It also casts considerable light on the politics of today'.
Vernon Bogdanor, New Statesman

'simply an essential contribution to the literature on Thatcher and Thatcherism … packed with perceptive essays … The book sits alongside Ewen Green’s Thatcher (2006) as an example of how historians can reshape our understanding of this period. It must be studied by all with an interest in modern British politics'.
Robert Crowcroft, Contemporary British History

'a highly stimulating collection of essays … The results are outstanding, and certain to stimulate a new generation of scholars … Though this is an academic book, non-academics should not hesitate to read it'
Robert Crowcroft, Salisbury Review

'highly recommended … students will be exposed to some excellent recent scholarship from leading authorities that may inspire them to delve further. … Required reading for undergraduates in contemporary British history and politics, and researchers of Thatcherism … a valuable collection from a range of leading authorities'
Sean McGlynn, Times Higher Education Supplement

'This is a further valuable contribution to the Thatcher debate, presenting the research of 16 academics in a lively as well as a scholarly way'
Peter Clarke, Financial Times

(1) Making Thatcherism

Thatcher was the first premier since Gladstone to give her name to an ideology; but there is no consensus on what it was or who believed in it. Thatcherites seemed at different times both to revere the past and to disdain it – projecting themselves sometimes as revolutionaries, sometimes as restorationists. The place of these governments within the Conservative tradition remains especially vexed, as does its resonance after 1990 and its influence on the Labour party. In this section, we explore intellectual influences upon the Thatcher government, the role of ideas in the making of policy, and the different ways in which an ideology of ‘Thatcherism’ might be understood.

Robert Saunders: ‘Crisis? What Crisis?’: Thatcherism and the Seventies
Ben Jackson: The Think Tank Archipelago: Thatcherism and Neo-Liberalism
Jim Tomlinson: Thatcher, Monetarism and the Politics of Inflation
Matthew Grimley: Thatcherism, Morality and Religion
Camilla Schofield: 'A Nation or No Nation?' Enoch Powell and Thatcherism

(2) Thatcher’s Britain

In this section, we assess how far the British economy and society changed as a result of the ‘Thatcher revolution’. We explore notions of class, gender and the relations between capital and labour, while examining the impact of the Thatcher era across the United Kingdom. Thatcherism is often seen as a uniquely English phenomenon, but the 1970s and 1980s were crucial years for the Union. The Northern Ireland troubles contributed to a sense of the breakdown of political authority, and set Margaret Thatcher at odds both with Ulster Unionism and with her former mentor, Enoch Powell. In Scotland and Wales, the Thatcher years saw a collapse in the Conservative vote and a rise in support for devolution.

Laura Beers: Thatcher and the Women's Vote
Jon Lawrence and Florence Suttcliffe-Braithwaite: Margaret Thatcher and the Decline of Class Politics
David Howell: Defiant Dominoes: Working Miners and the 1984-5 Strike
Richard Finlay: Thatcherism, Unionism and Nationalism: a Comparative Study of Scotland and Wales
Marc Mulholland: 'Just Another Country?': The Irish Question in the Thatcher Years

(3) Thatcherism and the Wider World

Thatcherism was a global phenomenon, with a powerful profile in the United States, the Soviet bloc and the former British empire. It was a Russian newspaper that first christened her ‘The Iron Lady’, and the Cold War context was never far from Thatcher’s mind. Her relationship with Ronald Reagan was the most visible expression of a broader Anglo-American exchange, which helped to shape the New Right on both sides of the Atlantic.

Richard Vinen: Thatcherism and the Cold War
Andrew Gamble: Europe and America
Stephen Howe: Decolonisation and Imperial Aftershocks: the Thatcher Years


Prepared by Peter Sloman

Appendix 1: Timeline
Appendix 2: Statistical Tables

Further Reading