MRS. THATCHER'S REVOLUTION: The Ending of the Socialist Era by Peter Jenkins

MRS. THATCHER'S REVOLUTION: The Ending of the Socialist Era

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A detailed exegesis of Thatcher and Thatcherism by the associate editor of the English Independent. The author analyzes the current British Prime Minister's nine years in office, beginning with a review of the events in England since 1945 that laid the groundwork for her successes. Jenkins sees Thatcher's role against a larger backdrop--she has quite convincingly ended ""the socialist era"" in England, just as here, no matter what one's political stance, Reagan has altered the terms of discourse away from the New Deal consensus that held for nearly five decades. A similar consensus had bound England from the postwar defeat of Churchill until Thatcher's ascension in 1979. Jenkins describes the ""consensus"" politics in those years that gave Labour a large role in England's affairs, even during Conservative reigns. Then came Thatcher, boldly stating that she believed in ""conviction"" rather than ""consensus"" politics; three elections later, she still rules (and is considering a fourth mn in 1991 or 1992). Jenkins asserts that Thatcher has come very close to her avowed desire to ""kill socialism,"" the influence of her policies spreading across the European continent. At home, she has changed the assumptions of Englanders from collectivist to individualistic, as she has put the rights of the union member above those of the trade unions, and has put sound money above the priming of the economy. (Jenkins makes clear that welfare state principles, as opposed to ""socialism,"" are still alive, though). Jenkins provides a much more philosophically attuned analysis than the concurrent Thatcher, by Kenneth Harris (reviewed above). There is a lot of meat here for Thatcherites, but the goodly number of Thatcher-haters will be sorely disappointed.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press