Philip Begley
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One of the defining issues in British politics and the central focus of economic policy between 1974 and 1979 was inflation. This was particularly true for the Conservatives, who invested a great deal in defining policies to deal with inflation and consistently emphasised the grave threat that it posed. This chapter details the development of these policies and suggests how they can best be understood. Many accounts have suggested that the Conservatives moved in a monetarist direction during this period. There can be little doubt that this is correct. Many of the leading disseminators of monetarist ideas were drawn towards the Conservatives, demonstrating the common ground between them. However, this chapter will show that their influence in policy terms may not have been direct and the Conservatives’ position was not revolutionised. Ideas closer to traditional prices and incomes policies remained stubbornly in play. A greater focus on monetarist ideas did not necessarily require a significant re-evaluation of Conservative philosophy, and pragmatic concerns were often just as significant as wider ideological forces.

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The making of Thatcherism

The Conservative Party in opposition, 1974–79


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