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The Conservative Party in opposition, 1974–79
Author: Philip Begley

This book examines the Conservative Party’s period in opposition between 1974 and 1979, focussing on the development of policy in a number of important areas. It explains how Conservative policy changed and why it changed in the ways that it did, before going on to draw wider conclusions about Thatcherism and Britain in the 1970s. The central argument is that although this period has often been seen as one of significant change, with Conservative policy one part of much wider and more dramatic developments, if it is examined in detail then much of this change appears modest and complex. There were a range of factors pulling the Conservatives in a number of different directions during this period. At times policy moved forward because of these forces but at others its development was slowed. In order to understand this period and the changes in Conservative policy fully, we need to take a rounded view and have an appreciation of the intellectual, economic and social contexts of the time. However, this book argues that the short-term political context was most important of all, and helps to explain why Conservative policy did not change as much as might be expected. There was not necessarily a clear path through to the 1980s and beyond. The roots of Thatcherism may have been evident but it does not appear to have been inevitable in policy terms by 1979.

Laura Beers

10 Feminist responses to Thatcher and Thatcherism Laura Beers The self-­described ‘feminist stand-­up comic’ Bridget Christie published A Book for Her, in which the author attempts to make the politics and precepts of the modern women’s movement a­ ccessible – ­and ­funny – ­to women. The book includes a riff on ‘Tory feminism’. Christie’s point of departure is the phenomenon of Conservative women, including the Prime Minister Theresa May (then the Home Secretary and former Minister for Women and Equalities), wearing a T-­shirt with ‘This is what a feminist

in Rethinking right-wing women
Rich Cross

7 British anarchism in the era of Thatcherism Rich Cross British anarchism in the era of Thatcherism The late 1970s and early 1980s were a period of unexpected resurgence for the British anarchist movement, and for wider libertarian political initiatives circling in the orbit of an expanding anarchist core. The renaissance of anarchism in the UK was not something which many contemporary commentators on the British political fringe had anticipated. But British anarchism’s recovery and renewed confidence was not only unexpected, it took on political hues, adopted

in Against the grain
Looks and Smiles, Unfinished Business, Fun City, Threads
David Forrest and Sue Vice

3 Thatcherism and South Yorkshire Looks and Smiles, Unfinished Business, Fun City, Threads In this chapter, we trace the aesthetic and political effects of the early years of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government on Hines’s writing. His screenplay for the 1981 film Looks and Smiles takes an art-­cinematic form to explore the pressures of the era’s unemployment on young people, in his fourth and final collaboration with Ken Loach. By contrast, Hines’s novel Unfinished Business (1983) examines the possibilities of social freedom, in this narrative about the

in Barry Hines
Essays on The Smiths

This book seeks to offer a rather wider frame of analysis than is typically adopted in accounts of the nature and significance of The Smiths. It focuses on the Catholic and broader religious dimensions of The Smiths. The book explores the theme of suicide in the songs of The Smiths. It also seeks to examine how the kitchen-sink dramas of the early 1960s influenced Morrissey's writing. The book proposes that beyond the literal references in his lyrics there lies a sensibility at the heart of these films akin to the one found in his poetic impulse. The book expands the argument with some concluding thoughts on how cinema has 'returned the favour' by employing The Smiths' songs in various ways. It examines the particular forms of national identity that are imagined in the work of The Smiths. The book ranges from class, sexuality, Catholicism, and Thatcherism to musical poetics and fandom. It then focuses on lyrics, interviews, the city of Manchester, cultural iconography, and the cult of Morrissey. The distinctive sense of Englishness that pervades the lyrics, interviews, and cover art of the band is located within a specific tradition of popular culture from which they have drawn and to which they have contributed a great deal. The book breaches the standard confines of music history, rock biography, and pop culture studies to give a sustained critical analysis of the band that is timely and illuminating.

Britain’s meritocratic moment, 1937–1988
Author: Dean Blackburn

This books explores the non-fiction publishing of Penguin Books to offer a new account of Britain’s post-war politics. This account decentres some of the categories that scholars have commonly employed to understand this period. The three decades after 1944, it argues, constituted a ‘meritocratic moment’ in Britain’s intellectual politics. That is not to say that political elites sought to realise a meritocratic order. But the argument that status and rewards should be determined by observable merits was accommodated by key ideological formations and provided a starting point for much political thinking. The perceived crises of the 1970s led to the eclipse of this meritocratic moment. But to understand this development as a victory for Thatcherism is problematic. Indeed this ideology was not able to accommodate or account for many of the antagonisms that followed from the collapse of the post-war political order.

The Conservative Party in opposition, 1997–2010
Author: Richard Hayton

Why did it take the Conservative Party so long to recover power? After a landslide defeat in 1997, why was it so slow to adapt, reposition itself and rebuild its support? How did the party leadership seek to reconstruct conservatism and modernise its electoral appeal?

This highly readable book addresses these questions through a contextualised assessment of Conservative Party politics between 1997 and 2010. By tracing the debates over strategy amongst the party elite, and scrutinising the actions of the leadership, it situates David Cameron and his ‘modernising’ approach in relation to that of his three immediate predecessors: Michael Howard, Iain Duncan Smith and William Hague. This holistic view, encompassing this period of opposition in its entirety, aids the identification of strategic trends and conflicts and a comprehension of the evolving Conservative response to New Labour’s statecraft.

Secondly, the book considers in depth four particular dilemmas for contemporary Conservatism: European integration; national identity and the ‘English Question’; social liberalism versus social authoritarianism; and the problems posed by a neo-liberal political economy. The book argues that the ideological legacy of Thatcherism played a central role in framing and shaping these intraparty debates, and that an appreciation of this is vital for explaining the nature and limits of the Conservatives’ renewal under Cameron.

Students of British politics, party politics and ideologies will find this volume essential reading, and it will also be of great interest to anyone concerned with furthering their understanding of contemporary British political history.

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Author: Sue Vice

This is a critical work on Jack Rosenthal, the highly regarded British television dramatist. His career began with Coronation Street in the 1960s and he became famous for his popular sitcoms, including The Lovers and The Dustbinmen. During what is often known as the ‘golden age’ of British television drama, Rosenthal wrote such plays as The Knowledge, The Chain, Spend, Spend, Spend and P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang, as well as the pilot for the series London's Burning. This study offers a close analysis of all his best-known works, drawing on archival material as well as interviews with his collaborators, including Jonathan Lynn and Don Black. The book places Rosenthal's plays in their historical and televisual context, and does so by tracing the events that informed his writing – ranging from his comic take on the ‘permissive society’ of the 1960s, to recession in the 1970s and Thatcherism in the 1980s. His distinctive brand of melancholy humour is contrasted throughout with the work of contemporaries such as Dennis Potter, Alan Bleasdale and Johnny Speight, and his influence on contemporary television and film is analysed. Rosenthal is not usually placed in the canon of Anglo-Jewish writing, but the book argues this case by focusing on his prize-winning Plays for Today, The Evacuees and Bar Mitzvah Boy.

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Author: Brian Baker

This book is a comprehensive critical introduction to one of the most original contemporary British writers, providing an overview of all of Iain Sinclair's major works and an analysis of his vision of modern London. It places Sinclair in a range of contexts, including: the late 1960s counter-culture and the British Poetry Revival; London's underground histories; the rise and fall of Thatcherism; and Sinclair's writing about Britain under New Labour and Sinclair's connection to other writers and artists, such as J.G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock and Marc Atkins. The book contributes to the growing scholarship surrounding Sinclair's work, covering in detail his poetry, fiction, non-fiction (including his book on John Clare, Edge of the Orison), and his film work. Using a generally chronological structure, it traces the on-going themes in Sinclair's writing, such as the uncovering of lost histories of London, the influence of visionary writings, and the importance of walking in the city, and more recent developments in his texts, such as the focus on spaces outside of London and his filmic collaborations with Chris Petit. The book provides a critically informed discussion of Sinclair's work using a variety of approaches.

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Author: Jonathan Bolton

The Blunt Affair: Official secrecy and treason in literature, television and film, 1980–89 examines a number of significant plays, films and novels about or related to the Cambridge spies from the time of Anthony Blunt’s unmasking as the “fourth man” in late 1979 to the end of the Cold War. This study argues that these works collectively offer a forceful response to issues at the forefront of British politics and culture in the decade, such as the rise in anti-gay sentiment and policies during the AIDs crisis, nuclear proliferation and CND’s stand against it, state secrecy and the abuse of the Official Secrets Act, Thatcherism and patriotic imperatives. This study also offers a much-needed reassessment of the literary and filmic culture of the decade, arguing that these texts, by writers as diverse as Dennis Potter, Julian Mitchell, Alan Bennett, Tom Stoppard, John le Carré, Robin Chapman and Hugh Whitemore, deserve a more central place in the cultural assessment of the decade.