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Clear blue water?The Conservative Party and the welfare state since 1940$
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Robert M. Page

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781847429865

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847429865.001.0001

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The Conservative (counter-) revolution

The Conservative (counter-) revolution

neo-liberal Conservatism and the welfare state, 1974-97

(p.77) Five The Conservative (counter-) revolution
Clear blue water?

Robert M. Page

Policy Press

This chapter charts the rise of the neo-liberal Conservatism approach to the welfare state under the Thatcher and Major governments. While emphasis was given to economic reforms during the first and second term Thatcher governments, there were clear indications of a neo-liberal turn in social policy. These included enabling council house tenants to buy their homes under the 1980 Housing Act, reforms to the social security system and the adoption of a more `business-like’ approach to running the NHS. In the third term social policy took centre stage with changes in health and social care. The Education Reform Act of 1980 led to the introduction of a national curriculum and national testing of pupil performance. Thatcher’s downfall led to Major taking the reins in 1992. After securing victory in the General Election, Major embedded Thatcher’s neo-liberal social reforms years, maintaining public funding whilst seeking cost savings and more `efficient’ non-state forms of delivery.

Keywords:   margaret thatcher, the welfare state, privatisation and de-regulation, neo liberal conservative approach to the welfare state, john major and the welfare state

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