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November 14, 2013 / C H Thompson


  1. Anti-collectivism challenged Keynesian economics through Friedman’s Monetarist economics. Monetarist economics promotes the use of the free market to co-ordinate society. In other words society is no longer organised by the state (rolling back the state) but through the free market. This idea of the free market was promoted by Thatcher via three key strands; housing, privatisation; industrial relations. In housing the mainly working-class electorate to purchase their own homes (the homes they once rented at a cheap rate); the broader electorate was encouraged to buying private shares in the services once run by the state (known as privatisation) so the electorate could buy into the ideology of the property owning democracy. Finally industrial relations sought to demonise trade unionism as causing ‘the crisis of capitalism’. This is turn according to Sarlvick and Crewe meant the working-class electorate became dealigned from their partisan alignment with the Labour Partyby being indoctrinated into a middle-class consciousness through popular capitalism. This in turn meant the electorate were starting to vote on policies issues rather than historical ideological loyalty.
  2. Collectivist ideology was based upon Keynesian economics requiring the state to stimulate demand in the economy. Being socialist in principle this ‘economic demand’ was mainly achieved through state controlled industries – nationalisation. These principles had the effect of polarising the electorate between those who worked in state run industries verses those working/owning private industries. Butler and Stokes argument was those in the private were politically aligned to the propertied class and voted Conservative while those aligned to (partisan to) the working-class voted Labour. This partisanship being aligned on class lines was brought about through traditional occupations (the jobs people did) and the subsequent political socialisation.
  3. Heath, Jowell and Curtice’s argument challenges Sarlvick and Crewe’s by arguing the shift in voting patterns wasn’t due to class but to the ideological image of the party. Party image is the mental associations the electorate has of a particular party and the electorate will have at least two mental associations of what a political party stands for. Thatcher’s cultivated an image of which her party  allowed hard working free individuals to be rewarded for their efforts rather than waiting for the state to reward them. This manifest itself in allowing the electorate to purchase their own homes or start up their own business through the free market.

The above (paragraph 3) established the hegemony of the free market, by displacing that of collectivist state socialism as ideologically dead. Thatcher’s party image was one of rewarding individual free enterprise, which attracted that particular type of voter.


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