In what ways - if any - is the Coalition more radical than the Thatcher governments?
Earlier this week Peter Hoskin used his column to argue that not every person has remembered the Thatcher years correctly. Three of ConHome's jurors respond by answering a related question - "In what ways - if any - is the Coalition more radical than the Thatcher governments?"
Paul Abbott: "The Coalition is pursuing shock and awe reform, in almost every Whitehall department. Police pay and pensions. the NHS Bill. Reductions in the armed forces. Academy schools. Localism. The universal credit. Utility bills. Quantitative easing. Re-regulating the banks. Top-up fees. A bonfire of the quangos every three years... Conservatives are fighting on all fronts, without an outright majority. By contrast, Margaret Thatcher's government was careful to avoid an all-out confrontation with Britain's vested interests. Her Ministers took not one, but SIX successive Acts of Parliament between 1980 and 1993 to curb militant trade union power, for example. Thatcher was more incremental, and more cautious. As the saying goes, she knew how to eat the elephant. (Many small bites.)"
Spencer Pitfield: "The radicalism of Thatcher Governments is best encapsulated in a political philosophy and economic policies emphasising flexible labour markets, deregulation and privatisation. I have no doubt that this Coalition Government's greatest radicalism, and the one for which it will be most remembered for, relates to education policies and, in particular, the implementation of Free Schools. By creating 'indepedent state schools - free from LEA limitations and local bureacracy - and allowing school leadership teams to lead, Michael Gove has across the board set state schools free to finally achieve their full potential."
John Bald: "Education was a weak spot for Margaret from the time she was bamboozled into appointing her sworn enemies to the Bullock Committee in 1975. They duly did the opposite to what she wanted, and abolished the national reading test. Local authorities took this as their cue and, except in Union matters, ran rings round her and her ministers. David Cameron and Michael Gove have cut the ground from under their opponents by abolishing their quangos, exposing their fiddling of examination and test results, opening more free schools and academies, and being (mostly) much more careful in their use of advice."