Annals of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Economics, History and Political Science

The Annals is a forum for the free exchange of ideas
among scholars working in the field of social sciences
Volume LIV 1 - 2020

Margaret Thatcher’s American Dream: Origins and Outcomes

David W. Ellwood,
pp. 107-130
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The article describes Mrs Thatcher’s efforts to bring the examples she saw in American government, business, labour markets, education and much else besides, to her great project of ‘modernising’ Britain, destroying its postwar collectivisms, and thereby – she believed – reversing her nation’s long-term economic and political decline. Going beyond the traditional geopolitical conception of the ‘special’ Anglo-American relationship, the analysis traces the mechanisms used to transfer policymodels from the US to Britain, and relates something of the impact and reception of these efforts, in government and the wider society. Most contemporary observers believed Thatcher’s impact would be temporary, but succeeding prime ministers all followed in her path, relentlessly trying a form of top-down Americanization of British governance, economic performance, education, media etc. While later experts were sceptical – ‘the Britishness of British life was still much in evidence’ – the other face of her pro-Americanism, aggressive Euro-scepticism, undoubtedly created an enduring legacy.