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Margaret Thatcher was leader of the Conservative Party from February 1975 to November 1990. For eleven and a half years she held the office of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a period characterised by many contemporary commentators as one of political ‘revolution'. This somewhat hyperbolic assessment of Mrs Thatcher's premiership has been challenged by a body of more recent historiography which has produced a more nuanced assessment, exploring the tensions between modernity in the shape of ongoing social, economic and cultural change and continuities in the resilience of the political centre and respect, even nostalgia for tradition. In the context of the ‘revisionist' argument this study considers the extent to which Thatcher's style of government owed more to cultural evolution, pragmatism and populism than ‘revolution'. It proposes a pluralistic interpretation of the ‘Thatcher years' based around the core themes of populism, tradition, pragmatism and modernity and reflects upon their shifting salience during the four distinct periods of Thatcher's leadership of the Conservative Party initially in opposition and in three subsequent terms of government. In so doing it considers the contradictions in Mrs Thatcher's persona and leadership style and argues that while her personal influence is to some extent overstated and contingent factors played no small part in her success, her populist instincts nevertheless enabled her divergent socio-cultural and economic principles to align separately, simultaneously and for the most part successfully with two distinct and powerful electoral cohorts; the older socially conservative, patriotic ‘silent majority' who fought in or lived through the Second World War and the younger, upwardly mobile ‘baby-boomers' who came of age politically and economically in the 1970s. As a consequence the Thatcher era gave rise to new and at times contradictory interpretations of conservatism which continue to impact on politics in the current era.
Born and educated in York, I qualified by practice and correspondence course as a Chartered Surveyor in 1971 and spent my career in Commercial Real Estate, initially for 10 years in the public sector in the North East of England and 32 years in private practice in London. Prior to retirement in 2009 I held the positions of Group Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of DTZ Holdings plc a global property services business listed on the London Stock Exchange. Between 2008-2012 I was Non-Executive Chairman of Aukett Fitzroy Robinson plc an architectural services practice listed on the Alternative investment Market. I enrolled as a part-time student at Kingston in 2009 studying for a BA in History graduating in 2015 whereupon I commenced a MA in History graduating in 2017. I am married with 4 grown up children and my wife and I live in Hampton South West London.