Thatcher’s effect on the size of the state was nil

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 00.24.31Dalrymple points out that despite her reputation as a prudent or even savage cutter of public services, Margaret Thatcher failed to roll back the state, as it was her intention and vocation to do. In 1979 the public sector’s proportion of Gross Domestic Product was 44.6 per cent; in 2009, 47.7 per cent.

She did nothing to reduce dependence on the state as a source of primary income.

On the contrary, during her period in office, spending on social security increased. It was ethically, socially, and politically impossible to drive down the income of the unemployed to the value of their labour to employers. Government spending having declined as a proportion of GDP, social security increased proportionately even more. Mrs Thatcher did not, because she could not, effect any fundamental change in the model of the welfare state. That model, in democracies at least, has a one-way ratchet.

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