Did Thatcher Leave a Legacy of Freedom?

Regrettably no, says Dalrymple. Sure, she helped to tame the unions, but their power was on the wane anyway. But what about her effect on government as a whole?

[D]id Mrs. Thatcher roll back the state, as it was her intention and indeed vocation to do? Here I think the answer must decisively be no. That is, at least if the question is about her long-term effect. It is true that she managed to reduce the public sector’s proportion of the Gross Domestic Product somewhat during her term in office. But 30 years after she entered office, it was higher than when she entered it. In 1979 it was 44.6 per cent; in 2009, 47.7 per cent. Her long-term effect (if 30 years counts as the long-term) on the size of the state was nil, despite her reputation as a prudent or even savage cutter of public services.

Dalrymple at the Library of Law and Liberty

2 thoughts on “Did Thatcher Leave a Legacy of Freedom?

  1. Rob Martin

    I’m sorry, but blaming Margaret Thatcher for what politicians did after she was gone from office is hardly fair. Any Prime Minister or President who can reduce the size of government even slightly is performing a minor miracle in this day and age of increasing welfare and dependency. The fact that politicians who came after Thatcher didn’t follow her lead is hardly her fault.

  2. John Cook

    One could extend Rob Martin’s comment by asking “What would have been the size of the state without Thatcher?”. Those years of unchecked political piggery might have been significant indeed, rather than fairly static, as was the case.


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