CPS established by Keith Joseph to "convert the Tory Party" to economic liberalism. Margaret Thatcher joined the Centre as Deputy Chairman. Alfred Sherman, another key figure at the time, described the purpose of the CPS as being to "question the unquestioned, think the unthinkable, blaze new trails."

June: The first of Keith Joseph's seminal speeches on economic policy - at Upminster. He attacked both Labour and Conservative Governments for "thirty years of Socialistic fashion... thirty years of interventions; thirty years of good intentions; thirty years of disappointment."

September: Keith Joseph's speech at Preston, 'Inflation is caused by governments', outlines a monetarist counter-inflationary policy. Described by Margaret Thatcher as "one of the very few speeches which have fundamentally affected a political generation's way of thinking."

October: General election - Labour majority of three


February: Margaret Thatcher elected leader of the Conservative Party

June: EEC referendum

CPS publications included 'Why Britain Needs a Social Market Economy'.


March: Callaghan replaces Wilson as Labour leader

December: Healey's mini-Budget and IMF Letter of Intent

CPS publications included 'Stranded on the Middle Ground' - a collection of some of Keith Joseph's key speeches and 'Myths and Magic' by Jock Bruce-Gardyne, a key exposition of the new monetarist thinking. 'Upper Clyde Shipbuilders' by Frank Broadway, on the failures of subsidies, was part of the sea change in Conservative thinking on industrial policy


Summer: 'Labour Isn't Working' Conservative Party advertising campaign

CPS publishes 'Monetarism: an essay in definition' by Tim Congdon and 'Second Thoughts on Full Employment Policy' by Samuel Brittan'. 'Conditions for Fuller Employment' by Keith Joseph argues that "The combination of government over-spending, overtaxing, overborrowing and over-regulating destroys jobs".


Winter of Discontent

March: Labour Government loses a vote of confidence

May: Conservatives win General Election with 43 seat majority


October: Margaret Thatcher's 'the lady's not for turning' speech at Conservative Party Conference

November: Ronald Reagan elected US President

CPS publishes 'The New Conservatism' by Nigel Lawson and 'The Challenge of a Radical Reactionary' by Lord Harris of High Cross. The Centre's Trade Union Reform Committee publishes a range of proposals for reforming Britain's union laws, setting the agenda for future Government action.


March: Formation of the SDP

CPS publications include 'Against Import Controls' by Tim Congdon, 'The Economic Adviser's Role' by Alan Walters and 'The Litmus Papers: A National Health Dis-service' - a collection of essays on health reform edited by Arthur Seldon.


April - June: Falklands War

CPS publishes 'The Right to Learn' - a ground-breaking report on standards, parental choice and devolution of power to schools. 'Telecommunications in Britain' calls for the privatisation of BT and the introduction of competition to the sector.


June: General Election. Conservative majority 144

CPS publishes 'Power to the People' by Anthony Flew, one of the earliest serious discussions of parental choice in education.


March: Coal strike began

October: Brighton bomb

November: Flotation of British Telecom

CPS publishes 'Making it Work: the future of the European Community' - the first report of the CPS' Study Group on the European Community.


CPS publishes 'Shares for All: steps towards a share-owning society' by Sir Nicholas Goodison


June: General Election. Conservative majority 102

October: 'Black Monday'.

A comprehensive series of CPS reports on the next steps in the privatisation agenda examines the sectors of rail, electricity, coal and the Royal Mail. 'The Good Council Guide' lays out an agenda for local government reform, based on the successes of Wandsworth Council.


November: Fall of the Berlin Wall

CPS publishes 'Nationalised Universities' by Deepak Lal, which called for an end to Government control over universities.


October: Britain joins the ERM

November: Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister, replaced by John Major

CPS publications include 'Teachers Mistaught' by Sheila Lawlor on reform of teacher training structures.


April: General Election. Conservative majority 21.

November: 'Black Wednesday' - Britain leaves ERM

CPS publishes 'Privatisation Everywhere' by John Moore, showing how the model pioneered by the Thatcher Government had become a blueprint for other countries.


CPS publishes 'Testing Time: the future of the National Curriculum' by John Marenbon, a call for thorough reform of the Curriculum.


CPS publications include 'The Performance of Privatised Industries' - a detailed statistical analysis which showed the positive benefits of privatisation.

Lady Thatcher delivers the first CPS Keith Joseph Memorial Lecture.


May: General Election. Labour majority 179.

A number of CPS publications, including 'Blue Skies Ahead', outlined practical steps for the Conservative Party to renew itself after electoral collapse.


April: Good Friday Agreement

CPS publishes 'More Damage to the Family' by Patricia Morgan, part of a series of reports on the demise of family life and its consequences for society.


May/July: Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament open

CPS publications include 'After the Landslide: learning the lessons from 1906 and 1945' by David Willetts MP and Richard Forsdykem 'The War of Independence' by Lord Saatchi and Peter Warburton on radical welfare reform and 'The End of Illiteracy' by Tom Burkard


CPS publishes 'Poor People! Stop Paying Tax!' by Maurice Saatchi and Peter Warburton which advocated a simpler tax system and 'Welcome To The Asylum' by Harriet Sergeant which argued for a fairer immigration policy.

June: UK General Election, Labour win with majority of 83.

September: 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington.

October: US and UK troops enter Afghanistan.


January: Euro Enters Circulation.


CPS publishes 'The European Constitution' by David Heathcoat-Amory MP which highlighted the risk to national sovereignty that the EU poses.

March: Invasion of Iraq.


CPS publishes 'Why Britain Cannot Afford Not To Cut Taxes' by Lord Blackwell.


May: UK General Election, Labour win with majority of 31.

July: 7/7 terrorist attacks in London.


CPS publishes 'Greater Transparency for UK Retail Banking' by Andrew Tyrie MP which argued that banks should reveal all their charges to the consumers.

June: Tony Blair resigns as Prime Minister.

September: Northern Rock collapses and is nationalised 5 months later.


October: Government spend £850bn bailing out RBS, Lloyds TSB and HBOS.

November: Obama elected President of USA.


CPS publishes 'Re-empower the Bank of England' by Sir Martin Jacomb advocating a reduction in the powers of the FSA and an increase in the Bank of England's influence.

March: Bank of England announces first round of quantitative easing and injects £200bn into the economy.

Speeches and Publications

The CPS has gathered the historic speeches and publications by Sir Keith Joseph and Lady Thatcher which led to its foundation.

The Centre for Policy Studies has a rich history. Established in 1974 by Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher, it aimed to ‘think the unthinkable’ with regard to public policy. Here, we have compiled some of the milestones of the CPS’ work so far.

Margaret Thatcher and Keith Joseph

Celebrating 35 Years

To mark the Centre's 35th anniversay in 2009 we have recorded a selection of interviews with some of the key people involved with the CPS in its early years.

The interviews are available to listen to below.

Simon Webley:

Professor Kenneth Minogue:

Lord Vinson
part one:

Lord Vinson
part two:

Click the link below for an in-depth account of the early history of the CPS and Margaret Thatcher’s involvement.

View in-depth account

Sources and further reading

  • Thinking the Unthinkable by Richard Cockett
  • Keith Joseph by Andrew Denham and Mark Garnett
  • The Path to Power by Margaret Thatcher
  • The Downing Street Years by Margaret Thatcher
  • The Margaret Thatcher Foundation www.margaretthatcher.org