In her speech to the Conservative Party Conference in 1986, Margaret Thatcher said:
“From France to the Philippines, from Jamaica to Japan, from Malaysia to Mexico, from Sri Lanka to Singapore...The policies we have pioneered are catching on in country after country. We Conservatives believe in popular capitalism—believe in a property-owning democracy. And it works! Popular capitalism is nothing less than a crusade to enfranchise the many in the economic life of the nation. We Conservatives are returning power to the people. That is the way to one nation, one people.”
The policies of Thatcherism have indeed spread across the World. Once, the privatisation of huge state owned monopolies was deemed infeasible or even undesirable; now countries around the world have embraced it. Other policies from curbing the power of militant trade unions, cutting marginal tax rates and extending the right to buy have proven equally radical and equally successful.
It’s true that many countries have yet to embrace liberal democracy and free markets. Some countries which had taken steps in the right direction have since regressed. Even Britain’s Labour party which under Tony Blair appeared to have reconciled with free enterprise has fallen back into tired, old socialism. However, the trend globally is in an overwhelmingly positive direction. Since Margaret Thatcher left office, hundreds of millions and maybe even billions of people have been pulled of poverty through the growth of market economies.
Thatcher’s capitalism was a popular capitalism which extended freedom and opportunity to those who had been locked out prosperity. In the UK, the need for a return to popular capitalism is as urgent as ever; whether it is in energy, transport or finance, markets are in need of a wave of new competition and dynamism so that they spread wealth, choice and opportunity to all parts of the country.
In a foreword to a collection of pamphlets published by the University Press of America in 1989, Margaret Thatcher wrote about the Centre for Policy Studies:
“In the 15 years since the Centre was founded by Sir Keith Joseph and myself, it has provided inspiration for many of the policies which our Conservative Government has put into practice. A number of these policy ideas, which were often accused of being impractical when they were first put forward, are now universally accepted and are being implemented by governments across the world. I am very pleased, therefore, that people in America will have a chance to read these pamphlets. Although the recommendations they make are for policies in Britain, the principles that underlie them are universal.”
It is one year today since the passing of our co-founder Lady Thatcher. We continue to fight for her ideals of popular capitalism, a small state and individual liberty.