The Corner

Britain Before the Iron Lady Came Along

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, Claire Berlinski, journalist and author of There is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters.  If you want to grasp Mrs. Thatcher’s achievement, Claire argues, you must first grasp the catastrophe she inherited.

The post-war consensus was that as a reward for the sacrifices that Britain endured, it was time to build a new Jerusalem.  Under the Attlee government, this involved nationalizing the major industries and building a cradle-to-grave welfare state.   At the time, this seemed to everyone an extremely progressive idea.  But it nearly destroyed Britain.  It nearly drove the country into the ground.  By the time Margaret Thatcher came into power in 1979, Britain, which just a few decades earlier had controlled an empire, had become the sick man of Europe.

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Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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