The general election of 1979 saw the beginning of the ‘Thatcher revolution’. Ten years later, there was no clear sign that that revolution was finished, even if the government’s popularity might have been on the wane. In fact, there is clearly a long way to go if Thatcherism is really to reverse the process that has taken almost one hundred years to develop in Britain. Not even such a radical group of politicians would dare, as yet at least, attack openly the whole concept of the National Health Service. Kenneth Clark’s reforms in medicine have allowed Labour some valuable propaganda, sowing doubts even among Conservatives about Mrs Thatcher’s declaration that ‘the health service is safe with us.’ There are still some relics from the age of welfare politics which remain sacred. Certainly, however, the radical implications of Conservative rule through the 1980s should not be underestimated. There have been fundamental reverses in economic and social policy which would have seemed politically impossible just twenty years ago. Winning three general elections in a row, and refusing to be turned from their fundamentalist approach, the Conservatives have producd a wholly different set of assumptions about the role of the state in the national life.
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