As she explained in her memoirs, Lady Thatcher saw privatisation as “fundamental to improving Britain’s economic performance”. But it also chimed with her political ideology.
“It was one of the central means of reversing the corrosive and corrupting effects of socialism,” she declared, adding: “Just as nationalisation was at the heart of the collectivist programme by which Labour governments sought to remodel British society, so privatisation is at the centre of any programme of reclaiming territory for freedom.”
As David Parker noted, in a paper for the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Britain she came to lead in 1979 had seen successive Labour governments extend state ownership.
That included nationalising steel in 1967, British Leyland in 1974 and aerospace and shipbuilding in 1977.
“By the late 1970s, the nationalised industries accounted for 10pc of Britain’s GDP, 14pc of investment and 8pc of employment,” he said.
Lady Thatcher changed that, radically, though much of the impetus came from former trade secretary Sir Keith Joseph.
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