A timely event on Thatcher’s legacy

Last week SPERI hosted a rare screening of ‘Generation Right’, a documentary about Margaret Thatcher and her legacy. The film is one of the outcomes of the research led by Stephen Farrall and SPERI Co-Director Colin Hay which analysed the political attitude of children who grew up under Thatcher.

A large number of students and members of the public came to the Diamond to see a film rich in archive footage which put the current election campaign into perspective.

The film was followed by a panel debate with The Rt Hon. the Lord  Blunkett, Baroness Lister of Burtersett, Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough, Andy Beckett, journalist and author of ‘Promised You A Miracle: Why 1980-82 Made Modern Britain’ and Stephen Farrall, Professor of Criminology at the University of Sheffield. The panel was chaired by SPERI Professorial fellow Andrew Gamble.

It was argued that Thatcher exploited changes that were already happening around the world (consumerism, home ownership). The country was already moving to the right but the acceptance of ‘inevitable losers’ in society led to an sharp increase in inequality. Thatcher’s policies made poor people even more dependent on the state today and the credibility of the changes she introduced are diminishing. What is missing today is a coherent alternative to the neoliberalism she embodied.