One of the interesting but not unexpected things about the death of Margaret Thatcher was the polarised nature of the responses, for she has become an iconic figure to left and right. I probably have a somewhat iconoclastic view of her.
Back in 2006, I did a short background series on trends in public administration. If you are interested, the posts were:
- In Changes in Public Administration - Notes, I looked at the end of the welfare state.
- Publish or Perish - where did the this phrase come from? continued the discussion on measurement begun in the previous post.
- Changes in Public Administration - the New Zealand Model looked at the very specific influence of Rogernomics and the articulated model developed in the New Zealand Treasury.
I said that my View of Mrs Thatcher was probably somewhat iconoclastic. In the posts, I do refer to Thatcherism as the label attached to the approaches that were emerging. I also try to briefly put Mrs Thatcher in a broader context. However, I don't discuss her ideas, nor do I place great weight on her in an Australian context.
Leaving foreign policy aside and focusing on domestic policy, Mrs Thatcher was first and foremost a British politician dealing with an economy that had become a basket case. She articulated views on the role of the state in life. She became a major symbol to those who had certain if opposing views about the role of the state. But she never (to my knowledge) really articulated a coherent view about the way that the state should work within the bounds that she had set. That was left to others.
In an Australian context, she had some influence on views about the role of the state, but almost no influence on public policy or public administration that I can discern. The changes that took place in Australia were locally driven, although they did take place to some degree within a frame set by global trends of which Mrs Thatcher was a part.
So when I listen or read about the opposing and sometimes heated local responses to Mrs Thatcher, I do wonder. Maybe I'm wrong. Can you point to a single example where Mrs Thatcher's ideas had significant local influence?