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A Welfare Consensus?
Social Policy from Thatcher to Blair

HOLLAND, JOHN,DELWYN (2009) A Welfare Consensus?
Social Policy from Thatcher to Blair.
Masters thesis, Durham University.



Research Abstract
A Welfare Consensus?
Social Policy from Thatcher to Blair

This thesis examines two central aspects of asset management by central government with special reference to health and education. First, it analyses the nature, structure and procedural legacy inherited by New Labour after eighteen years of Conservative control, and carries this analysis forward to determine the influence that this has on New Labour’s policy orientation. Second, with a view to the significance of institutionalist theories, which underline the potential importance of ‘path dependency’, the thesis seeks to determine what, if any, major policy differences developed with the transition from the Conservative governments of 1979-97 to the New Labour governments of 1997-2007.

From a wealth of documentary evidence this thesis concludes that New Labour, throughout its ten years period in office, while it softened the well entrenched Thatcherite policies inherited it did not reform the core objectives of ‘rolling back the state’ which had led to the introduction of market-style competition designed to drive up standards, choice and availability accompanied by the driving down of unit costs. Over a time span of almost thirty years all governments have placed health and education as twin focal points of their policy initiatives. This thesis has therefore chosen these two political drivers as major examples of continuity and changes in social policy over that period, stretching from the late 20th century and into the 21st century.

New Labour’s pragmatic acceptance in 1997 of its Thatcherite legacy with its compounded bipartisan approach led to a new welfare consensus coupled to enhanced strategic public expenditure priorities. In doing so, New Labour, under Blair, set aside its traditional, historical policies and embedded its own legacy so deeply into the economic fabric and culture of the UK that any future government, of whatever political persuasion will find the forward momentum of these policies powerful inhibitors of change. Thirty years of rolling back the state has achieved its outcome.

John D Holland
St Cuthbert’s Society
School of Applied Social Sciences,
Department of Sociology
Durham University
November 2009

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Philosophy
Keywords:Welfare Consensus, Social Policy, Thatcher, Blair, New Labour, path dependency, institutionalist theory, education policy, heath policy,
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2009
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Dec 2009 14:34

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