Chapter

Margaret Thatcher's Nationalism

Anthony F. Heath, Roger M. Jowell and John K. Curtice

in The Rise of New Labour

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780199245116
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599453 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199245118.003.0004
 Margaret Thatcher's Nationalism

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Heath, Jowell, and Curtice analyse Margaret Thatcher's distinctive form of British nationalism that embraced a range of issues such as strong defence, vigorous pursuit of British interests in Europe, the protection of British sovereignty, and the maintenance of the Union. They discuss how Thatcherite the electorate was on these issues. As on the economic front, Margaret Thatcher tended to be more extreme than the electorate, both on nuclear defence, where the electorate did not share her enthusiasm for the deployment of American nuclear Cruise missiles in Britain, and on the maintenance of the Union, where the electorate progressively moved away from her brand of British nationalism. On Europe, the Conservatives were closest to the electorate but the disunity of the party over the issue gave out confusing signals to the voters, and the Conservatives proved vulnerable to the Referendum Party created in 1995 with the aim to campaign on the preservation of British sovereignty. The results from the analysis are consistent with the ‘top‐down’ theory of voting behaviour, according to which parties may be able to influence how voters see issues and can themselves shape their supporter's attitudes.

Keywords: British sovereignty; Conservatives; defence; Europe; nationalism; Margaret Thatcher; the top‐down theory of voting behaviour; the Referendum Party; the Union

Chapter.  10996 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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