Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews From the Frontline

Thatcher’s legacy

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 15 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2382
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. destwo{at}

Rats on the streets during the bin collectors’ strike, the Green Goddesses, wildcat strikes, flying pickets, the closed shop, block votes, “one out all out,” restrictive work practices, double digit inflation, a three day week, and a winter of discontent. The 1970s in Britain were a time of national crisis, with undemocratic and out of control trade unions.

The Conservatives won the 1979 election: working class people had voted for change. The Thatcher government crushed the unions’ power, but the price was broken communities, public disorder, and mass unemployment. The industrialised north and …

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