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Thatcherism and the Politics of Nationhood

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Abstract

Thatcherism prompted renewed interest in the role of the politics of nationhood in Conservative statecraft and conservative thought, a relationship which became still more significant given the problems encountered by the Major Governments in EU and territorial politics. In the 1980s populist themes of national sovereignty and identity evident in Conservative policy towards the EC, in the politics of ‘race’ and during the Falklands War were cited as evidence that the defence of nation and nation-state was again central to the Conservative project. Thatcher’s instinctive patriotism, the emphasis on the national community in some New Right thought and the centrality of a strong nation-state to the Thatcherite political project were cited as evidence of this. But an examination of the politics of nationhood in the Thatcher and Major period requires careful navigation through the literature on Thatcherism and an examination of key policy areas.

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