28 Years After Margaret Thatcher Stepped Down, Many Younger British Voters Share Some of Her Key Positions

By Kevin McCandless | November 28, 2018 | 12:06 AM EST

Baroness Thatcher, Britain’s prime minister from 1979 to 1990, visits 10 Downing Street in 2010. (Photo by Suzanne Plunkett - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

London (CNSNews.com) – A study has found that young voters in Britain are more likely than their older counterparts to hold positions in line with those held by the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who left Downing Street for the last time 28 years ago today.

On November 28, 1990, following a bruising power struggle within her own Conservative Party, Thatcher ended her 11-year stint as prime minister.

After tending her resignation to the Queen and heading home to south London, many expected her to fade from the political stage.

More than five years after her death, however, she remains a towering and controversial figure, and some of her policies are shared by young voters – in some cases, perhaps without them even realizing it.

According to research released this month, young voters showed more support for some positions held by the former prime minister than older ones.

As part of a larger research project being finalized in 2019, the Economic and Social Research Council last September commissioned polling of 600 British citizens between 16 and 79, with questions on how they viewed Thatcher.

Sixty percent of those aged between 25 and 34 said they were in favor of what the survey called Thatcher’s “economic tenets of low regulation, less tax and reduced trade union power,” compared to between 40 and 50 percent of older respondents.

Forty-seven percent of young adults shared “Thatcherite values on law, order and authority,” lagging only slightly behind those aged over 35, where between 54 and 61 percent shared those views.

One of the researchers involved, Professor Steven Farrall of the University of Sheffield, said the pushback in the 1990s against Thatcher was now evidently over.

“Changes in values that the Thatcher regime set in motion appear to have come to fruition – albeit a generation and a half later,” he said.

The findings come, ironically, at a time when young voters – angered by university costs, among other issues – are credited with helping the left-leaning opposition Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, nearly defeat the Conservatives to win the 2017 general election.

A YouGov poll of British adults earlier this year found that 49 percent of respondents aged between 25 and 39 said they would never consider voting Conservative in the next general election.

However, that poll, which was commissioned by the Center of Policy Studies – a think-tank co-founded by Thatcher in the 1970s – also found that the largest section of this group, 27 percent, also thought the government taxes too much and spends too much on services.

By a margin of 44 to 36 percent, more younger voters thought the government should aim for equal opportunities for everyone, rather than equal outcomes.

Meanwhile, it was announced last week that a heritage association has applied for authorization to erect a bronze statue of Thatcher in her hometown of Grantham.

The ten-and-a-half foot high statue depicts her in the robes she wore in the House of Lords, and will be placed in a prominent green space in the small Lincolnshire town.

“Margaret Thatcher was undoubtedly an enormous political figure, both nationally and internationally, and deserves to be recognized in her home town,” said local councilor Matthew Lee.

Early this year, London’s Westminster Council unanimously rejected an application, for the second time, to place a statue of Thatcher in Parliament Square, amid fears that it would be a focus for protest and attract vandalism.

On Monday, the Bank of England announced that Thatcher was on the list of around 800 candidates to appear on the new 50 pound note in 2020.

The news drew some protest, since the note is intended to feature a Briton who had contributed to the field of science. Other nominees include the late theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking.

Science is not a field often associated with the winner of three general elections, although Thatcher did obtain a degree in chemistry from Oxford University and before entering politics worked as a research chemist for the food giant J. Lyons & Co.

The bank said in a subsequent statement that Thatcher qualified for the initial list because she met the qualifications of being a real person, deceased, who had contributed to British science “in any way.”

Thatcher is sometimes credited with helping to invent soft-scoop ice cream, while at J. Lyons, in the 1940s.

The claim has been frequently disputed, but the bank appears to have settled the issue in its own estimation, saying this week Thatcher had worked “on the research team which helped invent soft-scoop ice cream.”


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Kevin McCandless
Kevin McCandless
CNS London Correspondent