Thatcher’s legacy on ‘race’

UK: ‘May we bring harmony’? Thatcher’s legacy on ‘race’

From Race & Class

The legacy of Margaret Thatcher, one of the most controversial prime ministers of the twentieth century, can be found today in the way that nativism has become part of national discourse. It is argued she was, without doubt, a xenophobe and an unapologetic impe­rialist with a natural penchant towards the far Right.

This study outlines how it was on her watch concern grew that the country was at risk of diluting national, Christian values. In response, a new form of racism arose and was cultivated by politicians, academics, and journalists who, as a group, became known as the New Right. The ideological mark left by the New Right is profound. The New Right managed to change the role of the press in forming opinion on race matters and hence terms of debate forever. It took anti-racism, a struggle for justice, and established it as a form of tyranny – to be denounced as ‘political correctness’. It was the changing of the terms of debate on race that has allowed current Tory politicians and ‘opinion-formers’ to take the UK backwards towards monoculturalism and assimilation.

 

 

Abstract

 

The legacy of Margaret Thatcher, one of the most controversial prime ministers of the twentieth century, can be found today in the way that nativism has become part of national discourse. She was responsible for ushering in, following the ‘riots’ of 1981 and the Scarman report, policies based on funding the religious and cultural ‘needs’ of different ethnic groups – which finally broke down black politics and also paved the way for cultural separatism, now deemed problematic. And it was on her watch that the New Right, who espoused a cultural as opposed to a biological racism, working from academia, through Conservative think-tanks to a multitude of newspapers, gained ground in a battle against cultural pluralism and anti-racism. It was this changing of the terms of debate on race that has allowed current Tory politicians and ‘opinion-formers’ to take the UK backwards towards monoculturalism and assimilation.

 

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Article details
Bourne, J. (2013). UK: ‘May we bring harmony’? Thatcher’s legacy on ‘race’ Race & Class DOI: 10.1177/0306396813489247

     
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