A couple of days ago the octogenarian Margaret Thatcher visited Gordon Brown in 10 Downing Street for tea. The prime minister complimented his guest saying that she, like him but unlike the current leader of the Tory Party, was a conviction politician. We do not see, however, two politicians steeled in their convictions on either side of a class divide, but rather two co-ideologists both committed to burying social democracy distinguished only by a gap of twenty years.
Mrs Thatcher’s election victory in May 1979 was a turning point in British politics in that it established as the dominant twin principles of British politics: the commercialisation of every aspect of economic activity and an authoritarian state. New Labour, of which Brown was the twin architect, was a continuation of that policy under new urbane management. So when Brown imposed PFI on the Tube and hospitals, and when he backs ninety-day detentions, his ideological progenitor is not Labourism as it was until the mid 1980s, but Mrs Thatcher.
Mrs Thatcher was a ‘great’ Prime Minister because she defeated the left and brought about a political ‘opposition’ in her own image consisting of men like Blair and Brown.