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The Legacy of ThatcherismAssessing and Exploring Thatcherite Social and Economic Policies$
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Stephen Farrall and Colin Hay

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265703

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265703.001.0001

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(p.234) Thatcherism and Crime: The Beast That Never Roared?

The Legacy of Thatcherism

David Downes

British Academy

The problems posed by the time-lag of a Thatcherite response to crime are well conveyed by Farrall and Jennings. Neo-liberal policies fuelled, and neo-conservative rhetoric narrowed the blame for steadily, then steeply, rising crime rates throughout the 1980s. But actual criminal justice policies were on balance a liberal-minded pursuit of community rather than penal measures by Home Secretaries, especially Douglas Hurd, who were left alone to ‘get on with it’. More emphasis is needed on the extent to which Labour’s disarray allowed the breathing space for decarcerationist policies to be developed by Home Office custodians of a liberal approach, along with Labour berating the government, not for being ‘soft on crime’, but for not pursuing penal moderation more vigorously. Following Labour’s fourth successive electoral defeat, in 1992, the Thatcherite U-turn towards more punitive policies was, if anything, sparked by Tony Blair’s Clintonesque rebranding of ‘New’ Labour as ‘tough on crime’.

Keywords:   Crime, politics, decarceration

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