James Forsyth

Thatcher knew the Tories had to be the anti-establishment party. Does David Cameron?

Thatcher knew the Tories had to be the anti-establishment party. Does David Cameron?
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What lessons can today’s Tories learn from Margaret Thatcher is one of Westminster’s discussion points this week. In terms of detailed policy prescriptions, not that much: current circumstances are too different from those of 1979. But they can learn an awful lot from the spirit of Thatcherism.

One thing that Thatcher grasped was that deference was dead, that the Tory party couldn’t be the political wing of the establisment. Instead, it needed to be an anti-establishment force: siding with the citizen against over-mighty government, rejecting corporatist stitch-ups and redistributing power.

As I say in the politics column this week, today’s Number 10 could learn a lot from this. It has, at times, an overly-establishment mindset. Too often, its instinct is to not to upset the apple cart. This means that it can sometimes come across as a defender of the status quo, at a time when the status quo is failing.

Part of the genius of Thatcher was that even as Prime Minister she never became an unthinking defender of what government did. Cameron would do well to adopt the same approach.