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  • AQA Component 3.1.2: The politics of the UK: Political Parties: the origins, ideas and development of the Conservative party and how these have shaped its current policies.

  • Edexcel Component 1. UK Politics: 2.2: Established Political Parties: The Conservative party: ideas and current policies on the economy, law and order, welfare and foreign policy.

Background: what you need to know 

Following Rishi Sunak’s budget, this article highlights the ways in which the current Conservative government has departed from the ethos of Thatcherism, which has shaped the party’s economic outlook since the 1970s. In particular, it notes that Sunak has chosen to increase corporation tax rather than indirect taxes, as previous Conservative Chancellors have chosen to do. On the other hand, as the writer points out, the government’s approach can be interpreted as an example of traditional Tory pragmatism in dealing with problems.

Click to read the article below and then answer the questions:

Rishi Sunak’s un-Tory Budget confounds assumptions once again

How far do you think the government has moved away from the low tax, small state approach of Thatcherism? The article provides a starting point for your investigation but you will also need to look at other areas of economic policy such as public spending and regional policy. Depending on the examination board you are following, answer one of the following questions:

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • Explain and analyse three ways in which the Conservative party has abandoned the ideas and policies of Thatcherism. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 1

  • Evaluate the extent to which the Conservative party has broken with Thatcherism in recent years.

You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. (30)

TIP: Remember that you need to look not only at economic policy but also at other areas in order to develop a rounded analysis of where the Conservatives are today. Edexcel specifies law and order, welfare and foreign policy as well as the economy. You need to look for ways in which the party remains Thatcherite, as well as those respects in which it has diverged from Thatcherism.

Graham Goodlad, St John’s College

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