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In practice, they assumed that centralisation was the only possible vehicle for marketisation; that if they were to hobble or crush the manifold institutional and cultural obstacles to their free-market utopia, they would have to make the maximum possible use of the powers which the ancient British doctrine of absolute and inalienable parliamentary sovereignty confers on the government of the day.This, of course, was the great paradox of Thatcherism.
There were always new battles to fight, new obstacles to uproot, new heresies to stamp out.It has abandoned the tradition once exemplified by such paladins of social democracy as Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt, Ernest Bevin and Hugh Gaitskell.It has also turned its back on Keynes and Beveridge.Its rhetoric is American; the intellectual influences which have shaped its project are American; its political style is American.More important still, it shares the prevailing American view of the global economy, and of the relationships between states and markets within the global economy.The new wine of the free market was to be poured from the old bottles of the British ancien regime.An individualistic economy was to go hand in hand with an authoritarian polity. In ten years, the Thatcher governments transformed the political economy and the public culture.There are at least four crucial differences between the new regime and the old.Thatcherism was exclusionary; New Labour is inclusionary.Unlike the Thatcherites, however, it also takes the European Union as a given, and seeks to run with the grain of European integration-including monetary integration.The paradox is that, as the Thatcherites correctly spotted, part of the purpose of the EU is to Europeanise a solidaristic model of the society and economy, drawn partly from the continental social democratic tradition and partly from the (also continental) tradition of catholic social thought. Although it has not said so in so many words, it is also for the supranational space.