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The election of Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher signals a sea change in economic policy. The new government sets about to reduce public spending and the size of the state but is confounded by the recession of the early 1980s which causes not just a jump in unemployment but a rise in public spending because of welfare costs. Critics, especially in Thatcher’s own Cabinet, argue that she should pursue a Keynesian policy of expanding, not contracting, public spending during a recession but she says she is ‘not for turning.’ Eventually the economy recovers and bust becomes boom in the late 1980s especially with the deregulation of the City of London, ‘the Big Bang’ in 1986. This, however, proves temporary as the housing and financial services bubble turns to bust again. Thatcher’s successor pursues a policy of austerity that leads to the economy running a surplus, just in time for a new Labour government to benefit.
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