The current political conjuncture in the UK invites a revisiting of Stuart Hall’s influential analysis of Thatcherism and, in particular, his characterisation of authoritarian populism. With the Conservatives’ recent and ongoing shift towards right-wing populism under Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, we have a useful comparator with the turn to Thatcherism; and this shift also provides the opportunity to engage in a longer-range analysis of the relationship between conservatism, authoritarian/right-wing populism and neoliberalism. Hall’s association of Thatcherism with authoritarian populism occurred during a fallow period in analyses of populism - in stark contrast to the contemporary populist ‘moment’, ‘eruption’ or ‘explosion’. Thatcher’s populist credentials are interrogated: some elements of current definitions of populism, including the people versus elite antagonism, were sidelined in her political language; and an emphasis on individualism infused her wider discourse. Nevertheless, the concept of authoritarian populism, and Hall’s wider analysis, still offers an interesting perspective for a contemporary period of challenge to dominant discourse - even though the contestation is within the right.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 111-123
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.