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Thatcher's Progress
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Book description

During the quarter of a century after the Second World War, the United Kingdom designated thirty-two new towns across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Why, even before selling council houses or denationalising public industries, did Margaret Thatcher's government begin to privatise these new towns? By examining the most ambitious of these projects, Milton Keynes, Guy Ortolano recasts our understanding of British social democracy, arguing that the new towns comprised the spatial dimension of the welfare state. Following the Prime Minister's progress on a tour through Milton Keynes on 25 September 1979, Ortolano alights at successive stops to examine the broader histories of urban planning, modernist architecture, community development, international consulting, and municipal housing. Thatcher's journey reveals a dynamic social democracy during its decade of crisis, while also showing how public sector actors begrudgingly accommodated the alternative priorities of market liberalism.

Reviews

'Modern British political history is coming to be written through urban history. With great deftness, and a nice sense of irony, Guy Ortolano tracks the transition from social democracy to neo-liberalism through the history of Milton Keynes. The result is a significant new study of the continuities as well as the changes in ‘Thatcherism’.'

Simon Gunn - University of Leicester

'A fascinating account of the spatial politics of the British new towns program. Ortolano’s lively history of Milton Keynes illuminates the rise and fall of British social democracy and the legacy of postwar urban planning. Thatcher’s Progress is a masterly portrait of an iconic urban place. Elegantly written and a trailblazing interpretive frame makes this an instant classic in urban history.'

Rosemary Wakeman - author of Practicing Utopia: An Intellectual History of the New Town Movement

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