The Thatcherite Offensive

Buy hardcover (Brill)
Published Nov 2016
ISBN: 9789004231610

A Neo-Poulantzasian Analysis

Alexander Gallas, University of Kassel

In The Thatcherite Offensive, Alexander Gallas provides a class-centred political analysis of Thatcherism. Drawing upon Greek state theorist Nicos Poulantzas, he challenges both mainstream and critical accounts of British politics in the 1980s and 90s. He shows that Thatcherism’s sucess and novelty, indeed its unity as a political project, lay in the fact that the Thatcher governments profoundly shifted class relations in Britain in favour of capital and restructured the institutions underpinning class domination. According to Gallas, it was an integral part of the Thatcherite project to directly intervene in labour relations, to deprive workers of their ability to forge coalitions, and to smash militant trade unionism.

Biographical note

Alexander Gallas, PhD (2010), Lancaster University, is Assistant Professor of Politics at the University of Kassel. He is editor of the Global Labour Journal and regularly writes on topics such as the state, class, labour relations and British Politics. His publications include Reading Poulantzas (Merlin, 2011).


Students, academics, activists and trade unionists interested in Marxism, state theory, class, British politics, the Thatcher era, the labour movement and neoliberalism.


“In this brilliantly innovative, theoretically sophisticated, methodologic ally self-reflexive, critically engaged, and conjuncturally sensitive study, Alexander Gallas provides a substantive analysis of Thatcherism as a class project. Inspired notably by the later Poulantzas and drawing on incisive case studies, the author analyses successive stages in the development Thatcherism (and Blairism); the dialectic of offensive and defensive stages and steps in class struggle; and the relative success of assaults on the power of organized labour in production and relative failure of attempts to reconfigure the wider economic regime to promote accumulation and social cohesion. Exemplary in its clarity, this approach will also inspire other work in conjunctural analysis and struggles over class hegemony and domination.”
Bob Jessop, Lancaster University

“Alexander Gallas’ fresh analysis of Thatcherism reveals the systematic attack on labour as key to its strategy of how to secure capitalist accumulation. This is not just a historical exercise. Only when we understand Thatcherism can we comprehend the challenges and possibilities of how to move beyond current austerity policies. A must read for everyone who believes that there is such a thing as society.”
Andreas Bieler, University of Nottingham

“Alexander Gallas’s book is a highly innovative account of Thatcherism as a class political regime, which reveals, with great clarity, the value added of a political analysis based on Nicos Poulantzas’s state theory.”
John Kannankulam, University of Marburg

Table of contents

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
List of Tables
Preface and Acknowledgements


1. The Hall-Jessop Debate
2. Neo-Poulantzasian Political Analysis


3. Method of Presentation
4. Pre-history: Britain in Crisis (–1977)
5. Emergence: A New Agenda for the Conservative Party (1977–9)
Case Study: Preparing for Government – Conservative Policy Papers from 1977
6. Material Gains: Conducting Class Politics by Stealth (1979–84)
7. Instability and Confrontation (1984–8)
Case Study: Attacking the Union Movement – The Miners’ Strike
Case Study: Dividing the Nation – The ‘Big Bang’ and the Liberalisation of Financial Markets
8. Stabilisation: Entrenching the Advance (1988–92)
9. Erosion: Losing Control (1992–9)


10. The Consequences of Thatcherism
11. New Labour and the Thatcherite Legacy