[T]he ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. . .sooner or later, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.
John Maynard Keynes in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
In the struggle for ideas, the battle for hearts and minds which the right has been conducting with such considerable effect, bad ideas can only be replaced by better, more appropriate ones.
Stuart Hall in The Hard Road to Renewal
Only a few years ago Mrs Thatcher dominated British politics more completely than any other recent British politician.footnote1 She seemed bent on imposing on British society and economy a thoroughgoing transformation, brooking no opposition, braving all contention and division. However, already in her last years in office the much-touted ‘economic miracle’ seemed to have evaporated as familiar problems of inflation and recession, and newer ones of social and infrastructural neglect, came into view. Despite her unequalled political success, the otherwise enigmatic John Major gave one clear signal in prudently distancing himself from her legacy from the beginning, at the risk of appearing—especially in contrast—directionless. The mainstream media, which had provided indispensable ballast to Thatcherism in its heyday, turned from narrow neo-liberal verities to the view that government had an important role to play in economic, infrastructural as well as social arenas—that not all solutions could be found in the market. If this were not enough to mark the advent of a definitively post-Thatcherite