Part 3— Fear for Britain.
The death of functional conservatism within the British Tories led Dame Thatcher to give her blessings to Mr Blair, and shortly thereafter, Mr Blair made every effort to ensure that Dame Thatcher would not regret her decision. He shored up the special relationship with Washington, much to the United States’ advantage, as time has shown. Abandoning the traditional socialist approach, he merged the Self-Regulatory Organizations into the Security and Investments Board, lending it a structure similar to the United States Security and Exchanges Commission, and setting it up as a counter-weight to the Bank of England.
With the economic interdependence of the United States and Britain ensured, Dame Thatcher declared that “there was no fear for Britain under Blair”.
Taking a cue from the Chinese Prime Minister Deng Xiaoping, Mr Blair felt encouraged to launch his “four modernizations”, promising a flexible economy, a modern welfare state, constitutional reform and a role for Britain in the world. It was a tacit admission that Britain’s economy was rigid, its welfare state outdated, its unwritten constitution an anachronism, and that its grip on Uncle Sam’s coat tails was slipping.
Mr Blair then put act to speech, and Britain certainly changed. There was less unemployment, and seen as a whole, the British economy was doing well, with corporations thriving. Britain took firm steps to shift from an industrial to a service economy, and the housing market was booming. The effect on the middle and upper classes has been positive, but on the lower middle class and the poor, devastating. There was no job security, and the closing down, or relocation of traditional industries left people dependent on temporary employment agencies. For many job seekers, service industry translated as outsourcing with further job losses.
The results of the modern welfare state are overcrowded hospitals, poor schooling, and overworked police faced with a choice of chasing armed juvenile delinquents or hardened, home-grown terrorists. Constitutional reform stopped short of actually producing a written constitution compatible with the charters of European Union member states, and had to content itself with devolution of legislative power to Wales and Scotland. Since the bombing campaign of Serbia in 1999, the daily telephone call between the U.S. president and the British Prime Minister was ritualised, if that may be considered a foreign policy achievement.