A spokesperson for the Centre of Policy Studies has said the Conservatives have a problem with perception not policy, after a new study reveals the majority of young people support Thatcherism.
The study, carried out by the Economic and Social Research Council, reveals that 60% of people aged 25-34 embraced Thatcherite policies, compared to only 40-50% of over-35s surveyed.
Young people were more likely to support Margaret Thatcher’s economic tenets than older generations, although less than half showed support for her policies on law, order and authority.
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CPS Head of Communications Emma Barr told talkRADIO's Julia Hartley-Brewer: “I think this is great news, but I don’t think it’s particularly surprising because these values are pretty much common-sense, like a lot of Conservative thinking.
“When they’re attached to the terms ‘Thatcherism’, that’s when people have a problem with them.
“There’s so many studies that show that people have Conservative values, but then when they realise they’re Conservative policies, they’re against them.”
'Rather than just being rude about Corbyn'
Mrs Thatcher has often been seen as a divisive figure in British politics.
In a Guardian ICM poll after her death in 2013, 65% of those surveyed said they agreed with her policy to sell council houses, but only 35% showed support for privatising public services.
At her state funeral in London there were public displays of both mourning, and celebration.
Ms Barr admitted that the media tended to focus on the more “toxic” aspects of Mrs Thatcher’s premiership but the study shows that the actual policies are popular.
She added that the study shows the Conservatives would need to tackle their negative public perception in the event of an early election.
She said: “We need to do more of what the Prime Minister did in her conference speech, which is reaching out to people outside the Conservative bubble, because those are the people we need to win over, and we’re going to win them over by talking about policies and actually putting forward sensible ideas, rather than just being rude about Corbyn."
A larger survey on the legacy of Thatcherism is expected to be published by the ESRC in May 2019, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Mrs Thatcher becoming the UK’s first female Prime Minister.
Reporting by Cormac Connelly-Smith