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    Remind you of anyone? Comparing the gendered heroic leadership of Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May

    Worthy, Ben and Richards-Gray, Laura and Smith, J.C. (2023) Remind you of anyone? Comparing the gendered heroic leadership of Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. British Politics , ISSN 1746-918X.

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    This article compares how Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May used their gender to style themselves as ‘heroic’ and radical outsiders to govern within a highly masculine office. It examines in turn three important components: the style, the radical ideology and the support and control of their inner courts. Though they drew on a similar heroic ‘personalist’ style, there were vital differences. Thatcher’s approach thrived because it was connected to success, but May’s came undone after the snap election of 2017. Ideologically, May tied herself to more rigid aims with less care or caution than Thatcher, and she failed to communicate or narrate her approach as Thatcher could. In her inner court, May’s attempts to dominate Cabinet with a ‘parallel control system’ came rapidly unstuck, while Thatcher’s thrived. In terms of context, May governed during the more brittle politics of Brexit, over a far more deeply divided Cabinet and party. Using these two cases, we argue that a gendered heroic role requires success, a flexible ideology, and ability to control your inner court, all in the right context.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Birkbeck Centre for British Political Life
    Depositing User: Ben Worthy
    Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2023 14:36
    Last Modified: 13 Feb 2024 11:05


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