Thumb through the index of almost any study of the Thatcher years — biographical, scholarly or journalistic — and you will come across the name of Sir Alfred Sherman. In her memoirs Lady Thatcher herself pays tribute to Sherman’s ‘brilliance’, the ‘force and clarity of his mind’, his ‘breadth of reading and his skills as a ruthless polemicist’. She credits him with a central role in her achievements, especially as Leader of the Opposition but also after she became Prime Minister.
Born in 1919 in London’s East End, until 1948 Sherman was a Communist and fought in the Spanish Civil War. But he ended up an indefatigable free-market crusader. The book describes his early relationship with Sir Keith Joseph and his own role in the formation of the Centre for Policy Studies in 1974.
Sherman examines the origins and development of ‘Thatcherism’, but concludes that the Conservative administrations of the 1980s were, for the most part, an ‘interlude’ and that the post-war consensus remains largely unscathed — ‘we are back to where we started’.