When Thatcher was elected in 1979 the fortunes of British capitalism were lagging behind its competitors after decades of poor performance. Her economic policies as a package reflected the desire of the British ruling class to break the power of the workers' movement in the workplace and, through higher unemployment, to increase the profitability and competiveness of British capital.
Under the banner of so-called "supply side" economics her economic assault to restore the competitiveness of the British economy was three pronged. First, trumpeting the virtues of free markets, privatisation was the centrepiece of her policies. By value, almost half of the stock of public assets was transferred to private ownership during Thatcher's term of office - including utilities such as telecommunications, gas, electricity and water and flagship firms such as British Airways.