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Criticism mounts over Thatcher's economic policies for Britain

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As Margaret Thatcher marked her first year as British prime minister, criticism of her all-important economic policies was steadily mounting within her own Conservative Party.

Mrs. Thatcher came to power as a determined advocate of a monetarist approach to economic affairs and a fierce opponent of wasteful spending in the public sector. Now a growing number of Conservative backbenchers are voicing doubts about central parts of her strategy.

A system of parliamentary review committees the Thatcher administration decided to strengthen when it assumed office is producing skeptical comments about the government's failure to hold down inflation (nearly 20 percent and rising) and unemployment (rising at an average 40,000 a month).

Some backbench criticism inside the Conservative establishment is based on the fact that the government has been unable to make a dent in the twin evils of inflation and unemployment.

Forecasts speak of unemployment reaching at least 2 million by the winter -- half a million more than the spring figures. A report issued by Lloyd's Bank, and currently receiving close attention from Tory backbenchers, forecasts double-figure inflation until 1984 and beyond. The official Conservative Party line is that inflation will fall to single figures some time in 1982.

Mrs. Thatcher has to contend with the problem that a number of her senior ministers are opposed to strict monetarist policies based on tight money and heavy cuts in public spending.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Geoffrey Howe, with support from the influential Sir Keith Joseph, still has Mrs. Thatcher's ear, but dissenters inside the Cabinet are beginning to grow restive.

Part of the problem is that trade union demands for higher pay are pushing prices up regardless of government policy.


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