The process of converting public amenities and services into private ones, thereby returning nationalised industries to the private sector. Privatisation was a feature of Conservative economic policy in the 1980s and 90s, the Thatcher Government selling off the electrical, gas and telecommunications industries among many others, and the Major administration disposing of the state-controlled coal and railway industries. Such measures were said to be advantageous in that they raised large sums of money, gave the new management commercial autonomy, weakened the power of trades unions, widened share ownership and took government out of decision-making. Critics saw them as more concerned with revenue-raising than with sound policy, ‘selling off the family silver’ according to Harold Macmillan. They suggested that the social case for public ownership of key industries and utilities was being sacrificed for short-term gain.

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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