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1/2 idea No. 29: Amersham

By Jon Agar, on 9 August 2021

(I am sharing my possible research ideas, see my tweet here. Most of them remain only 1/2 or 1/4 ideas, so if any of them seem particularly promising or interesting let me know @jon_agar or jonathan.agar@ucl.ac.uk!)

One of the very first acts of privatisation under scientist-turned-politician Margaret Thatcher was The Radiochemical Centre, floated as Amersham International Ltd in 1982. Much smaller than the the privatisation of public sector telecommunications, gas, electricity, docks and air travel that followed, it nonetheless a first, experimental test of the flagship Thatcherite policy. It was an intriguing mix to me, even more so when I found out that one of the Radiochemical Centre’s key products depended on the supply of blood – and traditionally in the UK blood donation was seen as a ‘gift’ relationship not a market one.

I followed this one up.

Amersham is the main case study in ‘Chapter five:  radioactive privatisations’, in my Science Policy under Thatcher (UCL Press, 2019), available open access for download.

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