Wets and dries

Wets and dries

During the 1980s, members of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom who opposed some of the more hard-line policies of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were often referred to as "wets".[1] The labels was generally applied to senior members of the government who were neverthless outisde Thatcher's inner circle and who expressed opposition to her strict monetarist policies designed to tackle inflation and her cuts to public spending.[citation needed]

In retaliation to being labelled as "wet", Thatcher's opponents within the party began referring to her supporters as the "dries".[2]

Policies which came to be labelled as "dry" policies included foremostly reducing public spending, cutting taxes, lowering interest rates, tightly controlling the money supply, and reducing the regulatory power of the state – all policies which were closely associated with Thatcher.

The term "wet" was originally applied to supporters of Thatcher's predecessor as party leader, Edward Heath (who was Prime Minister from 1970 to 1974),[3] as well as Heath's associates such as Jim Prior and Peter Walker. It came into common use after being used by Thatcherites as a way to label opponents of her policies. Post-Thatcher, the term has commonly been used as a disparaging term for liberal or left-wing ideas.[citation needed]


Origin of the term

Historically, the term "wet" was English public school slang for someone judged to be weak, feeble or "soppy". Within the political context it was used both as a noun and an adjective to describe people or policies which Thatcher would have been considered to be weak or "wet".[citation needed]

Notable Wets

Outside the United Kingdom


In Canada, the domestic equivalent to the "Wets" are called Red Tories.[citation needed]


See also

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