t may be the dominant political force of our times,but the economic creed that came to be known as Thatcherism was born inobscure circumstances.In the late 1940s and early 1950s, politics wasdominated by a single philosophy. Central planning and state control ofindustry was seen by both Labour and Conservatives as the only sensibleway to run Britain's economy.
Planning had helped Britain win the war, the thinking went, so why not the peace as well?
It fell to outsiders such as Anthony Fisher - an OldEtonian chicken farmer - to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy; evenif, initially, they were written off as cranks or dangerous ideologues.
Fisher, who made his fortune by pioneering batteryfarming techniques, founded a think tank, The Institute of EconomicAffairs, in the mid 1950s to spread his free market philosophy.
And it is the story of that philosophy and the peoplewho created it that forms the central theme of a new three part BBCdocumentary series Tory! Tory! Tory!.
It is a story of outsiders, dreamers and visionaries;men and women who believed the state should shrink and individualfreedom should grow - and that the free market was the main engine thatwould drive this change.
The first film, Outsiders, traces the early roots ofThatcherism through the disparate band of political philosophers,economists and conspiracy theorists who swam against the post-warpolitical tide.
The set text for these proto free marketeers was The Road to Serfdom by Austrian economist Friedrich Von Hayek.
Hayek's warning - that the UK risked sliding intototalitarianism unless it spurned all socialist ideas - was largelyignored in the UK at the time, where the interventionist creed of JohnMaynard Keynes dominated.
But it made a big impact on some, including, the filmargues, a young chemistry student, Margaret Hilda Roberts - and AnthonyFisher, who saw in centralised socialist planning, with its constantintrusion into people's everyday lives, shades of the politicalphilosophy Britain had just defeated in the war.
Encouraged by Hayek, who advised him not to go intopolitics but to concentrate instead on influencing opinion, Fisherfounded the IEA, hiring Cambridge-trained economist, Ralf, now Lord,Harris, to run it.
The IEA's research director Arthur Seldon ensured aconstant flow of pamphlets on every kind of issue - including earlycalls for privatisation of nationalised industries.
Seldon and Harris were, Harris recalls in the film, two"state educated lads", who had a lot of fun mocking what they saw asthe absurdities of state planning - as well as the "public schooltypes" from the Conservative Party, who could only grasp a "parody" oftheir arguments.
They were a good double act, "like the Marx brothers", recalls Peter Clarke, Enoch Powell's former assistant.
But few were listening to what they had to say.
Ironically, the film argues, there was an explosion offree market activity going on right under their noses, as newindustries, such as music and fashion, flourished free from stateinterference, control or, indeed, understanding.
But IEA was not alone in failing to grasp the significance of "swinging London".
Meanwhile, the number of mainstream politicians preaching the free market gospel remained very few.
Edward Heath, who was responsible for an early victoryfor the free-marketeers when he abolished retail price maintenance,came to power in 1970 with what would later be recognised as aThatcherite manifesto.
But his early tax cutting, free market agenda, quickly crumbled in the face of climbing unemployment.
It was left to Enoch Powell - banished from the Toryfrontbench after his infamous "rivers of blood" speech on immigration -to be almost a lone voice against the Keynesian policies introduced byHeath after his U-turn.
The film reveals the degree of dissent inside the Heath cabinet at this time.
It is usually thought ministers in the Heath government,such as Margaret Thatcher and Keith Joseph quietly toed the line duringthe Heath years.
But in Outsiders, Lord Parkinson reveals how MrsThatcher was actively showing her opposition to her leader as early astwo years before Heath's government fell.
In 1972, Mrs Thatcher, who was Minister for Education,told Cecil Parkinson that she was against the Heath U-turn, was doingall she could to oppose him inside the cabinet, and asked for Parkinsonto help organise opposition among the ranks of Conservative backbenchers.
Then right-wing firebrand Keith Joseph announced that byhaving been in Heath's government, he had been not truly aConservative, but a socialist.
Many expected him to replace Heath as leader but failed to stand, following a disastrous speech about poverty and delinquency.
Mrs Thatcher stepped forward - she would stand for the right of the party.
The film concludes with the story of the unlikelyelection of Mrs Thatcher as leader - which, the film says, only cameabout because no one in the party expected her to win.