It worked for Maggie - and now David Cameron hopes giving more than a million social housing tenants the right to buy their homes at a discount will prove equally popular for him.
But his dramatic election pledge was roundly condemned by housing association managers, including the head of Bournville Village Trust, which manages 3,000 rented homes in Birmingham.
Giving council house tenants the right to buy their property was one of the most popular Tory policies associated with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
And Conservative leader Mr Cameron set out plans to extend the "property-owning democracy" to people in 1.3 million households currently renting from housing associations.
Launching the Tory manifesto, he said: "Conservatives have dreamed of building a property-owning democracy for generations, and today I can tell you what this generation of Conservatives is going to do.
"The next Conservative government will extend the right to buy to all housing association tenants in this country; 1.3 million extra families; a new generation given the security of a home of their own. So this generation of Conservatives can proudly say it: the dream of a property-owning democracy is alive – and we will fulfil it."
The proposal included building 400,000 new homes to replace those sold, by cleaning up derelict land and making it available to developers.
But housing association managers were not happy.
Peter Roach, chief executive of Bournville Village Trust, attacked the plan as "unfair and shameful".
He said: "We understand people's home ownership aspirations, but the concept of giving huge amounts of taxpayers' money to provide discounts for people already enjoying the comfort of good quality affordable homes whilst at the same time watching waiting lists soar is unfair and shameful."
Bournville Village Trust was created by entrepreneur and philanthropist George Cadbury, who ran the Cadbury chocolate business with his brother Richard.
George Cadbury, influenced by his Quaker beliefs, created Bournville village as a community where people from different backgrounds lived together in high quality housing - at a time when conditions in the overcrowded back streets of Birmingham were so poor that life expectancy was about 40 years.
His vision might be seen as an early example of the "big society" in action.
Mr Cameron, in the speech launching his manifesto, repeatedly promised "a good life" for Britain. The positive message was a contrast with the more negative of the Conservative campaign up to then, which seemed to concentrate on attacking Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Conservatives also pledged to increase NHS funding by £8 billion a year.
And the manifesto included a pledge to boost the Midlands economy, promising: "We will make the Midlands an engine of growth
"We will back business by investing a record £5.2 billion in better transport, upgrading the M1 and M6."
It continued: "We will back the Midlands' strength in advanced manufacturing, engineering and science with major projects such as the Energy Research Accelerator and support for innovation in the motor industry."