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1951 Jun 27 We
Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Belvedere Conservatives

Document type:public statement
Document kind:Speech
Venue:Dartford, Kent
Source:Erith Observer, 6 July 1951
Journalist:-
Editorial comments:Evening?
Importance ranking:Major
Word count:549
Themes:Labour Party and Socialism, Foreign policy (Middle East), Energy, Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (Australia and NZ)

GOVERNMENT IGNORE WARNING

‘MORE INTERESTED IN THE FESTIVAL THAN IN PERSIA’ MISS ROBERTS CRITICISES WASTE OF VALUABLE TIME

"I must criticise the Government for their initial handling of the Persian situation. They are more interested in the Festival of Britain than the oil question," said Miss Margaret Roberts, M.A., B.Sc., when she spoke at a meeting of Belvedere South Ward Conservatives at the club on June 27.

Lack of speed and strength had complicated the position in which we found ourselves, continued Miss Roberts.

Councillor J. Gates was among those present and Mr. D. Cunningham presided.

The first indication that something serious would happen in Persia with regard to the oil came on March 15. It was not until eight weeks later that the Government did anything about it, declared Miss Roberts.

She asked her listeners to consider how quickly events had moved in the last fortnight and how much valuable time had been wasted. The opening of the Festival of Britain had occurred about that time and the Government had shown a greater interest in that than in Persia.

The Persians had no strong men with democratic principles in power and many of the people lived in squalor. Ruthless men in Persia had laid the blame for that on the British. The truth was the British had done nothing but good for the Persians. Employees of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company were among the best housed and provided for in the country. At present we stood to lose the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company plant which was worth £360,000,000, half a pre-war budget.

The Persians would never have dared to act as they had if we had been strong. Eastern people were very quick to sense vacillation. The British should have had a Middle Eastern pact with the Americans, for one or two countries have realised that the British Government would not act quickly or strongly and took advantage of it.

It was the function of a government to try, with all the information at their disposal, to forsee what is going to happen and if they default in this respect they are not doing their job.

People should never think of foreign affairs as being remote because, sooner or later, they had an impact on people personally. Korea was not the only place in the Far East where there was trouble. In China the régime of Chiang Kai Shek had been corrupt and when the Communists took over everyone had said they were working wonders.

The true nature of Communism was coming out now, however, and there had been 1,000,000 people executed without proper trial. No democratic country could stand by and watch this going on.

France was having trouble in Indo-China and if that country fell, Siam would go and then Singapore and Malaya. Our Naval base would be lost and Australia and New Zealand would be cut off. Communism would spread through Malaya into Burma and India, which bordered Russia. It was vital we held what we had in the Far East.

Mr. Churchill had been called a war-monger, but no one had done more to build up the strength of the armed forces between the wars as a defence against war. For the Socialists to say so was merely a vote catching device.

The war-mongers were those who let things slide and hoped for the best. They should remember everyone went into battle now-a-days.