Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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1960 Mar 17 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Finchley Conservative Women

Document type:public statement
Document kind:Speech
Venue:Hendon Hall Hotel, Hendon Lane, Hendon
Source:Finchley Press, 25 March 1960
Journalist:-
Editorial comments:MT was replying to the toast to the Conservative Party moved by the guest speaker, Bill Deedes. The Finchley Times, 25 March 1960, reported some additional material: "She said the Government had to define [sic] between the competing claims of all sections of the community. Democratic government was not only founded on Parliament but also on responsibility and restraint on the part of the people. The Welfare State was like a parachute to the pilot. It gave him the opportunity to save himself when necessary. We must have people learning to live with the backing of the welfare state".
Importance ranking:Minor
Word count:1451
Themes:Parliament, Conservative Party (organisation), Labour Party and Socialism

Conservative Women's Luncheon

Mr. Deedes, M.P., On The Party's Future

One of the most bracing and lively speeches that Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservatives have heard in recent years took place when Mr. William Deedes, M.P. for Ashford, spoke at the Conservative Women's Advisory Committee annual luncheon on Thursday, last week, at Hendon Hall Hotel. The luncheon, the largest ever, was attended by 230 women party supporters and their guests.

In proposing the health of the Conservative Party Mr. Deedes, took as his theme the future of the party, and gave an imaginative forecast of what it probably would be doing in the next four to five years.

After complimenting the Advisory Committee and Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, who was present, Mr. Deedes said that for success in politics two things were helpful: one thing was ability and the other was luck. In the earlier stages of her career their new Member of Parliament, Mrs. M. Thatcher had made the best use of both.

Everyone was familiar with the way she had seized the earliest opportunity to bring in a measure in which he also was interested, and the event would be long remembered in the House of Commons.

Mrs. Thatcher had one other asset: a happy home life was a great advantage in politics. It was a great help, as he knew from experience. Finchley Conservatives must take very good care of their MP. It was quite tiring to be a bad Member of Parliament but even more tiring to be a good Member Especially in the first years before the ‘powers of resistance’ had time to develop.

Mrs. Thatcher brought to the Conservative Party two things that were most needed: an independent mind and judgement.

Cautions

He did not share the view of many that the present position of the Conservative Party was a thing for unreserved rejoicing.

There were dangers in taking things for granted. It was at times like now that the seeds of decay might begin to spring up. There was one thing better than a bad opposition with the good government, and that was a good opposition with a good government.

Two parties were needed for a sound government. He was no friend of the Labour Party, but he looked forward to a time when they were better able to keep the Government up to its duties.

A time of prosperity created problems of its own. Success could carry its dangers. There was the "never had it so good", remark that was becoming rather a term of reproach than one of praise.

The Conservative Party must benefit from the fruits of its last victory, and put its energies into the most clearly defined social aims.

They must have a social purpose. They had four to five years in power before the next Election. He was not sure if they would fulfil their task simply by providing more prosperity.

They had got to pay increasing attention not merely to the standard of life: more cars, television sets, tape recorders, but also to the quality of living.

Not to the number of schools that they built, but what was taught in the schools. Attention must be paid to what quality of mind was emerging from universities.

They were in for years and they did not want an affluent society that was illiterate.

The long term view was to make a responsible society.

They would be creating a wider social pattern. Not a society where more and more women would have to work, so that the standard of life could be kept up in their homes. The government would be bringing in a lot of changes in taxation and penal reform. They must try to help people in self discipline and self restraint, which was the only real shield for responsible democracy.

One did not achieve self-reliance by restriction or control. That simply enfeebled the muscles. This was what the Socialists had done. The Conservatives had changed the course of the country in a disciplined society.

He believed that they had started a modest "Renaissance". These always came in times of flowering and reflected the serenity of an age. The country lacked this since before the first world war.

One of the finest English heritages was a sense of public service with thousands of clubs and societies abounding all over the country. The sinews of our society were the numbers of people who contribute to the common good. They were the foundations of our society.

The Young Conservatives were training young people to be able to take an active and growing part in public life and service.

Replying to the toast, Mrs. Thatcher, said she would not say anything about the duties of an M.P. except that it was important for any major political party have people of first-class calibre in its back benches, ready always to move into the front benches.

Mr. Deedes had done his spell in the front bench but had decided to relinquish his position there. In the back benches of the Conservative Party one could almost form another government if it was needed!

The same could not be said about the Socialist party. They would be in very great difficulties if they wanted another leader, and the same could be said about their Shadow Cabinet.

Mr. Walter Elliott had told her that politics was "the art of the possible". One found in a government that the party in power was very much more responsible than the party in opposition.

This was certainly true at the moment. Both sides contributed, but there was only one decision that could be made.

The opposition criticised whatever was the point at the moment.

Mrs. Thatcher went on to speak of the democratic system. One of the strange things about this was exemplified in the fact that if a member asked a Minister a question, the Minister's refusal to reply was counted as an answer!

Over the next five years she thought the main job was to look at the more fundamental principles of politics and social life.

The toast to the guests was proposed by Mrs. Humphreys, of Tudor Ward, Finchley. She thanked Mr. Deedes for his excellent speech. They were interested to know of his career as a journalist, and as an M.P. They were intrigued to know that his family had lived in East Kent for 450 years, and that he was a "Man of Kent".

They were glad to see and hear Mrs. Thatcher. They congratulated her on her maiden speech in Parliament.

They were very honoured to have with them the Mayor and Mayoress of Finchley (Cr. and Mrs. Cave) and the Chairman of Friern Barnet Council and his wife (Mr. and Mrs Tangye)".

Also the Divisional President (Mr. Miller) with Mrs. Miller and the Divisional Chairman (Mr. Blatch) and Mrs. Blatch.

Replying to a toast to the guests Cr. Tangye said that when one realised the hard work the Advisory Committee put in, one knew how true and meaningful was the toast of "God Bless the Ladies". He complimented Mrs. Thatcher on her speech in Parliament, and mentioned that the first newspaper his wife had seen in East Africa when visiting her daughter, was one telling all about Mrs. Thatcher's speech.

He thanked the ladies on behalf of the guests.

The toast to the Chairman of the Committee was proposed by Mrs. Levi, of St. Mary 's Ward. Finchley.

Speaking of the indefatigable work that Cr. Mrs. Mackerill put into her day, Mrs. Levi said it was wonderful when one considered all that had to be done, especially as Mrs. Mackerill was now a councillor. Yet she was always unruffled and calm.

Replying, Cr. Mrs. Mackerill thanked all who had helped her, especially with the organisation of the luncheon.

Those on the Chairman's table at the luncheon were Mr. Deedes. Mrs. Thatcher, Mr. and Mrs. Miller. Mr and Mrs. Blatch, Mrs. Bolton, Mrs. Foster. Cr. Thurburn, Mrs. Japman, Mrs. Collins, Miss Damant, Mr. Nevard, Cr. Mrs. Ena Constable Mrs. Damant, Mrs. Callcott, Mrs. Salmon. The Mayor and Mayoress of Finchley. Cr. and Mrs. Tangye, Cr. and Mrs. Ferguson-Taylor, Mrs. Quick (Soc Sec.). Miss Harris, Cty Cr. Mrs. Tumpson, Mrs. Stevents, Mrs. Humphreys, Mrs. Barratt, Mrs. Rodick, Mrs. Cawdron, Mrs. Rees, Mrs. Miteell and Mrs. Stillwell.