Speech to Finchley Conservatives (Association AGM)
|Document type:||public statement|
|Venue:||Conservative Hall, 267 Ballards Lane, Finchley|
|Source:||(1) Finchley Press, 20 March 1964 (2) Hampstead and Highgate Express, 20 March 1964|
|Editorial comments:||2000. Material from the Hampstead and Highgate Express reprinted by kind permission of the paper’s editor.|
|Themes:||Commonwealth (general), Conservatism, Conservative Party (organisation), Defence (general), Industry, Monetary policy, Taxation, Education, General Elections, Foreign policy (USA), Labour Party and Socialism, Science and technology, Social security and welfare|
12 Years of Unparalleled Achievement
Mrs M. Thatcher on Govt. Record:——
"I HOPE that every one of you will be personal ambassadors and speak up for Britain," declared Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Member of Parliament for the Division, speaking to a crowded annual meeting of Conservative Association members at the Conservative Hall, on Thursday, last week.
"Our opponents have described the twelve years of Conservative Government as wasted years. Were they wasted in which 3¼ million new school places have been provided," 3½ million new houses have been built. Owner-occupation has nearly doubled from 3.7 million houses to 7 million houses. Personal savings have risen more than 15-fold. Real incomes per head have risen at an unprecedented rate. These have been years of unparalelled achievement, said Mrs. Thatcher.
"Another fact is the doubling of pensions in the last 12 years. In 1951, the highest basic rate of pension for a single person (not paid to all pensioners, some of whom still received 26/-) was 30/-. Since 1963 it has been 67/6. The biggest increase, however, has been in respect of the children of widows.
"I believe I can claim some credit for this, for at the Ministry I am particularly watchful of the needs of these children. In 1951 a widow received 10/- a week for her first child and 7/6 a week for each other child. Amounts have gone up progressively over the years, and from April this year, the sum will be 37/6 for each and every child.
Resale Price Maintenance
"The Bill on this subject before the House of Commons has now received a second reading and will probably be amended considerably during its Committee Stage.
"While there are some cases in which the practice is against the consumers' interest,—for example those which have received unfavourable comment from the Monopolies Commission—there are clearly others in which price maintenance is in no way detrimental, but operates for the benefit of the community as a whole.
"We must see that the grounds for exemption from the effect of the Bill are drawn so as to allow the latter cases to continue. It is in this spirit that the relevant clauses are being examined by the Parliamentary Party of backbenchers.
"We are all of us particularly interested in the cost of goods and services and in the standard of living we enjoy. In the last 12 months or so, prices in this country have risen by about 2 per cent. But let us compare this with certain other countries: In Italy they have risen by 7.5 per cent, in France by 6.4 per cent, Holland 3.9 per cent, Belgium 3.5 per cent, Germany 3.4 per cent and Sweden 3 per cent.
"Compared with some of our close industrial competitors therefore, our efforts to stabilise the cost of living have been comparatively successful. At no time have Conservative Governments in the post-war years repeated the disastrous efforts of the last year of Socialist Government, when in one year prices rose by 12 per cent, and that under a system of rationing and rigid controls and extensive food subsidies.
Science and Technology
"Recently we have heard a good deal about the emigration of some of our scientists. It is of course a great tribute to our educational system that its products are in such world-wide demand, particularly by the United States which spends large sums on the education of its own people.
"Were it not for the surtax reliefs given by Selwyn Lloyd and bitterly opposed by the Opposition, the loss of scientists may have been far greater, for many of them were in the old surtax income group.
"This will be a decisive year, when a choice will have to be made between a Conservative Government or a Socialist Government. One or the other. While there are differences of opinion on some matters among Conservatives, we are not split on vital issues such as the defence of the nation. On this the Socialist Party at present has an uneasy truce.[fo 1]
"Further, the fact that Harold Wilson appears to be the spokesman for everything shows how short of real governing talent the Party is.
"These things should be considered carefully for I believe a further prolonged period of Socialism would be disastrous for this country and far to the left of anything we have hitherto experienced.
Mr. V. Usher, unanimously elected as Divisional Chairman, stirred the audience in a straight-from-the-shoulder speech in which he reminded members that the greatness of the British in the past was created by their Pride—Pride in Achievement—Pride in their Country and Pride in doing what was right.
Other officers elected:—Deputy Chairman, Cr. N. J. Sapsted; Vice chairman, Mr. J. Tiplady; Hon. Treasurer, Mr. J. Drinkwater.[fo 2]
(2) Hampstead and Highgate Express, 20 March 1964
‘Labour win a Disaster’
Mrs Margaret Thatcher, MP for Finchley, told the annual meeting of the borough's Conservatives that a prolonged period of Socialism would be disastrous for this country. And she called on the Tories to become "personal ambassadors" to speak out for Britain's "years of unparalleled achievement."
She said: "This will be a decisive year. A choice will have to be made between a Conservative government and a Socialist government, one or the other.
"While there are differences of opinion on some matters among Conservatives, we are not split on vital issues such as the defence of the nation. On this the Socialist Party at present has an uneasy truce.
"Further, the fact that Harold Wilson appears to be the spokesman for everything shows how short of real governing ability the party is.
"The position is far different from 1945, when they had big men of ability and experience who had been trained under Sir Winston Churchill's coalition government.
"So far nobody has emerged to replace men like Sir Staflord Cripps, Ernest Bevin, Richard Stokes, etc. Nor is there anyone who in dignity and stature could hold a candle to Hugh Gaitskell.
"These things should be considered carefully, for I believe a further prolonged period of Socialism would be disastrous for this country and far to the left of anything we have hitherto experienced."
Looking back over 1963, Mrs. Thatcher said: "Much has happened since our last annual meeting.
"We have a new [Sir Alec Douglas-Home] Prime Minister who in less than six months has established a reputation at home almost as great as that which he has enjoyed abroad for several years.
"We have lost President Kennedy, who together with Harold Macmillan formed a strong partnership for the pursuit of peace.
Calls for help
"Five Commonwealth countries, recently granted independence, have called upon us to defend them against internal or external threats. The way in which our British troops have carried out these difficult tasks has commanded the admiration of the world.
"Pensions have been increased, and in last year's budget three million people were relieved from paying income tax."