Mrs. Thatcher's Meeting
Question time is a triumph
No heckling for Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative candidate, when she spoke to an attentive audience at Woodhouse School, on Friday last week—but the questions were many and varied. She dealt most skilfully with them.
Mrs. Thatcher expressed disapproval at the amount of comment and criticism about the coming election. “It is because there is so much comment that it is becoming difficult to get at the facts,” she said,
As at her adoption meeting, Mrs. Thatcher emphasised how much the country's economy depended on trade.
“Britain depends for her prosperity on a flourishing trade,” she said. “We are importing more and more from abroad.”
“Sometimes the cry has been ‘Raise production’.
“But to raise production, regardless of prices is not enough.”
The word enjoying popularity at the moment was “growth” . But Mrs. Thatcher pointed out that “growth” , in increasing the national income, would also increase national expenditure.
“There is no ‘Open Sesame’ which will guarantee solution to all our problems,” she said.
Money in the Pocket
The Conservative party would leave as much in the pockets of the people as possible and see that taxes were kept as low as possible.”
Many people asked for a reduction in the level of purchase-tax. And in fact the Tories had dropped the level of purchase-tax on some articles from 100 to 25 per cent., during their term of office.
Commenting on the Labour Party, Mrs. Thatcher said they “always assume that someone else has built up the wealth for them to distribute. The Conservatives centre on building up the wealth.”
Mrs. Thatcher also condemned the tendency to want everything at once from a government. “At the same time as people are demanding increased social services, they are also demanding a cut in taxation.
“Our policy is one of steady continuance.”
Speaking of the Conservative party's past work, Mrs. Thatcher said: “In the early days, housing was given the greatest priority. And the housing target was achieved within two years of taking over as government.”
She added: “We now hope to put up the target to 400,000 a year.”
Mrs. Thatcher went on to point out how suitable the Conservative cabinet ministers were for the positions they held in the last Government.
Sir Keith Joseph, the Minister of Housing, was himself a builder. And Ernest Marples—‘He stuck to his guns, or to his roads” —had practical experience as a building contractor.
On pensions, Mrs. Thatcher said they ‘had risen a great deal faster than the cost of living.” From 30 shillings in 1957, they had risen to 67s.6d. in 1963.
Britain is Best
Then she quoted reasons why “Britain is still one of the very best countries to live in.”
The nuclear power station in Scotland which opened on September 20 was the most powerful in the world; ninety-five per cent of the people in the country had piped water; agricultural output per man was highest in the world; and a report issued by the statistical office of the European Community showed that Britain had the best houses in Europe.
In answer to a question from a member of the audience on whether there should be an ombudsman in Parliament or not, Mrs. Thatcher said: “I think it would simply add to the apparatus of government. It would be much slower. The system of working through members is still best. We don't need an ombudsman. We have 630 of them already.”
And to a question on whether Britain should reopen negotiations with the European Community again, she said:
“We could never reopen negotiations unless we are pretty certain that they are going to be successful. I do not think we can take the initiative.
“France is back in absolute command. In the face of that we would be asking for trouble if we did—unless there is a sudden change of power.”
“If there was a league table for blowing your own trumpet, Britain would surely be bottom of the league.”
—Mrs. Margaret Thatcher