Speech to Cardiff Chambers of Commerce and Trade
|Document type:||public statement|
|Venue:||Centre Hotel, Cardiff|
|Source:||The Times, 14 June 1975|
|Journalist:||Trevor Fishlock, The Times, reporting|
|Editorial comments:||Lunch. No speaking text or press release survives. MT spoke from notes which her aides showed to reporters before the speech. On discovering that her audience was politically mixed - and with George Thomas sitting at the same table - she decided to omit her sharpest remarks, but allowed the excluded material to be quoted by the press as if it had been delivered at a Press Conference. (The Western Mail, 14 June 1975, reported that a "hurried Press Conference" actually took place after lunch.) MT’s itinerary for the visit was issued as a press release on 9 June.|
|Themes:||Labour Party and Socialism, Privatised and state industries, Trade union law reform, Industry|
Mrs Thatcher drops criticism of Labour's ‘power maniacs’ from Cardiff speech
Mrs Thatcher, Leader of the Opposition, prepared a caustic attack on "Labour Party power maniacs" for a speech to Welsh businessmen in Cardiff yesterday. But when she looked around the room she changed her mind and sheathed her sword.
According to her press officer, who spoke to reporters before the speech and quoted from her speech notes, Mrs Thatcher had intended to say that the Labour Party was manipulated by a tiny, unrepresentative clique motivated more by power madness than any desire to improve the welfare of the British people.
She would have added that at one time the Conservatives were accused of running the country through a small aristocratic group, and that the Labour Party claimed to speak for the people. Today, however, it was the Tories who were the true democrats and the Labour Party which was unrepresentative and run by a small group with a mania for more power.
One of the central questions was whether the extremists, on whom it was claimed the Prime Minister relied to retain power, would let him take the steps necessary to create a climate in which free enterprise could flourish.
She had intended to ask: "Who wants more nationalization?" and answer: "Only the extremists in the Labour Party." She would have said that perhaps it was government policy to squeeze firms to death and then to nationalize them for next to nothing.
After delivering her speech to Cardiff Chambers of Commerce and Trade, Mrs Thatcher said that journalists could report the remarks that had been omitted as if she had made them at a press conference.
She said she had not included them in her speech because she had observed that there was a politically mixed audience and she felt that such remarks were not appropriate to that occasion. Perhaps she also had in mind the presence on her table of Mr George Thomas, Deputy Speaker, the Labour MP for Cardiff, West.
In her speech to the businessmen she suggested government financing of trade union postal ballots to elect officials.
"The reasoning is that once you can persuade people to exercise their democratic rights and not be lethargic you may find that the commonsense majority predominate and the extremists fail to get elected. It is a small step, but it might help."
She praised private enterprise and small businesses for their part in the development of British commerce. Britain relied on private enterprise for most of her exports, and the Government should drop certain schemes for nationalization altogether, she added.
She said that businessmen put five key points to her: that the Government ought to restore the profitability of private enterprise; that the Government should make a mixed economy work and not go in for more nationalization; that there should be more encouragement for the self-employed and small businesses; that public expenditure should not be increased; and "please can we find a way of mobilizing the commonsense majority in this country which is as hardworking and as full of common sense as it always was".
Mrs Thatcher, making her first visit to Wales as Tory leader, spent a few minutes talking to shoppers in Cardiff city centre. She later visited factories and then went to Aberystwyth, where she will address today's annual conference of the Welsh Conservatives.