Speech to 1922 Committee (10th anniversary of 1979 General Election)
|Document type:||public statement|
|Venue:||Savoy Hotel, central London|
|Source:||Thatcher Archive: speaking notes|
|Editorial comments:||1300. MT’s next appointment was at 1555. The speech appears not to have been released to the press.|
|Themes:||Leadership, Conservative Party (organisation), Terrorism, Arts and Entertainment, Parliament, Northern Ireland, Foreign policy (Africa), Commonwealth (Rhodesia-Zimbabwe), European Union Budget, Economy (general discussions), Foreign policy (general discussions), Defence (Falklands War 1982), Privatised and state industries, Strikes and other union action, Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (Middle East), Defence (general), Conservatism|
Not my celebration. For all who worked so hard to make it happen. In Parliament. In govt. & in the Party. Loyalty—sense of Duty & Political Instincts. Mr Onslow
1) Thank you—occasion itself enough
— past and present Members Parliamentarians all
— past and present Prime Ministers— [ Edward Heath] Ted
Thank you for the efforts & organisation. Add to this—a very special gift from 450 friends & colleagues all elected to Parliament and dedicated to the service of the Conservative Party. Pitt Salver—Visual Representation of History.
Miss today Airey Neave and Tony Berry We remember them with great affection & deep regret —victims of Terrorism & both would urge us never to surrender to it.[fo 1]
2) Good for the '22 to return to the Savoy—home of Gilbert & Sullivan (and on the 3rd May the birthday of d'Oyley [sic] Carte). Gilbert had an acute sense of political satire He turned the House of Lords into fairies ( [ William Whitelaw] Willie—not sure how you'd look with wings), he turned Pirates into Policemen he abolished swearing in the Navy or tried to and he didn't think much of the Bar. Drew crowds to the Savoy Theatre. All that—without an Arts Council subsidy. Gilbert would enjoy the 22 Committee. The meetings that in theory don't take place. He knew about politics. That like the theatre—you need the best tunes—a few good leads in the main parts, we have them in Cabinet, and supported by a splendid company of supporters—preferably singing in harmony. We deserve a celebration now & again. Once every 10 years for example.
I remember those early days well. We only had a 43 majority! Mind you I'm not sure the Chief Whip had any more trouble then than he does now. Absolute HERO's—Chief Whips.[fo 2] And there are several coalitions in Europe today—whose principal party would envy even a slender majority.
More seriously—a few highlights All political years have their difficulties—but changing course from Socialism in those early years was difficult.
More difficult still was holding the new course long enough for the benefits to show.
1) Irish—Warrenpoint—Mountbatten murder Hunger strikes at the Maze Irish troubles have run like a dangerous current through our history And they persisted & are with us yet. But we will never give in to terrorism. But we had our successes to sustain us.
2) Rhodesia—It was August. — faced a hostile Commonwealth — damage limitation was the tactic. But on the plane to Lusaka we changed our tactics and indeed our objective. Peter Carrington & I—let's try & get through. We worked out a new set of moves. It succeeded—with the splendid help of Christopher Soames.[fo 3]
1) On the European Front—conference at Strasbourg. We started the battle to get a fair deal on the Budget. We succeeded in part & later fully.
Those things—together with Geoffrey Howe's heroic efforts on the economy, and the beginning of change in T.U. law sent clear signals to the outside world.
2) Britain was back as a player on the world stage—and successfully.
3) And her govt. held fast to its chosen course at home.
By the time the Falklands came, that foundation, that reputation for firmness had been established. Those weeks of courage of our Armed Forces from 2nd April—June 14th were the most difficult I have ever lived through. But there was the Spirit of Britain. Total Unity. Sovereignty restored. The will of the people upheld. International law re-established.
And the tough economic measures—although with great problems of unemployment—had left Britain strong enough to ride out the Falklands without any effect on sterling.[fo 4]
1984 The Miners Strike Lasted a whole year. And was won by the courage of the working miners who by this time had the benefit of some of the changes of T.U. law.
And by then we had a flourishing programme of denationalisation. We had learned to ask the right question Not—why privatise but what is the State doing owning & running business.
So many other things. The U.S. raid on Libya from U.K. bases a difficult but right decision. Cruise missiles—the first country to deploy—always staunch & reliable ally.
Inflation yielded—3–4%; & unemployment began to fall & living standards rise social services greatly improved Our faith in enterprise & its capacity to create wealth had worked. A strong economic base let BRITAIN STAND TALL in the world again and we became an important part of the unfolding future of east-west relations. It used to be said Britain had lost an Empire—and not found a role. We have now.[fo 5]
1) Shown others how to roll back the frontiers of Socialism & move forward the frontiers of freedom & opportunity. The MARXISTS thought they would bury us. WE are BURYING Marxism.
2) Shown that it matters to be a strong staunch & reliable ally and to have a team of Ministers who do not flinch from taking difficult decisions & lead public opinion rather than following it. Now—in the third term—enlarging opportunity & capitalism for everyone and concentrating on the quality of life. Most Difficult [legt in first 2 years]
3) To shun political expediency and persistently pursue the long term good. And win elections because of the respect our policies command. And we've all done it together. It's our celebration. To amend a phrase from one of my favourite statesmen the other side of the Atlantic
Not bad—not bad at all.
And as one of his great predecessors said
"With malice toward none with charity for all ... let us finish the work we are in."
We can echo that For we have much to do.