Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Bexley Conservative Women

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Embassy Rooms, Welling
Source: Kentish Independent, 23 September 1949
Editorial comments: According to the Erith Observer (23 September 1950) MT spoke to the title The Rights of Women.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 480
Themes: Parliament, Conservatism, Economy (general discussions), Religion & morality, Voluntary sector & charity, Women


“Don't be scared of the high language of economists and Cabinet ministers, but think of politics at our own household level. After all, women live in contact with food supplies, housing shortages, and the ever-decreasing opportunities for children, and we must therefore face up to the position, remembering that as more power is taken away from the people, so there is less responsibility for us to assume.”

So said Miss Margaret Roberts, young and pretty prospective Conservative M.P. for Dartford, in a speech described by Bexley Conservative Women's Section as “the best ever heard from a woman,” at Bexley Conservative Ladies' Luncheon Club at the Embassy Rooms, Welling, on Thursday last week.

Root of the Problem

In her further remarks, Miss Roberts suggested that the root of our problems lay deeper than economic causes—it was in the lives of the ordinary human being and the declining fundamental decency. “We have got to get back to giving as well as getting,” she said.

Miss Roberts said that a tremendous change had taken place in the status and work of women since the beginning of the century. The achievements of women since they had gained the vote was not only in the work of women M.P.'s, but in the work done by ordinary women with no claim to fame or special qualifications. No country in the world could equal Britain in the amount of work undertaken and the political power gained by its women.

“It is an achievement not to be under-rated,” declared Miss Roberts. “When we were given the vote many feminists tended to regard it only as a right, but we have accepted the responsibility that goes with it, and that responsibility has been fulfilled by the women of this country.”

The Key Note

“I believe that personal responsibility is the key-note of the future,” she added, “and I feel that it is one of the chief charges we lay at the door of the present Government that personal responsibility is far less now than before, and something must be done about it. This ‘passing the buck’ attitude of to-day is not the sort of thing which will get us out of the mess we are in, and we, as women, realize it.”

“Most of us,” she added, “are housewives—perhaps the most worth-while occupation in the world—and we are perturbed as to the kind of future offered for our children.

“We cast our votes, sit on councils and other bodies, doing our share to overcome the social ills, and in these days of State assistance let us not forget the tremendous number of children still looked after by voluntary effort, without any assistance at all from the State. May that responsibility and enterprise never die out in this country.”

A vote of thanks to the speaker was proposed by Mrs. Arnott, oldest member of Falconwood Ward Women's Section, who is 85.