Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1951 Jul 14 Sa
Margaret Thatcher

Speech at Dartford Conservative Rally

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Speech
Venue: Central Park, Dartford, Kent
Source: Erith Observer, 20 July 1951
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Afternoon.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 1350
Themes: Conservative Party (organization), General Elections

Socialist Have A Past



Conservatives have a missionary job—the restoration of the strength and prestige of Britain. So said the Radio Doctor (Dr. Charles Hill, M.P. for Luton) at the gala and rally arranged at Dartford's Central Park on Saturday by the joint Conservative associations of Chislehurst, Dartford and Orpington.

Dr. Hill was speaking from a platform which included Miss Margaret Roberts, prospective Conservative candidate for Dartford (as chairman), Miss Pat Hornsby-Smith, M.P. for Chislehurst, Sir Waldron Smithers, M.P. for Orpington, Mr. Edward Heath, M.P. for Bexley, the chairmen of the three associations, Miss Beryl Cook (Central Office agent, S.E. Area), the Hon. W. S. Philipps (hon. treasurer, gala), Mr. J. D. Read (vice-chairman of Kent County Conservative Council), and Mr Charles Knight (hon. secretary, gala).

Miss Roberts welcomed the people in the Pavilion Enclosure. She referred to the work put in by the chairman of the Fete Committee (Mr. John Miller, who is chairman of the Dartford Conservative Association) and the chairmen of the other divisional associations (Mr. H. W. Rose, Orpington, and Mr. Edward Moore, Chislehurst). After introducing the Conservative Members for Chislehurst, Orpington and Bexley, Miss Roberts described Dr. Hill as the star turn and mentioned his “magnetism.”

She said there was a large floating vote in the divisions represented at the rally, and one of the big things which had influenced voters had been the broadcasts of Dr. Hill.

The Radio Doctor said he was particularly glad to be at the rally as he was reinforced on the platform by Sir Waldron Smithers ( “The grand old fighter in the Conservative cause” ), by “Ted” Heath ( “one of our schoolmasters—a junior whip” ), by Pat Hornsby-Smith ( “who has brought to the House a charm and ability and an enlivenment which is sorely needed” ) and Miss Roberts ( “let us hope she will come along to join the night shift” ).

Dr. Hill wondered on what issues the Socialist Party would fight the General Election. Would they explain how it was that Aneurin Bevan had said that every family would have a separate dwelling by last year? Would it be the “success” of nationalistion? The socialists now had a past. Gone were the days when they could promise Utopia. Now they had been seen in action and the electorate could judge by what it had seen.

Magnificent Changes

More and cheaper coal had been promised after nationalisation. The planning boys, with their corduroy trousers and curly pipes, had worked out how much coal the country could afford to export last year, and things had worked out all right in the first part of the year. Then, however, they had found that they had remembered everything but the weather and had allowed too much to go for export. Did one remember the “magnificent change” which had come over the railways, gas and electricity supplies after nationalisation? Would the Socialists mention nuts? They might even tell of the egg scheme in Gambia.

The Socialists had promised a brave new world (said the Doctor) and they did not think they had failed. And yet the story of the past six years was a dismal one of appalling failure in the nationalised industries, a story of a cost of living which had been rising long before Korea, a story of failure in housing.

What then would be the cry? Dr. Hill suggested that there were at the moment two—the Attlee Cry and the Bevan Cry. One was not sure which it was going to be. The Doctor said he had forgotten what one called those animals which left sinking ships, but he did know that Mr. Bevan was dusting a seat for himself on the front Opposition Bench.

The Government had determined reluctantly but inevitably that the defence of this country had to be strengthened.

When the Prime Minister told the people that we needed closer association with the United States of America and that we needed to strengthen our defences, he had the support of His Majesty's Opposition, said Dr. Hill. In the House a group of Socialists sit pale and silent and then go ont into the country delivering themselves of such gems as “What are we doing in Hong Kong and Malaya.”

There were some people (claimed Dr. Hill) who thought we were possessed of the worst Foreign Minister this country had ever known—one who would be better fiddling with cups of tea on the South Bank than grappling with the problems of the day in foreign affairs. Later, Dr. Hill asked whether the country would be better served by Mr. Herbert Morrison or by Mr. Anthony Eden. He supposed that most Members of the House, politics apart, would rather see Mr. Eden in the position. [end p1]

In home affairs the electorate had many issues on which to judge the Government's success or failure. So far (said Dr. Hill) he had not mentioned meat. In the “bad old days” when the experienced men had bought the meat there had been plenty for everyone. Now ambassadors were on the job! The farce of it all was in the underlying assumption that a few people had the capacity and the knowledge to do better than free enterprise working with the impulse of private profit. The Socialists' election manifesto was being got ready and in that they were certainly hoping to divert the people of the country by blaming profits for loss. The Socialists were calling the Conservatives a war-mongering party. This was what they called one who stood up for freedom. When the world began to see the happenings in Egypt, certain South American republics and in Persia they would see the danger of a conflagration breaking out all over the world.

‘Real War-Mongers’

“I believe the real war-mongers are the Socialist Party themselves,” declared Dr. Hill. “They have lowered the prestige of Britain, and would cripple the iron and steel of this country despite the failures of nationalisation elsewhere. I suggest that the task of the people is to put their hands on their hearts and think. Can they swear that nationalisation has raised the efficiency of industries and the standard of life of the people?

Dr. Hill was of the opinion that the sooner the people got a chance to change the Government the better it would be. Of course, the Government of the day hesitated—they knew what the result would be. At election-time the people would have a chance of electing in the Conservative Party a same and sensible Government which would put the interests of England where they belonged and give the country a chance to restore itself to its rightful position in the world.

The two ways

“Be on your guard,” warned Dr. Hill. “Let us between now and the election take our politics a bit more seriously. The real issue before the people of this country next time is between two ways of life—a way dominated by the State with an increasing number of people servants of the State; and a way of life in a State where no men shall fall below a proper level and can rise above that level if they have the capacity.”

Miss Hornsby-Smith, proposing a vote of thanks, said that Dr. Hill was our nearest equivalent to a “modern John Bull.”

Seconding, Sir Waldron Smithers spoke of the great privilege it was to address a gathering of Men of Kent, Kentish Men and Fair Maids of Kent.