Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1951 Oct 8 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

Speech at adoption meeting

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Church Hall, Lowfield Street, Dartford, Kent
Source: (1) Erith Observer, 12 October 1951 (2) Gravesend and Dartford Reporter, 13 October 1951
Editorial comments: Evening.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 2013
Themes: Commonwealth (general), Conservative Party (history), Defence (general), Economy (general discussions), General Elections, Public spending & borrowing, Trade, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (Middle East), Housing, Labour Party & socialism, Transport
(1) Erith Observer, 12 October 1951


Mr. Winston Churchill was the Unbilled Speaker

Audience Join in Community Singing

Monday evening was the date upon which Mr. Churchill decided to speak to the nation in a party political broadcast. Members of Dartford Conservative Association—350 of them—went to Church Hall, Lowfield-street, to adopt Miss Margaret Roberts, M.A., B.Sc., as their candidate for the coming General Election.

So that they would not miss the speech of their leader, it was decided that a radio set should be installed on the platform. The business of the meeting was over by 9.12 p.m., and immediately afterwards the wireless was switched on. Mr. Churchill 's speech brought forth rounds of applause.

After the singing of “Land of Hope and Glory,” the chairman of the Divisional Party (Mr. J. L. Miller) asked the meeting to express their good wishes to Miss Roberts' father and mother, who were unfortunately unable to be there that evening. Miss Roberts, it was hoped, would have a speedy recovery from her illness.

Mr. Miller then read a letter from Mr. Churchill addressed to Miss Roberts, but intended for the electors of Dartford. It read as follows:—

“On October 25 you will have to make a fateful decision. Your action that day will determine the fortunes of our country for the next five years.

“The nation needs a new government. It is because Socialism has collapsed that a General Election is now taking place. Grave difficulties lie ahead which must be faced squarely. Peace and prosperity can only be secured by exertion and self-denial. Only a strong and progressive government which seeks to unite the nation instead of dividing it, and to encourage our national qualities of thrift, hard work and enterprise, can lead us through these troubled times.

“We make no easy promises. Our published policy sets forth the methods by which we intend, if returned to power, to tackle the urgent problems which confront us.

“Miss Margaret Roberts is pledged to support this policy, which I commend to you. I ask you to give her your vote on October 25 in the full confidence that she will faithfully discharge her duties at Westminster in your interests and those of the nation as a whole.”

Mr. Miller pointed out that it was 10 or 11 years since the party had been fortunate enough to enter a campaign with a candidate who had previously fought a campaign in the Division. It would be remembered that Mr. Frank Clarke had fought it many times. The chairman referred to the “wonderful show” put up by Miss Roberts at the last election, and said the fact that she had agreed to stand at Dartford again showed that she had the greatest possible confidence in the people of the Division.


Miss Roberts opened her speech with the words, “The time for which we have all been steadily working during the past months has now at last arrived, and we have the opportunity very shortly to show at the polls all the work which we have been doing and the result which the policy of the Government has had upon the country—a result which we hope will achieve a tremendous Conservative victory. Had the election not come we should at this moment have been preparing to go to the great Conservative Conference. Perhaps Mr. Attlee and his friends were afraid of the rallying effect it would have had. We shall show up quite ruthlessly how and where the Government have gone wrong in home and foreign affairs. Undoubtedly the date of the election was chosen very carefully so that our Conference could not go before the ears of the public and so that their Conference would not show the full extent of the split within the Socialist Party.”

Miss Roberts believed that this time the Conservatives could call the tune. It was not on little things alone that the Socialists had failed. They had failed all round on the big issues.

If the Conservatives go in there would be every reason to face the future with assured hope, she thought. The big issues had therefore to be kept in front of the electorate. The “fear” campaign of the Socialists had already started—they were fighting on what they said would happen if the Conservatives were returned.

The most serious aspect of the situation was the Socialist Insistence that the Conservatives were warmongers. Nothing could be further from the truth. No political party could have done more in the years between the wars to try and preserve peace.

And in the forefront had been Mr. Churchill and Mr. Eden. They failed because perhaps too many people listened too closely to the things some people said, people who advised the laying down of the weapons of war. Such advice had been proved worthless. The whole of the Conservative rearmament policy was directed towards negotiating with strong aggressors from a strong nation here. They believed it could be done. Then this nation could go forward building up in the future as she had always built up in the past. If the Socialist policy were allowed to continue we would be taken closer and closer to war.

Recently Great Britain had suffered a most grievous blow when all our assets in Persia had been given away. We could ill-afford to lose prestige in these days. The question had been asked, “What would the Tories have done?” Miss Roberts pointed out that in 1932 a similar sort of thing had happened in Persia. Within 20 days the case had been given to the International court and taken to the League of Nations. A settlement was speedily negotiated.

There was no talk of war then because a Conservative administration was in power and dealt with the situation quickly and firmly. This time it had taken eight months before it went to the Security Council, and when Mr. Stokes had returned no further action had been taken. No reply had been sent to the last Persian Note, and the Socialists had waited for something to turn up at the last moment saving them from their folly.

Breaking Down

The Conservatives (said Miss Roberts) had always been the party of the British Common-wealth and Empire. During the last few years they had seen the steady deterioration and breaking down of trade and imperial preferences. “If we can co-operate on matters of defence through the Empire and the U.S., and so to greater things, we can defend the world on a world basis,” claimed the speaker. “The hope of this nation as a future trading nation stands on co-operation and trading with our own dominions and colonies. We shall shortly be facing some Japanese and German competition, and we must seek our first markets in the colonies and also be the first markets so far as they are concerned.”

The greatest of the social difficulties would undoubtedly be that of housing. Many gibes had been made at the target put forward by the Conservatives of 300,000 houses a year. That target still stood, said Miss Roberts. Priority had to be given somewhere on a programme, and that of the Conservatives—after the needs of defence—would be the reaching of the 300,000 houses target.

Councillor John Gates, vice-chairman of the Divisional Party, proposed “That this general meeting … hereby adopts Miss Margaret Roberts, M.A., B.Sc., as the Conservative candidate for the constituency, and pledges itself to use every legitimate means to secure her return.” The resolution was seconded by Mrs. E. M. Jenns, and was carried. [end p1]

(2) Gravesend and Dartford Reporter, 13 October 1951

Tories are not afraid of their bitter harvest

—Margaret Roberts

Miss Margaret Roberts, 26 to-morrow, made one of the finest speeches of her political career when she was adopted Conservative candidate for the Dartford Division by a packed crowd in the Church Hall, Lowfield-street, on Monday evening.

After a slashing attack on the Socialists for their failures over the past six years, she said the Tories would reap a bitter harvest but they were not afraid to reap it.

“Under the Socialists,” she declared, “this country will never really pay its way. It will go from one crisis to another and eventually come to such an enormous crash that Britain will go out of existence as Great Britain once and for all.”

Miss Roberts said the Conservatives would face up to the situation and put into operation a sound financial policy under men who had been used for years to dealing conscientiously with other people's money.

Talking about the cost of living, Miss Roberts commented “Surely there is something wrong with Government expenditure when it results in anomalies such as we have seen during the time the Socialists have been in power.”

The money spent on the ground nuts scheme, for instance, could have provided 25,000 local authority houses. Under the Socialists it cost four times as much to train a fireman as it did to send a boy to a university. The amount which the Government spent on converting locomotives from coal to oil and back again would have paid a quarter of the railway-men's increased claims last year. The amount they spent on maintaining Government hostels would have bought a pair of shoes for every child of school age in the country.

“I hope those examples will give you some idea of the amount of money that has been steadily going away,” Miss Roberts said. “Translated into terms of £ s. d. it means that we have paid the Government 5d. out of every shilling we earn.”

Had the election not come at the present time, the Conservatives would have been preparing to go to their great conference at Scarborough, Miss Roberts said. Perhaps Mr. Attlee and his friends were afraid of the rallying effect that would have had on the country. “I think they were,” she said, “because we should have shown up quite ruthlessly where the Government have gone wrong in their policy at home and in foreign affairs in the last few months. And what a showdown it would have been!

“Undoubtedly the date of the election was chosen very carefully so that our conference could not come before the ears of the public and so that their own would not show the full extent of the split within the Socialist Party. They are undoubtedly afraid to reap the bitter harvest which will be the result of the seeds they have sown in recent months.”

It was not in the little things alone that the Socialists had failed. They had failed all round on the bigger issues. These were some of Miss Roberts' points:

Socialist charge of war-mongering: “We have no thoughts of plunging this nation into war. We want peace through strength so that Britain can build up in the future as she did in the past.”

Persia: “The greatest blow of all to our prestige in foreign fields.”

The Empire: “We believe in the future of the Empire and on return to power we shall call an economic and defence conference so that we do not pay merely lip service to the Empire but practise more practical ties of friendship in the way of direct consultations and trade.”

Housing: “We have had many Socialist jibes at our proposal to put up 300,000 houses a year. That target stands.”

Miss Roberts said the Conservatives believed that they could provide the leadership to make Britain great again. They felt that on October 26th they would be able to celebrate a magnificent Conservative victory. It would be a victory that would be celebrated no only in this country but in countries beyond the seas.

“We believe,” she said in conclusion, “that our policy carried out under our Winston Churchillgreat leader, courageously and without any shadow or element of despair, will bring Great Britain out of the abyss she is in and take us once again to the heights we can attain.”

Mr. John Miller, Chairman of the Divisional Party, presided and the meeting was addressed by journalist Ken Johnson. Afterwards, the great audience listened to Winston Churchill 's broadcast speech.