Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1951 Oct 15 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

Speech in Belvedere

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Bedonwell Hill Junior County Primary School, Belvedere, Kent
Source: (1) Dartford Chronicle, 19 October 1951 (2) Erith Observer, 19 October 1951
Editorial comments: 2000.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 1284
Themes: Autobiography (marriage & children), Commonwealth (general), Conservatism, Conservative Party (organization), Industry, General Elections, Monetary policy, Taxation, Trade, Housing
(1) Dartford Chronicle, 19 October 1951

“One of the best of the campaign,” was how Miss Roberts described her meeting at Bedon-well-hill Primary School, Belvedere, on Monday, when a crowded audience overflowed outside the building.

She told them, “We are living in days when people talk much more about rights than responsibilities. That is not typical of our nation and everyone, at any and every level, who is prepared to say, ‘I have a right to this or that,’ must also say, ‘I have a responsibility towards myself, my family and my country, and that responsibility, whoever I may be, is to do all in my power to see that Britain achieves the maximum greatness of which she is capable,’”

Miss Roberts said that above all, the Conservatives were a party of ordinary men and women taken from every walk of life that represented this nation. Considering what kind of thing everyone wanted in 1951, she said that first of all they would like to be certain of a peaceful future, and once that was secure they would like to be certain of jobs, homes, food, and a reasonable income which they could spend themselves, and, above all, of the right to live their own lives without interference by other people.

Three Problems

How did this add up compared with where they were now, she asked, and went on to speak of the rapidly worsening financial position. They were once again in a position as a nation where they had a large debt this year running at the rate of £400,000,000 a year. This was the first thing any Government would have to face on its return.

Going round canvassing she found that the problem which concerned everyone was the sharp increase in the cost of living which had taken place over the last few months and the way in which prices went up much more than wages. This was the second problem any Government would have to tackle if it was to govern the country successfully.

Housing Shortage

The third thing, and the most important social problem, was the shortage of houses. It was a tragic thing that housing lists were longer in 1951 than they were in 1945. For those people who were in difficulties with housing it was the problem that came first in their minds and their lives, and therefore it was the duty of any Government to tackle that as social priority No. 1. These things she had mentioned were the important things apart from peace, which transcended all others.

Paying The Way

Ultimately the first problem—that of paying their way in the world—came down to how they could get greater production. That was perhaps the greatest industrial problem of all and concerned everyone from top to bottom employed in industry. One of the first points of Conservative policy was that if a man was a leader either with his brains, hands or his personality that man was invaluable to the nation because he stood for new creative industries which would provide employment for more and more people, and they said that where they found a person like that the utmost should be done to let him have licences to start up on his own and to free supplies of raw materials to him.

“If a man has the guts and the know-how let him get on with the job,” declared Miss Roberts.” He is not doing harm but a tremendous amount of good to the nation.

“That is the chief way in which our factories grew up here and sometimes when talking politically we do not think how these things started. Unless we carry on as a nation of creators then, because we are a small island with a large population, we shall not survive. When the Tory policy comes out and says ‘set people free’ that is the kind of thing they have in mind.”

Encouraging the people who “had got what it takes” eventually added to the benefit of everyone. But however good the leadership it did need backing up from the rank and file. Unless the rank and file played their part and said “We know that as a nation we are running at a debt and the only thing for each and all is to work a little bit harder” they would never close the dollar gap and would fall into more debt—and the end of debt was bankruptcy.

Rewards for work

They had to encourage the leaders, work as a team, and be prepared to work harder. What could a Government do to encourage that? It could either help or hinder, but one of the ways in which it could help was to see that those who earned a bit more in their wage packet because they worked harder, did not have that extra bit wholly taken in taxation. Extra skill and extra work must have extra reward, because unless that was so they would have a tremendous shortage of craftsmen, and they were in danger of that at the moment.

Raw Materials

There was another important thing. In this nation they had not a great many supplies of raw materials, and in importing these from overseas they were finding a certain amount of difficulty. Unless they found enough raw materials for their work people to fashion into finished goods, they would not have the raw materials for the people in the factories to work on, and that was the greatest danger at the moment to full employment. An extremely valuable source of raw material was the British Empire and Commonwealth. Therefore came another point of Conservative policy which was closely allied to greater production. “We must safeguard our right and the right of the colonies for them to have first preference to our markets and for us to have first right to theirs,” she said. She believed they could maintain this Imperial Preference because it was their duty to their own work people to see they, got supplies of raw materials and also their duty to these colonies to see their markets were not frustrated. [end p1]

(2) Erith Observer, 19 October 1991



It was not so very long ago that Miss Margaret Roberts, 26-years-old Conservative candidate for Dartford, told supporters that she had set up bachelor-girl house-keeping. She commented at the time, “The only trouble is that there is only one to collect the weekly purchases—instead of two.”

Now all that is to be changed, for this week she stated she is going to marry a fellow-Conservative, Major Denis Thatcher, 36-years-old company director, of Erith. But they will wait until after the election.

At the moment the engagement, although confirmed by Miss Roberts, is not an official one. Nothing must be allowed to interfere with the campaign to wrest the Dartford seat from its occupier for the past six years, Mr. Norman Dodds.

No word about the impending news was breathed at the Bedon-well-hill Schools' meeting at Erith on Monday night, although Mr. Thatcher, chairman for the evening, was sitting next to Miss Roberts. In his opening remarks, however, he did say, “She has unlimited beauty brains and charm, three qualities which we can do with in the House of Commons.”

They first met in February, 1949, when Miss Roberts was chosen as prospective candidate. “Since then he has helped me tremendously on the economic and industrial side of politics,” smiled Miss Roberts.

Major Thatcher is managing director of Atlas Preservative Company, the paint manufacturers, Fraser-road, Erith, and is chairman of the London Association of the National Paint Federation. A member of the Order of the British Empire, he was commissioned in the Royal Engineers and later was transferred to the Royal Regiment of Artillery. He gave full-time service from 1939 to 1946, becoming a brigade major. He saw service in Sicily, Italy and France, being twice mentioned in despatches. After demobilisation, he rejoined Atlas, for whom he had worked from 1934, and became general manager. In 1948 he was appointed managing director.

An athletic six-footer, he is a keen Rugby football referee and a member of the London Society of Referees.