Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech in Belvedere

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: St Augustine’s County Primary School, Belvedere,Kent
Source: Erith Observer, 26 October 1951
Editorial comments: 2000.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 697
Themes: Commonwealth (general), Defence (general), General Elections, Foreign policy - theory and process, Foreign policy (International organizations), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Trade unions




“Dartford is getting the reputation for having the cleanest election in the country.” This comment has been made by Miss Margaret Roberts, Conservative candidate for Dartford. During the whole campaign she has spoken to packed houses, all of whom have given her a good hearing.

In the collection taken at every meeting there has been one farthing in the box. Mr. A. E. Allsopp, the agent, remarked, “This is either the widow's mite or the humorist's contribution.”

Conservative policy regarding peace in the world was the major subject Miss Roberts dealt with at her meeting at St. Augustine's Primary School, Belvedere, on October 17.

She said the question of peace came at the top of the important matters in everyone's mind at the present moment. Most of them, especially in this area, were far too near to things which happened in war-time that were not to their liking and far too disturbed about events in the Far East, where some of them had relatives fighting, and about matters happening in the Middle East.

How did Conservatives regard the situation? There had been some rather unsavoury propaganda going about and she would therefore define their attitude towards preserving peace.

In the first place there was the United Nations Organisation, which existed for countries to take their disputes to so that these might be negotiated there before any real major difficulty arose, and it was Conservative policy to uphold the right of UNO and the Security Council to discuss matters of dispute between nations. If that failed the hope of peace in the world would fade rapidly.

The second point concerned the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which was there to settle matters of legal dispute between nations. It was no good having that unless all nations were quite willing to follow the injunctions and subscribe to them. The Conservatives agreed to abide by the injunctions of the International Court.

She described the third point as the most important of all. In pre-war days they had been rather sceptical of signing treaties with Germany because she just tore them up. Where treaties were signed between nations they should make an agreement that neither side had the right or liberty to tear up the treaty without consulting the other. Had that happened with some of the nations in the Middle East we should not be in the present difficulty. Therefore the third point was that where a treaty was signed those signing it must adhere to its terms.

Peace Through Strength

The Conservatives also believed that the lesson they learnt in the inter-war years was that to be weak would invite war but to be strong would make the big powers think twice before attacking. They believed, therefore, in peace through negotiation and peace through strength.

Another point she made was that they put friendship with American very high and considered the holding together of the British Empire as one of the major factors in retaining peace. If the two major bodies, the British Empire and Commonwealth and the United States, held together then together they would be strong enough to deter any other power from starting a war.

It was imperative that Britain stood well with nations of Western Europe.

Miss Roberts also spoke about industry, and she had this to say about Trade Unions:

The Conservatives believed the right and proper function of a Trade Union was to safeguard the people who belonged to that union and worked in that industry. There was a strong band of Conservative Trade Unions in this division. The purpose in starting up that movement was not to turn the unions Conservative, because the Conservatives believed that whatever Government was in power the Trade Union function was to look after their men and leave the problems of Government to the Government. The Trade Unions were formed for the welfare and wage negotiations of the men within the industry, but of recent years they had become strongly pink. The Conservative purpose was to try to neutralise that and get them back to the function of negotiation and looking after men and women as regards wage rates and conditions of work.