MRS. THATCHER CAPTURES TORIES
Packed Meeting Shows Enthusiasm
Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, M.A, B.Sc, the 33 year old housewife-barrister who topped the list of about 200 would-be Conservative MPs seeking the Finchley and Friern Barnet seat in the next General Election, scored a resounding hit when she appeared for adoption at Conservative Hall on Thursday evening, last week.
If the selectors of Mrs. Thatcher had wondered how their choice of a woman candidate would be received their anxietics were soothed by the enthusiasm of the meeting.
The hall was packed, and a large crowd who came too late to secure chairs stood at the back. The Conservatives came to see—and went away conquered. If any had come to oppose—they went away converted.
According to custom the candidate was not on the platform when the meeting opened. For forty minutes the Conservatives heard their Divisional Chairman, Mr. C. H. Blatch, tell of the marathon task of the selectors, and how 200 names had been sifted down to a manageable list.
When Mrs. Thatcher did appear, clad in restrained black and gold and with a small black hat, the Conservatives rose as a man—and woman—to applaud. Already they had been told that she was a competent speaker, and Mrs. Thatcher gave no time for this reputation to cool. What followed, even to an experienced listener at political meetings, was a polished performance.
Speaking without notes, stabbing home points with expressive hands, Mrs. Thatcher launched fluently into a clear-cut appraisal of the Middle East situation, weighed up Russia's propagandist moves with the skill of a housewife measuring the ingredients in a familiar recipe, pinpointed Nasser as the fly in the mixing bowl, switched swiftly to Britain's domestic problems (showing a keen grasp of wage and Trade Union issues), then swept her breathless audience into a confident preview of Conservatism's dazzling future.
Willy-nilly, her spell-bound audience felt the exhilaration of Conservatism planing through the spray of a lifting wave, as she expressed it— “just emerged from the trough.”
Crisply, Mrs. Thatcher summarised her points. And while the audience was still agog at the “winner” which the selectors appeared to have pulled out of the hat, there came a request from the Chairman of the evening (President Mr. A. C. D. Miller) for “questions.”
“Question time” , the selectors probably thought, was the testing time for their choice, and the chance for opposition to reveal itself. It never came.
There were three interpolations from the body of the hall. The first from a woman who said she had been about to ask how Mrs. Thatcher intended to reconcile managing a family with “becoming an MP?”
“Now that I have heard her, I am quite satisfied,” said the questioner, and sat down.
A Finchley Council member asked how Mrs. Thatcher would approach the “grudge voters” who swung from Tory to Liberal. Smartly, Mrs. Thatcher said she would apply the Young Conservatives' maxim— “Success is what you put into it.” Another man asked Mrs. Thatcher's views on a new “anti-Socialist” organisation, and the candidate shredded it before his eyes. There were no more questions.
A forest of hands reached for the pale blue ceiling of the hall when the meeting was asked for “a one hundred per cent vote” in Mrs. Thatcher's favour.
Mrs. Thatcher took her adoption calmly. She promised that from now on Finchley would see her constantly. Her voice warmed as she spoke of her children—twins Mark and Carol—and said she wanted to meet everyone “family to family” .
The advent of Mrs. Margaret Thatcher introduces a new note into the local political scene, certainly into the affairs of the Conservative Party. Will being a woman interfere with her vote-pulling powers? At a forecast it seems unlikely.
Once in her stride as a speaker she has the ability—if not the determination—to restrain femininity: no one could accuse her of throwing her womanhood at the audience.
Moreover, she is an original speaker. Her phraseology is not a clicheridden discourse like that of many women politicians. Of course she is a practised speaker in the most critical of theatres: the Courts of Law. But by the same reasoning she is also a practised thinker.
The Conservatives of Finchley and Friern Barnet have armed themselves with a new weapon—a clever woman. Mrs. Thatcher has stated that she is not satisfied with the Conservative Party's 12,000-odd majority at the last General Election. Neither are the other two Parties, but for a different reason. It will be interesting to observe their reaction towards the latest Conservative move, which is no less than the adoption of a new leader who promises action during and outside election time. [end p13]
(2) Finchley Times, 1 August 1958
Mrs. M. H. Thatcher Adopted By Conservatives
With only five dissentients out of an attendance of 350 members, Mrs. Margaret Hilda Thatcher was enthusiastically adopted as prospective Parliamentary Conservative candidate by the Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservative Association, at their headquarters in Ballards-lane, North Finchley, last Thursday. In her twenty-five minute speech, which was punctuated with frequent applause, she proved a brilliant speaker and was never at a loss for a word or an argument.
Mrs. Thatcher spoke mainly on the Middle East, the “despotism” of trade unions and the Rent Act.
She said the problems of the Middle East could not be solved by bringing something out of a hat or by summit conferences. The Arab problem had been going on for 40 years. Nasser had stated he would never be satisfied until the Arabs had destroyed the State of Israel. There was not unanimity in the Arab world and some of the old monarchies were wondering where they stood.
In the Iraki revolt the people who were brutally murdered were Arabs. In any discussion on the Middle East we must take into consideration the State of Israel, because we were mainly responsible for its existence.
“If we had not sent troops into Jordan,” she said, “not only would there have been violence but we would have lost our oil. We have spent large sums of money in the Middle East and all Russia has paid into that area is propaganda. British foreign policy should never be afraid to say we are there to protect British interests.”
Mrs. Thatcher said she did not think the Opposition had been helpful about the Middle East, nor in regard to Cyprus.
It was vital for the Conservatives to win the next general election with a decisive majority.
The problem at home was still inflation and rising wages. She saw some hope in the fact that the rate of wage increases was going down.
In 1956 wages went up by 8 per cent.; in 1957 wages increases were 5 per cent. and in the first half of 1958 it was between 3 and 4 per cent.
Conservative policy was based on individual liberty. We had, she declared, curbed private despotism but now there was a new depotism and it is on the part of the trade unions.
“It looks as if a Conservative Government will have to tackle this problem,” she said amid cheers. “A man should have the right Not to strike if he does not wish to. We must regulate trade unions and protect the individual worker.”
Mrs. Thatcher said the Conservatives had come through a trough, but now there was a wonderful resurgence throughout the country.
There was a tremendous divide between Socialism and Conservatism. “The Socialists stand for equality and if you have any brains you must not show it because it will put other people off.”
Major Nevard (Conservative Agent for Finchley) announced that there would be a membership campaign from September 16 to December 16. “We have been sleeping for the past two years. What we are going to do is not only to get more members, but find out who will help us at the next election,” he said.
Major Cole said the Selection Committee should be thanked for finding such an excellent candidate. Unfortunately he had heard from two members that they would not vote for a woman candidate.
Mr. Blatch, chairman of the Association, said Mrs. Thatcher did not think the Conservative majority of 13,000 in Finchley, was enough and he added: “She will demoralise the Socialists and wipe the floor with the Liberals.”
The president, Mr. Miller, presided, and the treasurer, Councillor Ferguson Taylor made an appeal for funds.