Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Finchley Conservatives

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Redbourne Hall, Church End, Finchley
Source: Finchley Press, 23 January 1959
Editorial comments: Evening.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 1039
Themes: Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Economic policy - theory and process, Secondary education, Employment, Industry, Monetary policy, Trade, Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Transport

Enthusiastic Crowd At Tory Meeting

Mrs. Thatcher Talks On Topical Matters

An enthusiastic crowd of St. Paul's Ward Conservative Supporters heard Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, the Prospective Conservative Candidate for Finchley, address them for fifty minutes at a Public Meeting of the Ward on Wednesday evening, last week, at Redbourne Hall, Church End.

Covering a broad field of subjects related to domestic and international affairs, Mrs. Thatcher at one stage touched upon unemployment and said: “We are at the moment coming out of what has been called a recession. I think already that things have been starting to turn upwards again and like the Americans ours will not be as deep and long as some people feared.

“Economics, as you know, means trying to discover how things that happened in the past can affect things in the future.”

She agreed with an eminent banker who had said that the recession had really started when the prices of raw materials had begun to fall.

Not being able to sell their raw materials, other countries had no money to spend in the countries like Britain, which exported manufactured goods to them.

Familiar Pattern

Therefore orders to Britain from the consumer countries fell, and this seriously affected our capital industries and the usual pattern developed: textiles were hit first, then steel and the engineering industries.

But now the orders for steel are beginning to go up, though so far the improvement has not percolated through to the capital goods industries, where the unemployment figures have still kept rising. There was, however, a halt in the rise in December.

Another factor was that the figures tended to go up in the winter months until February when the onset of Spring made them fall a good deal.

The government had taken measures, but it would seem that we would have to wait for the January figures to come in before seeing if the measures that the Government had taken would counteract unemployment this year.

The government were not “fairy god-fathers” and could not create jobs for everyone at all times and in all places. There were always older industries going out of fashion and new commodities taking their place.

It would be wrong if the government were to subsidise an industry because it was older and had a limited life. For example it would be quite wrong for the Government to put an enormous subsidy on horses and carts when tractors were coming in.

Methods of Correction

The government could deal with the problem in two ways: one was to shift people who were unemployed to other places in the country where there were jobs. This was not very popular, because people did not like being moved from where they had lived all their lives.

The other means was to encourage industry (by means of grants) to move to places where there was unemployment, and there create work for all. This the government was doing.

A third remedy was the big improvements programme to railways and roads. This was started in 1954 and would end by 1962 and would be costing £460 millions.

This scheme had been stepped up along with plans for sewage, water-works, hospitals and housing to provide still more employment.

Mrs. Thatcher went on to say that the recent lifting of the Bank Exchange controls had been a good thing for the country as it was good that countries overseas should have the advantage of a convertible pound. But a good deal of care should be taken during the coming months to see that nothing went wrong.

Referring to the situation in Berlin during November, when the Russian Government had said they were going to quit their half of Berlin and wished the Allies to do the same. Mrs. Thatcher said that the British government had decided it would be wrong to desert the Western Germans to the Communist infiltration of their freedom—which would happen if the Allies left Western Berlin.

This view had been confirmed in December when the West Berliners had had their municipal elections. There had been a record poll of 93 per cent. and less than 2 per cent. of the votes went to the Communists. This showed what the West Berliners thought of the Russian proposals.

Mrs. Thatcher stressed the strength and success that NATO had had against the Russian menace of physical domination against the West. It was imperative that the NATO shield should be kept up and maintained.

After her 50 minutes speech, which she made without notes, Mrs. Thatcher answered many questions from the audience.

In answer to a questioner who asked for an explanation of the government's conduct over Suez, Mrs. Thatcher replied:

“We went in to protect British lives and property. Most people agree it was right to go in, and Nasser would not have got where he now is if we had gone on.”


Asked what she would say if the government abolished the hydrogen and atom bombs, Mrs. Thatcher said:

“I would be a very frightened person. We would be relying entirely on America to come to our aid.”

Asked if she was in favour of the improvement of secondary schools in Finchley, Mrs. Thatcher, said:

“I am not prepared to let the grammar schools down. They are wonderful in Finchley and they should be preserved. I am all for secondary modern schools in proportion, but I think this year the Education Programme does provide for certain capital improvements. But we have not got quite enough emphasis on Grammar Schools as such.”

Presiding at the meeting, Mr. C. H. Blatch (Divisional Chairman) at the opening, after thanking the audience for attending in such bad weather, read a letter from Sir John Crowder, the retiring MP for Finchley.

“The Conservative Association have adopted Mrs. Thatcher as their candidate to succeed me. Many of you have had the opportunity of meeting her during the last few months, and I am sure you will have been impressed by her enthusiasm, keenness and knowledge in dealing with the many intricate problems which confront us today.

“I therefore appeal to you to give Mrs. Thatcher all the support and help which, over all the years, you have so generously given to me.”

After the questions, Mr. T. W. Thomas, a prominent worker for the Ward, proposed a vote of thanks to Mrs. Thatcher and this was carried with applause.