Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Finchley Conservative Women

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Hendon Hall Hotel, Hendon
Source: Finchley Press, 20 March 1959
Editorial comments: Lunch.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1350
Themes: Employment, Industry, Privatized & state industries, Taxation, Labour Party & socialism, Strikes & other union action

“Attack” Speech From Mrs. M. Thatcher

Lunches With The ‘Power Group’—Women's Advisory

A social interlude—or perhaps an important strategic highlight in her intensive programme of public appearances, in which she has discussed all matters of moment, international and domestic, since her adoption as prospective Parliamentary Conservative Candidate for Finchley and Friern Barnet, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, on Thursday afternoon, last week, faced what was probably her most critical audience to date: the influential Women's Advisory Committee of the Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservative Association, whose members have a say in every ward branch in the constituency.

The W. A. C. turned up in force for their premier social event of the year, the sun shone over their rendezvous—Hendon Hall Hotel—fashions were prominent, hats were new, and the prospective candidate's speech and approach were carefully studied as Mrs. Thatcher proposed a toast to the Conservative Party.

For this important occasion, when Finchley's first woman Conservative candidate aimed to secure the solid backing of local women in politics, Mrs. Thatcher took a new line. Not this time did she present such a broad canvas of Conservative achievement, but rather sought to etch sharply a black and white study of the opposition's threat, it's significance in terms of a Socialist win, drawing as her main character in the fight ahead the comforting solidity of the Prime Minister and his recent achievements. Her principal theme: “The time to win Finchley's election is now, with every single supporter mobilised—and those who are not with us are against us!”

With one hand Mrs. Thatcher sketched the “assets” of the Conservatives. With the other, Socialist short-comings— “You cannot further the brotherhood of man by fostering class hatred” , was one.

Rarely does Mrs. Thatcher mention the Liberals, presumably on the theory that to speak too long and too loudly of an opponent is to publicise him, and acknowledge that his intervention is something to be taken into account. Here, she has adopted a tactic which some Finchley Conservative ex-councillors—who were shocked last year when they lost their Council seats—now regret they had not learned.

The Women's Advisory Committee listened attentively to their candidate, after they had studied her slightly-darker than Conservative-blue dress of fine wool, and ivory silk hat with its severe folds.

Point at a time, Mrs. Thatcher took them through the main issues: industry ( “You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong” ); taxation ( “It is no use to decry surtax payers and drive them abroad—out of their industry comes revenue” ); nationalisation ( “We must go into the attack against Socialism's idea of assuming ownership” ).

Of industrial unrest, Mrs. Thatcher instanced occasions when strikes, against union ruling, resulted in unemployment. To the Socialists she would say, “Cast the mote out of your own eye.”

In a later speech, toasting the guests, Cr. Mrs. Betty Stubbs drew applause when she observed that the adoption of Mrs. Thatcher had over thrown a prejudice against women candidates. Mrs. Stubbs forgot, or forebore to mention that the prejudice still strong in other parts of the country, was largely upheld by women. But she did admit that she was one of the selectors who discerned the qualities that resulted in the choice of Mrs. Thatcher.

Mrs. Stubbs had a special word for Sir John and Lady Crowder, and Sir John, retiring as MP after 23 years, paid tribute to the acumen and driving force which the Women's Advisory Committee provided in the Division.

Replying to Mrs. Thatcher's toast to the party, he said it was not enough for the Conservatives to win at the next general election—they also required a healthy working majority. On the “other side of the picture” , from his vantage point in the House of Commons Sir John assured that even at this late hour there were divisions in the Socialist ranks.

Cr. W. H. Tangye, Chairman of Friern Barnet Council, replied to Cr. Mrs. Stubbs toast to the guests, saying that the women of the Division represented “a very big power” . The first time he has spoken at a luncheon, Cr. Tangye was taking no chances.

A toast which got a tremendous reception was short and sweet, from Mrs. Stean of Friern Barnet Central. It referred to the committee's chairman of the past year, Mrs. E. P. Mackrill, who stands as a Council candidate in Friern Barnet May elections. Speaking of the past year, Mrs. Stean said “I don't think there has been such a happy atmosphere in the Women's Advisory Committee” .

Still ‘Homely’

Wearing a patterned emerald-green, tie-silk dress with a small close-fitting feathered hat: “We are a happy committee” endorsed Mrs. Mackrill quickly in reply.

Then she proceeded to take up this writer's comment in an earlier Finchley Press article when I said that she made “homely” speeches. I still adhere to that because her speaking style suits her motherly demeanour. Men candidates, please copy—only make yours “fatherly” .

Mrs. Mackrill said she would continue to make “homely” speeches, with the rider— “we get things done.”

She does not deter from mentioning the Liberals:

“We have nothing to fear from them” she stated. She reminded her committee: “We all enter the field on the same day—with the same weather!”

Mrs. Mackrill was referring to Friern Barnet's adoption this year of Thursday for Council election polling day, the same day as Finchley.

Effect of this move is likely to be noticed in certain Friern Barnet key wards with three candidates. Last year, voting on Tuesday saw a big influx of helpers swarming over from the Finchley border with a tide turning in the other direction the following Thursday for the Finchley elections.

Mrs. Mackrill 's address ended the speeches at the luncheon. It was one of the largest attendances, well over 200, and the principal members and guests were; the Mayor and Mayoress of Finchley (Ald. and Mrs. A. T. Pike); Sir John and Lady Crowder; Mrs. M. Thatcher; Mr. A. C. D. Miller (Div. President) and Mrs. Miller; Mr. C. H. Blatch (Div. Chairman) and Mrs. Blatch; Cr. W. H. Tangye (Chairman, Friern Barnet Council and Mrs. Tangye; Mrs. E. Salmon; Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson.

Cr. E. Fergusson Taylor (Div. Treasurer) and his wife; Cty. Cr. Miss Leslie Scott (Div. Secretary); Mrs. Thorpe; Mr. B. Nevard (Agent); Mrs. Quick; Mrs. Damant; Mrs. Humphroys; Miss Whyard; Miss Calder; Mrs. Morris; Mrs. Stevens; Mrs. J. Mitchell; Mrs. M. Wilton; Mrs. D. Thompson; Mrs. Langston; Mrs. A. Ensdean; Miss Stilwell; Cr. A. Purvis; Mr. and Mrs. G. Brunskill; Cr. Mrs. Ena Constable; Mrs. Pickering; Mrs. Yorke; Mrs. Meynell.