‘EUROPE HAS BECOME A CORNERSTONE’
“I Dislike making promises at election time. It is the negation of democracy if we have to bribe the electorate.” These strong words came from Mrs. Margaret Thatcher at a well-attended meeting held in Redbourne Hall, Church End, on Friday. Mrs. Thatcher went on to announce that her promises would be few and far between.
A large audience had previously heard the chairman, Councillor Keith Klean denounce the opinion polls.
He based his attack on the knowledge of many personal friends intimately connected with politics, when he declared, “Figures to date completely and utterly contradict the opinion polls.”
Councillor Klean added that canvass in St. Pauls Ward showed a seven per cent swing to the Conservatives.”
Education and the common market were two of the main topics of the evening.
Mrs. Thatcher began, “Europe has become a cornerstone of our campaign. You will be aware of Mr. Heath 's efforts to get us into the common market. Many of the difficulties facing us then no longer exist. Many of the Commonwealth problems have been solved. I believe together we could form a block with as much power as the USA or Russia.
On education, Mrs. Thatcher attacked the Government's recent announcement that money would not be available for new schools which would not fit into a comprehensive system, and discarded this as “educational blackmail” .
“We would welcome experiments and new policies” , she said, “but we are against closing Grammar schools for a kind not yet proved. These schools are not being closed because they are bad, but because they are good.”
“We believe that grammar schools should continue to be a vital part of education and that secondary modern schools should offer opportunities for non-academic children, as long as there is an easy transfer to the grammar school. There must be a freedom of choice” . Mrs. Thatcher pledged that the Conservatives would withdraw this circular.
Taxation was the next topic and criticism of the government for their increases.
Mrs. Thatcher went on, “It is necessary to get increased prosperity and productivity before distributing its fruits.” Economy, trade union reform and welfare services again figured prominently in her speech.
On the question of housing Mrs. Thatcher spoke of Conservative policy on home ownership. Encouraging people to help themselves. Local authorities should have differential rent schemes and there should be help with mortgage repayments. “These are fresh fields to conquer” , she said. “We hope the start will be on March 31” .
Question time brought some lively issues from the floor. On the Rent Act Mrs. Thatcher said the Act should continue, where there was a housing shortage, such as in London.
How to relieve the depressed and understaffed teaching profession, was another question and Mrs. Thatcher said the career structure should be improved.
Asked what was the general impression of the Government in her canvassing tours, the Member answered that many people were frustrated by the lack of vision and too many promises on the bread and butter issues.
How to fight increased crime. Mrs. Thatcher recommended the construction of a special section in the Home Office and the amalgamation of local police forces. More money for up-to-date equipment and the enforcement of restitution for the damage criminals caused.
Concluding the meeting Councillor Klean said, “Mrs. Thatcher has proved herself an efficient and capable constituency member. She has solved many problems for the borough. I know Finchley is proud to have her as a candidate” .
At the meeting were three women politicians from the Ivory Coast, who are visiting Britain for a month to study methods in election campaigning.