Mrs. Thatcher hits back at critics
Education Secretary Mrs. Margaret Thatcher hit back at her critics on Saturday in a fighting speech at the Tory dinner: “Pay no attention to what the critics say,” she cried, “there has never been set up a statue in honour of a critic!”
Mrs. Thatcher was one of the special guests at the Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservative Association's dinner-dance in Selborne Hall, Southgate, at which the 200 members cheered loudly when she said: “This Government has certain characteristics which an opposition does not like. One, it is Conservative; two it is decision-prone; three, it succeeds where the last Government failed—and how they hate it!”
She went on to mention European success, and the challenge facing the Government in the problems of inflation and unemployment.
She had read, she said, “certain papers” this week and their critical remarks about her—but she dismissed the oft-quoted remark about sending her children to public schools: “You name me a Labour member of the Opposition who hasn't sent his own son to independent schools—it didn't stop them from being Cabinet ministers!”
More lightheartedly, she referred particularly to some remarks in a recent issue of The Teacher magazine and said she thought headlines on some of its articles were particularly applicable to her: “A life of saintliness.” “A force to be reckoned with” or, she joked, “Driven to suicide.”
In an earlier speech, the other chief guest, Sir Michael Fraser, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, praised the amount of time spent in her constituency by Mrs. Thatcher, whom he described as highly intelligent, determined and possessing an unusual combination of skills.
He then described the achievements of the present Government: “I believe they have a sense of the reality beneath the surface of things.” He spoke of industrial relations, the Common Market, taxation, the social services and other areas of reform, but admitted that unemployment was too high and prices still not steady enough.
He blamed Labour: “They left us an unreasonable legacy with prices and unemployment rising fast.”
“We must not underestimate the difficulties,” he concluded, “or pretend it can be done in a day or a week, or even six months. But I have no doubt about the election, whenever it may come.”
Sir Michael was accompanied by his wife, Lady Fraser, and the local M.P. by her husband, Mr. Denis Thatcher, who afterwards joined guests in dancing till midnight to the music of the Dick Davis Band.
Among others present were a number of Barnet councillors, including Cr. Jimmy Sapsted, who is chairman of the Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservative Association, Alds. L. Snelling, W. Hart and J. Bryson, and Crs. Vic Usher, E. James, E. Constable, L. Sussman, J. Fitzgibbon, F. Gibson and Mrs. B. Gibson, D. Burton and others.