A Personal Message
For 15 years I have had the honour to represent this constituency in Parliament. I believe that the issues in this campaign are more important than those in any of the four campaigns I have fought here. Moderation and Fairness are in danger as the militants pursue their extreme policies to the detriment of our traditional way of life.
In the present miners dispute I believe that the vast majority of our people want to reach a settlement with the National Union of Mineworkers not at any price but on terms that will safeguard the nation's interest as well as the miners. The terms must be fair to the miners, but they must also be fair to the 6 million workers who have accepted settlements within the counter inflation policy. And they must be fair to the even greater number of people who have no union to stand up for them and who rely on the elected Government to look after their interests.
In this election I have made no promises of increased expenditure. My promise to the electors is that however arduous the duties of Government and Parliament, I shall continue to serve my constituents here and to be available to them in the future as I have in the past.
Margaret H. Thatcher [end p1]
Firm Action for a Fair Britain
This is Our Aim
A Britain united in moderation, not divided by extremism. A society in which there is change without revolution. A Government that is strong in order to protect the weak. A people who enjoy freedom with responsibility. A nation where the justice of a claim does not depend on might but on right. Once the General Election is behind us we must put aside our differences and join in a common determination to establish and maintain a secure civilised and fair society.
We shall maintain the Industrial Relations Act, but we shall amend it in the light of experience after consultation with both sides of industry to provide more effective control for the majority of union members by ensuring that they have the opportunity to elect the governing bodies and national leaders of their unions by a postal ballot.
We have acted on the Report about relative pay levels of groups of workers. The miners case will be examined immediately. Account must be taken of the relative claims of other groups such as nurses and teachers who gave evidence during the preparation of the Relativities Report.
It is manifestly unfair that those who do not go on strike are, in effect, obliged to subsidise those who do.
It is no part of our policy to see the wives and children of men on strike suffering.
But it is only right that the unions themselves, and not the taxpayer, should accept their primary responsibility for the welfare of the families of men who choose to go on strike; and, after discussions with Trade Unions and employers, we will amend the social security system accordingly.
Helping The Pensioner
In the four years since we took office, we have:
(a) Increased pensions every year. The Socialists only increased pensions every other year.
(b) Paid, in each of the last two years, a Christmas bonus as well. The Socialists never did.
(c) Seen to it that each year the increase in the pension was greater than the increase in the cost of living; so that each time there has been a real increase in pensioners' living standards.
(d) Paid a pension to those over-80's to whom the Socialists denied one altogether.
We shall continue to give the pensioner first priority in the entire field of social service expenditure.
We have already moved from a two-yearly to an annual review of pensions and all other benefits. We will now move to a six-monthly up-rating of pensions and other long-term benefits.
We shall continue to relax the earnings rule during the next Parliament. Our ultimate objective is to abolish it altogether.
We are concerned to provide not merely more education but better education. Better education is not only a matter of resources. It is a matter of standards and of attitudes.
We have made advances in every sector of education but have attached special importance to primary schools, believing that it is the early years that so often determine a child's future progress. In the next Parliament we shall continue to give priority to the early years of education.
In secondary education we shall judge local education authorities' proposals for changing the character of schools on their merits. We believe it to be educationally unwise to impose a universal system of comprehensive education on the entire country. Local education authorities should allow genuine scope for parental choice, and we shall continue to use our powers to give as much choice as possible.
We will defend the fundamental right of parents to spend their money on their children's education should they wish to do so.
In London we have a special problem of attracting and keeping teachers in the schools. We have referred the whole question of the London Allowance to the Pay Board and we will act on the Board's report as soon as we receive it.
Since 1970, about a million families have become home-owners for the first time, bringing the total to more than half the families in Britain.
Subject to a right of appeal by the local authority, we shall ensure that, in future, established Council tenants are able, as of right, to buy on reasonable terms the house or flat in which they live.
Our Housing Finance Act has, for the first time, brought fairness between one tenant and another by concentrating help with the rent on those families who most need it.
With nearly two million tenants already receiving rent rebates or allowances, a large number of families are now paying less rent than before the Act was passed.
The Fight Against Inflation
The rate at which prices are rising is still high, and on top of everything else we now have to absorb a four-fold increase in the price of oil. This makes it all the more vital that we hold the line against inflation caused by excessive wage settlements at home.
We shall, therefore, press ahead with the pay and prices policy, if necessary stiffening it in the light of the developing economic situation.
We shall ensure that the Price Commission has the powers it needs to protect the consumer from unnecessary price rises, and we will examine further means of controlling the rise in prices of key items of food in the household budget.