Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1975 Feb 21 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

Speech in Glasgow

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: City Hall, Glasgow
Source: Thatcher Archive: CCOPR 184/75
Editorial comments: Embargoed until 1930. A section of the speech has been checked against BBC Radio News Report 2200 21 February 1975 (see editorial notes in text). There is additional material in The Times, 22 February 1975: "We want British influence in the world, and if we were to fragment Britain, that influence would diminish, and the influence of each part of the united Kingdom would diminish together with the contribution we can make to world affairs. We must all learn not to look smaller but to enlarge our vision of the world and the contribution we can make to it".
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1932
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Executive, Union of UK nations, Conservatism, Conservative Party (organization), Economy (general discussions), Education, Secondary education, Higher & further education, Industry, General Elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Energy, Taxation, Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Foreign policy (general discussions)

Life for me has been packed with events and duties since the Parliamentary Party elected me their Leader ten day's ago. There has been a lot of work to do, and none more important than carrying on the non-stop battle against the damaging measures which the Government has been trying to force through Parliament.

But amongst the first instructions which I gave was that arrangements had to be made at the first possible opportunity for me to visit Scotland, and I am glad to be in Glasgow tonight—a city which Teddy Taylor never fails to assure all of us in the Party is by far the most important city in the United Kingdom.

In the last Conservative Government when I was Secretary of State for Education, my responsibilities were limited to England and Wales apart from the universities because, of course, the Scottish Secretary is responsible for education North of the Border.

(But I may say what an excellent job the Scottish Universities are doing. They are active in researching the new technologies we require for our oil industry. A live partnership between education and industry.)

This means that although I was very much involved in discussions on Scottish affairs in the Cabinet, I had only very limited responsibility here, as the Scottish Office Ministers constantly reminded me. [end p1]

But now, as Leader of the Party, my responsibility is to lead Conservatives both North and South of the Border, and to lead them to victory.

This, I can assure you, will only be the first of many visits, because it is crucial for Britain that the Party's fortunes should prosper and advance in Britain as a whole. Section checked against BBC Radio News Report 2200 21 February 1975 begins

In Scotland you have a very special responsibility and challenge. To put it quite bluntly, our Party's Parliamentary representation from Scotland has been declining sharply since 1955. This is well to remember, that it's only twenty years since we actually had a majority of seats, and unless we can turn the tide, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to secure the return of a Conservative Government in Westminster with a working majority. So turn the tide we must. Turn the tide we can. And turn the tide we will. Section checked against Radio News Report ends

There is a great deal to be done, and I have started discussions with Members of the Party in Scotland but, of course, the real effort can only be made by you—our supporters, our helpers and our members, and time is not on Britain's side.

In the General Elections of February and October last year, we warned the nation about the dangers which faced us.

Dangers of runaway inflation and a crumbling economy which could affect jobs and living standards—and of the appalling consequence of the kind of socialist policies now being advanced by the British Labour Party.

I think that there are more people every day waking up to the grim realities. Workers in industry are finding that jobs are less secure than at any time since 1945, because firms are being crippled by Labour's taxation policy and sabotaged by threats of nationalisation by the front or by the back door.

The combined effects of Chancellor Healey and Wedgwood Benn who, when they are not fighting against themselves, join to carry on a vendetta against private industry and commerce, is just too much for the industrialists trying to concentrate their energies on creating work and profits. [end p2]

First Healey clobbers the firms with his tax demands and economic policies so that investment is down, profits fall or disappear, and men are made redundant, and then Benn follows on with a nationalisation threat because private enterprise has allegedly failed by cutting investment, losing money and making men redundant.

And in no field has the vindictiveness of Socialist policies been more apparent that in their effect on small business—and, of course, in Scotland even more than in other parts of the United Kingdom, the family business has been the backbone of commerce and industry.

We have had the massive increase in rates—with threats of worse to come. We have the savage proposals on state pension contributions for the self-employed—and we warned the electorate in October about this.

We have the spitefulness of the Capital Transfer Tax, which strikes at the heart of the family business and which is particularly serious for farming, forestry and fishing—industries vital to the welfare of Scotland.

And then there are all the forms and paper work to be completed which stem from increased bureaucracy.

Enterprise and initiative are being stifled instead of being encouraged and the whole nation suffers.

But the greatest danger by far is from inflation which eats into the real value of savings, of earnings and of pensions. [end p3]

And there are real signs that the pace of inflation is getting out of control. And rampant inflation, if unchecked, could destroy the whole fabric of our society.

But let there be not doubt about the real intentions of this socialist government.

By their bungling and folly they may give the impression that they are living from day to day, coping as best they can with each emergency, but with no long term plan in view. Nothing could be further from the truth.

These dangerous men, prodded and encouraged by the extreme left on whom the Government depends for its majority, know exactly where they hope to go and what they want to achieve.

It is nothing less than the destruction of private enterprise in this country and the enforcement of state control and direction in every aspect of our lives.

And they must be stopped before they bring ruin to this nation. What, then, is the Conservative answer?

First, we believe that Britain's economic problems cannot be solved by any magic theoretical formula, but only by harnessing the efforts and abilities of the people.

This means that our aim must be to reduce taxation on earnings. We must provide incentives for work and enterprise, not incentives for idleness. [end p4]

The most obvious difference between Conservative and Labour policies is that Conservative chancellors reduce taxation while Socialist chancellors invariably increase it.

Second, we must encourage savings in Britain because it is the nation's savings and wealth which provides the investment to make industry more competitive and jobs more secure.

Third, we must limit, and where possible, curtail state control of our lives and our industries.

Nationalisation is always a bad bargain for the nation and for the consumers.

And, apart from anything else, it's a luxury which Britain can't afford in our present economic difficulties.

A few days ago in the Commons, Willie Ross announced the most severe cut in the school building programme which Scotland has ever experienced.

Next year's programme will be £39 millions while this year it's over £60 millions—the programme planned under the Conservatives.

These cuts will have a serious effect on Scotland's education which has always been a matter of pride to those north of the border.

Of course, spending in all fields must be carefully watched, but it's a strange sense of priorities to put a virtual stop on some local authority building programmes on grounds of economy, and then to commit the taxpayer to paying untold millions on Tony Benn 's crackpot nationalisation schemes.

Nationalisation does not create jobs—it can destroy them. The immense potential of North Sea oil and the benefits which could come from it to Scotland have excited us all ever since the first successful strike in the cold waters of the North Sea. [end p5]

But there is a real danger that the combined threats of state control and unreasonable taxation could cripple this healthy goose which could lay so many golden eggs for Scotland.

Another top priority must be to preserve freedom of choice wherever possible, and to oppose state controlled monopolies.

As Education Minister in England and Wales, I used the powers available to me to dissuade local councils from destroying good schools with proven records of success simply because of an ideological commitment to universal comprehensive territorial schools.

And here in Scotland, some Socialist councils have been engaging in an orgy of educational vandalism.

Conservatives are not committed to any dogmatic pattern of education.

But we see no good reason for any Government to insist that successful schools, whether comprehensive or selective or grant-aided, should be wiped out simply because Socialist Ministers think they know what is good for children better than the local parents.

The Socialist policy is not only wrong—it is vindictive.

A fair policy of change would at least make proper provision for those parents and children caught in this changeover.

In Scotland, the freezing of grants and the threat to eliminate grants for the grant-aided schools is causing and will continue to cause, immense hardship on parents, and will ensure that in future freedom of choice in education will be available only to the wealthy.

Our policies must be based on respect for law and respect for authority.

Nothing undermined the Socialist Party more in the minds of democrats than the scandalous and unprincipled support which they gave to lawbreakers, whether in the councils of Clay Cross or of Clydebank.

But respect for the law affects everyone in our community. [end p6]

The pattern of increased violence, the upsurge of vandalism and the assault on standards of conduct have caused distress and misery and, in some cases, fear, into the hearts of law-abiding citizens.

I believe that the balance has been tilted too far towards concern for the law-breakers, and insufficient attention has been paid to the interests of the law-abiding.

So long as I am leader of the Party, the Conservatives will stand firmly for law and authority and will wage war against the law-breakers.

Bureaucracy is perhaps one of the greatest diseases of any complex modern economy and the proportion of our national wealth which is eaten up by bureaucracy is worrying.

Decision making becomes remote and insensitive.

That is why the Conservatives have always supported, and will continue to support, the distribution of decision-making and administration.

It was the Conservative Party, under the leadership of Harold Macmillan, which led by establishing the Post Office Savings Bank headquarters in Glasgow.

We also led the field on devolution by setting up the committee under the chairmanship of Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

The establishment of a Scottish Assembly must be a top priority to ensure that more decisions affecting Scotland are taken in Scotland by Scotsmen.

But let there be no doubt that any such change must be within the framework of preserving the unity of the United Kingdom.

Conservatives are and have always been British Nationalists. [end p7]

In Scotland we have a hard battle ahead, but one which I am convinced we can win.

We will not succeed, and would not deserve to succeed, if we sought the support of the people of Scotland by pretending to be or seeming to be partly a Liberal Party, partly a Socialist Party and partly a Scottish Nationalist Party.

We stand as Conservatives for Conservative policies because we know they are right for the whole of the population and because we know that they alone can secure justice and prosperity for our nation.

And we are a party for all the people—not for any limited group or class or faction.

It is a challenging and perhaps daunting task to have been given the job of leading the Party at one of the most testing times for Britain and its people.

But with your support, your friendship and your commitment to the cause we all share, I know that we will succeed.