Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1976 Apr 6 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

TV Broadcast replying to Prime Minister (new Prime Minister)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Unknown
Source: BBC Sound Archive: OUP transcript
Editorial comments: Exact time of broadcast unknown; presumably 2100.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 612
Themes: Executive, Civil liberties, Defence (general), Economy (general discussions), Education, Monetary policy, Labour Party & socialism, Trade union law reform


Good evening. Yesterday Mr. Callaghan was elected leader of the Labour Party and he became Britain's new Prime Minister. That's a great and responsible position and anyone who's been near to the heart of politics knows just how heavy a load the Prime Minister, and his family, have to bear. We congratulate him and we wish him well in serving the national interest at No. 10.

Every new Prime Minister is entitled to ask for the support of the whole nation for policies which unite our people and which are needed for our long-term prosperity and security. Whatever our differences—and he and I both feel strongly about some of them—the interests of Britain and her people must come first.

Mr. Callaghan spoke about some of the problems we face. Really they're of two kinds: they're about our standard of living and about our standard for living. The one affects our material well-being, the other—just as important—concerns our beliefs and our values.

You remember that Mr. Callaghan said we're not earning the standard of living we're enjoying, and he was right. But it's no so much we the people who have been living beyond our means, it's the government that's been spending beyond our means. It's the government that borrowed more and more to pay for its over-spending, debts that we and our children will have to repay.

The first financial responsibility of any government is to try to preserve sound money, to ensure that the pound stays worth the pound and doesn't lose its value week by week. If we're spending much too much, we must cut down now, not next year or the year after. Things only get worse when you put them off. Unless the government restores sound money, they'll be no prosperity and no security for any of us.

And the tax system must make it worthwhile to work hard, or even to work at all. We'll never raise our standard of living unless we make sure that those who put in more hours and more skill get a proper reward for their families.

Then there's our standard for living. You remember in his broadcast last night Mr. Callaghan said: “let us cherish our freedoms in a world where they're being eroded” . I was pleased he said that. Let us start by cherishing them in Britain. Let's safeguard the freedom of our press. Let's safeguard the freedom of parents to have their say in the education of their children. Let's safeguard the freedom of those who choose not to join a union in a closed shop, on grounds of deeply held personal conviction. Let's stop cutting down our defences again and again, so that we can safeguard a free Britain.

Immense sacrifices have been made by the last two generations to preserve the freedoms we now enjoy. For our part we're not prepared to see those freedoms imperilled.

So long as the government acts in the national interest, it's entitled to national support. But we should earn no respect whatever if we were to compromise with our own deeply-held principles and convictions, or if we were to stand silent when policies that were bad for Britain were inflicted on us. We'd be sailing in our job if we didn't make it clear to Mr. Callaghan right from the start that we'll vigorously oppose any measures, [end p1] like nationalisation, that divide Britain. He'll get national support for national measures but not for partisan measures.

Mr. Callaghan's got a daunting task. He's got to cope with more unemployment, more inflation, more debt that any other post-war government. But he's got the talent and energy of the British people to call on. Let's not be mesmerized by the difficulties. Let's look for the opportunities. Mr. Callaghan's got the chance to make a fresh start and I very much hope that he'll take—for Britain's sake.