Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1979 Apr 11 We
Margaret Thatcher

General Election Press Conference (manifesto launch)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Press Conference
Venue: Conservative Central Office, Smith Square, Westminster
Source: BBC Film and Television Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 0930-1000. Francis Pym, Jim Prior, Willie Whitelaw, Lord Thorneycroft, Sir Keith Joseph, Lord Carrington, Humphrey Atkins and Sir Geoffrey Howe joined MT on the platform.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 6216
Themes: Executive (appointments), Conservatism, Conservative Party (organization), Economy (general discussions), Secondary education, Employment, Industry, General Elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Pay, Public spending & borrowing, Taxation, European Union (general), Media, Northern Ireland, Social security & welfare, Trade unions, Trade union law reform, Famous statements by MT
(1) BBC Film and Television Archive: OUP transcript

Michael Cole, BBC

Then, jackets off for the first conference. Half the 300 newsmen couldn't get in, many of them overseas journalists intrigued by the prospect of a woman Prime Minister. With both major parties now fielding their leaders, Mrs Thatcher said she felt her day one had gone well, and what's more she'd enjoyed it.

David Holmes, BBC

Enjoyment which showed itself strongly as she introduced her manifesto with considerable panache this morning. It's a manifesto which has policies on inflation at its head. Conservatives would fight it by proper monetary discipline, gradually reducing the level of government borrowing and making substantial economies in government spending. If the government does not economise, says the manifesto, the sacrifices required of ordinary people will be all the greater. The manifesto comes from a party which believes it'll be the next government. But a party, as she and her colleagues took the stage today, making only limited promises.

MT

We are a party that does not believe in promising to spend money before that new money has been created and made by extra production. You will, therefore, find that the promises are very limited. To do anything other would mean that we would have to take away more money from [end p1] people in the way of taxes and rates or put more borrowing onto the next generation when taxes, rates and borrowing are already too high.

The whole strategy of the manifesto is, therefore, that we must create extra wealth, produce more goods and services and increase the slice of the cake before we can decide how that extra shall be sliced up.

David Holmes, BBC

But one promise is made very firmly. It takes first place in what the Conservatives are offering the electorate—to cut direct taxation. The manifesto promises to cut income tax at all levels, particularly at the bottom and top of the income scale. No tax would fall on the low paid through the raising of tax thresholds. But there'd have to be increases in taxes on spending like VAT to help pay for these cuts. Mrs Thatcher was asked how long the country would have to wait for all this:

MT

One of the objects of cutting that direct tax is to make it worthwhile to do the extra work, to get better managers back into British industry. With better managers and making it worthwhile to work, to persuade trade unions to drop some of the restrictive practices, and that alone could put such a boost to output, even without any extra investment, and certainly there will be a time lag, certainly we shall have to look for as many economies in public expenditure as we possibly can to get the transfer.

We shall hope to make a start, a very definite start, in cutting tax in the first year in the first budget, because we believe it is an article of faith, and we're not going to get the increased wealth production unless we do. That will be a start, and only a start.

David Holmes, BBC

Conservatives would denationalise the aerospace and shipbuilding industries, they'd run down the National Enterprise Board and sell off its shareholdings in industry. They don't say they'd never subsidise a struggling firm in the national interest, but such help would be temporary and tapered.

Conservatives would spend more on defence, strengthen the peace, sharpen the punishment of young offenders, ask MPs to vote soon on capital punishment.

Then back in the mainstream, they'd these proposals on pay bargaining. Free bargaining in private firms, no government interference, cash limits would regulate pay in public concerns, there would be no question of subsidising excessive pay deals, but they'd seek to make no strike agreements in a few essential services like those who've been on strike this winter.

And on the trade unions, Conservatives would try for this reform among others; limit picketing to those in dispute at their own place of work. Safeguards on the closed shop would include a right of appeal against expulsion from the union, and the granting of a closed shop only if a big majority of workers voted for it on a secret ballot, such secret ballots to be backed by public funds. And when workers go on strike, there'd be a reduction in the social security benefits their families could draw. Conservatives want the unions themselves to bear a greater part of the cost of being on strike.

The question's always been, how would the unions react to such proposals? One foreign questioner wondered if Mrs Thatcher was ready for the confrontation?

East German Journalist

Do you think you have got enough policemen, soldiers, whatever it takes, to have a confrontation with extremists on an issue of face?

MT

I don't think we're quite on the same wavelength. [loud laughter, especially from platform, Willie Whitelaw leading it] British trade union … [end p2]

East German Journalist

Will you have a confrontation?

MT

I don't anticipate a confrontation. British trade unions should represent their members. There are 12 million members. I believe we shall have a greater proportion of those voting Conservative than we've ever had before, because they approve of the changes which we're going to make, and because many, many of them would far rather have the trade unions out of politics, looking after the interests of their members in a traditional trade union way, than what is happening now.

I believe we shall get a very great deal of co-operation. I believe that many, many, members of trade unions will say thank goodness someone's prepared to tackle this in a positive way. You can keep your confrontation; it's not for me.

David Holmes, BBC

Just as the campaign was dying down for Easter, the Prime Minister launched himself into a vigorous attack on Mrs Thatcher. He's taken up an incident at this morning's news conference in Conservative headquarters over the future of public sector pay.

Mrs Thatcher and her colleagues were asked what they'd do about the awards of the Comparability Commission which has been set up to consider how the low paid among public service employees compared with those in private firms, and how far they should be brought into line. It's one way the government tried to negotiate a path out of this winter's pay troubles. The Conservatives have made quite clear that they dislike the new body, and in answer to questions this morning, they described how they'd treat the cases referred to it. Would they honour the awards? Sir Geoffrey Howe replied, then Mrs Thatcher took up the point.

MT

Cash settlements already agreed will be honoured. Where they go to the Comparability Commission and the amount recommended is above the amount of money available, then if you're to meet them in full, economies may well have to be found elsewhere. Exactly in line with the …

Journalist

words inaudible

MT

Otherwise, you see, no, otherwise it means demanding more in tax and rates from people who are already paying too much.

Journalist

I see that, but does that mean that you would honour those awards and then economise?

MT

You have to do the two at the same time, otherwise you would go above the cash limit. Uh, you would have, in fact, if you honour the award and keep the same number of people—well, I doubt whether you could keep the same number of people—but you may well have to look for economies elsewhere in a service, or elsewhere in the economy. [end p3]

(2) Financial Times, 12 April 1979

Conservatives plan era of economic expansion

A confident and relaxed Mrs. Margaret Thatcher launched—the Conservative manifesto yesterday with a forecast that it will lead to a new era of economic expansion in Britain marked by steady change.

She ruled out immediate and indiscriminate cuts in state aid for industry, insisted that she is not anticipating a confrontation with the trade unions, and refused to become embroiled in discussions about a possible pact with the Liberals.

“I am going flat out for a straight, clear victory which will give us five years, and another five years after that,” the Tory leader declared.

Mrs. Thatcher rejected Labour charges that the Conservatives are contemplating a programme of massive public expenditure cuts which must lead to rising unemployment.

Questioned about BL, she stressed: “You cannot suddenly chop off any industrial subsidy.”

Looking to a gradual reduction in state aid to industry, Mrs. Thatcher maintained that the object of subsidies must be to mitigate change and give non-viable organisations a chance to become viable.

It would be “a cruel deception” to lead people to believe that they could keep jobs in projects which were not viable.

Mrs. Thatcher made it plain that far from anticipating a confrontation with the trade unions she expected trade unions leaders to co-operate with the new Conservative government in the same way as they had co-operated with previous Governments.

She asserted that on May 3 a larger proportion of Britain's 12m trade unionists would be voting Conservative than ever before.

“I believe we will get a great deal of co-operation.”

The Tory leader underlined the fact that the manifesto was “modest” in its promises. But the substantial cuts to be made in income-tax in the first Budget would be “a start and only a start.”

Tax cuts would provide the stimulus needed to turn round the economy—she did not underestimate the problems this involved—and would signal the change to a wholly different direction.

Incentives were needed to encourage creation of new wealth and with it an improvement in living standards. One of the objects of cutting direct taxation was to make it worth-while to do extra work, improve management and make British industry more efficient.

Would tax cuts cause short-term problems with the money supply, Mrs. Thatcher was asked. “I trust not,” she said. “We will keep a very tight watch on it.”

Mrs. Thatcher explained that the new Conservative approach to the payment of social security benefits to strikers reflected the belief that the trade unions should bear some proportion of the cost of disputes in which they were involved.

“We believe that the unions should pay more strike money and that larger amounts should be taken into account in calculating social security benefits.”

Mr. James Prior, the Conservative employment spokesman—one of the shadow Cabinet team which accompanied Mrs. Thatcher—acknowledged that the unions would need time to build up their funds. [end p4]

(3) Guardian, 12 April 1979

Unions will work with the Tories, claims Thatcher

The unions will work with a Conservative government, the Tory leader Mrs. Thatcher said at the launching of the Conservative manifesto in London yesterday.

She was answering the claim by Mr Sid Weighell, leader of the National. Union of Railwaymen, that he would tell his “lads” to get their snouts in the pay trough if the Tories won the general election.

Mrs Thatcher said: “After we have been elected trade union leaders will work with the Conservative government because that is our democratic tradition. Until we have been elected they are just as entitled to their political opinion as anyone else. I don't anticipate a confrontation.”

Trade union leaders represented 12 million members, she said: “I believe we shall have a greater proportion of those voting Conservative than we have ever had before because of the changes we are going to make.”

Many trade unionists would prefer to have trade unions out of politics and back performing their traditional role rather than what was happening now, Mrs Thatcher maintained. “I believe many members of trade unions will say, ‘Thank goodness someone is prepared to tackle this in a positive way’.”

The Conservative manifesto proposes a reduction in state benefits to strikers' families. Mrs Thatcher explained: “We believe that when unions call people out on strike they should bear some proportion of the cost of the strike.”

They should help some of their own people by making up some of their lost earnings, said Mrs Thatcher, “We believe that they should pay more strike money and that larger amounts of strike money should be taken into account in calculating social security benefits,” she added.

The Conservative spokesman on employment, Mr James Prior, said it was intended to place more responsibility on trade union officials so that that would have a better control of their members.

Tax cuts would be made in the first Budget, said Mrs Thatcher, because it was “an article of faith.” She denied that cuts in public spending would increase unemployment and argued that the Conservative measures would create more jobs.

At Labour's press conference Mr. Callaghan said that the Tory party would be heading for confrontation with the unions if they tried to exclude them from discussions on the nation's industrial future.

The Prime Minister welcomed the statement by Mr David Basnett, general secretary of the General and Municipal Workers' Union, which promised union backing for the agreement with Labour.

He said he would use the pledge to carry through the agreement ‘to prevent a repetition of what happened during the last winter.”

The Chancellor, Mr Denis Healey, said that the Conservative manifesto was, in its way, more revolutionary than the Communist manifesto, because it was “trying to abolish the laws of mathematics.”

He and Mrs Shirley Williams, the Education Secretary, tried to show that the Tory proposals did not add up. Mr Healey said the manifesto lacked detail but it seemed that the Tories were promising tax cuts of at least £2,000 millions.

At the same time they had pledged to cut the public sector borrowing requirement to less than he had promised himself, but had not said what else they might have to do to finance their proposals.

Mrs. Williams produced figures to show the effect of the Tory proposals on education. The Tories had pledged to cut £80 millions off the education budget, and a total over the term of a Parliament which might be as high as £420 millions. They had proposed extra spending on certain things, including aided school places, and vocational courses in polytechnics which might add up to £70 millions.

On the manifesto, Mrs Williams said: “This is really, so far as the Tories are concerned, a smokescreen election. They are telling everybody almost nothing. They will not tell us where they intend to cut public expenditure, except by slips of the tongue from time to time if one monitors broadcasts and watches every line in the newspapers.” [end p5]

(4) Guardian, 12 April 1979

Michael White braves the heat of Mrs Thatcher's participatory electoral debut

Belated, blue, and very brisk

In sweltering temperatures not witnessed by a British political leader since Mr Callaghan left Guadeloupe Mrs Thatcher and her senior colleagues were cross-examined yesterday about the Tory manifesto.

The press cross-examined Mrs Thatcher and she cross-examined her colleagues. Of the three groups the Opposition Leader emerged the clear winner, with the heat a close second.

Since this is a non-presidential election she was clearly determined to have Shadow Cabinet participation.

“Keith, would you like to say a word about that?” she asked with motherly firmness. “Francis, would you like to add anything?” And: “Perhaps someone will remember that Willie Whitelaw is here?”

As a taste of things to come it was an impressive extension of the breakfast at Flood Street technique to the highest counsels of the land.

Mrs Thatcher's belated emergence on the hustings had been expected to attract 500 journalists and cameramen (Mexican TV included). And as many as possible were crammed into an airless conference room in two-tone blue in three-tone, if one counts Mrs Thatcher's pale blue outfit.

Mrs Thatcher arrived on time, accompanied by her senior colleages, Sir Geoffrey Howe in the lead, wearing what Mr Healey would call a dead sheepish grin. Gradually it got hotter under the remorseless TV lamps. Would it all end in the re-enactment of some past imperial tragedy, the Blue Hole of Smith Square, perhaps?

Mrs Thatcher remained cool, indeed she visibly relaxed. Sir Keith retained his stiff upper lip, Mr Whitelaw his limp lower one. Jim Prior 's face turned from its usual light Burgundy to the darker hues of claret. The Guardian's Political Editor made for a door and Mrs Thatcher amiably accused him of “hiding.” No, he said, he was looking for air.

Whether because of the heat or underlying political sympathy, the Opposition Leader, got a pretty easy run on the Tory weak spots, at least from what one indignant West German reporter called “the sniggering mediocrity of the British press.”

He was keen to argue that “for unique sociological reasons” ( “for what?” said Mrs Thatcher) British union leaders had an oriental pre occupation with saving face. “Have you enough police and soldiers for a confrontation over face?” he asked. Mrs Thatcher said: “I don't think we are on the same wavelength.” We sniggered.

Mrs Thatcher was endearingly brisk. “Choice is the essence of ethics, Fred” she told the Times. And: “I know of no such sentence in the manifesto. Will you please direct my attention to it?” Or, on sports ties with South Africa, “We'll meet that problem when it arises. But it does not arise now.”

Though the Opposition leader commanded an impressive display of detail she democratically dragged in her colleagues from the start. [end p6]

(5) Sun, 12 April 1979

‘This could be our last chance to build a better Britain’

I BELIEVE

Maggie's way: tax cuts for all, union curbs

Tory leader Margaret Thatcher yesterday declared her faith in a better, brighter, booming Britain.

She set the election campaign alight as she promised the Tories would slash taxes, curb union power, combat crime and reform schools.

And, brimful of confidence, she set her sights firmly on 10 years of Tory rule. As she launched her party's manifesto at a packed Press conference, she said:

“I am going flat out for a straight, clear victory which will give us five years—and preferably another five years after that.”

Pledge

Mrs Thatcher said that income tax cuts would be top priority for a Conservative Government.

They would be across the board, with bigger cuts at both ends of the pay scale.

Taxation would be switched more to goods in the shops so that people could decide for themselves how they spend their money.

Mrs Thatcher threw down the gauntlet to Labour and told voters: “This election could be our last chance to build a better Britain.”

She said: “We will have to make a very definite stand in cutting taxes in our first Budget.”

And she added: “That will be a start. Only a start.”

Mrs Thatcher pledged that a Tory Government would pull back from too much interference in people's daily lives.

“I am planning real power for the citizen,” she said.

She added: “We want to see a country where the Government takes fewer decisions and the people take more.”

She said the Tories would crack down on abuses of union power.

Secondary picketing would be [end p7]

TORIES MAP THE WAY AHEAD

outlawed: strikers' benefits reviewed and closed-shop laws changed to allow people to opt out or appeal against expulsion.

But Mrs Thatcher ruled out a Tory clash with the unions.

“You can keep your confrontation—this is not for me,” she told reporters.

Mrs Thatcher said schools would no longer be forced to go comprehensive.

There would be stricter discipline and direct grant schools would be restored.

And she promised: “We'll give the youngsters the chance they need.”

Mrs Thatcher, dressed in blue, said police would be freed from paper work and traffic chores to lead the fight against serious crime.

She believed the Tories could beat inflation by cutting Government spending and scrapping “expensive Socialist programmes.”

She said firmly: “We are the party that does not believe in promising to spend money before that new money has been created by extra production.”

•Last Night, at her adoption meeting in Finchley, North London, Mrs Thatcher repeated her message of peace to the unions … but coupled it with a warning to “wreckers.”

Oppose

She said: “I seek confrontation with no one. But I will always strenuously oppose those whose aim is to disrupt our society and paralyse our economy.” She added: “The things we have in common as a nation far outnumber those that divide us. We want not to uproot or destroy—but to rebuild.”

•Labour's Environment Minister Peter Shore dismissed the Tory manifesto as “not a new beginning, but a dead end.”

He said on ITV: “They are interested in cutting taxation because they believe, in my opinion wrongly, that in a modern society we don't need anything like the public expenditure we have.”

‘I'm going flat out for a clear victory’

‘We'll give real power to every citizen’

‘We'll give youngsters the chance they need’

[end p8]

(6) Scotsman, 12 April 1979

Mrs Thatcher loses her cool

Mrs Thatcher lost her cool at Conservative Central Office yesterday when she launched her party's manifesto. Though, to be fair, so did everyone else.

It was the 55 minutes when the campaign really hotted up. The atmosphere in the airless room was torrid. Horses sweat, we used to be told, gentlemen perspire, and ladies only glow. How she glowed under the blazing lights. How most of us perspired. How her Shadow Cabinet sweated. It was, so far as the heat was concerned, near hell.

The launching room seemed designed like a space-ship lounge, except that there was no space. The walls were suitably coloured in two tones of blue and carried the slogan: “We'll all Win with the Conservatives.” Across one corner on a raised dias was what looked like an altar covered in blue cloth.

Behind it, also in blue, was Mrs Thatcher. There she sat, flanked by six colleagues. Presumably they were meant to represent the Magnificent Seven; within minutes they looked like melting moments.

Mrs Thatcher stood up to it well. She quickly removed her jacket to reveal a natty waistcoat. Her aim, clearly, was to show the nation that she had a trusted team and was no one-woman band. On her right were Mr Whitelaw, Mr Pym and Mr Prior; on her left, Lord Thorneycroft, Sir Keith Joseph and Sir Geoffrey Howe.

The cover of the Conserva [end p9] tive manifesto was coloured red, white and blue, and so, as the heat mounted, were the faces of the platform party. Only the pallid Mr Pym remained cool. Remember that, just in case Mrs Thatcher fails to enter Downing Street. Mr Pym is definitely a man to watch.

Mr Whitelaw soon began to look like a par-boiled blood-hound; Mr Prior turned beetroot, especially after he had to kneel near the Leader to speak into a mike. Sir Keith nodded assent to Mrs Thatcher so often that he seemed in danger of dislocating his neck.

Sir Geoffrey? He sat so still I wondered if he was in a trance. Only his eyelids blinking showed he was still really with us.

Twice, Mrs Thatcher referred a question to him. The first time he had nothing to say. The next, Mrs Thatcher asked: “Geoffrey, would you like to add anything?” He shook his head in dissent.

“Please do at some time,” murmured Mrs Thatcher. There were overtones in her expression of that famous phrase: “Say something, even if only goodbye.”

It certainly galvanised Sir Geoffrey. He sprang into action like a performing dog at the snap of a finger. He stressed Conservative tax cut plans and likened Denis Healey to the mayor of a southern US town who said: “I steal, but I give some back.”

“Good,” commented Mrs Thatcher. “We should hear from you more often.” Sir Geoffrey is probably still pondering the implications of that one.

Mrs Thatcher was confident if hardly cool. She wiped her palms on her hankie. Dabbed delicately at the side of her nose. Willie Whitelaw covered his streaming face with his handkerchief. Mr Pym paled and Sir Keith nodded on. At least no one nodded off.

The Tory manifesto, Mrs Thatcher explained, is a distinctive and realistic approach by a party who hope and believe they will form the next government. Would that government include Mr Heath, she was asked later.

“No Conservative Prime Minister in waiting announced a Cabinet before they have been elected,” she said sweetly. It was a good tradition. It is also a good tradition that politicians dodge giving direct answers to awkward questions.

The party manifesto declares that the trade union movement are today more distrusted and feared than ever before. Mrs Thatcher was pressed for a reaction to Mr Sid Weighell 's words on Tuesday that, if the Tories won, he would invite his lads of the NUR to stick their noses in the wages trough.

Mrs Thatcher was unconcerned. There was nothing unusual; trade union leaders had said such things before other elections. They would work with a Conservative Government because this was our democratic tradition.

“Until we have been elected they are just as much entitled to their own political opinion as anyone else,” she added. When it came to a General Election, one trade union leader was just like anyone else—one person, one vote.”

Mrs Thatcher enjoyed ticking off points on her fingers and making grand gesticulations. In general, her answers were too long.

Tiny beads of moisture glowed under her determined chin. Yesterday she proved one thing, anyway—she can be formidable in the hot seat. [end p10]

(7) Birmingham Post, 12 April 1979

Thatcher warns BL of aid cuts

Mrs. Thatcher yesterday warned BL workers that a Conservative Government would cut back on aid to the company.

But she did say ay cut back would be gradual to give BL a chance to become viable. The stand is a compromise. Sir Keith Joseph, the Shadow industry Secretary, has made clear in the past that he would like the break up of BL.

Mrs Thatcher spelt out her position at a Press conference to launch The Conservative Manifesto. The document says that where it is in the national interest to help a firm in difficulties, such help must be temporary and tapered.

Subsidy

asked if, in view of this, she would clarify her attitude to BL.

She said the Conservatives did not vote against the first subsidy to BL.

“But what you cannot do is to subsidise any industry indefinitely.

“think it is a cruel deception of the British people to think you can keep jobs going in projects, unless they are viable.”

Mrs. Thatcher said: “We can give them the chance to make a success of their own projects. I cannot say they will take that chance.

“Certainly we would try to gradually reduce the amount given in industrial subsidies.

“Look where it has got us. All the subsidies amount to £1.5 billion to nearly £2 billion. It has not got us to a thriving, creating, expanding economy, but a static economy, not even a larger proportion of the car market.

“During our time when we were in power, three out of four cars purchased here were made here. You saw yesterday's figures. Only two out of four were made here.

“And so, in fact, the industrial subsidisation scheme is not producing an expanding, thriving economy.

“So, in that sense, it has failed,” she said.

“But you cannot suddenly chop off any industrial subsidy. You can do it gradually, making your assessment of what is viable. But the point of a subsidy is to get, to mitigate change, and see that an organisation, or a company goes from being non-viable to going into viability.

“And that rests on its management and its workers. We cannot do it,” said Mrs. Thatcher.

Increase

Sir Keith added that one thing which was agreed with Mr. Eric Varley, the Industry Secretary, was that “aid to BL depended on increased productivity, better industrial relations and an increased market share.”

Mr. James Prior, the Shadow Employment Secretary, said the problems of British firms needed to be seen in the round. Extra costs produced by higher employer national insurance contributions and other costs encouraged foreign exports to come in.

(8) Evening News, 11 April 1979 (late edition)

Maggie promises tax cuts all round; tough action on unions and crime; and reform on jobs and schools

Going for a Knock Out!

Mrs. Thatcher unveiled the Tory Party manifesto today and declared: “I'm going flat out for a straight clear victory.”

She signalled her readiness for the fight by taking off her sky-blue jacket and conducting her first election campaign Press conference in her shirtsleeves.

“I don't underestimate the problems that will face us when we return to power,” she said. Once in No. 10 she would try to stimulate the country to greater prosperity and enable people to “do things themselves.”

Hard work pays

The manifesto promises tax cuts “at all levels” to reward hard work, curbs on unions, and the repeal or change of much of Labour's recent legislation.

Jobs, comprehensive schools, social services and privately rented accommodation would all be affected as well as the nationalised shipbuilding and aerospace industries.

The manifesto says the next Conservative Government's strategy is: •To restore the health of our economic and social life, by controlling inflation and striking a fair balance between the rights and duties of the trade union movement. •To restore incentives so that hard work pays. •To uphold Parliament and the rule of law. •To support family life, by helping people to become home owners, raising the standards of education and concentrating welfare services on the effective support of the old, the sick, the disabled and those who are in real need. •To strengthen Britain's defences in an increasingly threatening world.

Tax cuts are the No. 1 priority. Mrs. Thatcher said: “We will have to make a very definite start in cutting taxes in the first Budget. That will be a start, only a start.”

Union Power is to be curbed, although Mrs. Thatcher said she was confident Tories and the unions can work together.

Strikers' Social Security benefits are to be scrutinised. “We shall ensure that unions bear their fair share of the cost.”

Closed Shop laws will be changed to allow members to appeal against union expulsion and to stay out of unions on conscientious grounds.

Secret Ballots will be encouraged for union decisions—with Government money to help pay for them.

Picketing will be limited because “violence, intimidation and obstruction cannot be tolerated.” Secondary picketing will be outlawed.

Subsidies. Mrs. Thatcher showed a glint of the axe to come when questioned about British Leyland. “You cannot suddenly chop off a subsidy. … It should be gradual. …”

Hanging is not a clearcut issue. A decision on whether to return to capital punishment will depend on a Commons free vote.

Share in companies

Northern Ireland: It's future depends on the defeat of terrorism and the restoration of law and order. There will be no amnesty for convicted terrorists; a move towards re-establishing local government in the province; and continued state help for industry in Ulster.

Shipbuilding and aerospace would be denationalised and sold back to private ownership. [end p11] The workforces would be given a chance to buy a share of the companies too.

Vat will be increased, as will other indirect taxation, in order to switch pay-as-you-earn taxes over to pay-as-you-spend. Income tax will be also paid for out of North Sea oil and by cutting Labour's public spending plans.

Police will have more money spent in them. Traffic laws will be streamlined in order to allow the police more time to tackle major crime.

On Education, the law compelling local authorities to go comprehensive will be repealed. Some form of direct-grant schools, abolished by Labour, will also be brought back. National standards on the three Rs will be introduced, and schools will be required to publish examination results.

On Pay, companies will be left to go it alone—and take the consequences if they pay out more than they can afford. “At the end of the day, no one should or can protect them from the result of the agreements they make.”

Labour at dead end

Nationalised industries must pay only what they can afford, without relying on Government handouts. “There can be no question of subsidising excessive pay deals.”

Small Businesses are the “key to new jobs.” The Tories will make planning restraint less rigid, reduce the number of official forms and make them simpler.

Hospital and other public service workers “can only be paid what the taxpayer and ratepayer can afford.” Mrs. Thatcher has already promised that a Tory Government will try to get no-strike guarantees “in a few essential services.”

Local Government and Whitehall waste will be attacked.

First-Time home buyers will get help with tax cuts and part-payment mortgages. Council houses will go on sale with discounts of up to 50 per cent, and 100 per cent mortgages.

Private Rented homes will be subject to a new system of short lets, so that the tenants would be less protected by law.

Common Market. The Tories pledge to “work honestly and genuinely with our partners in the European Community.”

Mrs. Thatcher, writing an introduction to the manifesto, says it contains “no magic formula or lavish promises. It is not a recipe for an easy or a perfect life.

“But, it sets out a broad framework for the recovery of our country, based not on dogma but on reason, on common sense, above all on the liberty of the people under the law.”

Then there is a biting attack on the Labour Government— “It is not just that Labour have governed Britain badly, they have reached a dead end.”

The documents concludes: “Too much has gone wrong in Britain for us to hope to put it all right in a year or so.

“Many things will simply have to wait until the economy has been revived and we are once again creating the wealth on which so much depends.”

At the Press conference, Mrs. Thatcher said the manifesto was a “distinctive but realistic approach by a Party which hopes and believes it will form the next Government. This manifesto is the one that will be translated into action.” [end p12]

Asked whether public expenditure cuts meant an increase in unemployment, she said: “The last lot were not followed by the expected increase in unemployment.

“You stimulate the private sector and they take up the people who do not have work in the public sector.”

She could not say how much a Tory Government would allocate to defence and law and order, before “getting in and looking at the books.”

On Europe she said it would be “catastrophic” if Britain was “totally alone outside.”

Labour's efforts to re-negotiate EEC entry had been unsuccessful and their stewardship “extremely unsuccessful.” After five years in the driver's seat they had got a poor deal for Britain compared with other countries.

Heath question

“You are going to get nowhere if you join a club if you spend all your time harping and criticising it.”

When asked about Mr. Heath 's apparent willingness to serve under her, Mrs. Thatcher replied amid laughter: “No Conservative Prime Minister in waiting announces the Cabinet before they have been elected. It is a very good tradition and it is not one I intend to tear up by the roots.”

On trade unions she said she felt far more trade unionists would prefer to have the unions out of politics.

Unions should pay more strike money to their members called out on strike.

At another Press conference later Shadow Employment spokesman, Jim Prior, said the Tories would not seek a confrontation with unions. “I think we have learned a number of lessons since 1973.”