Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Article for the News of the World ("The left have poisoned minds against those who uphold the law")

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Source: News of the World, 29 April 1979
Editorial comments: Item listed by date of publication.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 966
Themes: Conservatism, Defence (general), Economic policy - theory and process, General Elections, Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Northern Ireland, Terrorism, Trade unions


The Left have poisoned minds against those who uphold the law

The Way I see it, this election is a choice between the defeatists and the realists.

After all, Labour has tried all its pet solutions—nationalisation, controls, state interference, subsidies, quangos galore—and none of them has worked.

Inflation up, prices up, unemployment up, taxation up, state spending up. The only thing that's gone down is our place in the world league table.

With Labour in power it's always relegation time for Britain.

That's why Labour's manifesto is such a deeply depressing document.

I can sum it up in four words: more of the same. Because the Labour leaders are so totally committed to collectivism, they can't imagine any solution to our problems which doesn't involve the bureaucratic state taking all the decisions.

And when the state fails, as we all know it has, they're stumped.

No wonder Labour is defeatist.

They are saying to you: “We know the last five years have been pretty bad. But things might have been worse. Let's not risk any changes. We're going downhill, but only a bit at a time.

“We've still got some of the North Sea oil to live on, and when that's gone—who knows?—something else might turn up.”

What sickens and angers me about this Labour defeatism is its insulting view of the British character.

Because their socialist remedies have failed, they blame the British people.

They write us off as incompetent, unadventurous. unoriginal and work-shy.

They underrate us, and in their hearts they despise us. We have proved unworthy of the socialist Utopia!

We Conservatives, by contrast, are realists.

We know that the British are one of the most creative and gifted peoples on earth.

But we also know that the British are individualists, who do not respond to state direction and control.

We like leadership—yes. But, above all, we like freedom.

Conservatives know that the British are at their best in a society where individual people—not the state—make the running and take most of the decisions.

Where rewards are related to effort and skill, and where the innovators and creators can breathe deeply and feel at home.

That is why we propose to cut your income-tax, reduce bureaucratic waste, and form-filling, curtail the powers of the trade union No-men, and unleash the bottled-up energies of British enterprise. [end p1]

And, because we're realists, we tend to be optimists too.

I reject with scorn the demoralised view of Labour's greying, office-weary placemen, that Britain is finished.

I proclaim with confidence that Britain can get right back into the world competitive race if only we can break free of the collective chains which hold us back.

Unlike the socialists, who trust the state, we trust the people. That is why we are the party of freedom.

Freedom: yes. But freedom under the law. The bedrock of civilisation is the rule of law.

The primary duty of government is to maintain the absolute sovereignty of the law, always, everywhere and against any institution, however powerful.

And my most serious indictment of Labour ministers is that they have left Britain a more violent and insecure place than they found it.

Isn't it strange that the socialists, who believe that the state ought to do everything, should neglect the one, vital area where only the state has the answer?

There are always queues under Labour, and right at the back of the queue come the armed forces and the police.

It is not just a question of money, either.

Our Servicemen are more fully stretched than ever before in peacetime. And in Ulster they are discharging an exceptionally difficult task with exemplary courage and patience.

What must they feel when Labour MPs join in the campaign of lies, skilfully fostered by the IRA terrorists and their extremist allies on the Left, accusing British forces of brutality?

What must they feel when Labour MPs put down a motion in the House of Commons publicly attacking the Chief of Staff and demanding his resignation?

There are many Labour candidates in this election, more than ever before, associated with extremist groups whose principal aim in life is to harass, obstruct and slander the police.

You readers saw on your TV sets the horrific attacks on the police in Southall last week.

You can judge for yourselves how much of the responsibility for this savage anti-police riot rests with those members of the Left, who for years, systematically and deliberately have sought to poison the minds of young people against those who uphold the law.

The task of the police is heavier, and more dangerous, than ever before.

It is not helped when Labour cabinet ministers ostentatiously join the picket-lines.

And when the Michael FootLord President of the Council attacks the judiciary.

Unfortunately, this is not all. The trend of Labour legislation, especially in the field of trade union law, has blurred the legal concept of threats to the point where Labour's Sam SilkinAttorney-General, with terrifying complacency, refers to “lawful intimidation.”

Union militants already possess staggering legal immunities.

And even when they are found to have broken the law, they know they can rely on their Labour friends in government to change it.

Thus with Labour in office, the frontiers of violence are always expanding.

Let me, then, sum up this campaign in one sentence:

In this over-governed country of ours, the creative majority have too little freedom, and the tiny minority of wreckers have too much licence.

The government I shall form next weekend will decisively reverse this state of affairs.

Help me to liberate those who create wealth—and to make the wreckers run for cover.