Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Finchley Conservatives ("We are trying to roll back the tide of Socialism")

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Selborne Hall, The Green, Southgate
Source: Finchley Press, 1 February 1980
Editorial comments: 1900.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 665
Themes: Commonwealth (Rhodesia-Zimbabwe), Privatized & state industries, Pay, Public spending & borrowing, Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Labour Party & socialism, Strikes & other union action

Mrs Thatcher follows a tough line

There is no such thing as “new money” Premier Margaret Thatcher told members of her constituency party on Saturday evening.

“We will not take money in taxes from those who work hard and pay it out to those who don't” , the Finchley MP warned in a speech which firmly underlined her Government's attitude to the current round of pay disputes.

Speaking for the first time as Prime Minister at the Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservative Association's annual dinner dance at Selborne Hall, Southgate, Mrs Thatcher said she has embarked on a political experiment of a kind never seen before.

“We are trying to roll back the tide of Socialism. We must get ‘stuck in’ and sort out our problems in our traditional British way instead of asking the Government to intervene every time” , she told an enthusiastic audience.

“Intervening means taking from people who work jolly hard and just manage to live within their means and make a profit, money in extra tax to pay for those who don't” , she said.

Today's problem was that there was no such thing as new money, only money that has been earned. We must all learn to live within our means, said Mrs Thatcher.

There are too many people seeking subsidies and far too few people working to pay for the money to provide the subsidies.

Mrs Thatcher then went on to spell out the cost of the loss-making nationalised industries to the public—œ600 million for the Coal Board; œ450 million for the steel industry; œ700 million for British Rail. The Prime Minister said she had found it very difficult to get across to the unions that every time they asked for more money it had to come from the public—either from taxes or borrowing.

“I never thought when I entered politics that this point would be so difficult to get across” , said Mrs Thatcher.

It will take time to get things right because for the past six years the country had been borrowing on a fantastic scale. Apart from the spending on the social services and pensions, the biggest single factor was paying the interest on the money we have borrowed. The financial burden was now greater than the cost of education or the Health Service, Mrs Thatcher warned.

After turning to the philosophical point that freedom meant responsibility, the Premier said, amid cheers, that freedom to strike did not mean freedom to throw other people out of work.

“You have a ridiculous world when you have people with good jobs striking and putting themselves out of work when there are people without work wishing they had good jobs to go to” . [end p1]

After delivering a pat on the back for the efficient side of British industry, Mrs Thatcher turned briefly to Rhodesia and Afghanistan. The transition in Rhodesia from “bullets to ballot box” will cause problems and there may well be trouble during the elections, but the Premier was confident that at the end of the day the Government will have helped to create a democratic state in Africa.

On Afghanistan, the Prime Minister said the Government had taken a firm line at the United Nations and had given a lead to the non-aligned countries which had resulted in 104 votes in the Security Council against the Soviet invasion.

Russian soldiers were now only 300 miles from the Persian Gulf and the oil which is essential to the survival of the West. This was the first time Soviet tanks had rolled into an independent country and we must show the rest of the world we will not tolerate it, said Mrs Thatcher.

Earlier in the evening the guests heard the association's chairman, Cr. John Tiplady, propose the toast to the Government and Mrs Thatcher and welcome the top-table dignitaries. These included the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Mrs Sally Oppenheim; London North Euro MP Mr John Marshall; and the district's Greater London Council member, Mr Roland Freeman.