Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Finchley Conservative Women

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Firs Hall, Winchmore Hill, Finchley
Source: (1) Finchley Times, 28 October 1982 (2) Barnet Press, 29 October 1982
Editorial comments: 1245-1445. MT attended the annual Finchley Conservative Association Women’s Advisory Committee lunch.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 1498
Themes: Defence (general), Defence (Falklands), Employment, Monetary policy, Pay, Foreign policy - theory and process, Health policy, Social security & welfare, Strikes & other union action
(1) Finchley Times, 28 October 1982

‘The language of common sense’

Prime Minister lashes out at British strikers

There was a forceful message for strikers from Prime Minister Mrs Margaret Thatcher, Conservative MP for Finchley, during a speech to constituency supporters on Friday.

“If you want more unemployment and more job losses, then keep on striking. Don't blame me.”

This straight-from-the-shoulder statement came during an address to 195 guests attending Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservative Association Women's Advisory Committee lunch in Firs Hall, Southgate.

Mrs Thatcher said she knew many trade unionists did not want to strike but it was difficult in closed shops.

“Governments do not pay wages—you do, out of taxation,” she reminded her audience.

“We shall win in the end. We are talking the language of common sense.”

Recalling her trips abroad she said she pleaded the cause—invest in Britain. “I said: ‘Please invest, please buy! I got the same reply: ‘You have too many strikes and difficult industrial relations.’ I told them they were in the public sector, not private …   .

“Any strike does Britain harm. When the steelworkers went on strike, the business went elsewhere. One of the reasons for high unemployment is people going on strike—other countries are more competitive.”

Looking at the economy, Mrs Thatcher said: “No-one owes us a living. You have to earn it yourself. I was brought up in a self-employed family. Any group demanding more is putting their hand in their next-door neighbour's pocket.”

Inflation was still too high at 7½per cent—it must come down, she warned. Savings must remain the same in value when put in and taken out—something which had not happened for the past 40 years.

The next broadside was for health workers. Clenching her fists, Mrs Thatcher declared it “totally and utterly disgraceful” that any person should be put at risk, especially the elderly and young children, when others had settled for that sum of money.

There were more doctors, more dentists, and more nurses in the National Health Service than were recorded when the Tories came into power.

“You are paying more for the NHS than when I went into Downing Street. Then it was £170 per year each person, now it is £265 per year each person.

“So more doctors, more dentists, more nurses, and more money—we ought to have the best National Health Service instead of people on strike against it,” she stated.

Mrs Thatcher said it was a “tremendous compliment” to the Conservative Government that it honoured promises to look after the elderly. “We said pensions would be protected despite inflation—next month pensions are going up 11 per cent. Inflation is the lowest for the past ten years,” commented the Prime Minister.

“We have done better for the NHS and honoured promises to the elderly. We have also looked after defence, health and pensions.”

Looking at Britain's victory in the Falklands, Mrs Thatcher said Britain must be a reliable ally, defending freedom and justice and standing by friends.

“Britain must have strong defences and trained armed forces, properly paid. It was in our manifesto,” she reminded her listeners.

“If we have [sic] not taken this action we should not have been able, within 48 hours, to send a Task Force to the Falklands, marvellously equipped,” said the Prime Minister proudly, amid applause.

“When they went,” she continued, “It was one of the bravest things we have done. We will get freedom back even though it was taken 8,000 miles away.

“By not cutting defences, we were ready. We learnt what we believe in is reflected up and down Britain. We believe in one nation, one people, one freedom. We learnt how marvellous were our young people—they bore the brunt of the fighting.”

It was Conservative policy to train people and pay them. She continued: “We have the best fighting men the world over. I am able to say we are a staunch ally and well-equipped. We are capable of going and getting it back …   .”

Mrs Thatcher, wearing a heather-coloured wool suit and blouse with a single rope of pearls and matching earrings, caused a ripple of amusement with her next remark.

“I am the most senior leader in the Western World. Mr Reagan is junior to me in years of service. So is M. Mitterrand and the German leader and the leaders of Holland and Denmark. Where are we in all this? Rock solid!” she declared.

“In the West we have to have some continuity and I'm glad it is as a country standing for freedom and justice.”

Ending her speech, Mrs Thatcher had words of encouragement: “Keep right on to the end of the road. This country needs sound finance and brave decisions. We shall continue to fight.”

She was welcomed by Mrs Esther Levi, chairman of the Women's Advisory Committee, and thanks were expressed by Mrs Noel Williamson.

Before lunch guests were received by Mrs Levi, Mrs Margaret Tiplady, wife of councilor John Tiplady, divisional chairman, and Mrs Win Mackrill, president of Women's Advisory Committee. Other top table guests included Councillor Frank Gibson, divisional president, and Mrs Gibson, and Finchley and Friern Barnet ward councillors. [end p1]

[(2) Barnet Press, 29 October 1982

PM slams ‘disgraceful’ dispute

The National Health Service dispute was slammed by Prime Minister Mrs Margaret Thatcher when she addressed local Tories on Friday afternoon.

At a lunch organised by the Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservative Association's Women's Advisory Committee she conjured up visions of the sick suffering further as a result of strike action.

“I personally think it utterly disgraceful that any British person should put at risk the health of any sick person, old person or child merely because they want more money in their pockets when other people have settled for that same amount of increase they've been offered,” she declared.

She said in spite of world recession the Government had not neglected the two great social services—health and pensions for the elderly.

The number of doctors, dentists, nurses and those in professions supplementary to medicine had increased since the Tories came to power, she said.

“We ought to have the best National Health Service we've ever had instead of people on strike against it,” stressed Mrs. Thatcher.

She said the Government had promised to look after the elderly and protect pensions.

“Next month, in spite of a world recession, retirement pensions will be going up by 11 per cent which is a great deal more than inflation.”

Promises had been honoured “abundantly and well,” she said.

Mrs. Thatcher spoke of the need to reduce inflation even further and the battle to compete with other nations, particularly West Germany and Japan.

She said a standard of living had to be earned—a lesson West German unions understood and something she wished she could teach unions in this country.

“Any self-employed person will tell you your standard of living is what you earn by your own efforts and what you can sell by your own efforts.

“Any group demanding more is not demanding it from governments—it is demanding it by putting its hand in the pocket of its next-door neighbour.”

On her travels abroad Mrs Thatcher said she was often told she was doing a superb job and Britain had a sound political system but there were still too many strikes.

“One of the reasons why we have high unemployment is because of industrial relations, because of the propensity to go on strike in this country and because people are more competitive than we are.

“If you want to put up unemployment, if you want people to lose jobs, go on strike, but don't blame me for the unemployment that ensues.”

The Government would win, she said, because the language they use is the language of common sense and that which most people know to be fundamentally true.

Mrs. Thatcher also spoke of Britain's victory in the Falklands and the Government's determination to protect freedom and justice—even if it meant travelling the world to do so.

“It is one of the bravest things we have ever done—to go and say we will get freedom back even though it has been taken away from us 8,000 miles away.”

She said the Falklands campaign struck a chord in people's hearts.

“We were one nation, one country, with everyone believing this is a free country and that we must demonstrate it the world over.”

Mrs. Thatcher said this generation of Britons was not found wanting and lived up to the very best performances of its forefathers.

“We have the best fighting men the world over,” she said.