Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1983 May 19 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Speech at Adoption Meeting

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Speech
Venue: Woodhouse School, Finchley
Source: Thatcher Archive: CCOPR 380GE/83
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Embargoed until 2000. Extracts were released to the press but the full text has not been found. The text has been checked against an excerpt broadcast on BBC Radio News at 2200 (see editorial notes in text). The speech ran for fifty minutes: see Carol Thatcher Diary of an Election (1983), p24.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1384
Themes: Conservatism, Economy (general discussions), Employment, Industry, General Elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Taxation, European Union (general), Labour Party & socialism

The Causes

We hear a good deal about how to cure unemployment.

But first, let's remember what caused it.

As the Western world sank into recession, unemployment rose rapidly everywhere.

In some countries such as West Germany, it has risen faster than in Britain.

But the level in Britain is tragically high.

The world recession hit this country harder because Britain was so notoriously inefficient. [end p1]

Our inflation was too high and so were our prices.

Wages rose faster than flagging output.

Strikes bedevilled many of our manufacturing industries.

We failed to deliver our goods on time, or at the right price.

Our traditional customers began to look elsewhere for reliability and quality.

All too often, the Government propped up the old industries instead of encouraging new ones.

We turned a blind eye to trade unions which refused to accept new machines and new techniques.

We left undisturbed the hidden unemployment in many of our industries which were overmanned and riddled with restrictive practices. [end p2]

As a result, productivity remained abysmally low.

Not enough young people were properly trained for a career in industry.


Mr Chairman,

We all care about unemployment.

Do you think there is any government, here or anywhere else in the world, which would not seize the chance of halving unemployment if there was a magic button we could press?

Of course, we'd press it.

And, Mr Chairman there is no government anywhere which is tackling that problem with more vigour, Imagination and determination than this Conservative Government. [end p3]

We not only care passionately about unemployment.

We are also committed to the only policies that give us real hope of removing this blot on our national life.

And our policies go right to the fundamental causes.

They are not window-dressing to catch the voter's eye, but serious, long-term measures.

We have brought down the rate of inflation to less than five per cent and going down, the lowest rate for fifteen years.

We have brought down interest rates.

The strikes which gave British industry such a dismal reputation are far fewer and mostly confined to the public sector.

We have brought down tax rates for managers and workers alike. [end p4]

We have slashed the National Insurance Surcharge—Labour's tax on jobs—giving £2,000 million back to industry.

Overmanning and restrictive practices—which concealed unemployment for decades—have visibly declined in industry after industry.

Productivity has risen dramatically.

There has been a rapid shift from the old, declining industries to the industries of the future.

All this means we are now in a position to compete.

And it's because this Government had the courage to tackle the real problems.

We are encouraging the industries of the future.

In response to the Alvey Report, we have recently announced an ambitious scheme in which Government, universities and industry would collaborate on the next generation of computers and beyond. [end p5] £200 million comes from Government, and £150 million comes from private industry.

That means new business and new jobs.

We have introduced more than one hundred measures to help small firms—schemes to guarantee loans, schemes to find and build new premises, schemes to give them the best advice.

That means new business and new jobs.

We've introduced the most exciting scheme ever to train our young people in the skills of tomorrow—at the cost of £1,000 million a year—so that Britain can compete with the best in the world.

That means new business and new jobs.

Mr Chairman, we have done all this—and much more.

And we shall do more still. [end p6]


Now let's look at Labour's record.

Let them try and find a single Labour Government since the War which has left office with unemployment lower than when they came in.

There isn't one.

When Michael FootLabour's present leader was Secretary of State for Employment, in two short years unemployment doubled from 618,000 to 1,284,000.

He did not have a magic formula then, and he has not got one now.

Mr Chairman, every Labour Government has promised to reduce unemployment, and every Labour Government has in fact increased it.

And if ever there were to be another Labour Government, the same thing would happen again. [end p7]

No-one can be unmoved by the plight of those who see their cherished skills of half a lifetime suddenly become unwanted.

No-one with any sensitivity could be indifferent to the difficulties of young school-leavers finding work.

But we will take no lectures from a Labour Party which did nothing to halt our industrial decline when they had the chance.

How can you believe promises of jobs from a party which put a tax on jobs?

How can you believe in the goodwill towards business of a party which has taxed top managers at penal rates of eighty three pence in the pound and as its last act of this Parliament, tried to force higher tax on middle managers? [end p8]

And can anyone seriously believe a party which talks about saving jobs and then puts millions of jobs at risk by threatening to pull out of Europe?

We will not accept the credentials to compassion of a Labour Party which panders to the most extreme of the trade union bosses—men who by clinging to their own obsolete privileges and restrictive practices have destroyed more jobs over the years than the recession itself.

And we will listen to no homilies on economics and unemployment from: —a party which has adopted inflation as a deliberate policy —a party which would spend, spend, spend and borrow, borrow, borrow until Britain was once again as broke as when Mr Healey had to beg the I.M.F. to bail us out [end p9] —a party which would promise Britain the same kind of Social Contract which led straight to the chaos and bitterness of the Winter of Discontent.


I invite the British people to choose: which party is more likely to win the new customers for Britain and bring the new jobs with them?

Which party is more likely to reduce unemployment—the Labour Party which put a tax on jobs, or the Conservative Party which slashed that tax by £2,000 million?

Which party is more likely to reduce unemployment—the Labour Party which wants to give yet more power back to the trade union militants, [end p10] or the Conservative Party which is determined to achieve a fair balance in industry?

Which party is more likely to reduce unemployment—the Labour Party which wants to get out of the European Community, although it's our biggest market for exports, or the Conservative Party which is committed to staying in Europe?

Let no-one forget: a major reason why overseas companies set up business in Britain and give us the jobs is because we are members of the European Community.

Under a Labour Government, those jobs would go. [end p11]

Which party is more likely to reduce unemployment—the Labour Party which believes in more nationalisation and more state control, and which scorns profits and wealth-creation, or the Conservative Party which believes in free enterprise and personal incentives?

“Success will ultimately depend on the understanding and support of the community as a whole—and especially on the efforts of employers and workers in industry; for without a rising standard of industrial efficiency, we cannot achieve a high level of employment combined with a rising standard of living.”

Mr Chairman, those are not my words.

Those are the words of the famous 1944 White Paper on Employment Policy.

There were no magic cures then, and there are none today. [end p12]

We regain jobs by regaining customers and regaining their confidence.

Strikes can lose customers very quickly.

It takes time and hard work to get them back again.

And we win new jobs by consistently supplying new goods and new services of the right quality and at the right price.

As a Government, we shall do everything in our power to help businesses, large and small —to cut costs by keeping inflation down and keeping taxes down and keeping interest rates down; —to increase incentives and rewards for effort and success —to satisfy our customers across the world. [end p13]

That's real caring—constructive caring.

That's how we work with industry.

That's how we shall help to bring new jobs—real jobs—to this country.

That's the Conservative Approach.

And that's the Right Approach for Britain.