Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Finchley Conservatives

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: The Firs, Winchmore Hill, Finchley
Source: Finchley Press, 31 October 1985
Journalist: Tessa Harris, Finchley Press, reporting
Editorial comments: 1230-1430. MT spoke for twenty minutes to the annual lunch of the Finchley Conservative Women’s Advisory Committee.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 810
Themes: Commonwealth (South Africa), Employment, Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (USA)

‘Sanctions? I'd rather put Britain first …’

A job well done!

Showing no signs of fatigue from a transatlantic flight to be with members of the Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservative Women for lunch on Friday, Margaret Thatcher delivered a stern message to her critics over South African sanctions.

“I could not see the sense in trying to create unemployment and poverty in that country only to create unemployment here, too,” she told her audience at The Firs, in Winchmore Hill.

She said that she wanted to put Britain's interests first, and this is what she had done at the Commonwealth Conference in Nassau.

“When I arrived, there were 45 who wanted sanctions and only two of us who did not. When I left we did not get sanctions put on, so we did not do a bad job,” said the Prime Minister.

She spoke of her regret that South Africa had been expelled from the Commonwealth in 1961 and attributed their apartheid policies to their isolation. “I always think that it was bad that South Africa has been isolated,” she said.

Mrs Thatcher attacked what she called “double standards” when trade and discussions with the Soviet Union were encouraged—another country with a bad human rights record—and yet there were calls to cut South Africa off.

She said it was “quite clear to everyone” that the present regime in South Africa would not work, but felt that when the black population finally did get their rights they ought to inherit a strong economy.

Speaking about her talks on Thursday with President Reagan on the forthcoming summit between Russia and America in Geneva, Mrs. Thatcher said she was “very impressed” by the amount of work that had been done towards the talks by the White House, the State Department and by President Reagan himself.

She spoke of the President as “a brave champion” and went on to reaffirm her support for him. “We are part of the alliance. We are part of the free world. We are unbelievably fortunate to live in freedom with justice,” she said.

She also added that she felt the time was coming when the Soviet people would wake up to the fact that the West enjoys a much higher standard of living.

Mrs Thatcher told her audience that Britain was held in very high esteem by the United States, and the rest of the world acknowledge the tremendous work done by the Conservative government.

Britain was now enjoying a higher standard of living, with more investment than ever before and a budget surplus for the past five years.

On the jobs issue she said that the government themselves could not create jobs and it was up to the private sector to expand and provide more employment. The Conservative government were creating the right environment for it to do so.

And she left her supporters with the message: “It's going in the right direction. Let's all keep together and keep on with the policies which are right for us, right for Britain and right for the world.”

Premier breezes in with energy to spare

No one, irrespective of their politics, can fall to admire Mrs Thatcher's unflagging energy.

On Friday she arrived at The Firs in Winchmore Hill looking as though she had just come from the hairdresser's rather than Heathrow.

She arrived back in London at 10 o'clock from a gruelling few days at the Commonwealth Conference in Nassau, and from important talks with President Reagan. “While I was there I did the United Nations as well,” she jibed.

She even arrived at The Firs a little earlier than scheduled.

“I went back to Number 10 and started to unpack and then left to come here at 11.50,” Mrs Thatcher confided to the Press.

Wearing a navy and white floral dress, she breezed into the hall and started chatting with constituents and signing autographs.

One of the people she spoke to was Californian student Jeanette Heinz, who is currently working in the Finchley Constituency offices.

“She said she enjoyed her time in the US, but had to get back for the luncheon. I don't think she gets tired,” said Jeanette.

Mrs Thatcher, who celebrated her 60th birthday last month, was introduced to her audience by luncheon organiser Sue Thurlow as “that lady from America, not to mention here.”

But during her 20-minute speech the Prime Minister showed no signs of jet-lag, and received a standing ovation from the guests.

Proposing the vote of thanks, secretary Margaret Tiplady also marvelled at Mrs Thatcher's energy. “Every year she seems to grow younger,” she commented.

It was, by now, time to draw the raffle. But Mrs Thatcher had to be back at Number 10. No, she wasn't going to have a well-earned map, or even put her feet up.

“I'm giving a charity tea party,” she told the Press. The Methodist church which her father attended in her home town of Grantham, needs a new roof. “It's to help them raise money,” said Mrs Thatcher.