As we enter 1987, the surest sign of our country's success is that pride in Britain is back in fashion.
Britain has regained the respect of the world. We are unswerving in support of freedom and justice; and we have shown that we will not flinch from backing our words with action. In the European Community, we have proved that being good Europeans need not prevent us from standing up for British interests.
Strong government and clear leadership have brought a better deal for Britain in Europe, and have brought us peace and security in the world. In particular, nuclear defences have kept the peace in Europe for more than four decades. To discard those defences, as Labour propose, would be a monumental act of folly. It would put the Western Alliance, and peace itself, at risk.
Strong government at home, too, has brought success. No more does a weak-kneed government bow before the trade union bosses. No more are council tenants barred by town-hall tyrants from buying the house in which they live. No more are nationalised industries seen as the private property of faceless bureaucrats. Conservatives have given new freedoms, new rights, and yes, new responsibilities of citizenship, to trade union members, council tenants, employees in State-owned industries and to millions more. As a result, Britain today is more truly democratic than ever it was under socialism. [end p1]
But although we may have beaten back socialism, we have not yet overcome it. There are some tin-pot “socialist republics” in local government where you can see today's Labour Party in action: action which involves intimidation, harrassment and anti-police activity; action which is alien to our true British character.
And this is the essential difference. Socialists want the government to exercise power over people. Conservatives want the government to give power back to people. And we have done just that.
The new spirit of enterprise is gaining ground. British companies are taking on foreign competition and winning. The result?—over a million new jobs in the last three years, a record standard of living and more home-owners and shareholders than there have ever been.
Building on our achievements, the coming year will see the Government's next moves forward: including our reforms to strengthen the powers of the courts and to help the victims of crime; and our reform to abolish domestic rates in Scotland (and, as soon as possible after that, in England and Wales as well). [end p2]
In the public sector, too, the story is one of success. Medical care and treatment in today's National Health Service is better than ever before. Benefits for those in real need, and pensions for people in retirement, are higher than ever before. And the remaining State-owned industries are more effectively managed than ever before.
The dismal defeatism of the 1970s has been replaced by the steady successes of the 1980s. We are building a Britain in which all can take pride, and creating success for all to share.