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1987 May 17 Su
Margaret Thatcher

Article for Sunday Express ("The land of opportunity")

Document type: speeches
Document kind: Article
Venue: -
Source: Sunday Express, 17 May 1987
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Item listed by date of publication. Reproduced with permission of Express Newspapers plc.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 791
Themes: Defence (general), Education, Public spending & borrowing, Housing, Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Trade unions

The land of opportunity

That's my vision for Britain in the next decade

After eight years as Prime Minister I believe:

• That the Conservative Government since 1979 has transformed Britain and its prospects.

• That we now have great opportunities to build on our achievements.

But we need a third term to press ahead with the further radical reform which we shall present to the nation on Tuesday.

By 1979, Britain was at a low ebb. A Labour Government—kept in office by the Liberals—had brought us to the verge of bankruptcy.

Britain's standing in the world had never been lower. 1979 was truly the year in which the British people were crying out for change—change from the socialism which had eroded their enterprise, their sense of personal responsibility and their pride in our country.

What a different picture it is now! Britain once again gives a lead in the world. Our voice is heard with respect on the crucial issues. Our economy matches the best in the world.

PROSPERITY

We are well on the way to making Britain a country safe from socialism.

It hasn't been easy. We never said it would be. And the job is yet to be completed.

First of all, we had to tackle the root causes of Britain's economic decline. Good housekeeping had to replace heavy borrowing. Prudent economic management was needed instead of reckless spending. Only that way could we achieve lasting prosperity for Britain.

Now, for the first time in a generation, a British government is going to the country with falling unemployment, low inflation, cuts in income tax, soaring productivity and rising expenditure on the health and social services.

This Government is spending much, much more on care than Labour ever did—despite their massive borrowing.

Spending on the health service alone has nearly trebled under the Conservatives—to provide more resources, more doctors, more and better paid nurses.

The cruellest aspect of Socialism is that it promises so much, spends so much of your money and then hurts most of all those it claims to want to help.

This is because nobody suffers from the ravages of inflation more than the elderly, the poor and those with modest savings. And, of course, nothing destroys jobs more than inflation.

STRIFE

In 1979 the nation was fed up with union excesses. It wanted us to remove power from the union bosses and return it to the union members.

Our political opponents said that it could not be done, Indeed, time and again they flinched from the task. In place of strife was what they promised. Strife was what they actually delivered.

Now we have put an end to the tyrannies and outmoded practices that had undermined industry and lost jobs.

We have satisfied people's deep longing to own their own homes and to own shares in the companies where they work.

More than one million council house tenants have bought their own homes since 1979. About eight million people are now shareholders.

We have demonstrated our commitment to maintenance of law and order by practical steps—for example, we have increased police manpower by over 15,000 since 1979 and we have introduced tough measures to crack down on drug barons.

We also have urgent plans for tackling the decay in our inner city areas where so much crime is committed.

Above all, unlike our political opponents, we have shown respect and support for the police.

Who do you think is more likely to turn the tide against the criminal—Conservatives who back the forces of law and order or those Socialists who criticise the police at every turn?

Then take defence. Conservatives are not prepared to take risks with Britain's security. That is why we are modernising our independent nuclear deterrent with Trident.

The same amount of money—just 3 pence in the pound of our defence budget—spent on conventional defence would never buy us the same degree of deterrence. Yet Labour and the Liberals and the SDP want to cancel Trident.

DEFENCE

People know that Britain's defences are safe in Conservative hands. They know, too, that a strong defence policy has proved to be the most effective peace policy.

Of course, there is always more to be done.

Parents are worried sick at the way their children have been deliberately neglected in strike-bound schools. We shall be putting forward radical proposals to improve educational standards, and to give parents more choice and more power.

Our proposals for housing will bring new freedom of choice to council tenants, helping both those who wish to own their own homes and those who wish still to rent them.

And they will bring new life to the private rented sector, which is so important to people who want to move to where new jobs are.

Above all we want Britain to be the land of opportunity. That will be our platform. We are poised to go forward.