Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Conservative Family Rally at Wembley

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Wembley Stadium, West London
Source: Harvey Thomas MSS (VHS tape): OUP transcript
Editorial comments: 1430-1500.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1941
Themes: Conservatism, Defence (general), Economic policy - theory and process, Employment, General Elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Society, Social security & welfare, Trade union law reform

Mr. Chairman, Fellow Conservatives.

I know that the Chairman has already thanked our very distinguished guests who have come here to be with us today. I'd like to add my personal thanks to you, for all the trouble some of you have taken especially to be with us on this rather important day, to say what an inspiration it is and how much it means to me personally.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

But of course what you really went to know is whether I'm Janet Brown or not. (Laughter.)

I hope you might each a conclusion by the end of speech. [end p1]

Mum's Army

Now this is the third time I've come to Wembley on the Sunday before polling day.

Each time, four days later, we won. (Cheers and applause.) And in the presence of great cricketers, I ask shall we go for the hat trick? (shorts of ‘Yes’ and applause.)

Yes, I thought you might say that, and I hope we'll hit the opponents for six while we're at it.

And I must say it lifts the heart to hear the Wembley Roar.

The Cup Final crowd aren't half bad at it, but I wouldn't be surprised if your voices carried all the way to the Kremlin. (Cheers.) [end p2]

And by the way, Denis ThatcherDenis tells me the music for that song you sang was the signature tune for Dad's Army.

Well, I don't know about Dad's Army.

But I'm a Mum and I'd like to think that those who believe in keeping Britain strong, free and properly defended belongs in Mum's Army. (Cheers and applause.)

By Next Thursday when the people go to the polls, I believe Mum's Army will include thousands of traditional Labour supporters—Mums and Dads and sons and daughters from all over this beloved land of ours, who just can't stomach the defence policy—or rather, the no-defence policy—of today's Labour Party and its present Neil Kinnockleader. (Applause.) [end p3]

Mr. Chairman, if planes, tanks and nuclear weapons could be stopped by moving a composite motion at a Labour conference, there might be a grain of sense in the Labour leader's grand strategy.

But they can't and there isn't. (Applause.) [end p4]

A new confidence

Mr Chairman, After eight years, there is a new spirit of confidence in Britain at home and a new respect for Britain abroad. (Applause.) And there's a lot to be confident about.

Industry and commerce are thriving.

New businesses are springing up—Making and selling goods which hadn't even been invented eight years ago. And creating new jobs—more than a million new jobs since the last election, more than in the rest of Europe put together.

That's Britain's record. (Applause.) [end p5]

And unemployment is coming down.

It's been falling steadily for the last ten months.

What welcome news that is for us all. (Applause.)

And we hope and we believe that it will continue to fall in the coming months.

And yes, business is making good profits, and that's healthy—because that's how companies build their future. (Applause.) [end p6]

And during this campaign, the economic good news has continued to roll in.

—The CBI reports that orders are flowing into Britain's factories from home and abroad.

—More houses are being built for sale than at any time since 1973.

—Our overseas trade is in healthy surplus.

—Britain's reserves were up last month by four billion dollars—the biggest monthly increase ever. (Cheers and applause.) [end p7]

And foreign investors have said—Conservative Britain, that's where it's at, that's the place to go.

Mr. Chairman, how the Labour Party hates all this success.

As the economic news gets better and better so Mr Hattersley 's face gets longer and longer—and longer. (Applause.) [end p8]

Creating the framework for enterprise

Now, how has all this success been achieved? Because it has been done by government and people together. (Applause).

This Government runs the finances of the Nation soundly.

Like any good housekeeper.

Not for us the reckless promises that can't be delivered.

We know that everyone has to live within a budget—housewife, businessman, Chancellor of the Exchequer,—and to pretend otherwise is thoroughly dishonest. (Applause.) [end p9]

We conservatives believe in honest money.

We've brought inflation down and we want it down further.

And people who save for the future have a right to expect that their savings will be secure.

And this Government is making sure that they are. (Applause.) [end p10]

And, yes, we introduced tax incentives, right across the board. We cut red tape, we cut controls, believing in the spirit of enterprise that made our country great. (Applause.)

And men and women in industry in commerce, in entertainment, in the sporting world, they all responded—creating a higher standard of living for their families and more wealth and lustre for Britain. (Applause.)

And remember as Norman TebbitNorman pointed out—you cannot improve the health and social services as we have, until you have first created the prosperity to sustain them. (Applause.)

That's Mr. Chairman is real care. (Applause.) [end p11]

But as well all know, this transformation could not have come about unless we'd reformed the law on trade unions.

Before, that ordinary people were—frightened of their union bosses, they were—frightened of what militant shop stewards would order them to do, and they were often frightened to speak up at all. (Applause.)

This Government has removed that fear.

Our trade union reforms have brought democracy to union members, given them power over their working lives. (Applause.) [end p12] The Labour Party would take that away.

And they would bring back secondary picketing (Hissing)—knowing full well the intimidation and violence that goes with it.

And they say they care! (Applause.)

How can anyone who wants to do that possibly care about industry or the people in it? (Applause.)

It is to Conservatives that ordinary members of trade unions look for their democratic rights, and they may continue to look safely.f (Applause.) [end p13]

Wider Ownership

Yes, Government and people together have achieved a great deal over the last eight years.

And today you can share in the prosperity of the economy and of your own company.

Because to Labour's fury, Millions of people have bought shares in privatised industries like British Telecom (Applause), British Airways, British Gas and in TSB.

And there's more to come. (Cheers and applause.) [end p14]

Because this shareholding is part of your investment in the future of Britain. And as well as that, it's what we all what—It's security for you and your family. And shareholding is more widely spread than ever before—up threefold since 1979. (Applause.)

Yes, the spread of ownership of housing and shares under this government is creating a nation of families with means of their own and a stake in the future. (Applause.) [end p15]

It is these reforms which are uniting our country—fulfilling the Tory dream of One Nation. (Applause. Hear, hear from DT.)

It is our dream, it is our philosophy, it is our programme that what were once the privileges of the few should become the daily experience of the many. (Cheers and applause.)

And now it's really happening.

Conservatives want you to have what you want.

Labour wants you to have what they want. (Applause.)

Again, a Labour Government would take back these gains.

They want to turn workers against owners. We are turning workers into owners. (Cheers and Applause.) [end p16]

Law and order: who cares?

Mr. Chairman, this is a family audience. And so I want to say something to you about law and order.

Yes, this Government has increased the numbers of police.

And yes we will increase them still further. (Applause.)

There are more bobbies on the beat.

But crime is not a matter for the police alone.

It never was.

It can destroy neighbourhoods and make people's lives a misery. [end p17]

The police need support from all of us. (Applause.)

Yet all too often they find themselves up against, not only the criminals, but the hostility of some local authorities. (Hear, hears and applause.)

It is not Conservative local authorities who behave in this fashion.

It is not Conservative local authorities who try to prevent the police from visiting schools and talking to the children. [end p18]

And it is not Conservative local authorities who spend ratepayers' money on anti-police propaganda.

Mr. Chairman, the enemies of the British bobby are the enemies of liberty itself. (Cheers and applause.)

Labour want to bring the police under political control.

What kind of party have they become? (Hissing.)

The British police are the limbs of the law.

They must never become the strong arms of political parties. (Applause and Hear, hear from DT.) [end p19]

They serve only the rule of law.

They need our support; they deserve our trust; and they can depend on the Conservatives for both. (Cheers and applause.) [end p20]


And on defence, the people can depend on we Conservatives.

It was Denis Healey who, as usual, gave Labour's game away. He told us that the Kremlin are praying for a Labour victory. (Laughter).

Who could blame them?

Think what a lot of trouble it would save them. (Laughter and applause.)

They would see Britain's independent nuclear deterrent surrendered. [end p21]

And they wouldn't have to give up a single nuclear weapon themselves.

Not one.

They would see our American allies and true allies they are (applause). They would see our American allies told to remove all their nuclear weapons and bases from Britain, while the Kremlin would keep all theirs in Eastern Europe.

NATO's strategy and cohesion would be fatally weakened, while the Soviet defences would remain intact. [end p22]

Oh Yes, Labour's defence policy would indeed be the answer to the Kremlin's prayers.

The truth is that Labour policies would take us a giant step towards a neutral Britain, increasingly under the shadow of Soviet military might.

The Neil Kinnockleader of the Labour Party even talks about occupation.

Occupation? Occupation of Britain?

—After winning two world wars (Applause and cries) occupation of Britain after winning two world wars without a single enemy soldier on British soil? (Applause and Cheers.) [end p23]

We Conservatives will never take risks with Britain's security. (Cheers and applause.)

We know that nuclear weapons have kept the peace in Europe for forty years.

And they have prevented not only nuclear war but conventional war as well. (Applause.) [end p24]

It was Winston Churchill who understood the danger of weakness and appeasement more than anyone else. He warned, and I use his words:

“Be careful above all things not to let go of the atomic weapon until you are sure, and more than sure, that other means of preserving peace are in your hands.”

Mr. Chairman, a strong defence policy is the only peace policy. (Cheers and applause.) And I believe that the people know that our policies offer the best hope for peace and security. Peace with freedom and justice. (Applause.) I believe that they know that Britain's defences are safe only in Conservative hands. (Applause.) [end p25]


Mr. Chairman, people want to live in peace … real, lasting peace. —The industrial peace that enables them to earn a living without fear of victimisation or being called out on strike against their will and without a ballot.

—The peace of mind that comes from knowing they can walk the streets safely and know there is a policeman on the beat. [end p26]

—The peace that comes from independence of the state and being able to run your own life, spend your own money and make your own choices. (Applause.)

—And, above all, the peace of a country which is properly defended against any potential adversary.

For ours is a country with a past to be proud of.

And under the Conservatives it will be a country with a future to be proud of. (Cheers and applause.)