Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Margaret Thatcher

Speech to 1922 Committee

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: (1) Thatcher Archive: speaking notes (2) The Times, 22 July 1988
Journalist: (2) Robin Oakley, The Times, reporting
Editorial comments: 1800. The speaking notes - a list of points prepared by John Whittingdale - were probably not used in this form.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 936
Themes: Executive, Conservatism, Conservative Party (organization), Economic policy - theory and process, By-elections, European elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, European Union (general), Religion & morality, Society, Famous statements by MT

1. I would like to congratulate you and thank you for all your hard work during this session. It has been a long and hard slog—but, with a bit of luck, we can go away in the knowledge that three major elements of our manifesto are now on the statute book.

2. The programme we have implemented in this first session has been based on the aim of increasing opportunity: —opportunity for parents to have a greater say in the education of their children —opportunity for tenants to have more choice and influence on their own housing —opportunity for local electors to make their councils more accountable.

3. Although we will still have a bit of work to do on this session's programme when we return, we also have an important and busy programme for the next session too. At the forefront, we will have our two major privatisation measures for the electricity and water industries; both are substantial pieces of legislation requiring considerable care and attention but they offer the opportunity to make a further major advance in the spread of share ownership and a further contraction in the state sector.

4. We will also continue to maintain our vigilance on the economy. Both Nigel Lawson and I are determined to choke off any sign of resurgence of inflation before it is allowed to take root. It was a long and painful battle to get inflation down—we will not flinch now from taking the necessary steps to keep it down. But do not be misled by the Press—under the Chancellor's [end p1] stewardship, the economy is stronger than it has been for generations.

5. Next session, we will also have to focus on the European elections, now only eleven months away. As the influence of Europe in our lives increases, these elections achieve even greater significance and it is vital that we get as many of our supporters out to vote as possible. We must stress that we Conservatives are in the lead in opening up European markets to business in order to create at last a genuine Common Market; at the same time, we will resist the growing Socialist influence in Europe-having fought to strip away controls and bureaucracy in this country, we have no intention of allowing them to resurface in Brussels.

6. Our more fundamental task is to try to create a better place to live in. A thriving economy is a necessary but not sufficient condition. We must recreate a sense of pride in one's community. Instead of asking what they are entitled to receive, people should consider what they are obliged to give. It is this change in the moral climate which is our long term aim. Prosperity brings obligations as well as greater freedom of choice.

7. All of you should now go and take well-earned holidays: you will need all your strength for when we return. But you can leave in good spirit—the Kensington by-election was a magnificent triumph and, in no small part, due to the marvellous effort of the Conservative Parliamentary Party who turned out in such great numbers.

One year into our last Parliament, we lost Portsmouth South to the Alliance (since won back). One year into this Parliament, we are holding by-elections and gaining steadily in strength. (2) The Times, 22 July 1988 [end p2]

Thatcher strives to keep ‘quite brilliant’ Lawson on the team

With Tory MPs anxious that Mr Nigel Lawson, Chancellor of the Exchequer, might have been so irritated by recent criticisms of his policy that he might quit his post, Mrs Thatcher last night was clearly straining every sinew to keep him within the Government.

Mr Lawson made it clear in a speech last night that he will continue to run the economy his way, and that that includes intervening in the foreign exchange markets where necessary, despite Mrs Thatcher's views that “you cannot buck the markets” .

There has been deep dismay among Conservative MPs at the criticism of Mr Lawson from Sir Alan Walters, Mrs Thatcher's former economic adviser who is on his way back to 10 Downing Street next year.

Some MPs fear that such criticism, following the tension which has existed between Mrs Thatcher and her Chancellor since their public dispute over exchange rate policy in March, could provoke Mr Lawson into leaving the Government and pursuing a lucrative career in the City.

Almost alone among her ministers he has the strength to defy her, because he has an alternative career available and no ambition to be Prime Minister himself.

Yesterday Mrs Thatcher three times endorsed Mr Lawson 's record in the Commons at Question Time. Then, giving her end-of-term address to Conservative MPs at the 1922 Committee, she heaped the most extravagant praise on the Chancellor's head.

She told MPs that his Budget this year had been “quite the most brilliant we have seen” . It was, she said, “brilliant in concept, brilliant in drafting and brilliant in delivery” . In bringing the country through the stock market slump last October “Nigel handled everything marvellously” .

The mood of the meeting had already been made plain to Mrs Thatcher when Mr Cranley Onslow, chairman of the 1922 Committee, pointedly referred to how they all admired the Chancellor, setting off a desk-banging chorus of approval.

Mr Lawson has now had two enthusiastic endorsements in three days from Tory MPs, who are deeply grateful for his part in winning the last election and who are determined that he should stay on as Chancellor to deal with any problems threatening on the economic front over the next few months. …