… they regained the Falklands.
We couldn't have taken the Falklands decision without having taken difficult decisions during the previous two years. You see by that time we weren't afraid of difficult decisions. There was so much at stake. And please never think of Falklands as only regaining the sovereignty and lifeblood of the Falklands. Important as both of those were—and they were our initial objective—the Falklands was very much more. The Falklands was saying to the entire international community: “there is an international law and if anyone invades British territory we go and get it back in the name of international law” . [hear, hear and applause] And that is … British sovereignty. [words obscure] And a number of people have said to me: “no one else would have done it” . And I said, “I sometimes wondered if I was mad to send a Task Force down three thousand miles away with three weeks warning of its coming” . But I had total faith in the professionalism, and in the loyalty and morale of the British armed forces. [hear, hear]
Now, that was the outward and visible sign of the leadership and of the changed culture that we battled to … . [word inaudible] It was the thing which triggered the return of confidence, but it couldn't have happened without the five years in the wilderness recasting our beliefs, recasting our policies, and having the courage to take them through the dark years through to success. And so I remember in one interview, some people said “you're trying to get the economy right” . I said “no, I'm trying to regain the soul and confidence of a people” . And that's what we have done.
And so we returned in '83, and again in 1987. And sometimes I get people coming to me now—I had one this morning, first thing this morning, I won't tell you who it was—he came in, rather a left-wing country. He came in and said: “we've tried everything else, we're going to try Thatcherism now. [loud laughter] Maybe you're … [words inaudible] … ” . I said: “let me tell you, Thatcherism didn't start with Thatcher. I pulled everything that was best out of the character of a people, everything that was commonsense and everything that was courage. And that is really how it works” .
Well, now, that is the past, and we've got here so far. The standard of living has risen and we are doing as I always expected we would do—and as Conservatives we would want to do. There's no point in having a rising standard of living unless you have a rising quality of life. And that depends on the spirit of the community, one to another. And I think it is marvellous that over these last ten years people are doing more for one another, the great voluntary services are thriving, not only in disasters, but for the third world, or the disabled, or the children who are unfortunate, they're thriving, and people are doing more for one another. So they are using their increased prosperity to help those to have greater opportunity. That is happening. [end p1]
The second thing that is happening is that we have a much greater reputation on the international stage. Had anyone told me thirty years ago that in the last twelve months you would have entertained President Reagan to a great speech at the Guildhall, and then President Gorbachev to another great speech at the Guildhall, then I just wouldn't have believed them. But we've worked for it. And I've learned to work right here. And the point about building a past to be proud of, and taking back the greatest possible traditions and re, renewing them, is that the point of being interested in the past is that you are interested, and passionately interested, in the future of Britain. Passionately.
Now I must tell you that we have a marvellous group of young people. Do you know now wanting to be self-employed and wanting to have greater opportunities than ever before, and I think that they are very concerned for the world in which they live.
And so, the thirty years in Finchley and Friern Barnet gave me the chance to do the ten years—that's so far [laughter] … serving my constituency and Britain.
To finish here, may I draw your attention to that most marvellous carving in ice at the end of the room. All carved, absolutely fantastic thing. Took four days to carve. It is wonderful, and Mr. Dubbs [name doubtful] is here and we do indeed thank him. I'm very proud of him. I do hope one day he'll another one—still with No. 10 on the top. [laughter and applause]
Can I thank Ron ThurlowRon and Sue ThurlowSue and all our present officers and you for what they have done. And this is the last thing I want to say to you. [pause] As President of my grandson's fan club … [laughter] … I believe in the future of our country, and I pledge that I will do everything, with you, to make it a great future. [applause]