Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech in Finchley

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Finchley
Source: Thatcher Archive: transcript
Editorial comments:
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1295
Themes: Conservatism, General Elections, Privatized & state industries, Taxation, Labour Party & socialism, Trade unions, Trade union law reform

Mr. Chairman and friends, it is marvellous to be back and to see all of the old faces in the audience with whom I fought so many elections and we never lost one. And I am sure that John MarshallJohn will keep up that tradition and you will be helping him in every way. I remember very well last time that John 's was one of the few seats in the country to have a swing towards him, a 3.5%; swing towards him. That was largely due to his own tremendous efforts, also to his fantastic record in Parliament. He was always a Thatcherite. When I really had to be tough, and I had to, I could rely on his support and the support of a good many others on our side. I also know from being a fellow member in this area that John is a bonnie fighter for all his constituents' interests. He fights tireless and almost always wins his battle. So you really have a superb candidate and I hope he will have bumper majority in the coming election.

Now may I make one or two political comments? You didn't say how short I could be.

I think people think that because we have converted quite a lot of our opponents to our view that their party is no longer very much different from ours. And that therefore some people think that it would be safe to vote for the Labour Party. My friends, the differences are very considerable.

First, while we are always grateful to be able to convert people, we want to know that the conversions are more than skin deep. As I look along that Labour front bench some of them are true conversions but an awful lot of them don't look like Born Again Tories to me. They look like quiet candidates concealing their old socialism. [end p1]

And when I look at the Labour Party Manifesto, and we have to, know your opponents. When I look, and just let me pick up two things, and they are quite fundamental. Would I, who lived through a period trade union trouble, of massive strikes which brought our country low, and which many people, including good honest trade unionists did not like at all, and so one of the great achievements of our period was to change trade union law. In that we have a lot of trade union support and after four trade union acts we got it right. And we had the lowest strike record and with that and cutting taxation we managed to raise Britain's reputation high in Europe and in the rest of the world.

And also with our firm way of handling foreign affairs and our firm way of fighting communism. We gradually helped to bring down communism and we also because we fought for the Falklands and we fought in the Gulf, gained the respect and Britain's reputation rides high because of our policies in the eyes of the world. It didn't just happen. We made it happen.

Now let me just pick up two of those points on the home front. If you look through our opponents' manifesto you will find a little heading that says basically that the trade union law which we introduced will remain. So I understand it will, but that is not the end of the story. If you read a little further, they are going to introduce new legislation on the trade unions which will bring back a lot of the old problems. They are going to say that if any group of workers, if 50%; or 51%;, just a bare majority, vote to have a trade union then the management must recognise that trade union, must negotiate with them on all matters. That will alter everything. Do you know how some of the rabid trade union leaders work? They will go and get more and more members and they will virtually say “come along you must join” , and they have their own ways of making it happen. Then they will get the 50%;–51%; and they will get recognition and then we shall have what we had, and many of us are [end p2] here remember to it, what we had at Grunwick which was a recognition of the trade union issue. We do not want that back. Industry is working well. Commerce is working well with our trade union legislation. Do not let it come back-but it would if Labour got in. And my reading of it is this, they certainly may have adopted quite a number of our policies but why are some of the trade union barons keeping so quiet? They used not to be quiet even in Harold Wilson 's time. I can remember when there was a trade union leader called Hugh Scanlon and even Harold Wilson didn't like these trade unions interfering. And he said “Hugh get your tanks off my lawn at No 10.” Do you remember that,—no you are too young? We don't want those tanks back. And so we must stand up for our policies and make it quite different.

Trade union barons are keeping quiet and my reading of it is this, they have exacted their price by the promise of the Labour Party to introduce that legislation. And it is all clothed in nice words, “oh we shall keep Mrs. Thatcher's legislation and we will just have a little change.” But it is not a little change. It is a big change. And it is a change that would take everything backwards.

Now the other one which has always been a very important matter as you know in elections. We got taxation down. The Labour Party got taxation, may I remind you, and some of these young people have forgotten,—never mind dear you never knew. If I were to tell you that the top rate of taxation on your earned income is 83%; and the top rate of taxation on savings income was 98%; you would almost not believe me. That is what it was when I took over and the top rate of taxation on all kinds of income is 40%;. We had to get it down. We always work with the grain of human nature.

The grain of human nature is this: if people are given an incentive they will work harder, they will want more income to give their families a better standard [end p3] of living to buy their own houses, to buy extra pensions for themselves, so we gave incentives. And we knew if we got taxation down, ironically we would get more income in. And also we knew how to be pretty economical with taxpayers' money. Now we have done it. What is happening now? We are told that there will be, if Labour gets in, and we must see that they don't, a windfall tax on the profits of certain of the utilities. Now these utilities used to be nationalised. We privatised them. They work much better, they are much more economical and they are now being successful and they are making good profits. Now what sort of a party wants to say if you are successful we will tax your profits and take a bigger proportion away from you? It is against human nature. It is a stupid policy. And I don't like the idea of a windfall tax, particularly when they don't define it. The party that will have one windfall tax and take away the profits of success will not only diminish the success it will have to need another windfall tax the following year. Don't let it happen.

Now those are two very good reasons which affect everyone. Reasons not to let Labour in but to keep the excellent administration and government that we have had, under governments which, with you, I in fact led and we built up an excellent reputation.

Now just one more little point I want to deal with. I am still being short—for me.

[words inavdible] … said “oh its time for a change.” What a silly philosophy. If you have got a good doctor, or a good builder, or even a good grocer, or Prime Minister, you don't change them, you keep them. Because if you change the change would probably be for the worse, then in a few months or years you would be cursing that you ever had such a silly philosophy as time goes on. You in fact adhere to your principles, stick with your principles, stick with the party which [end p4] restored the reputation of our country. And we should all be very glad, and I believe that not only we, other nations will be glad too, because they will know that Britain is still riding high with the right policies. John MarshallJohn will be with us on everything. He has been a magnificent support for me in everything. You can count upon John and we can count on the Conservative Party so let us also count on the future of our country.