Commentary (The Times)

Economy: "Communists heckle Mrs Thatcher in church" (St Lawrence Jewry speech) [MT: "you see why I fight these people"]

Document type: Press
Source: The Times , 5 Mar 1981 (p1)
Journalist: Michael Hatfield
Editorial comments: Go to the speech itself from this link.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1p
Themes: Conservatism, Labour Party & socialism, Religion & morality

Communists heckle Mrs Thatcher in church

Photograph by Bill Warhurst. Mrs Thatcher standing silently as some of the demonstrators are escorted by police out of the church. [Photo omitted]

By Michael Hatfield Political Reporter

Seven members of the Young Communist League yesterday disrupted a lunchtime lecture by Mrs Margaret Thatcher at St Lawrence Jewry, near Guildhall, London, and were escorted from the church by police. The Prime Minister had just started her talk to about 500 people who packed the church when the league members began shouting slogans from seats behind Mrs Thatcher as she stood before the wrought-iron lectern.

Mr Frank Chalmers, aged 25, the league’s national organizer, left his seat, mounted the pulpit and harangued the Prime Minister. “You are not a Christian, you are a murderer,” he shouted. “We want jobs, not bombs. We want freedom in El Salvador.” Mrs Thatcher remained quiet during the heckling but after the demonstrators were escorted from the church, she told her audience: “You see why I fight these people.”

Outside the church Mr Chalmers said the group was protesting against mass murder in El Salvador and the fact that the Government was making cuts in public expenditure but not in defence. The other demonstrators were Mr Martin Chater, son of the editor of the Morning Star, Miss Monica Kreel, Mr John Bolgar, Miss Jenifer Bolgar, Mr Philip Dennison and Mr Terry Gallagher.

After the Vicar of St Lawrence, the Rev Basil Watson, had thanked the Prime Minister for giving the first of a series of lunchtime talks by public figures and had described the five-minute demonstration as ‘disgraceful’, Mrs Thatcher replied: “I had felt constrained because I was in a church, otherwise I might have gone for them - wham, wham”.

In her speech the Prime Minister said she suspected that only. a minority acknowledged the authority of God in their lives. “Perhaps that is why we have turned to the state to do so many things which in the past were the prerogative of the family; why crimes of violence are increasing, and a few people are even suggesting that murder can be justified on the grounds that it is political, a view which must be abhorrent to Christians.”

Mrs Thatcher described inflation as an “insidious evil” and confessed that “of all the difficulties I face, unemployment concerns me most of all”.