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Speech to Conservative Party Conference 1985 October 11, 1985

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Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher speaks at the conservative party conference to report about the achievements that the country has achieved under her term. At the same tme, she also includes the other aspects that still need to be improved in the coming days. Her words give encouragement to the people that power will soon be back to the people little by little as they push Socialism away.

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(Humphrey Atkins) Mr. President, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen. In thanking you for those wonderful words of welcome, my first words must be of gratitude to those who organised this Conference and looked after our security, bringing us safely to this great meeting. [applause]

There are many here today who still bear the scars of injury and bereavement inflicted last year by terrorists when they struck in the hours of darkness. It reminds us of the risks we all take and will continue to take for freedom. [applause]

And I should like to say a word about our friend and colleague John Gummer, whose dedication and tirelessness in those traumatic hours and for many days afterwards won universal admiration. [applause]

We thank him for his chairmanship of our party, for his unfailing sense of duty and loyalty and wish him well in his new work as a member of our Ministerial team. [applause]

Mr. President, nobody could have followed this Conference or listened to the speeches made here this week, without being struck by one overriding impression. It has been a serious, friendly and responsible conference. A conference of those who know what it means for a political Party to hold office. A Conference of those who understand the realities of power exercised responsibly: the limitations, the dilemmas, and the agonised choices which face those in Government. Thank you for a marvellous Conference. [applause] Not for us the partisan rhetoric of class warfare uttered with clenched fists through clenched lips. Not for us the bland blueprints of those who have never sweated on the actual building site of responsible office. Nor ever will. [applause] For us the keynote has been idealism tempered by realism, and I'm sure you've been very - impressed by the quality and confidence of our whole team of Ministers. [applause]

For my part I would like to add my congratulations and thanks to all those who have taken the chair at this Conference with skill and with unfailing good humour. [applause] In our party, we really rather like one another. [laughter and applause]

Mr. President, it is ten years since I first addressed this conference as Leader. In the same town - we all love Blackpool - In the same hall. From this same platform.

I remember that meeting as though it were yesterday. The welcome, the warmth, the generous support that came up the hall. I already knew only too well the task that faced me. But I had not fully realised the strength that would be given to me by our people, and was to sustain me, first in the years of opposition and then as Prime Minister.

Mr. President, in that speech I said it was no part of my purpose to preside over the continuing decline of Britain; over diminishing international esteem; or over the ebb of our Independent spirit.

I also said that it was no part of my policy to perpetuate Socialism by proxy. [applause]

Do you remember the Labour Britain of 1979? It was a Britain - in which union leaders held their members and our country to ransom; - A Britain that still went to international conferences but was no longer taken seriously; - A Britain that was known as the sick man of Europe; - And which spoke the language of compassion but which suffered the winter of discontent.

Governments had failed to tackle the real problems which afflicted us.

They dodged difficult problems rather than face up to them. The question they asked was not "Will the medicine work?" But "Will it taste all right?"[laughter]

When we Conservatives said - "This is the way" they said - "forget it".

We were told you can't reform trade union leaders, you can't reform the trade unions - their leaders won't let you. But we did.

We were told you can't abolish price and wage controls - inflation will go up. But we did - and it came down.

We were told you can't give council tenants the right to buy. But we did - and the houses sold like hot cakes. [applause]

They said you can't denationalise - the unions won't wear it. But we did - and the workforce positively snapped up the shares. [applause]

And we were told you'll never stand a major industrial strike, let alone a coal strike. Mr. President, it lasted a whole year. But we did just that - and won. [applause]

It was a strike conducted with violence and intimidation on the picket line and in the villages. Yet Labour supported that strike to the bitter end. Indeed, three months into the strike, Mr. Kinnock told Mr. Scargill publicly that there was no - and I quote - "no alternative but to fight - all other roads are shut off."

What do you think would have happened if Mr. Scargill had won? I think the whole country knows the answer. Neil would have knelt. [applause]

Mr. President, courage is not making a speech in Bournemouth long after the event. Courage is what you show in the heat of the battle not at the post-mortem. [applause]

Real courage was the courage shown by the working miners. By the working lorry drivers. [applause] By the working railwaymen. By the working steelmen. By the working dockers.

The very people the Labour Party disowned. But we Conservatives stood with them; And the nation stood with us; and a major strike, called without a ballot of its members, failed. It was a not able victory for a free, law-abiding people and their freely-elected democratic government. [applause]

ACHIEVEMENTS

Mr. President, in the six and a half years we have served the nation, much has been achieved. It has been said at this conference many times at this Conference, but let me repeat: the nation's output, the nation's investment, the nation's standard of living, are at an all time high. Inflation is down - and this morning we heard it has gone down further. Personal ownership is growing. Our overseas assets have multiplied more than sixfold in six years: they now bring us an annual income of some

Courtesy of Margaret Thatcher Foundation
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Speech to Conservative Party Conference 1985- October 11, 1985

- Margaret Thatcher
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