Below is the text of Mr Major’s speech given to a meeting of Conservative Party General Election candidates on 22nd March 1992.
Let me first thank Margaret Thatcher for coming here. Weeks ago when I invited her, she accepted immediately. It is what we would have expected. She is one of the most successful campaigners in our long political history -
It is given to few people to change the face of our nation. But Margaret Thatcher did. And I believe her changes have made an enduring impact not only on our country, but on the world at large.
We know she has many great qualities. But let me single out one. Looking forward. She always looks forward. It’s always on to the next thing, the next challenge. There is always more work to be done.
As there is for us now. To build on the successes of the ‘80s. That is what our Manifesto does. It builds on Margaret’s legacy. And for the same two reasons. To promote Conservatism -
The Transformation of Britain
Let me tell you why we'll win the Election. We will win because of what we believe. Because of our principles. Because of our policies. And because we set no limit to our ambitions for our country.
In the 1980s Conservatives built in Britain one of the most successful economies in Europe. Some things did go down, of course. Inflation. Strikes. And the Labour Party. Socialism’s unholy trinity. They all went down. And, together, at this Election, we must keep them down.
But the things that mattered went up. Productivity. Prosperity. And pride. We grew faster than France, faster than Germany. Manufacturing exports grew faster than America’s, even Japan’s. Taxes on incomes were slashed. The standard of living of the British people has grown as never before. Today the income of a typical family man on average earnings is nearly 40% higher, after tax and inflation, than it was under Labour.
Defend our record? No, don’t just defend it -
Millions more people are owners. Owners of homes. Of shares. Of pensions. People who never imagined such things would ever be something for them.
Britons have earned more, owned more, achieved more than ever before in our history. That’s what Labour call failure? Well, if that’s failure, there are plenty of countries across the world who’d like a share in it.
Labour’s smash and grab raid
Labour couldn't have done it. But their Mr Smith wants a share in it. And his mock ‘budget’ shows he means to take it. Take it from the people who have earned it. What he proposes is a systematic smash and grab raid on the independent, the hard-
It’s not just the unfairness of it. Or the injustice. It is the effect it would have. It would shut down small trades in droves -
It would drive away from Britain the huge tide of foreign investment that we have attracted. Does anyone seriously imagine that Japanese, German, American firms would create jobs in Britain with their executives clobbered, and militant shop stewards loose on the factory floor? They wouldn't. They wouldn't come. They’d stay away. They’d go away. And the whole of Britain would lose.
Labour’s tax plans are spiteful. They would hurt millions and millions of skilled people in Britain -
Don’t confiscate wealth -
There is no logic to this. It is the politics of the socialist stone age. The politics of envy. Economically illiteracy with a dash of calculated malice. Intended to wound. Intended to bite. Doomed to fail.
That is the wrong way for Britain. We don’t believe in confiscating wealth from those who have created it. We believe in creating wealth. In spreading wealth. And we believe in taking the threat of inheritance tax off the back of the homeowners of Britain. What people have spent a lifetime building up, they should be free to hand on to their children. We will give them that freedom.
Growing wealth to an ever wider number of families -
Labour’s Manifesto -
How different it would be with Labour. Then your worry would be how to protect your savings, protect your income, protect your home. There’s only one industry Labour would manage to revive -
But it doesn't stop there. Yesterday the Chancellor revealed the true scale of Labour’s threat to Britain. All we've said up to then was based on John Smith’s absurd little mock ‘budget’. Now we have had a look at that ‘budget’s’ big brother, the other half of Labour’s plans. The spending plans. Their ambitions for other people’s money. Neil Kinnock promised to cost his Manifesto. But the promise “lapsed”. Somehow those costings failed to turn up.
It’s not surprising he should suddenly forget them. Not surprising he should suddenly clam up. Never lost for a word -
When you’re on the door-
The cost of Labour’s promises. We've added them up -
The challenge to Labour: a straight answer now
Yesterday we produced a detailed analysis of Labour’s public spending pledges. We have set out their promises in their own words. The Labour leader calls this ‘fantasy’. But that’s just tax avoidance talk. So come clean, Mr Kinnock. Tell the people. Set out your own costed programme. Take all your pledges -
The difference between the Parties
Some people talk of there being little difference between the Parties. Where have they been these last few years? We want to bring income tax down. Labour want to put income tax up. Even this morning, Roy Hattersley, their Deputy Leader, refused to rule out further increases in the higher rates of income tax. Higher rates today -
We will bring inflation down still further, set our course for stable prices. Labour will let inflation up again. We will extend choice. Labour will remove choice. We will widen ownership. Labour fight against it. We want to privatise more. Labour want to renationalise -
Little difference? There is all the difference in the world.
The Conservative Programme
So go out and tell the people of our programme. Tell them what we are fighting for. Back to basics in schools.
Go out and tell them we want a return to basics in our schools. Schools free from council control. Schools that reward good teachers. Schools where parents have more power. Schools that are regularly inspected, and that publish their results. Schools that families have the right to choose.
Go out and tell them the truth about unemployment. Remind them how every move we make to control inflation and build the basis for recovery is designed to defeat it. Explain to them that introducing a minimum wage, bringing back trade union power, and putting up tax would send unemployment through the roof. Ram it home that 87% of businessmen say our economic policies are the best, and so the right way to create long-
New attitudes in public service
Go out and tell the people we want a new attitude across public services in Britain. Pride, quality and openness in service. A Citizen’s Charter that puts the customers first everywhere. Improving standards year by year.
The real National Health Service
Go out and tell them how we feel about the National Health Service. And by the way it is the National Health Service; it does not belong to the Labour Party. I will never forget what I owe to the Health Service. I will do everything I can to strengthen and develop it. So long as I am Prime Minister the resources we give it will grow year by year.
But tell the people about the real Health Service. About the record support it is given, the new hospitals, the millions more cases it is treating every year. Tell them about the modern Health Service, the new treatments, the tens of thousands of hip and heart operations that were unknown a few years ago. And, above all, tell them about the miracle of daily care given by the million who work in the Health Service -
And when you tell them all that, tell them how you despise the self-
The Right to Own
And don’t forget to tell the people that we gave them the right to own, that we stand for wider ownership still. For rents to mortgages, homesteading and imaginative new ways to ownership in housing. For every firm to do more to spread share ownership to its employees -
The Power to Choose
Go out and tell them we stand for the power to choose -
More privatisation and contracting-
Go out and tell them we believe in more privatisation and contracting out. That we want to bring a new spirit into our railways. To open up the musty corridors of Whitehall to new thinking and less secretive attitudes. That we will bring outside skills into lazy and incompetent Town Halls -
The Rule of Law
Go out and make clear that it is we, and not Labour, who stand for the rule of law, as we always have. We don’t intend to see trade union flying pickets back on our streets. We’re going to sweep the threat of crime off them. And let me say again, we want a return to the old approach in policing -
A Brighter Britain
Go out and tell them we want a brighter Britain in which we don’t just enjoy the heritage of our ancestors, but create something to leave to our descendants. Tell them how we are going to breathe new life into the arts, the sports, the communities, and charities of Britain through our National Lottery and Millennium Fund.
A United Kingdom at home; no United States of Europe abroad
And another thing. It doesn't get the headlines. Doesn't always arise on the doorsteps. But it is fundamental. For me it is a passionate concern. I believe in a United Kingdom. I understand the emotions in Scotland but Labour’s devolution proposals could lead to the break up our country. Proper debate on them has scarcely begun. They would set us on the road to bitterness, conflict, and possibly, separation. Wherever I go in this campaign I will expose those damaging plans. I urge you to do so with equal passion.
As for Labour they would sign up to every idea from Brussels -
The result of their policies would be a Disunited Kingdom in a United States of Europe. The British people will never agree to that -
Maintaining Britain’s standing in the world
The standing of our country in the world is no light matter. In the last decade we have rebuilt that standing. Britain is now a world leader -
We cannot be certain what the years ahead will hold. Great opportunities, surely. But great dangers, too. Old lines are breaking. The new order for which we are working is yet to bed down. In a shifting, uncertain world men and nations look for rocks -
Twice in the last ten years we have faced sudden danger -
Labour’s Defence Confusion
The world needs to know where Britain stands. We cannot afford to be defended by men who don't even know, or daren't even say, where they themselves would take their stand. For Labour defence is an embarrassment. Some of them hate it. Some of them resent it. None of them sits in the Shadow Cabinet to speak for it.
Consider Trident. This government is clear. We will order, build, arm, and deploy the fourth Trident submarine. But what about Labour? Is CND out? Or is CND in? Can't Neil Decide? And Trident? Will they build it? Won’t they build it? Or will they, as some so foolishly suggest, launch it, but send it floating round the world like a defenceless ocean liner? An unarmed Trident? A sort of submarine liner. That wouldn't deter our enemies. That would have them falling about in ridicule. They would be queuing up to hang out their washing on the Kaufman line.
Go out and fight for what we believe
Ladies and Gentlemen, when you’re out there in the front line fighting this campaign at this most crucial election for our country, remember this. You’re fighting for the things that our Party stands for:
To those of you fighting an Election for the first time, one final thought. Trust the people. Give them your trust. And on April 9th, you will find, once again, that the people will trust us.