Below is the text of Mr Major's speech made during a lunch in Wales to Conservative members on Friday 4th September 1992.
Thank you very much. I don't know why you think I'm busy -
But you did work hard. You did extremely well, despite the difficulties of the recession, we came out of it with the same number of seats. And had the Opposition vote crumbled in a slightly different way we might have picked up several more seats than we did. On other occasions we've had 14 seats with the same number of votes that we had at the last election and only appeared with six seats. We could well have some boundary changes between now and the next General Election! And we will just have to find a bigger bench in Westminster for our Welsh Conservative Members of Parliament in the future.
And I am confident for another reason as well. Because I do think you have had, and retain at the moment, a remarkably good team at the Welsh Office. There's been a long string of senior Ministers in the Welsh Office who've done, I think, a remarkable job for the United Kingdom as a whole, for the Principality, and of course for the Conservative Party. And David Hunt follows in that tradition. He's a very old, longstanding friend of mine, and I think he does a superb job, both for the Conservative Party and Wales.
And you have Wyn Roberts, who occasionally breaks out of Welsh and into English, who I believe was the resident Minister in charge of Wales when William the Conqueror first came here! And I promised my daughter that her children will be able to serve with a Conservative Government and Wyn Roberts one day!
And Gwilym, who joined us only recently, but who I must tell you has made an absolutely outstanding start to his Ministerial career. I'm very pleased with the Ministers I have looking after Welsh interests, and I can tell you that they may sometimes put the fear of God into the Opposition, and they do exactly the same to the Treasury! And that is, of course, entirely as it should be. Somewhere, sitting outside the realms of the inner markets of politics, Peter Walker will be applauding the fact that they're putting all the pressure they can on the Treasury, and some things never change, and they're none the worse for that.
We've had the opportunity this morning of looking round at some of the things that are actually happening in Wales. Stripping away the newspaper headlines, the late-
And what did I see looking around Wales this morning -
It is here, in Wales, that the leading edge of that technology is taking place, and you can be proud. On the site of the old Shotton Steelworks, where eleven years ago today we could have stood here with our heads hanging down and said "What is happening to Wales? The great steel industry is breaking down, 8,000 people have lost their jobs and what is their future?" And there they are today, many of those same men and their families, working in a whole series of high tech and medium tech industries, with secure, well-
It didn't happen by magic. It happened of course because it's an attractive place to build. Of course, because over the last decade our economy, despite current difficulties, has been revolutionised. But it happened also because Nick Edwards, because David, because Peter Walker, actually went out to America, Japan, and all the way round the world and sold Wales to the world as the place to invest and to build up their industries and commerce. [Applause].
And then I went to look at something, I suppose, which typifies the hopes and dreams of most of us -
And then, at my own request, to see one of the areas of difficulty -
Discretion forbear! Discretion forbear! And every time I sit there in Westminster, and open the newspaper, listen to the news, listen to the in-
So let us come back to Wales. Somebody once said in Portsmouth, I think it was Harold Wilson. "Why do I talk about the Royal Navy?" "Because you're in Portsmouth, Prime Minister." And I suppose that's true.
But Wales I talk about it for more reasons than just the fact that I'm in Wales. I talk about Wales for this reason perhaps above all. We are changing, in the Conservative Party -
But just as this country has no written constitution -
And that is why in the election we did something which I believe myself was one of the turning points of the last general election. You may recall some way into it we suddenly began to talk clearly and urgently and for days nobody would listen, about the importance of the Union within the United Kingdom. The importance that we were a United Kingdom. And I will tell you what I believe happened, I believe we stretched over the heads of people worried about their mortgage, their prospects and their jobs, and we stretched right into the deepest instincts of the people who live in these islands.
And we of course are a Unionist Party. We call ourselves the Conservative Party, but in truth we are the Conservative and Unionist Party. And the union here in Wales between England and Wales is the oldest union of all. Older than the Act of Union in Scotland. And our futures are, have been and I hope and pray always will be, inextricably linked. We stand together, we thrive together, we suffer together, we fall together. And for me up here in North Wales that means some things political. It means winning back Delyn, for example. And winning Ynys Mon, which we had not all that long ago. We came within a whisker in April and with your help we'll get it, Delyn and many other seats the next time.
Why am I so confident? Not just for the reasons I've set out -
So we have more businesses in Wales than ever before. And although one can never be sure on the basis of a few months figures, the indications are that manufacturing output, indeed all output in Wales, is growing far above the levels of nearly every other part of the United Kingdom, and way above the average of the United Kingdom presently. But that is important for many reasons. And the hill farm this morning brought some of them back to my mind. What enables you to preserve cultural traditions, a quality of life, an instinct of preserving the best of what is past and building on it. You don't do that out of grinding poverty. You don't do that at a time of need. That's when your culture and your traditions are thrown to one side. You do that at a time of greater prosperity.
And yet here is a second strength of the basic, unchannelled instincts of the Conservative. He is a traditionalist. I hear you, I of course mean he or she. He is a traditionalist. He doesn't want to change something instinctively until he knows there is something better. There is a conservatism with a small "c" embalmed in the instinct of everyone in these islands, however they may vote, whether they call themselves a Conservative or something else.
And you certainly can't come to Wales without being aware of your great cultural traditions. You can't go to the opera, whether its the Welsh Opera, the English National Opera or Covent Garden without seeing the great musical traditions, without finding one or other great Welsh singer leading the way in our musical traditions. After the lunch today, Wyn is taking me -
And then if I know him -
Let us not hide our eyes from the difficulties that exist at present. But neither should we overstate them. Neither should we misrepresent them. And I believe both of those latter two things are happening, not least from people within our own Party as well as beyond it. I don't pretend for a second that for many people across our country in different parts of it that things are easy now. I know it is a difficult time for many businesses. And I understand from personal experience many years ago, how people feel, what it's actually like to see your security, your family business, perhaps even your home disappear. I certainly recall vividly what it's like not to know whether you will actually have enough money to last through the week and pay the bills when they come in at the end of them. There is no-
But I will tell you something else about this recession. I want this to be a lasting recovery. Not a transient recovery. Not a recovery that takes us over the hill and down into the valley and back into exactly the same problems again and again. When we were having lunch Chris said to me, "We got through the election in a recession." Time after time we've been on the way to permanently low inflation, we've run up again an electoral timetable, we've taken short term action and the problems have recreated themselves. Now we can kill them off for good. We have within our hands for the first time, in my political lifetime, the prospect of licking inflation once and for all and having permanently low inflation.
It's only two years ago that people were saying to me there are two great problems -
But everyone I think has something about which they care particularly passionately, and I do about inflation. For some it is a slogan. But it is not just a slogan. I will give you two reasons why we should care passionately about inflation.
The first is to consider what inflation means. Inflation means, particularly for people on fixed incomes -
Throughout the 60s and the 70s inflation went through the roof and through the 80s and still in the 90s there are hundreds of thousands of elderly people humiliated and embarrassed because they have social benefits, because inflation tore away the security that they had built up in the whole of their working lives to ensure they didn't have to go out and ask for help from other people in their retirement years. And I do not want to see that happen to this generation or any future generation. And so we will bear down on inflation.
But there's a second reason. We are living in an increasingly competitive world. We may be an island geographically, but we will never ever again be an island economically. What happens in America, or Japan or Germany or France or Denmark affects us directly. Our living standards. We cannot pretend, however much some would wish to, that it doesn't matter to us and that it will all go away. We are an inter-
Why more difficult year after year? Because all those Eastern nations that once we were able to sell things because they couldn't manufacture them for themselves now can. Go to Indonesia, go to Korea, go to Hong Kong, go to China; and those captive markets to which we sold things when we weren't competitive in Europe have gone. Because they manufacture them now for themselves. And either we are successful, or we will fall behind -
And I will tell you a third instinct of the Briton. I actually believe, and so do the British nations, that the British instinct is a force for good in international affairs. That force for good is pushed aside and derided if you have an economically weak nation it has no political clout either.
So we have to deal with those problems. Not because we wish to, but because we have no choice but to do so for this generation and the next. And that is why I am not in the business of soft-
And let me just say a few further words about it. It's fashionable, it’s very easy suddenly to say it’s terribly difficult here and to blame somebody abroad and to say if only they'd do something it would all be better. I know what the instinct is in this country, they say of Europe: "Well, they're foreigners; and of course we should be in the Common Market, it’s very important the Market and we understand all that, but I just wish we could only just sell things to them."
Well, that is unreasonable. That is no longer the world in which we live or will ever live again if your face the hard day to day realities that businessmen face. That jobs and businesses in Wales depend on Europe. They depend on the Community. 60 per cent of our trade is with the European Community. And it isn't just prosperity, it is peace that has been bought. If I may say so without disrespect there are people in this room, as I look around, who will remember the Second War very clearly. They'll also remember from their history books that it was the Balkans that brought about the First World War, as they look at the events of Yugoslavia.
But let us say something about the Second World War. The greatest virtue of the Community for all its faults -
Those are the policies that we must pursue in the long term. And if we pursued them successfully it will mean something that I think would be valuable to all of us here. It would mean that our children and our grandchildren would never live under the threat of war that many of the people in this room have lived under and in some cases experienced for much of their lives. It is a long policy, but it is the right policy and it is a Conservative policy, for it is instinctive for the Conservative Party to look beyond one generation. We are not a mono-
I'll tell you why we won on April 9th. It was become in some remarkable subliminal way those instincts communicated themselves to people. For all the difficulties that there were with the recession, that heaven alone knows is now stretching to every part of this world, there was the belief that people would be safer with us. Safer economically and safer in other ways. And I think that is because our Party understands the instincts of the British. They want to keep more of what they earn. They want its money to keep its value. They want low inflation and low taxation. They want the kind of choices and opportunities that their parents only dreamed about and they know that their children will want for their children opportunities that were denied to them.
They want better education. They want an absolute determination to concentrate on the basics of education -
And then they want something else -
And they want a Britain safe at home and respected abroad.
So we can take this opportunity -