tvParty Election Broadcasts

Conservative Party Election Broadcasts from 1983

Note:  the text is based on Dr Michael Pearce's transcripts of tapes held at the Election Broadcast Archive, University of Leeds.

17th May 1983

VOICE:

Do you remember what it was like before the last election? What it was like at the beginning of 79? The rubbish piled high in the streets, ambulances left unmanned, the dead unburied, cancer patients sent home from hospital. Do you remember what it was like in 1979?

Waiting lists for hospitals had grown by a quarter of a million, pensioners who'd seen their Christmas bonuses cancelled in both 1975 and 76 saw their savings eaten away by inflation. The Labour party promised to improve public services but because the money had run out those services had got worse. Labour had promised to bring down unemployment but unemployment had doubled. They had promised to make Britain prosperous, but under Labour prices had doubled. By May 1979 no-one was prepared to believe in the politics of spend, spend, spend any longer. Do you remember what it was like in 1979?

ANONYMOUS MAN [Outdoors]:

On the third of May the people of Britain voted for a new and completely different style of government. Here's why the change was so necessary.

VOICE:

Every Labour government since the war had put government spending up. As a result every Labour government put the average rate of inflation up, and as a result of that every Labour government put unemployment up.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

The more that Labour governments spent the more inflation went up and the more new problems this in turn created and so the more they needed to put spending up again. It was a vicious circle until the Conservatives promised to reverse the direction, to put a break on government spending to get inflation down so our industries could compete again and so there could be new hope of long term control over unemployment.

VOICE:

How have the Conservatives done? They have been the first government since the war to deliberately aim to spend less, not more. They've been the first government for a quarter of a century to bring the average rate of inflation down. Inflation now is the lowest it's been for fifteen years, and the Conservatives have been the first government to truly understand that if our goods aren't priced right they don't sell, and if they don't sell jobs are lost.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

The master key is inflation. The first years were difficult years. The government had acknowledged that things would be tough before they could get better. But as the policies of controlling government spending and bringing down inflation begin to take effect so the break can begin to appear in the clouds of unemployment. This is still the biggest challenge facing us in Britain but we need to see the problem in perspective.

VOICE:

Last year unemployment rose by thirty four percent in West Germany, by twenty three percent in the United States, by ten percent in Japan, but only six percent in Britain. Industry is beginning to breathe again and as it begins to recover so old jobs are beginning to be secured and new jobs are being created.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

Despite one of the worst recessions the western world has seen there is new hope in Britain and new confidence in the future. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

VOICE:

Under the Conservatives exports are up to record levels, pensions are up by five percent ahead of inflation, there are five thousand more doctors in the National Health Service and four hundred and forty five thousand more nurses and midwives. The number of police is up by over nine thousand, home ownership is up to three families out of five, productivity is up to record levels and the standard of living is up. But now look what's down with the Conservatives: income tax, mortgage rates, inflation to the lowest level for fifteen years, interest rates, government borrowing is down to one of the lowest figures in western Europe, hospital queues are down, strikes are down.

CECIL PARKINSON:

Four years ago this government accepted a task that appeared almost impossible. Our country had been slowly declining for years. To reverse this decline was not something that could be accomplished easily. It required courage and perseverance, but we are now beginning to see the first fruits. British industry is confirming that the recovery is under way. Britain has been coming out of the world recession even faster than France or Germany. The country has a new self confidence. Britain's on the right track. On June the ninth it will be your decision, your vote that will decide whether to continue forward with this totally different style of government or to go back to the old ways of doing things. Let's not go back, let's not throw away the last four years, let's keep going forward.

VOICE:

Britain's on the right track. Don't turn back.

20th May 1983

VOICE:

On June the ninth you will be able to choose from three people as the next Prime Minister. Which one are you going to give the job to? Which one do you believe can do what they promise? Michael Foot promises he will bring down unemployment, but can he? Every Labour Prime Minister there has ever been has made the same promise. The fact is no Labour government has ever succeeded in getting unemployment down. Certainly Michael Foot wants to bring unemployment down, but how can he with the same old Labour policies? Labour's solution to unemployment is the same as last time: spend spend spend. As a result inflation under the last Labour government halved the value of the pound, yet despite all the money they spent unemployment still doubled. Now what Mr Foot would like to do is to take us out of the common market, despite the fact that two and a half million of our jobs depend upon our trade with the European community. So we know what to expect if Mr Foot were to get the job.

The next candidate for the job is Mr Jenkins. He would like to see himself as the prime minister of a new centre party. It wouldn't be to the left or to the right but sort of in between, so in between that most people find it hard to know what its policies are.

MAN IN STREET:

I don't think that they are quite sure themselves of their policies.

WOMAN IN STREET:

They don't seem to have a definite policy.

2nd MAN IN STREET:

You can't have a lot of confidence because they always seem to be changing their ideas.

2nd WOMAN IN STREET:

I honestly don't believe that they've got anything to offer.

3rd WOMAN IN STREET:

They always try and please everyone but they don't really say anything [inaudible] don't really say one thing or the other.

VOICE:

But are the SDP leaders really in the centre? Let's see. On giving council tenants the right to buy they voted against with Labour. On giving parents legal rights in the choice of their children's schools they voted against with Labour. On encouraging voting by secret ballot in trade unions they voted against with Labour. In fact since coming into being the SDP has voted with Labour eight times out of ten. So is it really a centre party? From its record it appears to be another version of the Labour party, which really shouldn't come as a surprise as its leaders were key members of the last Labour government. Of course Mr Jenkins plans to rule with David Steele, just as Jim Callaghan ruled with David Steele in the Lib Lab pact, but do you remember how that partnership ended? Do you remember the winter of 1979 before the last election when strike followed strike?

Alternatively you could choose to give the job to Mrs Thatcher again. Unlike Mr Foot or Mr Jenkins she has a record to point to. Under Mrs Thatcher's government exports are up to record levels, pensions are up by five percent ahead of inflation, there are five thousand more doctors in the National Health Service and forty five thousand more nurses and midwives. The number of police is up by over nine thousand. Home ownership is up to three families out of five. Productivity per worker is up to record levels, and the standard of living is up. But now look what's down with the Conservatives. Income tax, mortgage rates, inflation to the lowest level for fifteen years, interest rates, government borrowing is down to one of the lowest figures in western Europe. Hospital queues are down and strikes are down. On Thursday June the ninth you'll be able to choose the next Prime Minister, but before giving anyone the job you'd be wise to ask how much money they would want. Mr Foot's plans would cost us around thirty billion pounds a year. Mr Jenkins' at least ten billion , involving debts we and our children would be paying off for years.

But Mrs Thatcher's approach is quite different. Instead of asking you for more she wants to reduce government spending and to continue leading us out of the world recession. So who are you going to give the job of Prime Minister to? It's your country, it's your future , and it's your choice. Britain is on the right track, don't turn back.

26th May 1983

VOICE OVER:

On Thursday June the ninth, if you had to vote with your savings, your wages, your house, your children's future, how would you vote? Each of the parties have set out in their manifestos what they will do if you elect them. One party for instance will withdraw us from the common market, it will disarm Britain unilaterally, scrapping our nuclear weapons, it will raise government spending massively and extend public ownership with state controls on private firms. This sounds like the Labour manifesto, oh it does point for point, but the text here is from the Communist manifesto. Never before have the two manifestos been so close, because Labour's answers to the policies that failed last time is to make them even more extreme this time.

ANONYMOUS MAN [Outdoors]

So let's compare how the lives of everyone would be affected under the Labour manifesto and the Conservative manifesto, starting with the issue that is the biggest single concern today: unemployment.

VOICE:

The Labour manifesto says spending money creates jobs, so they too plan to increase spending massively.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

Well you don't need a crystal ball to see the effects of that, just a good memory.

VOICE:

Labour doubled its spending last time with this result - runaway inflation. And the result on unemployment? Unemployment still doubled despite all the money spent. The fact is every Labour government in history has increased unemployment.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

The real answer is to put a brake on government spending, not to increase it.

VOICE:

By doing exactly this the Conservatives have brought inflation down to four percent, the lowest figure for fifteen years. Lower costs mean industry can now begin to compete again.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

Turning the tide against inflation has given us real hope of turning the tide against unemployment.

VOICE OVER:

The next issue that faces us is state control.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

Labour want to control your life - the very opposite of what the Conservatives want.

VOICE:

Why should the state choose your children's school? It's for you to choose, so the Conservatives have given you legal rights to do so. Why should the state own your home? If you're going to be allowed to live in it shouldn't you be allowed to buy it? So the Conservatives have given all council tenants the right to buy. What about trade union reform? The Conservatives believe you should be free to decide whether you want to belong to a trade union or not. There should be a secret ballot to choose union leaders and for members to be consulted before any strike is called.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

Most union members want these reforms, but not the union leaders and naturally enough not the Labour manifesto.

VOICE OVER:

Labour are also against the common market.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

Labour claim to be in favour of reducing unemployment but they also want to take us out of the common market.

VOICE:

Two and a half million jobs put at risk because the left don't want us to be part of Europe. How is Britain to be defended? Since 1940 the Soviet empire has expanded , invading country after country too weak to resist her. The Labour manifesto would gamble with Britain's defences by removing the nuclear deterrent that has kept the peace in Europe for almost forty years.

MICHAEL HESELTINE TALKING HEAD:

You could understand why the Communist manifesto wants to give Russia an easy ride, but why do Labour want to? No Labour government has taken a risk on Soviet intentions. Clement Atlee didn't. Harold Wilson didn't. Jim Callaghan didn't. But Michael Foot wants to. Never before have the alternatives been so stark. The other parties' manifestos are full of gloom and doom - naturally enough, how else will they persuade you to vote for them if what we are doing is succeeding? And however much they would like to protest, the truth is that here at home confidence is brushing aside pessimism, and abroad for the first time in years Britain is regarded as a country with a great future as well as a great past. On June the ninth let's not throw away all that's been accomplished in the last four years.

VOICE OVER:

Britain's on the right track, don't turn back

3rd June 1983

ANONYMOUS MAN [Outdoors]

Today we'd like to talk to you about one thing and one thing only: unemployment. Which party is most likely to create new jobs? Labour promised to bring unemployment down to one million, but if they have a magic formula for creating jobs why didn't they use it during their last period of government?

VOICE:

What they did try was a massive increase in government spending: they doubled it.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

But did all the money Labour spent help unemployment? No. The record shows that unemployment still doubled.

VOICE:

You'd think that Michael Foot would have learnt the lesson.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

But no. Labour's answer to unemployment is still a massive increase in government spending . But why should that work any better this time?

VOICE:

The fact is that every single Labour government in history has increased unemployment.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

If Mr Foot were to be elected the odds are that he would create more unemployment than any other Labour Prime Minister before him. Here's why.

VOICE:

He would cut our defences at the cost of over four hundred thousand jobs in our defence forces and industries, and he would take us out of the common market in spite of the two and a half million jobs that depend upon our trade with Europe - two and a half million jobs put at risk just to please Labour's left wingers. Delightful, isn't it? Labour's massive spending ideas lead only to more taxes which you have to pay; more borrowing which you have to pay back; and inflation which means you have to pay more for everything. But if Labour's plan won't work what's the solution?

ANONYMOUS MAN:

Four years ago the Conservatives set about rebuilding the prosperity of Britain. The going has not been easy because the problems facing Britain were so huge.

VOICE:

The most urgent problem was inflation, because as Jim Callaghan himself had said inflation is the mother and father of unemployment.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

With high inflation our prices were roaring ahead of our rivals, so we were losing orders, we were losing customers and we were losing jobs.

VOICE:

Inflation is down to four percent, the lowest in fifteen years and lower than most of our competitors.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

So we are winning back orders, we are winning back customers, and beginning to win back jobs.

VOICE:

The second big problem was strikes. Do you remember when the world used to joke about our strikes? We had strike after strike, and even strikes about strikes and sadly the only new jobs that our winter of discontent created was for our competitors. Strikes cost Britain jobs.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

That too has changed. British industry is now losing less output due to strikes than for thirty years.

VOICE:

The third problem was training.

ANONYMOUS MAN:

We simply were not giving enough of our young people the skills they needed for work: new jobs need new skills.

VOICE:

This is the vicious circle that has stopped our youngsters from getting new jobs. No experience no job, and no job no experience - but now this is the break in the circle. From September for every new school-leaver who fails to get a job the new youth training scheme will guarantee a year's training and work experience. So let's sum up. Because we're getting inflation under control, unemployment is now rising slower here than in Canada, Holland or West Germany. Lower inflation keeps costs down and that has enabled our industries to become more competitive. Because we're becoming more competitive so exports have risen to record levels. As business recovers so the number of small businesses is growing by hundreds every month. And as the recovery continues so existing jobs are being secured and new jobs are being created.

NORMAN TEBBIT:

If you look back you'll see it wasn't only the world recession that lost jobs in Britain. Labour's rising prices and the constant strikes by militants had driven away customers and jobs. Now we're on top of inflation, productivity is up and strikes are down. We're winning back customers and that means jobs. This government is fighting hard to defeat unemployment.

VOICE:

On June the ninth for the sake of all the unemployed people in this country vote Conservative. Britain's on the right track , don't turn back.

7th June 1983

VOICE OVER:

Less than five years ago we in Britain thought we no longer had any right to think of ourselves as a world leader. But that has changed because of one woman, who believed that our country, our people could do more than we'd dreamed possible for many many years and much more than we thought possible in 1979. Do you remember what it was like then in the winter of discontent when Britain had come almost to a standstill as strike followed strike? Abroad they joked about the British disease, but here it was not amusing. Everybody knew that it couldn't go on like this. Margaret Thatcher promised that it needn't, that Britain could change for the better, but could it? Let's see. When the mine leaders said strike their members said no - not once but three times. And when rail leaders said stay out their members came back in. Fact: during this government the number of strikes has been the lowest for thirty years. Inflation has been reduced to four percent - the lowest for fifteen years. And we have negotiated rebate after rebate on our European budget when it wasn't thought possible. And when other countries were surrendering to the demands of terrorists we didn't. Britain is now seen as one of the leaders in the fight against the world recession.

WOMAN IN STREET:

I admire her enormously I think she's the first person that we've had in government since the end of the war who is standing up for Britain.

WOMAN IN STREET NO. 2:

She's somebody who's really got the courage of her convictions, and she's stuck out against you know a pretty tough ordeal in the last four years so yes I think she has got every chance of doing it if anyone's going to do it.

WOMAN IN STREET NO.3:

She mean what she says and when she says she's going down to [inaudible] she does go down to [inaudible] she doesn't mess around.

MAN NO. 1:

Really Maggie's the only person who's got any real courage and strength belief in her convictions.

WOMAN NO.4:

She wants the country to pull together which is what I think it needs to do.

MAN NO.2:

She's started off to do something and she's doing it.

WOMAN NO.4:

Well her economic policy I didn't agree with first of all but it's worked, I mean she's proved that it's worked because inflation has gone down.

MAN NO.3:

I think she's good for the country, I think she won't take no nonsense, if she keeps by what she says she carries it through she doesn't change her mind half way.  I think you've got to give her another term because four years is just not long enough.

WOMAN NO.5:

A few years back I didn't think there was much hope for our children in this country but er since Margaret Thatcher's been in power my views have changed.

MAN NO.4:

I don't think anybody else can do her job as well as she does.

VOICE:

This government has not only won the respect of the people of Britain, but of the world. Five years ago who would have believed that the President of the United States, the Chancellor of West Germany and the Prime Minister of Japan would not only want Britain at a summit meeting but find that the presence of the British Prime Minister was indispensable.

MARGARET THATCHER TALKING HEAD:

From the first day I became Prime Minister I've been gratefully aware of an understanding of trust that came from people in all walks of life. I believe that is because people knew that our proposals were honest and right and they were prepared to give them a chance to work. Today in spite of many difficulties and with so much more to be done, Britain has regained her confidence and self-respect. What I would like to share with you for a few final moments is a vision of the things that matter most to me.

Unemployment is a tragedy not only for those who are out of a job but for their families, friends and for every person who is desperately worried and rightly that many who want to work can't. The plight of the unemployed will be at the forefront of our minds. I won't promise what I can't deliver but I promise you this: we will work with unremitting energy that you work. No less are we committed to freedom, for freedom is the birthright of every citizen. To preserve and defend that freedom, to defend it from within and from without is the first duty of any Prime Minister and I want to enlarge that freedom. In Britain today there's no room for out of date distinctions of class or creed. It doesn't matter who you are or who your father is or where you come from.

What I am offering can be put very simply. I offer the certainty of liberty and the chance of property ownership, and more than just a chance. That people should be able to own their own homes is deep at the heart of Conservative philosophy. What earthly use is it that families should have a millionth share in some nationalised industry which is indifferent to their needs and wishes? How much more important that they should have something which they own and which can be passed on to their children. I believe in such general ownership. Never mind about public ownership - in practice that gives nobody anything - but personal ownership that rightly rewards the efforts of ordinary people. My hope for the future of all our people is that they should enjoy liberty and property. Their liberty is safe in Conservative hands. That they should acquire property that brings with it security and independence is the very essence of what I am in politics to accomplish.

I passionately believe that in a free society there is much of value to be handed on from one generation to the next. The values that I cherish and hold dear spring from my belief that Britain was, is and will continue to be a powerful influence in the world for good. This means that we must move with the times if we are to sustain the recovery that we have started in industry in commerce in technology in all the wonders that the future holds. If only we have the wisdom and the will to grasp the opportunities Britain can become a world leader once again. And we must do this not out of some romantic nostalgia for past glories but because our very survival in the modern world depends upon it. I believe that in the tried and proven values of the past lies the moral strength we need to face the future. But there is of course one over-riding fact about the world we live in that we, like every other nation on this planet have to face and from which we cannot run away. We are the parents and the children of the nuclear age. We may not welcome it, we may fear it, we may even be haunted by it, but pretending it doesn't exist is not a solution. Come what may it can't be wished away. It's not surprising therefore that the defence of the realm has crystallised in the course of this election as a major issue. If we do not value personal freedom how can we value the freedom of a nation?

May I suggest to every citizen of our country, every man and every woman of whatever political persuasion that on Thursday you pause and ask yourself one question: who would best defend our freedom, our way of life, and the much loved land in which we live?

VOICE OVER:

Britain's on the right track, don't turn back.

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Last Modified: 22 Oct 12
© Richard Kimber