tvParty Election Broadcasts

Conservative Party Election Broadcasts from 1987

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

19th May 1987

VOICE:

Man is born free. That is his natural state, his God-given right. Nowhere is this tradition more deeply held than in Britain. Oft in our long history we have stood alone facing the mightiest armies of the world to defend our freedom, sometimes at tremendous sacrifice, never doubting that this price is worth paying. Freedom has been both our strength and our battle-cry. If we have a fault it arises out of our respect for freedom. In war we rally and win. In peace we are less vigilant. Our famous tolerance has allowed imported ideologies like Marxism and its step-brother socialism to creep into our [inaudible]. These ideas are foreign to our [inaudible], for we are a proud nation of individuals. We flourish under freedom. In the winter of 78-79 - the infamous winter of discontent - socialism had left our dead unburied, our streets full of rotting rubbish, and our national pride only a distant memory. On May the third 1979 the British people turned their back on socialism and failure. We elected a new government and a new leader.

THATCHER:

Let me give you my vision: a man's right to work as he will, to spend what he earns, to own property, to have the state as servant and not as master. These are the British inheritance. They are the essence of a free economy and on that freedom all our other freedoms depend.

VOICE:

The balance of power was returned from the state to the individual. Give the people back their economic freedom, allow the spirit of enterprise to rise again. In 1979 we in Britain were one of the most highly taxed nations in the industrialised world, and because of this one of the least productive. Step one was to return to each person the lion's share of his wages. The basic rate of income tax has been cut to its lowest level for fifty years.

ACTOR ONE:

I'm a worker. Because I kept more of what I earned it paid me to work harder.

ACTOR TWO:

I'm his employer, and because we worked harder the business did better.

ACTOR THREE:

I'm the tax man. Because his business did better he paid more tax so the government could spend more on hospitals and education and still cut taxes again.

ACTOR ONE:

And because I then kept more of what I earned I worked even harder.

ACTOR TWO:

And because we worked even harder the business did even better and we were able to employ more people and do even better still.

ACTOR THREE:

And because his business did even better still it paid even more tax so the government was able to cut taxes again.

VOICE:

It sounds a fine theory - lower rates of tax yet more government spending, and without the need for high borrowing and rampant inflation. Did it work ? Look at the facts. Fact one: since 1979 the Conservative government has cut the basic rate of income tax by just under one-fifth. Fact two: since 1979 take home pay for an average married worker has risen by just over one-fifth. Fact three: since 1979 the manufacturing productivity per worker has gone up by one-third. Fact four: since 1979 company productivity has risen by over a half. Fact five: since 1979 the government's spending on health, education, pensions, defence, everything has risen even after taking inflation into account by nineteen billion pounds.

NIGEL LAWSON:

This improvement in Britain's fortunes is no fluke, no happy accident. It is the result of deliberate Conservative policy. By giving people economic freedom we have given the country economic prosperity. Without the one you cannot have the other. The key is simply this: to give to the people what is rightly theirs.

VOICE:

The Conservative government has given the people back more than their taxes. The Conservatives have given the unions back to their members. Secret ballots and trade union reforms have introduced a breath of democracy into labour relations. Admittedly it was unpopular with certain union leaders but the members seemed to like it. Fact: strikes are now at their lowest levels for fifty years. The Conservatives have given council tenants the right to buy their own homes, admittedly this wasn't too popular with some left-wing councils but the tenants seemed to like it. Fact: over one million council homes have been sold to their tenants. The Conservatives are returning industry to the people. British Telecom, British Gas, Rolls Royce, British Airways - over one-third of all former state industries are now owned by the public. Admittedly some trade union leaders and Labour politicians don't like it but the public seem to. Fact: since 1979 over five and a half million more people have become share-holders in British industry. One and a half million British workers now own shares in the company they work for.

GEOFFREY HOWE:

All these measures are extremely unpopular with socialists because in allowing the individual more freedom the people have become stronger and a strong people has no desire for the shackles of socialism.

VOICE:

No wonder the number of individual paid up members of the Labour party has declined by half over the last eight years.

YOUNG:

This remarkable recovery of Britain has not been achieved without effort or sacrifice and in spite of the fact that this government has created more new jobs than the rest of the European community put together the level of unemployment is too high. Unemployment has been rising in Spain, in France, in Ireland, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Italy and yes Japan. Yet for the best part of the last twelve months it has been falling in Britain. The revival in our economy is creating more and more new jobs. The task is far from complete. The British people are taking up the challenge of enterprise and freedom with enthusiasm

VOICE:

Fact: self-employment has risen by three quarters of a million. Under Labour of course it fell. Fact: over five hundred more new businesses are being set up every week. Last year new company start-ups reached record levels.

YOUNG:

Today Britain is enjoying the kind of success that we used to associate with other countries, for we grew up believing that success belonged to Japan, to the United States, to France, to Germany, to almost anybody but ourselves.

VOICE:

Today France's unemployment is rising, ours is falling. Last year the United States became an international debtor, but Britain is now an international creditor. Even Japan is finding it harder and harder to increase its productivity, yet our productivity is rising faster. Germany has had one of the best growth rates in Europe, but ours is even better. Our overseas reputation has seldom been higher - it's great to be great again.

27th May 1987

TORY MAN (!):

You've just seen the new Labour party of Neil Kinnock: glossy brochures, glossy words, glossy images. It all looks very comfortable and cosy, doesn't it? But when you look behind all the rosy covers what do you find?

VOICE:

This is Valerie Vaness, Labour candidate for Nuneaton.

ACTOR ONE:

A Labour government has got to take on the people who obstruct it, arresting them if necessary, arm the workers if necessary.

VOICE:

Pat Wall, Labour candidate for Bradford North.

ACTOR TWO:

The working class needs an entirely different kind of state, a workers' state based upon councils of workers' delegates and a workers' militia.

VOICE:

Bernie Grant, Labour candidate for Haringey talking about the Tottenham riots.

ACTOR THREE:

The police got a bloody good hiding.

VOICE:

Ken Livingstone, Labour candidate for Brent East and former leader of the GLC.

ACTOR FOUR:

I'm not in favour of the army, I'm in favour of replacing it with armed workers' brigades to defend the factories.

VOICE OVER:

Diane Abbot, Labour candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

ACTOR FIVE:

All white people are racist.

VOICE:

And this is Neil Kinnock.

ACTOR SIX:

I am deeply antagonistic to militant. I want them out of the Labour party. We shall act very toughly.

TORY MAN:

So what very tough action against the hard left has Neil Kinnock taken? Well, he endorsed all the people you just heard as official Labour candidates, and that is by no means all of them.

VOICE:

One hundred and one of the official Labour candidates in the election have been identified by the alliance as belonging to the hard left. Amongst them are candidates who have either contributed to militant tendency's funds or have supported militant's right to be in the Labour party. Militant tendency's declared aim is to forward the revolutionary class struggle. Even the Guardian has published a report showing that nearly sixty percent of the parliamentary Labour party next time could be from the left of the party. And Ken Livingstone who only came to power in the GLC by overthrowing the moderate elected Labour leader exactly twenty four hours after the election said:

ACTOR FOUR:

The new intake will represent the most radical bunch of MPs the party has ever had. They will change the whole centre of balance in the Labour party.

TORY MAN:

So watch out Mr Kinnock. The truth is that behind all their new-found gloss the Labour party is more extreme and left-wing, less like the traditional Labour party than at any time in its history. Would that really make any difference if they ever got into power? Well don't let me answer that. You only have to see what happened where the new Labour party have had a taste of power in local government.

VOICE:

The Inner London Education authority. This Labour controlled authority has on its suggested reading list for schools "Young, gay and proud", "The play book for kids about sex", "Black lesbian in white America". Camden. This Labour council decided to sell off its street lamps, library books and parking meters. It's costing their rate payers a small fortune because Camden has now to pay rent in order to use them. Leeds. People in a Labour controlled Leeds nursery school decided Biggles books were biased because they advocate loyalty to the crown. Brighton. Richard Stanton, Labour chairman of Brighton council's finance committee talking about the Grand Hotel bombing:

ACTOR:

A justified political act.

TORY MAN:

That's the new rosy Labour party in Local government. Now if you need more proof of the left wing thorns behind the rose look at the Labour manifesto itself. The hard left policies that lurk beneath the glossy cover.

VOICE:

Law and order. They would relegalise secondary picketing which led to scenes like this. And they would politicise the police by bringing them under the control of local politicians. Terrorism. Labour is committed to repeal the prevention of terrorism act at a time when it's never been needed more. Nationalisation. Oblivious to the fact that ninety nine percent of British Gas workers took up the offer of shares in the company they worked for. They will re-nationalise British Gas and British Telecom and force more companies into state control. Defence. At a time when Russian nuclear capacity is at its highest ever they will reverse the policy of every Labour government since the war who supported Britain's nuclear defence. They will scrap our Polaris missiles, cancel our Trident missiles, remove all cruise missiles, and insist the Americans remove all their nuclear bases from British soil, abandoning the very policy that has given Europe the longest period of peace in her history.

TORY MAN:

So this is the new so-called moderate militant free Labour party. Behind the new glossy covers the red flag is still flying at home and the white flag abroad. The left is now dominant in the Labour party in a way it probably never has been. Well you might expect me to say that but I didn't - it was Peter Hayne, the official Labour candidate for Putney. So if you're even considering voting Labour I would ask you to consider first whether you really want people like this to represent you.

VOICE:

Jeremy Corbin, Labour candidate for Islington North:

ACTOR:

Defeat of the Tory government will be brought about by a series of disputes of which parliament is only a part.

VOICE:

Pat Wall, Labour candidate for Bradford North:

ACTOR:

A Marxist Labour government would mean the abolition of the monarchy, the house of lords, the sacking of the generals, the admirals, the air marshals, the senior civil servants, the police chiefs and in particular the judges.

VOICE:

Ken Livingstone Labour candidate for Brent East and former leader of the GLC:

ACTOR:

The rank and file of the Labour party which has been quite cautious in what it says over the last few months as we approach the election will be given a renewed vigour and actually more progressive.

TORY MAN:

Don't let the left run Britain. On June the eleventh vote Conservative.

2nd June 1987

MC:

Ladies and gentlemen. Pray silence for the next act of mystery and sleight of hand - the Labour economic policy.

MAGICIAN:

But ladies and gentlemen, what I should really like is some extra money from the audience, thirty five million pounds which I will miraculously change into an astonishing fall in unemployment

VOICE:

This Labour trick does not work. Last time Labour spent huge sums of money they succeeded in nearly bankrupting the economy and ended up by doubling unemployment. Every Labour government since the war has increased unemployment.

MAGICIAN:

Ladies and gentlemen. We shall now ask for more money from the international banks and with a wave of the wand we shall produce better social services.

VOICE:

This Labour trick does not work either. Last time Labour put Britain into debt by borrowing it ended up having to pay more in interest on all its debts than it was spending on the entire National Health Service. Every Labour government there has ever been has increased our overseas debt.

MAGICIAN:

Ladies and gentlemen, for my next trick I will not ask for any money, I shall produce it out of thin air.

VOICE:

This Labour trick does not work either. The last time they couldn't tax any higher or borrow any further they printed the money they needed causing the highest inflation the country had ever seen, and in just four years cut the value of the pound in everyone's pocket by a half. Every Labour government there has ever been has increased inflation.

MAGICIAN:

Ladies and gentlemen, for my next trick I shall produce out of this hat an improved health service.

VOICE:

This Labour conjuring trick does not work either, because Labour always make a mess of the economy. Last time they ran out of the money to maintain the health service. Waiting lists went up by two hundred and fifty thousand, hospital building was cut by a third, nurses' real take home pay was allowed to fall by twenty percent.

MAGICIAN:

Ladies gentlemen and kiddies, I shall now produce before your very eyes better schools.

VOICE:

This Labour trick also doesn't work. Under the last Labour government spending per pupil actually went down.

MAGICIAN:

Ladies and gentlemen, under my cloak I shall take these union bosses and make industrial unrest completely disappear.

VOICE:

This Labour trick does not work either. Under the last Labour

government more than fifty million days were lost in Britain through industrial strikes. The Labour government was brought down by its own unions after a winter of discontent in which strikes left rubbish piled in the streets, the dead were left unburied and cancer patients turned back from hospitals

MAGICIAN:

Ladies and gentlemen, I shall now send my assistant around to collect your share certificates in British Gas and British Telecom and we will now produce new efficient nationalised industries.

VOICE:

Everyone knows this trick does not work. Ninety nine percent of British Gas workers took up the offer of shares in their own company, yet Labour will take back these shares and return control into the hands of the bureaucrats, with the result that everyone remembers. Since Labour invented nationalisation in 1945 the British tax-payer has had to pay out over forty billion pounds in subsidies, compensation, written-off debts and so on to support our nationalised industries. That's forty billion pounds of your money wasted, gone.

TORY MINISTER:

We've just seen the economic policy of Labour. Of course all politicians want to improve life for people, otherwise we know we wouldn't get re-elected. But if all we had to do was to take more of your money in tax, borrow billions abroad, print a few billion more and then wave a magic wand, we'd have done it already. But we didn't, because it's been tried by Labour not just once but time and time again. It simply does not work.

VOICE:

Every Labour government there has ever been has run the economy into an economic crisis.

THATCHER SPEECH:

Governments had failed to tackle the real problems which had afflicted us. They dodged difficult problems rather than faced up to them. The question they asked was not will the medicine work but will it taste all right. 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 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. They said you can't de-nationalise, the unions won't wear it - but we did and the workforce positively snapped up the shares. Step by step we are rolling back the frontiers of socialism and returning power to the people.

5th June 1987

VOICE:

In the 1930s most of the western world began to disarm believing this was the way to peace. In 1939 Europe learned the bitter lesson of what happens when only one side disarms. In the 1940s the Soviets began to expand, swallowing countries that were too small, too isolated to protect themselves. But take a look where they stopped - at the NATO borders. The world has remained a deeply dangerous place, yet while wars have raged outside, inside western Europe we've enjoyed forty two years of peace for one reason and one reason alone - in NATO we have the unity, the strength and the determination to defend ourselves. Even though the Soviet Union has the most powerful army in the world they won't dare to threaten us as long as we possess an effective nuclear deterrent. But look what happens when we relax even slightly. Between 1972 and 1979 we in the West did not introduce a single new intermediate missile into Europe. The Russians however deployed four hundred SS20 missiles each with three warheads targeted at us. In the early 1980s we had no option but to counter-act this threat . We installed cruise missiles. Did this decision jeopardise peace? Not at all, it brought the Russians back to the negotiating table. The Russians are talking to us today no thanks to CND, no thanks to Labour and the Alliance who voted against cruise, but because of this government's determination to defend our country.

TORY MINISTER:

Everything we do in defence is designed to keep the peace and make war less likely. We do want to reduce nuclear weapons but we will only do so if we are sure that the Russians reduce theirs. That is our approach. Mr Kinnock's approach is quite different.

VOICE:

If Mr Kinnock were to be elected to power in just seven days from now he would order our Polaris submarines to stop their patrols and return to be scrapped. He would cancel Trident, he would throw out the American nuclear bases and remove all our Cruise missiles. Mr Kinnock would do all this without requiring the Russians to surrender a single nuclear weapon of theirs. No wonder Denis Healey said the Russians are praying for a Labour victory.

TORY MINISTER:

If Labour took power we would be completely exposed to nuclear blackmail, not just by Russia but by any other country large or small who might soon have their own nuclear bomb. How would we reply to threats like that?

VOICE:

According to Mr Kinnock we would use the resources you've got to make any occupation untenable, so this is his policy - let them occupy first then fight afterwards, just like in Afghanistan where people are being killed every day under the Russian occupation. Despite the lesson of 1939, despite what has happened since, Labour wants to abandon the defence strategy that has kept us safe for over forty years. Luckily they are not the government of this country, because against armed might like this they will effectively leave us defenceless.

TORY MINISTER:

You don't prevent wars when just one side gives away its weapons. You do prevent wars by being strong enough to bring the other side to the negotiating table. This is what we have achieved . Working with our allies we are now in sight of what will be an historic achievement - the first ever reduction in nuclear arms. We are negotiating this reduction from strength, but Mr Kinnock would have nothing to negotiate with so he could achieve nothing but endanger everything. On June the eleventh I urge you to vote for a Britain kept safe and strong by the Conservatives.

9th June 1987

VOICE:

Blackpool 1981. Mrs Thatcher's conference speech.

THATCHER SPEECH:

Nothing is beyond this nation. Decline is not inevitable. They say I'm an optimist. Well in this job you get called all sorts of things - an optimist is one of the nicer ones and I wouldn't deny the label.

VOICE:

Brighton 1982. Mrs Thatcher's speech following the Falklands war.

THATCHER:

This is not going to be a speech about the Falklands campaign though I would be proud to make one, but I want to say just this because it is true for all our people: the spirit of the South Atlantic was the spirit of Britain at her best. The first duty of a British government is the defence of the realm, and we shall discharge that duty. It's now clear beyond doubt that given the change the Labour party wants they would dismantle Britain's defences wholesale, yet do you remember how Aneurin Bevan pleaded with an earlier Labour party conference not to send a Labour foreign secretary naked into the conference chamber? Well it's a good thing there isn't going to be a Labour foreign secretary.

VOICE:

Brighton 1984. Mrs Thatcher speaks just after the Grand Hotel bombing.

THATCHER:

And the fact that we are gathered here now, shocked but composed and determined, is a sign not only that this attack has failed but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.

VOICE:

Blackpool 1985. Mrs Thatcher's closing conference speech.

THATCHER:

Government apart, the strengths of a civilised nation depend upon the natural authority of the family, the school, the church and our great institutions. Who is to answer the child crying for help? Who is to protect the elderly couple? Who can win back the youngster hooked on drugs? The police, social workers, the voluntary organisations, all must and do respond, but that's not enough. We are the neighbours of that child, of that elderly couple, of that youngster. Upholding the law can't be left to the police and the courts alone. We are all involved. We cannot pass by on the other side. Come with us then towards the next decade. Let us together set our sights on a Britain where three out of four families own their home, where owning shares is as common as having a car, where families have a degree of independence their forefathers could only dream about. A Britain where there's a resurgence of enterprise, with more people self-employed, more businesses and therefore more jobs, a Britain where there is a standard of health care far better than anything we have ever known. Yes we have set our sights high but these goals are within our reach. Let us ensure that we bring them within our grasp.

THATCHER TALKING HEAD:

In the past eight years something has changed in Britain, perhaps the most important change for a generation. Quite simply it is a change in the spirit. People all over Britain are finding a new confidence, a new pride. The Conservative government didn't create that spirit, it's the true spirit of the British people. What we did was to set it free. We were determined to give people back the incentive to work and the confidence to save. That's why we had to cut inflation, that's why we were determined to take power from the trade union bosses and give it back to union members, and that's why we abolished a whole mass of controls. And we stopped government trying to run businesses, which is something politicians have never been much good at , so we privatised them. The managers managed, the workers shared in the ownership, and the industries turned from losses into profits. As a result of all this the living standards in this country are the highest they've ever been. Britain really is a great country again and this prosperity is spreading steadily through the community.

Thirty years ago only thirty people in a hundred owned their own homes. Today it's sixty five in every hundred. It's always been the dream and the ambition of the Conservative party that what used to be the luxuries of the few should become the daily experience, indeed the necessities, of the many. It's happening with homes, it's happening with shares and it's happening with savings, and the result has been of greater prosperity. It's not only our standard of living that has increased. It means we've been able to put greater resources in health and social security. But you can only do that when you've first created the prosperity.

And all this has been achieved by government and people together: the government running things well like any good housekeeper, and the people responding. And that partnership is even more vital in keeping the law - yes this government has increased the numbers of police and we will increase them still further. There are more bobbies on the beat, but crime is not a matter for the police alone. It never was. Police need support from all of us, indeed the enemies of the British bobby are the enemies of liberty itself. The police serve the rule of law impartially, they need our support, they deserve our trust. And there's only one thing that government can and must do it must secure the country's defences and in a nuclear age that means we must have a nuclear deterrent. Winston Churchill who knew so much about the dangers of weakness and appeasement warned us thirty five years ago. He said be careful above all things not to let go of the atomic weapon until you are sure and more than sure that other means of preserving peace are in your hands. For a government to surrender our nuclear deterrent would be an unprecedented act of folly that would put the nation in jeopardy.

The nuclear deterrent has preserved peace in Europe for forty years and I believe peace is at the heart of what we in Britain ask our government to safeguard. Peace in industry that enables people to earn a living without fear of intimidation or being called out on strike against their will and without a ballot; peace of mind that comes from knowing that this will continue to be a safe country, a good place for us to live and for our children to grow up in; peace that comes from being independent and being able to run your own life and spend your own money in your own way; above all the peace of a country that is properly defended against any adversary. That's what this government and this people in partnership have been building for the past eight years. Yet all of it will vanish unless we preserve the economic strength, the strong defence, the spirit of enterprise that have made us prosperous at home and respected throughout the world. It is that which is at issue on Thursday. Of course we feel passionately about it because for us it is about the very heart and soul of Britain.

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Last Modified: 22 Oct 12
© Richard Kimber