tvParty Election Broadcasts

Conservative Party Election Broadcasts from 1992

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

18th March 1992

JOHN MAJOR:

I spent most of my youth in south London until well into my thirties at different houses. It's a very vivid area, it's er never dull, it's always changing, it has a tremendous vibrancy that very few parts of the country can understand - and yet there is an innate friendliness in the area that those people who live there understand very well.

Can we turn left into Atlantic Road in a moment please? I think I'd like to go down there and have a look.

This is really the heart of Brixton. Once you come down the main road and turn left into the market it's where Brixton takes its heart from, and everybody who lives in and around the area is familiar with Brixton market, goes there, shops there.

Can I have a pound of those [inaudible]? We used to come in and buy kippers.

FISHMONGER:

Well, we still sell the kippers.

JOHN MAJOR:

I'll have some kippers, I'll have some kippers.

When I was in my early teens I used to occasionally erect a soap-box. I had two soap boxes, one that I used to erect in Brixton market and the other in Brixton road, and I used to talk about er political matters of the day and everyone was very tolerant some people used to listen, some used to engage in badinage, lots of other people smiled cheerfully and moved on, but it was very good experience.

Very nice to see you, how do you do?

MAN:

[inaudible] record shop you used to come to.

JOHN MAJOR:

Oh, I remember.

MAN:

Yes

JOHN MAJOR:

Yes.

This is Coldharbour Lane. All these old houses with the basements down there, and the Enterprise pub which has been there for as long as I can recall, and here's Eastlake Road and that's the house we lived in for many years. Behind there in Eastlake Road we had a wicket er pitched on the wall of the houses opposite, we used to play cricket up against it for hours on end.

I think it's a fallacy for people to think er that because of my background and where I came from that I should be a socialist. Why should I be a socialist? It is people in that background who have actually suffered most from the fact that we've had a society in which the free enterprise system moved ahead and then was blocked as one moved over the years from Conservative governments to socialist governments.

When I was in my mid-teens we moved to Burton Road. When you see the house ahead with the two white arches immediately opposite there, that is where we lived. Is it still there?

It is, it is.

It's still there, it's hardly changed. We lived in the downstairs flat. There was a an area below ground and ground floor and er I think there was a room also on the first floor but not the second. The second was occupied by other people and it was a huge improvement on Coldharbour Lane, it was great step up.

I was unemployed and I remember vividly er what it was like to spend your mornings looking for a job often vainly and your afternoons wondering what would happen the next day. There is only one cure for unemployment, there's only one way to put people back in permanent, secure, sustainable jobs that they can be confident in, and that is to have the right economic framework to produce steady sustainable continuing growth in the economy. That takes time, it can be unpopular while you do it, it is difficult while you do it, it can't be done with short term stimulations of the economy, it can only be done by bringing inflation down and keeping it down so that people know it won't move. The first ingredient has to be a competitive tax structure: low taxes give people the opportunity to invest, to provide for their own family and create a cycle of growth. You cannot lift yourself out of recession: high taxes - that perpetuates recession.

Over there is Saint Matthew's church. That's where Norma and I were married in 1970. And beyond it is Lambeth Town Hall where I was er councillor from 1968 onwards, and er practically lived for three years.

I wouldn't've missed the few years I was a Lambeth councillor for anything. It was one of the best learning schools in politics and I think in life as well that one could possibly have. You had almost every sort of problem to examine, people with all sorts of ambitions some of which could be realized, some of which couldn't. You had a population mix of a most extraordinary kind, a large number of people in very great difficulty often.

(JOHN MAJOR in street: where do you all live locally?)

People are entitled to their own views, to their own instincts, to their own beliefs and it is quite wrong to try and pigeon-hole everybody into the same beliefs that the majority of people hold. Firstly it cannot be done because individuality is there and it cannot be changed and you should not try and change it, but secondly if you tried to do it you'd have a very intolerant, very unpleasant, very autocratic society and not the sort of society I would wish to see.

People are individuals. They have their own instincts, they have their own feelings, as a matter of privacy that is a matter I think predominantly for them.

I think every family has their own experiences of the NHS and will draw upon it. That's certainly true in my case. In their later years both my parents were ill, they needed protracted medical treatment both in hospital from time to time and also direct through their general practitioners - and they got it: excellent treatment, treatment that we couldn't possibly've provided for ourselves and I saw then at a young age and at very close quarters the peace of mind that the availability of that treatment actually provided to my parents and to the rest of my family. I want to make sure that's there for everyone else. The Patients' Charter attempts to make sure that the excellent medical service is also provided as a personal service with the greatest possible dignity.

I'm pretty clear in my mind what every parent wants for their own children. They want them as a basic to learn to read, to learn to write, to learn to add up and to do that easily and readily as a matter of course. That is what we are determined to ensure is provided in the schools, and above all that people have the sort of education that will prepare them for the changing world in which they are going to work for the rest of their lives. Nothing will be the same again, this world is becoming more competitive and changing at a more rapid rate than any before. In future people won't leave school with one career in mind, one qualification and stay at that through the rest of their life. They'll need to be trained, they'll need to be retrained, and then perhaps retrained again. Iit will be a consistent learning process through life and without those basics people simply won't be equipped to undertake that changing learning process.

The first time I came to the House of Commons as a member of parliament was in 1979 and I remember very clearly the excitement there was at that stage. Every time I go in it I still get a thrill. Er, I'm not remotely blasé about being part of the House of Commons - the atmosphere that it generates, the authority that it has, the extent to which people turn to the House of Commons when there are really serious problems - and that atmosphere pervades the whole place. There are many advantages in politics: it's very exciting, it's very worthwhile, you may if you're lucky have the opportunity to do something that really matters. I think my background is an asset not a disadvantage, that's how I've always found it. I think the principle point about making policy is that it er is made up of two components: firstly intellectual conviction - you have to believe in what you're doing - but secondly, I think it is personal experience: if you've done something, or seen it, or been it, or felt it then you can understand what it means and you can understand how it affects other people in their own individual lives.

25th March 1992

VOICE:

March 1992. Labour are so keen to get into power that they have been making lots of promises. They would have to increase taxes far beyond the levels they have already admitted. They would have to hit the average tax payer with an extra one thousand two hundred and fifty pounds a year tax bill. Last week Labour's Mr Smith said that he wanted the biggest increase in taxes on incomes since the war. Labour also plan a minimum wage which would push up industry's costs, that means lost jobs and higher prices. So Labour would push up taxes and prices. And there's more - according to city forecasts Labour would have to push up interest rates by two and a half per cent, that would add forty pounds a month to the average mortgage. So Labour would push prices up, taxes up, and mortgages up. Could you face five years hard Labour? Could you pay one thousand two hundred and fifty pounds more tax a year?

WOMAN IN STREET:

If Labour do get in and my husband's taxes go up I mean it'll be devastating in our household.

FEMALE TEACHER:

If we do have a big increase in taxation then [inaudible] might have to think about selling the house.

VOICE:

Last time Labour were in power they taxed people so hard it hurt.

MAN:

If they increase income tax I can't think of a more direct disincentive to people not to work harder.

MAN 2:

Oh yes, I've no doubt at all that we'd have er much higher tax rates both business-wise and personally.

VOICE:

Could you get along with Labour's high prices?

MAN 3:

Prices would go up. I'm certain of that because taxes are going to go up, National Insurance contributions go up, people'll look for more money to pay for it, salaries go up - what happens then? - prices go up.

WOMAN:

Prices: hate to think that they will go sky high.

VOICE:

According to independent city analysts, Labour's plans would virtually double inflation.

MAN:

People paying more and more and more, for less and less and less.

VOICE:

How would you feel about forty pounds a month on your mortgage bill?

WOMAN:

Yeah, if Labour got in the taxes on my husband's wages - he had to pay more tax, it would cripple us with the mortgage.

VOICE:

So under Labour you're taxed more, you pay more, and your mortgage costs you more. Last time the only way people thought they could break out of it was through strikes, strikes, and more strikes. No wonder that eighty-six percent of businesses say that Labour would be bad for the economy. Of course this need not happen. The Conservatives have cut taxes. The basic rate is lower than at any time since the war and they're still going down, so the incentive is there and because the Conservatives have the determination to keep prices down Britain has lower inflation than even Germany, and because the Conservatives have cut inflation interest rates are now down taking eighty pounds a month off the average mortgage, and because the Conservatives have broken the grip of the unions strikes are down to the lowest level for a hundred years. Even through an international slow-down Britain's share of world trade has steadily grown. No wonder Japanese and American companies invest more money in Britain than in any other country in Europe. For Britain to grow when the world economy bounces back the last thing we need is five years hard labour.

31st March 1992

VOICE:

What do you want to give your children? Of all the things you want them to have, there may be some things you take for granted. Security. The cold war may be over but just how safe is the world in 1992?

As the old order gives way new conflicts are arising. Georgia, for example. Armenia. Yugoslavia. Despite arms limitation agreements there are still many thousands of nuclear weapons around the world. The former Soviet Union for example is estimated to have how many nuclear weapons? Twenty seven thousand, each one big enough to destroy the City of London.

Are these weapons in safe hands?

Russia and the new republics are undergoing such change and turmoil they still cannot decide who controls their armed forces. The republics have been arguing for control of the Black Sea fleet. Boris Yeltsin has warned that Russia could fall into the abyss.

The former Soviet Union is without the economic means to destroy the older more unstable nuclear weapons still in its arsenals. One such arsenal is holding three times its capacity and according to Pentagon experts the weapons are stored in unsafe conditions which would simply not be allowed in the West. It's quite clear they are incapable of looking after them properly. But as they cannot afford to dispose of these weapons is there a danger they will fall into the wrong hands? After all, there are many nations willing to pay for nuclear technology so nuclear weapons could be in more hands than ever before. So how many countries could have nuclear weapons by the year 2000?

As many as fifteen countries. If it hadn't been for the Gulf war Saddam Hussein's Iraq would have had a nuclear weapon by now. This is the world we and our families live in. In 1992 in such a world we need to work for peace but be ready to defend ourselves.

John Major has shown his commitment to nuclear disarmament when he initiated the first United Nations security council conference for peace and non-proliferation. But in the present unstable world conditions he has made it clear we need to maintain our minimum nuclear deterrent and to keep up our conventional forces, for as the Gulf war showed trouble can come quickly from out of nowhere. But how would Labour protect us? The last three Labour party conferences have pledged to cut defence by how much?

At least twenty seven percent. That's the equivalent of wiping out our entire navy or the army or the air force, or maybe they'd remove a third of each. But how are we to know? Labour has produced over a hundred policy documents on different subjects but how many on Britain's defence? Not a single one. They opposed the deployment of cruise missiles which brought the Soviets to the negotiating table - so can we trust Labour with our nuclear deterrent? They once offered to eliminate our entire nuclear defence leaving the Soviet Union with thousands of nuclear weapons and us with none. We know we can't trust Labour to order the Trident submarine needed to ensure we always have one on active patrol. Can we trust a man who was a member of CND for thirty years to maintain our nuclear deterrent or a party which has at least a hundred MPs who are members of CND? According to the first draft of the guide to Labour candidates, twenty-six of them said they were members of CND. This fact mysteriously disappeared from all but one by the second draft.

Two-thirds of the British public want the protection of a nuclear umbrella, yet two-thirds of Labour party members have said exactly the opposite. Can we really trust Labour? In an increasingly unstable and dangerous world we cannot afford to risk undermining our security with huge defence cuts and an evasive nuclear policy. In 1992 voting Labour is a very dangerous game. Britain is in safer hands with the Conservatives.

3rd April 1992

VOICE:

Do you recognise this European country? Here's a clue. It's got the highest proportion of its population in employment of any major country in Europe. It's a country that has virtually eliminated the problems of strikes. Is this France?

FRENCH MAN:

No [inaudible] it's not France, er here unemployment is er terrible at the moment and strikes - new ones every day.

VOICE:

The European country we're talking about has seen its standard of living rise by a third in the last ten years. In this country they've seen the tax they pay on wages fall to a fifty year low. Is this Germany we're talking about?

GERMAN MAN:

Nein - in Germany the standard of living did not rise, er maybe it stood on the same standard as before but it didn't rise. I'm sure and the taxes taxes went up not down.

VOICE:

In this country inflation is below the European average, so rising prices are no longer a problem. Its share of world trade has grown every year for the last three years. Is this Italy?

ITALIAN MAN:

No, it is not Italy. We have the prices go up too much e too fast and our trade is not growing like that sadly.

VOICE:

In this country they are spending record amounts on their public services. Is it Holland?

DUTCH WOMAN:

No, I think in Holland spending on public services like er education and housing is not keeping up with inflation.

VOICE:

Which country can this be? Can you guess? If you can please ring this number - it's the number of the Labour party's headquarters - because the country we're describing is Britain and Labour don't seem to recognise it.

DOUGLAS HURD:

Through these years the Labour party has constantly run down what Britain has achieved, relished the difficult moments, ignored the successes I suppose that was to be expected. After all, Britain has succeeded because like the rest of the world we've broken away from socialism.

FRENCH MAN:

Oh er Britain has er has changed in the last decade - we admire your country now.

ITALIAN MAN:

I remember for example that er fifteen years ago er the Britain was called er the sick man of Europe, er but now I think that it Britain is one of the leaders.

GERMAN MAN:

I [inaudible] as strong competitor during the next years, they did very well during the last years and I don't think they will stop this doing very well.

DUTCH WOMAN:

You should be proud of what you've done. We respect Britain as today it's wonderful compared with what it used to be.

MICHAEL HESELTINE:

It would be a tragedy if the frustrations and the hardships that the recession has caused, and for some is still causing, if it meant that Britain threw away all the achievements of the last decade. Remember that British living standards have never been so high. Over one million people more were treated in NHS hospitals each year. Over a quarter of a million more students go into higher education than when Labour were in power. More Japanese and American companies invest in Britain than in any other country. In Europe much has been achieved. Remember - remember for one moment, remember all the way from now until polling day the appalling mess the Conservatives got this country out of when we took over from the Labour party in 1979.

VOICE:

Under Labour inflation reached twenty seven percent and prices were going up faster that you could track them. Labour got the economy in such a mess that they actually cut spending on the NHS - the only government in history to do so. National Health Service waiting lists went up by forty-eight percent, or nearly half in real terms. Nurses' pay fell by three percent, doctors' pay by seventeen percent. The health unions were so angry they went on strike, turning away patients from hospitals. The dead went unburied and the rubbish was left in the streets. It was Labour's terrible winter of discontent. But it was Labour's taxes that really crippled Britain. They took away Britain's incentive to work hard. Strikes for more pay to keep up became a way of life for people in Britain. The last thing we need now is for Labour to come in and wreck Britain's recovery.

But Labour says it's time for a change and they've changed and you can trust the Labour party now. Well can we? Can we trust Neil Kinnock, who himself says if values really are values they don't change really? When he was the leader of the hard left he wanted to nationalise everything in sight - major institutions, all the big companies. Now he says we've stopped that nonsense. He used to say he wanted Britain to pull out of Europe, now he says he's all in favour of Europe. Once he was firmly against Scottish devolution, now he says he's always been in favour of devolution. Once he was a leading light of CND and wanted to ban the bomb, now he says he's dropped CND. As you can see Neil Kinnock is so keen to get into Number Ten he keeps changing direction. The more he changes the more people think Neil Kinnock can't be trusted. They can't trust a man who would change any principle, abandon any policy, say anything to get elected. In their effort to get into power Labour have made dozens of promises in their manifesto.

Labour's Michael Meacher made thirteen point six billion pounds worth of promises. Tony Blair has made five billion pounds worth of promises. Robin Cook has made three point two billion pounds worth of promises. Bryan Gould six point three billion pounds worth of promises. John Prescott three point six billion pounds worth of promises. Jack Straw two point six billion pounds worth of promises. Gerald Korfman two point five billion pounds worth of promises. Gordon Brown has made four hundred and sixty million pounds worth of promises. Roy Hattersley managed only two hundred and seventy million pounds worth of promises. So many promises, so many pledges, so many billions of pounds. What they still haven't told you is where is the money coming from - because they suspect you won't like the answer: tax tax and more tax. That's the last thing Britain needs to pull out of the recession.

JOHN MAJOR TALKING HEAD:

I know the recession's been pretty tough for some families. We need to get on with Britain's economic recovery - that's why this election is so important, because Britain needs the confidence only a Conservative government will bring. Confidence to invest, to create more jobs, to get the economy really humming again. Labour would put the recovery into reverse. Their taxes would put families under terrible pressure - extra taxes everybody would have to pay. Millions and millions of families would find it hard to meet their mortgage bills. But that's not all. Imagine the turmoil if our health reforms were uprooted, our trade union reforms undone - upheaval, bureaucracy, an end to industrial peace, that's the kind of mess that Labour offers.

So what do I want for Britain? A Britain where the tax man doesn't punish you for hard work; a Britain where your money holds its value; a Britain where everyone has the right to own their own home; a Britain that offers dignity and security for the old; a Britain where people can pass on what they've built up in their lifetime of work to their children and their grandchildren; a Britain where hospital waiting lists come down and standards in schools go up; a Britain where we help each other giving a hand up not just a hand out; a Britain where people feel safe on our streets and in their homes; a Britain where our inner cities are restored and our countryside cared for; a Britain well defended, proud and respected; a government which hold Britain together, stands up for Britain abroad and doesn't let Brussels walk all over us. There's only one real choice in this election - going forward with me or backwards with Mr Kinnock. Don't mortgage your family and your future to Labour don't let them throw away all that you've achieved. Let's get on with building the best future for Britain together.

7th April 1992

JOHN MAJOR:

I hope that in the next few years that we will carry on with much of the work that has been done in the last few years. In particular I want to see us build a country that is at ease with itself.

I will fight for my belief and my belief is a return to basics in education.

VIRGINIA BOTTOMLEY:

We visited a hospital together and it's a great event - a Prime Minister visiting a hospital - and what's so remarkable is John Major's ability to put people at their ease, to make them feel he understands, to touch people. He knows what it's all about.

JOHN MAJOR:

Thank you very much for what you've done over the last er over the last few months, it's been an absolutely fabulous job.

CHRIS PATTEN:

The people said that he was a rookie Prime Minister who wouldn't be able to tackle the international side of things. Well, look: Gulf War, Kurds, Maastricht - extraordinary piece of negotiating skill, erm calm and er courteous but tough as old boots as well.

TOM KING:

I saw at first hand the courage and resolution of John Major in the most immediate way because at the very start of the Gulf War the war cabinet met and at that moment a mortar bomb landed ten yards outside the cabinet room and the windows were shattered - smoke in the room, the smell of explosive, er I was incredibly impressed by the determination and resolution he showed, he just said er "Why don't we go to another room."

DOUGLAS HURD:

We had a fairly rough second day at the summit at Maastricht in er December because John had I suppose forty, perhaps more, points that Britain had to insist on and the other countries had maybe four or five each. And I remember one in particular at the end which needed everyone to agree to and everyone agreed we went round the table and finally Britain, and John said "I don't agree". Kohl chancellor Kohl laughed at his bravery in doing this and we won the point, and afterwards another big delegation said er "Thank God you did that we didn't quite have the nerve to do that".

CHRIS PATTEN:

I remember him once er pushing a piece of paper across to me er it said er: do you want to come to Stamford Bridge on Sunday? So I passed it back and wrote on it er Yes but who's playing? and he sent it back er and he'd just written on the top - If you don't know you can't come.

JOHN MAJOR:

During the summer, Mr President, I did quite a bit of travelling: Headingley, Edgbaston ...

I've got it I like it and with your help I'm going to keep it.

DAVID MELLOR:

It's never any effort for him to talk to anyone - not in a sort of I'd better do this 'cause that's what politicians are supposed to do kind of way - but just out of a natural interest in people.

JOHN MAJOR:

What we want is a better Britain. A country which is strong in the world, a country where the individual counts, a country of real opportunity where every one of her people is free to choose, a country with a head and a country with a heart. And on April the ninth I have no doubt it is for our kind of Britain that the people of Britain will make their choice.

JOHN MAJOR TALKING HEAD:

There was a lot of work to be done before I called this election. We faced some pretty big challenges. In the Gulf we fought with our allies to free Kuwait. At Maastricht we negotiated a treaty which set out the future of Europe. At home - at home we had to bring inflation down, bring mortgages down and get the economy ready to grow again. That has now been done and now it's time to place our record and our policies before you the voters. I have no doubt about the golden prospects for Britain. Of all the nations in the world I believe none is more respected than ours. Its language has been borrowed, its culture followed, its literature read, and its parliament copied.

I have great ambitions for our country. I want every family to have the freedom to live their lives the way they choose. I want everyone to be able to buy their own home, millions more to have savings and pensions of their own and to be able to pass on to their children the fruits of their life-times' work. I want good state schools, schools that get the basics right, schools that give you a choice for your children and tell you how your children are doing. I want low taxes - every extra pound taken in tax from your earnings is choice denied to you and given to the state. That's why I want to cut taxes. I want everyone to have the comfort of knowing that if ill-health strikes the the best treatment is freely available. It will be. That I promise unreservedly. I want a Britain that's fair and free from prejudice, where people get on because of what they do not because of where they come from. I want people to have peace of mind. I know how important that is to them. That means knowing our streets are safe, knowing that savings will hold their value. Peace of mind means other things too: it means strong defences in a world that's still dangerous, it means Britain's voice must be heard with authority as a secure friend but a formidable opponent. I want Britain to be at the very heart of Europe, but it has to be the right sort of Europe.

I could never accept a federal Europe. I don't want Britain to be run from Brussels, but only the Conservative party are certain to avoid that calamity and only the Conservative party is certain to hold our country together - a country that's achieved so much. I am proud of our United Kingdom. I don't want to see it broken up. It's now sixteen months since I became your Prime Minister. In that time I've been able to lay out the policies that will take us into the future on Thursday. You must decide whether I continue that work. You won't be voting for a day or a week but for five years. Every detail of everyone's lives will be affected by the decision you take. Don't believe for a second that it doesn't matter who wins. It does matter. It matters to Britain and it matters to you.

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Last Modified: 22 Oct 12
© Richard Kimber