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
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
Well, we still sell the kippers.
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?
[inaudible] record shop you used to come to.
Oh, I remember.
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
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
(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
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
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
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.
If we do have a big increase in taxation then [inaudible]
might have to think about selling the house.
Last time Labour were in power they taxed people so hard it hurt.
If they increase income tax I can't think of a more direct disincentive
to people not to work harder.
Oh yes, I've no doubt at all that we'd have er much higher tax
rates both business-wise and personally.
Could you get along with Labour's high prices?
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.
Prices: hate to think that they will go sky high.
According to independent city analysts, Labour's plans would
virtually double inflation.
People paying more and more and more, for less and less and less.
How would you feel about forty pounds a month on your mortgage
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.
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
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
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?
No [inaudible] it's not France, er here unemployment is
er terrible at the moment and strikes - new ones every day.
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?
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.
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?
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.
In this country they are spending record amounts on their public
services. Is it Holland?
No, I think in Holland spending on public services like
er education and housing is not keeping up with inflation.
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
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.
Oh er Britain has er has changed in the last decade - we
admire your country now.
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.
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.
You should be proud of what you've done. We respect
Britain as today it's wonderful compared with what it used to be.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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".
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
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.
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.
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
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