Conservative Party Television Election Broadcasts 1997
Transcribed by Michael Pearce
9th April 1997
The broadcast consists of 10 'talking heads' filmed in generally gloomy settings, such as an underground car-park
and a desolate housing estate. The talking heads are linked by captions on a blank screen. The opening caption reads,
Imagine if the polls were right. Imagine if Labour won the election...
The linking captions are:
After one year of Labour government ... After two years of Labour government ...
Obviously, these are not real people, they are actors with scripts, and some attempt has been made to make them
representative in terms of gender, age and ethnicity.
YOUNG WHITE WOMAN:
She said you don't know what it's like being under a Labour government. You haven't
experienced it, you're too young to remember and you know obviously that was true, but I just thought well you know nobody believes their
mother do they? I want to see it for myself basically and, well, I certainly have. It's affected me personally much more than I would have expected ...erm... I mean for example [inaudible] talk about
unemployment figures, well it's just numbers, it doesn't mean anything to you but when you actually - when I actually lost my job a few weeks ago because I was made redundant ...erm... then it's a whole different story
YOUNG WHITE WOMAN 2:
It was a difficult decision because I voted Tory before I thought they really had learned their lesson the Labour party ...erm... the Tories had that slogan ...erm... Britain's booming don't let Labour mess it up and I thought you know they won't do that, Blair won't do that ...erm... but they have.
YOUNG BLACK MAN:
Things were nice and calm, I mean how much damage can you do eh? Interest rates have gone up, unemployment is rising, I'm having to pay an extra thirty or forty pounds a week because of them.
YOUNG WHITE MAN:
Yeah, well, they had their chance and they made a complete mess of it. Me mortgage has gone through the roof, and they put tax up almost straight after they got in, when they promised they wouldn't. You know. Don't worry, they said, we're different now. I suppose it was our fault for trusting them in the first place. Basically we're back in recession, ain't we?
MIDDLE AGED SOUTH ASIAN WOMAN:
My son is looking for a job for all the year, now he can't get one because of
minimum wage. Nobody can afford to take him on. I don't know how long he'll have to wait.
MIDDLE AGED WHITE MAN:
Well democracy you know - the Tories had had their day, we thought maybe somebody else.
See what they've done, I mean it's just been a total downhill, total downhill, for three years. But what gets to me you see is I went for it, we all went for it, we thought you know a change equals something better. Of course it wasn't [inaudible] something heck of a lot worse.
MIDDLE AGED WHITE MAN 2:
We voted Labour and you know like most people we thought fresh blood you know ...er... we believed all that stuff about government running out of steam and sleaze, and well it seems the further we get into the Labour term the more it was just change for change sake you know. Look at us now, I mean we weren't badly informed, we most of us, we you know read decent newspapers and we kept up with the news, but I mean we knew about we knew about ...er... the great state the economy was in, and we knew about government's record on employment and inflation and all that, but we knew it, but I suppose we didn't value it.
WHITE WOMAN WITH CHILD:
Every time you open the newspaper there's more bad news. Things going wrong every
time I go to the shop, prices gone up again, inflation's just going through the roof.
WHITE MAN IN THIRTIES:
[inaudible] had a good job, had a low mortgage, and then inflation was low and I was
stupid enough to vote Blair. Those were the good days, now I never thought I'd say that.
YOUNG WHITE WOMAN 2:
I'm here in the future. I know what it's like. Don't do this to Britain that's my advice
BRITAIN IS BOOMING
DON'T LET LABOUR RUIN IT
16th April 1997
A formal 'talking head'.
This election is about jobs, it's about education, it's about health, it's about people's prosperity - both at the moment and in the future. But there is becoming one central defining issue raised on doorstep after doorstep and I'd like to address it this evening.
Is Britain going to join a federal Europe or is she not? I'm not in favour of a federal Europe. I'm not in favour of a federal Europe because it takes decisions away from the British parliament that are properly those for the British parliament. If we in parliament make mistakes - and sometimes we do - parliament can reverse those mistakes. It can repeal the wrong laws. If we pass powers to Europe so those laws are made on a European basis and they turn out to be wrong they are irreversible, there is no chance of repealing them. For that reason and for many others I don't believe we should hand our employment policy and matters affecting British jobs and British prosperity to Brussels.
So no, I am not in favour of a federal Europe. I am flatly opposed to it.
And then there is the wider and deeper question that I know concerns many of the people watching this broadcast. Should sterling enter a single currency? If our European partners decide to proceed are there advantages? Yes there are. There are advantages. If a single currency were to be formed and if it were to be successful it might extend a zone of low inflation permanently right across Europe.
But are there risks? Yes there are very deep risks, and we have to consider those as well.
What is the core element of the single currency that gives rise to such caution amongst the British nation? I believe it's the fear that inexorably, sometimes almost invisibly, we are being dragged further and further into a position where more and more decisions are being taken away from the British parliament and decided collectively by the European heads of government in Brussels. I have not a shred of intention, neither has any member of my cabinet or any member of my party so far as I am aware, of surrendering the responsibilities of taxation or expenditure to our European partners or indeed to anybody else. They are matters for our parliament and for so long as I am leader of the Conservative party, for so long as the Conservative party is in government there is no question of such powers remotely being transferred away from the British parliament.
I said what a central issue [inaudible] I think it is a defining issue as well.
I will negotiate for Britain in these negotiations firstly at Amsterdam on the federal Europe, and
later on the single European currency. I am therefore in a different position from anybody else in this
country while I conduct those negotiations.
When I have concluded those negotiations - and do not ask me
to set out every aspect of how I will negotiate now for you will tie my hands in dealing with our European
partners if I set out precisely what I would do in detail they would know precisely how to respond to it,
everybody in this country who plays cards would never put their cards face-up on the table and then expect
to win the game - but when I have finished those negotiations I will come back and I will make a recommendation about the single European currency whether we should join or whether we should not join to the British cabinet. The cabinet will accept that or reject it. If it accepts that we should proceed for example, they will ask parliament. If parliament accepts we should proceed then that would not be the end of the matter for this is a matter of such overriding importance - there has been no matter like this in
peacetime in the living political memory of anyone - this is of such importance that in those circumstances
there would be a referendum on the single question of whether we should enter a single European currency or not.
It would be a referendum open to every adult in the country. I will not take Britain into a single
currency, only the British nation can do that. Upon that you may be certain.
YOU CAN ONLY BE SURE WITH THE CONSERVATIVES
22nd April 1997
Synopsis: We see several men wearing donkey jackets with 'New Labour' written on the
back. They are carrying a pine-tree up a hill, which they 'plant' next to a fine big tree. Unsurprisingly,
since the tree has no roots, it falls down. Throughout the broadcast the men try to prop up the tree with
bits of wood etc., but it always fall down. A second visual element consists of newspaper articles which
illustrate Labour's changes of mind. The final image shows the fallen 'Labour' tree on the left, next
to the 'Conservative' tree on the right.
A tree without roots cannot withstand the slightest pressure. A party without roots doesn't stand for anything and doesn't stand for long. New Labour have tried to cut off their past by cutting off their roots. They've given up every principle, they've turned their back on all their beliefs,
they've abandoned the people who voted for them, and they've ditched everything they stood for to try and
look electable, so now there's nothing that can keep them steady.
Tony Blair began this election campaign by asking us to trust him. Twenty times he asked for trust. But
how can you trust Labour when they'll say anything, do anything, promise anything, change anything to try
and get elected?
A tree without roots cannot withstand the slightest pressure. In the past few months Labour have been for privatisation and then against privatisation. They said they'd be tough on the unions, then they've given in to the unions. They've promised the Scots their own parliament, then cut it down to a parish council. They've been for grammar schools and against grammar schools. They're in favour of GP fundholding and they're against it. They've said they won't do a deal with the liberals and they've said they will. They've said they'd be tough on Europe and they'd give in to Europe. They promised a top tax of forty pence and a top tax of fifty pence. Without roots Labour are blown all over the place. Imagine what they'd be like in government.
At the first blow from the trade unions Labour would cave in. This would mean more strikes. When spending pressures grow Labour would collapse, that's why they're planning an emergency budget in July. This would mean higher taxes and higher mortgages and at the Amsterdam Euro-summit in June when Britain has to decide whether to sign the social chapter Labour would give in on that as well. This would mean massive job losses. Without roots Labour are blown all over the place. Cutting off your roots and ditching your principles may make you look electable but it's very dangerous in government.
YOU CAN ONLY BE SURE WITH THE CONSERVATIVES
25th April 1997
A formal 'talking head'.
This time next week you will have made your decision. Either I'll be back in Downing Street or we'll have a Labour government.
Does that matter? Yes it does because our beliefs are different from Labour, so are our policies, so are our [inaudible].
Take Europe. I passionately believe that we are right to be in Europe, that our jobs and our prosperity depend upon our trade with it. The question is what sort of Europe? Last week I told you that I'd never take Britain into a single currency, that only you could do that, that this is a decision of such magnitude, such importance that we must have a referendum of all adults [inaudible] that you can
express your views, it must be your decision.
But there's a much earlier decision that needs to be taken. In six weeks time the British Prime Minister - myself or Mr Blair - will go to Amsterdam to negotiate a treaty and what's decided there will determine whether we go down the route to a federal Europe or whether we say no. I don't believe a federal Europe is right for Britain, I shall say no. Mr Blair - Mr Blair will say yes. I know that because he's
already committed himself on key policies that lead inevitably towards a federal Europe. Let me tell you what they are. He'll abandon our veto on social policy, on regional policy, on environmental policy, on industrial policy - he said so. All of those will just go. He'll hand those key decisions to Brussels to be taken collectively by our partners, perhaps against our wishes and against the vote of the British government. And once gone we couldn't recover our powers, they'd be gone for good.
And that's not all. He'd agree an employment package in the new treaty, a package that would give the European union more power over our jobs at precisely the moment unemployment is going up in Europe and down here across the United Kingdom. Is that wise? Do you think that's sensible? I don't, but that's Labour policy.
And then Labour would sign the social chapter. Now that sounds very cosy doesn't it? Certainly our trade unions would like that and I'll tell you why - because they believe they can use it to recapture from Europe precisely those powers that they lost in Britain during the nineteen eighties. I don't want that, do you? The fact is the social chapter will damage our labour relations, our prosperity and cost us jobs, and
it will also take more power from our parliament and hand it to Europe. We should say no to it, and I will.
And we should say no too to something else, another change that Labour propose - devolution and especially a Scottish tax raising parliament. The Scots, the Welsh are proud nation states but devolution will weaken the whole United Kingdom.
Let me explain why.
If power moves from parliament in Westminster to Scotland or to Wales then Parliament is weaker, it has less authority. A tax raising parliament in Scotland would set Scotland inevitably upon the road
to independence, not immediately perhaps but the first crucial step would have been taken. Friction with Westminster would be followed by fracture from Westminster, and then Parliament would be less able to protect all our interests, because remember this splitting the United Kingdom into bite sized bits would make it more difficult for us to win arguments in Europe and in the wider world, so again we should say no to this and I say it.
These choices, these crucial decisions will be made within weeks, they're not in the far distance, they're for now. Please focus on them, think about them, decide what you believe's right for our country. Don't delay. Wait a week and it will be too late. It's taken years to build up Britain's prosperity. Britain is booming - don't throw it away.
YOU CAN ONLY BE SURE WITH THE CONSERVATIVES
29th April 1997
A formal 'talking head'.
On Thursday you'll go into a polling booth and pick up a stubby pencil on a piece of string. Before you mark your cross pause, think, you hold your family's and their country's future literally in your hands. You hold power, you decide.
To me the United Kingdom is the best country in the world in which to live. I want to keep it that way. People are better off, prices are under control, unemployment is falling, for most people the
rate of income tax is the lowest for sixty years. Let's keep it that way. A Conservative government will, you
can be sure of that.
But if you vote Labour this could all vanish. Together, you - the British people - and we - the government - have built prosperity. Today people own homes, shares, savings, cars, small businesses in a way they would never have dreamed possible even a few years ago. Labour opposed all of that, they were wrong on every big decision this country has faced in the last eighteen years. Now Mr Blair tells you Labour has changed. Well believe him if you like but remember it's not a car he's selling you it's your future he's after, and behind him are the trades unions, silent today just waiting. So think carefully, it's your job, your savings, your mortgage, your prosperity that's at stake. Labour won't keep our economy strong, they never have, but they will do things that will weaken our country. Their plans to set up a tax raising parliament in Scotland would lead not immediately but certainly to Scotland becoming independent. Once broken
the United Kingdom will never be the same again.
And Labour would take us into a federal Europe - much more power for Brussels, much less power for Britain.
So, two threats: a British parliament weakened at home and weakened abroad, two irrevocable changes - that's what's at risk on Thursday. Think about it.
But what happens if you trust us?
Firstly, we'll keep the economy strong. But what will we do with it? Let me tell you in the
next five years I intend to help bring the have-nots into the golden circle of the haves. I'll safeguard still
further the things that matter most to you and to me: schools, police, pensions, and of course the health
service. For the first time in your life the crime figures are falling. We'll keep it that way. We'll reintroduce
the tough sentences on persistent criminals that our political opponents simply wouldn't support at the end of the last parliament. We'll continue to develop the National Health Service with more money each and every year. If you've used the health service recently then you'll know how good it is. More people are being
treated. There are operations today that are routine yet they were unthought of a few years ago. And we'll
build up standards in education giving parents more choice in the schools their children go to and then more
information about their progress once they're there. All our children are different. We shouldn't squeeze
them into a standardised education system, we should develop the system so that it caters for the infinite
variety of our children. We'll guarantee - guarantee - the state retirement pension and continue to improve
I'm a one nation Tory. I believe in a classless society, in opportunity for all. I want good health and welfare provision to be there for everyone. I know the ease of mind it brings to the vulnerable and
they're entitled to this dignity and this self respect. None of this can be done without a strong economy. Compassion without cash is empty rhetoric. In short wealth and welfare hand-in-hand - that's our policy. We have built a strong economy, now we must build on it.
Our plans are for you, your family and your future. So on Thursday when you go into that polling booth and make one of the great decisions of our time remember, mark your cross where you can
place your trust.