Politically speaking

11th May 2001 at 01:00
Politicians' speeches can trigger some stimulating English lessons. Brian Winter (right) explains how teachers can make use of Margaret Thatcher's 1975 Conservative conference speech - her first as party leader.

"We are witnessing a deliberate attack on our values, a deliberate attack on those who wish to promote merit and excellence, a deliberate attack on our heritage and our great past, and there are those who gnaw away at our national self-respect, rewriting British history as centuries of unrelieved gloom, oppression and failure - as days of hopelessness, not days of hope ...

There are two great challenges of our time - the moral and political challenge, and the economic challenge. They have to be faced together and we have to master them both.

What are our chances of success? It depends on what kind of people we are. What kind of people are we? We are the people that in the past made Great Britain the workshop of the world, the people who persuaded others to buy British, not by begging them to do so, but because it was best.

We are a people who have received more Nobel Prizes than any other nation except America, and head for head we have done better than America, twice as well infact.

We are the people who, among other things, invented the computer, the refrigerator, the electric motor, the stethoscope, rayon, the steam turbine, stainless steel, the tank, television, penicillin, radar, the jet engine, hovercraft, float glass and carbon fibres, et cetera - and the best half of Concorde ...

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 ...

But we want a free economy, not only because it guarantees our liberties, but because it is the best way of creating wealth and prosperity for the whole country, and it is this prosperity alone which can give us the resources for better services for the community, better services for those in need ...

We believe that (PEOPLE) should be individuals. We are all unequal. We believe that everyone has the right to be unequal. But to us, every human being is equally important. Engineers, miners, manual workers, shop assistants, farm workers, postmen, housewives - these are the essential foundations of our society, and without them there would be no nation."

Margaret Thatcher, 1975

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