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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 16:25 GMT
Thatcher's famous speeches
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By Mark Davies
BBC News Online political reporter
Margaret Thatcher's speeches over the years have provided some of the most memorable soundbites in politics.

They chart her rise to power and her eventual downfall.

You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning

Margaret Thatcher
From her 11 years as prime minister to her period as the grandest of Tory grandees, she had a knack for grabbing headlines.

Her party conference speech in Brighton in 1980 is a case in point.

"To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: 'You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning'."

In the same speech, she predicted a brighter future under her leadership than the industrial strife which had marked the end of the previous Labour government.

Bruges speech

"We are coming slowly, painfully to an autumn of understanding," she said. "I hope it will be followed by a winter of common sense."

Five years earlier, as the newly elected leader of her party, she told delegates: "Our party is the party of equality and opportunity - as you can see."

Her speeches were marked by straight-talking: "What a prize we have to fight for: no less than the chance to banish from our land the dark divisive clouds of Marxist socialism, " she told Scottish Tories in 1983.

And in the same year she famously declared: "The National Health Service is safe in our hands."

Perhaps one of her most famous speeches was that which became known as the Bruges speech.

It was September 1988 when she set out her strident views on European integration.


"To try to suppress nationhood and concentrate power at the centre of e European conglomerate would be highly damaging and would jeopardise the objectives we seek to achieve.

"It would be folly to try to fit them into some of identikit European personality.

"Certainly we want to see Europe more united and with a greater sense of common purpose, but it must be in a way which preserves the different traditions, parliamentary powers, and sense of pride in one's own country."

I have always said if you want a speech, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman

Margaret Thatcher
She spoke with similar stridence in the House of Commons two years later - a speech which played a part in her downfall.

"No, no, no," she said in respect of moves towards more European integration in the aftermath of an EU summit.

She accused France and Germany of trying to create a "fortress Europe" and went on to say: "I again emphasised that we would not be prepared to have a single currency imposed upon us, nor to surrender the use of the pound sterling as our currency."

'Hostile bowling'

The speech infuriated pro-European Tories such as Geoffrey Howe, who subsequently quit the government.

A few days later she spoke of her troubles by describing the "hostile bowling of late".

That led him to make a Commons speech criticising her - and was followed by Michael Heseltine's decision to challenge her for the leadership of the Conservatives.

It was that challenge which led to her resignation.

But she continued to make speeches which had a habit of hitting the headlines.

Yet although those speeches will now become a thing of the past, she will continue, no doubt, to make her views known.

She did, after all, once tell a Townswomen's Guild meeting: "I have always said if you want a speech, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman."

See also:

19 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher cancels visits over illness
18 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher's Euro bombshell
13 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher rejects Falklands trip
18 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher urges 'retreat' from EU
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