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1980: Thatcher 'not for turning'

The Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has made a defiant speech to Conservatives at the party conference in Brighton.

In it she stressed her determination to stick to tough economic policies despite doubts expressed within Tory ranks.

Responding to recent expectations of an about-turn on counter-inflationary policies, Mrs Thatcher declared to widespread cheers:

"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!"

Outside in the rain, 'Right to Work' protesters demonstrated, two of whom managed to breach security and make their voices heard in the hall.


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

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

But her speech did acknowledge the plight of the country's two million unemployed.

"Let me make it clear beyond doubt. I am profoundly concerned about unemployment," she said.

She added: "Human dignity and self-respect are undermined when men and women are condemned to idleness."

The Prime Minister expressed her commitment to reducing inflation which she said was beginning to fall, reminding delegates it was the "parent of unemployment".

She also claimed a number of measures imposed by her government in its first 17 months in office as successes.

This included the "first crucial changes" in trade union law, the breaking down of monopoly powers and allowing council tenants the chance to buy their homes.

Mrs Thatcher condemned Soviet foreign policy and in particular its present occupation of Afghanistan.

In response to the recent demonstrations by Polish ship-workers, she praised their resolve to "participate in the shaping of their destiny", and their actions as testament to a crisis in Communism.

Her closing words were reserved for criticism of Labour and votes cast at its party conference in favour of withdrawal from NATO and the EEC.

"Let Labour's Orwellian nightmare of the Left be a spur for us to dedicate with a new urgency our every ounce of energy and moral strength to rebuild the fortunes of this free nation," she said.

In Context
Margaret Thatcher was the UK's first female prime minister and this was one of her most famous speeches.

She led three successive Conservative governments from 1979 to 1990.

In office she privatised state-owned industries and utilities, implemented strict trade union restrictions, and reduced social expenditures.

Thatcher's free market economics strengthened the overall economy and created a growing middle class, but widened the gap between rich and poor.

Between 1979 and 1983 unemployment peaked at three million, declining only very slowly during the 1980s.

Her refusal over European integration and the creation of the hated poll tax lost her the leadership to John Major in 1990.

She was made a Baroness in 1994.

In March 2002 she announced she was withdrawing from public life on doctor's orders after a series of minor strokes.


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