Election '97: Thatcher joins Major in rallying cry

Show of unity as former PM tells party workers to go for Labour's 'jugular'
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The Independent Online
Baroness Thatcher swept away any lingering fears that she may come out in favour of Tony Blair and joined John Major yesterday in telling Tory candidates to go for Labour's "jugular" to end socialism for good in this country.

The show of unity by Lady Thatcher and her successor, who posed for the photographers on the doorstep of Tory Central Office, gave the candidates a morale-boosting send-off for the election campaign.

According to one candidate there: "Major said over the last 18 years, we have seen socialism withering. He told us, 'We have got them by the throat. Just one last bit of pressure by the throat, and socialism will die'."

Mr Major said the Labour manifesto had taken three years to write, but had come apart in only three days on the campaign hustings. "They've had 18 years to work out their policies. Now Labour have told us their manifesto was scribbled down in a garden in Islington," he said.

"I thought that was a gimmick. It's obviously true. There is now emerging a question of competence. Is Labour fit to govern? As soon as the pressure rises and the spotlight goes on, the cracks begin to show. How long before the dam of Labour's credibility shatters and bursts?"

Lady Thatcher focused her attack on Labour's proposal to accept the European Social Chapter, giving more protection to workers, and claimed Mr Blair would give in to demands for negotiating rights by the trade union "bully boys".

She said: "In the next three months the destiny of our country will be set for a decade or longer because of the inter-governmental conference in Amsterdam. They will try to take away the veto, that is why we must see our Prime Minister John Major and our government returned at this election, so that there can be no diminishing power of the nation state."

Before their display of unity, Mr Major "came out" yesterday and declared in a Sunday newspaper he was a "One Nation Conservative - there's no point in hiding where I stand in the Conservative Party; that's where I stand." But Lady Thatcher, who once dismissed the idea as "no-nation Conservatism" , did not let that spoil her visit to Central Office to address the troops - more than 100 party candidates and workers. Nor did Lady Thatcher mention the speculation that she had privately said Mr Blair would not let Britain down. She praised Mr Major's "magnificent stewardship of the last six years".

She said: "It is thanks to him and the Conservative government that we have such a high level of prosperity and a high reputation in the world. I am here to support him."

She added: "I would ask every one of you to ask every candidate from every other party the following question; 'Are you seeking election for Parliament in order to hand over the powers of Parliament to a non-elected bureaucracy in Brussels?'"And in a reference to her remarks in the House of Commons which led to the resignation of Lord Howe as her Foreign Secretary, she added: "I know what every Conservative will answer to that, and it is in a well-known quote - 'No, no, no'."