Thatcher attacks all previous Tory governments

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The Independent Online
ALL CONSERVATIVE governments before 1979 had been guilty of maintaining the socialist consensus and pursuing a policy of decline and surrender, Baroness Thatcher said in a speech in South Korea yesterday.

Describing herself as a 'Conservative revolutionary', the former prime minister said in a speech to the University of Korea: 'By the time the Conservatives left office in February 1974, it was clear there was a lot which was fundamentally wrong in Britain.

'The policies our party had followed had contributed to those problems rather than solved them. We Conservatives had been guilty of upholding socialist consensus politics when we should have been challenging it. That had retarded economic growth, undermined the management and competitiveness of industry, and failed to bring out all that was best in the character of our people.'

Lady Thatcher said that the 'philosophy of Thatcherism', which emerged after her election as Tory leader in 1975, had been born out of that personal and collective experience. 'For we believed passionately that decline and surrender were just not good enough for Britain.'

She said: 'By 1979, when we won the election, the new Conservative government were ready with principles, policies and resolve to roll back the frontiers of socialism and advance the frontiers of freedom, the first nation to attempt the task. If we succeeded, others would follow. We did succeed. Others did follow. And they are still following.'

Restoring values or institutions that had been weakened or entirely lost, Lady Thatcher said, had required a very different approach from that required to conserve or strengthen them.

'When the storm has wreaked havoc, uprooting social structures and distorting economic impulses, a more fundamental reconstruction is called for.'

In the face of resistance from entrenched vested interests, she said, her government had restored the moral quality of liberty, ensured sound money, created a framework favourable to enterprise, spread the ownership of private property, bolstered the forces of law, order and defence, and resisted encroachments upon British sovereignty.

On sovereignty, Lady Thatcher reiterated her warning against European federalism. 'One of the main lessons of our times is that artificially created states - like Yugoslavia - or empires held together by communism - like the former Soviet Union - fall apart, sometimes violently,' she said.

'And an attempt to create a European super-state out of the present nation states of the European Community would fuel nationalism and risk conflict.'

She said that fascism and communism had come and gone, and would not be missed. 'And if socialism and European federalism joined them soon, I would be even more pleased.'