What Mrs Thatcher actually said about society!

Twice this evening I have heard people say that Mrs Thatcher encouraged selfishness. Not true. Indeed as the following quotation taken from the actual Woman’s Own interview ( given in Sept 1987 ) which gave rise to this myth shows Mrs Thatcher stressed it is the duty of individuals to look after their neighbour. I don’t expect this will stop people misrepresenting her view but it is worth reminding those who are interested in the actual quote.

‘I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation and it is, I think, one of the tragedies in which many of the benefits we give, which were meant to reassure people that if they were sick or ill there was a safety net and there was help, that many of the benefits which were meant to help people who were unfortunate—“It is all right. We joined together and we have these insurance schemes to look after it”. That was the objective, but somehow there are some people who have been manipulating the system and so some of those help and benefits that were meant to say to people: “All right, if you cannot get a job, you shall have a basic standard of living!” but when people come and say: “But what is the point of working? I can get as much on the dole!” You say: “Look” It is not from the dole. It is your neighbour who is supplying it and if you can earn your own living then really you have a duty to do it and you will feel very much better!”

3 thoughts on “What Mrs Thatcher actually said about society!

  1. One society she did mess up was the Halifax building society. 100 years of thrift and honest profits distributed as a bribe to the middle classes, along with most of the other mutual vestiges of the Victorian big society. Its perhaps my largest bug bear about her legacy, but it rarely gets mentioned.

    And now society is paying for an orgy of Tory hagiography, throwing convention to the wind, so a generation of Tory boys can try to make her a national saint, instead of a very divisive Conservative politician.

  2. How right and how relevant today. Pity those weakly, spineless back stabbers chose, for their own potential advancement, to usurp her and put the Tories in decline. There has not been anyone of any party who half -way meets her leadership credentials since and there is no currently serving MP who demonstrates anywhere near the strength of conviction or ideas to put things right. The likes of Heseltine, Clarke and he whose name is not worth uttering should hang their heads in shame. The only decent alternative then (and probably now !) , is Lord Tebbit. There’s a decent and competent bloke in front line politics whose misfortune in Brighton was a loss to the country.

    It presently remains UKIP by default. The first whiff of the EU club failing to agree to discuss Cameron’s reclaimation of some powers and he should have set a referendum date. He hasn’t the bottle, clearly. Not a guy to trust.

    Bring back decent capital allowances and regional development grants linked to job creation; doing away with the green levies would be a useful start – it’s a con. There’s still time to bring some of the bankers in front of the court, and legislation to review all PFI deals in terms of value for money and fairness of contract. Let’s have someone take on local authority and public sector pension issues – they need to take a haircut.

  3. David, you have quoted Mrs Thatcher saying ‘life is a reciprocal business’. Your profile says you are a regular church goer – I thought ‘life was a gift’.

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