Thatcher, Margaret (1925 – 2013)

Thatcher defends the health service in 1980, and describes her economic policies as ‘the only way forward’

An excellent two-page (separate pages) typed letter signed, 10 Downing Street headed paper, 16th April 1980. Thatcher writes to a Mr. McDonald in relation to various of his constituent’s comments. She begins by addressing a query about gas prices: ‘Recent decisions to raise domestic gas prices must be seen against a background in which gas prices have fallen by a third in real terms… over the past decade. In deciding that it would be right for domestic prices to begin now to increase in real terms the  Government had in  mind such factors as the increasing costs of new natural gas supplies, the need to conserve as far as possible this valuable resource, the fact that domestic gas sales were barely breaking even… and the important of giving adequate warning to consumers of the inevitable rising price trend. The Government decided that it would be far better to set British Gas a target which would cause them to phase in the inescapable domestic price increases carefully and gradually, rather than put off the day and then be faced suddenly with the need for very large rises all at once, as we have seen for oil.’

Thatcher goes on to refer to the constituent’s comments about the health service’s ‘marked decline in recent years’, noting that ‘there have been difficulties’ but quoting the report of the Royal Commission on the N.H.S.: ‘”We need not feel ashamed of our health service and there are many aspects of it of which we can be justly proud”‘. She then comments, ‘This is an assessment which broadly speaking we accept.’ She goes on, ‘At a time of economic restraint there is not as much money available for the health service as we would like, but we have maintained the level of expenditure planned by the previous administration.’ She goes on to offer more detail about this expenditure, then concludes by rejecting the constituent’s comparisons drawn with the 1920s and 1930s. ‘Our policies are designed to bring about a lasting improvement in our economy, but we have never hidden the fact that it will take time for them to take their full effect. It is part of our approach to restore the proper balance between trade unions and the rest of the public, but I do not believe that our polices will lead to the sort of results your constituent fears. i am sure that they represent the only way forward.’

Letter folds, otherwise in fine condition. Together with a typed note from Oonagh McDonald to the consituent in question, enclosing Thatcher’s letter. A superb early letter that touches on issues that shaped the then Prime Minister’s future political career.