In this speech Kinnock laid down his vision of what a second term for the Thatcher government would mean for Britain (and, as it turns out, pretty much did mean), in stark yet eloquent terms. I think it's one of the finest pieces of political oratory of the 20th century, but for some reason I could never find the full text on the web. So I dug it out of a book and retyped it, and here it is. It rings equally true today, even if some of the references (to, for instance, Norman Tebbit) are a little out of date. Change a few words and it could describe the dangers of electing any authoritarian right-wing government.
If Margaret Thatcher is re-elected as Prime Minister, I warn you.
- I warn you that you will have pain -
When healing and relief depend on payment.
- I warn you that you will have ignorance -
When talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right.
- I warn you that you will have poverty -
When pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a Government that won't pay in an economy that can't pay.
- I warn you that you will be cold -
When fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don't notice and the poor can't afford.
- I warn you that you must not expect work -
When many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don't earn, they don't spend. When they don't spend, work dies.
- I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light.
- I warn you that you will be quiet -
When the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient.
- I warn you that you will have defence of a sort -
With a risk and at a price that passes all understanding.
- I warn you that you will be home-bound -
When fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up.
- I warn you that you will borrow less -
When credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.
If Margaret Thatcher wins, she will be more a Leader than a Prime Minister. That power produces arrogance and when it is toughened by Tebbitry and flattered and fawned upon by spineless sycophants, the boot-licking tabloid Knights of Fleet Street and placement in the Quangos, the arrogance corrupts absolutely.
If Margaret Thatcher wins -
- I warn you not to be ordinary.
- I warn you not to be young.
- I warn you not to fall ill.
- I warn you not to get old.
Neil Kinnock, Bridgend, 7 June 1983