Below is the text of Mr Major’s 1992 New Year Message, issued on Wednesday 1st January 1992.
1992 will be General Election year. It is an Election that we must and will win. Over the last year we have wiped out our opponent’s big lead in the polls. And we have done that because of our solid record of achievement. We have:
– Reduced inflation from some 11 per cent to about 4 per cent. Brought down interest rates eight times.
– Led Britain with success into the ERM.
– Committed record resources to the support of the NHS. Safeguarded child benefit against inflation for all mothers. Taken 400 measures to improve environmental protection. Replaced the Community Charge with a new Council Tax.
This has been accomplished in the face of a world recession. I know it has been a tough year for many in business and for many families. But everyone will gain from the more stable economic position our policies have produced. I will never take short-term action that I know to be wrong, simply because it might be popular. We are now seeing the first signs of recovery, and all forecasters expect to see our economy growing again in the coming year.
The Conservative Government has given strong leadership in Britain and outside.
Our education reforms have won a powerful welcome from the parents of Britain. Only the Labour Party could oppose the idea for systematic inspection of all schools. Only the Left are resisting our campaign for a return to basics in the classroom. We will see this programme through under the next Conservative Government.
Abroad, too, we have acted when and where it was needed. For me one of the most moving parts of the year was my visits to our troops in the Gulf. They did everything we asked of them – quietly, professionally, courageously. When the war against Saddam Hussein was won, they also played a crucial part in carrying through our plan to bring help to the Kurds, and to save hundreds of thousands of people from death in the mountains.
There have also been great developments in Europe. Our Government was among the first to speak out for the forces of reform in the Soviet Union when they were threatened by a coup. And most recently we have won success for Britain in the important European Summit at Maastricht. The new Treaty followed months of patient discussion. We reached an agreement that was good for co-operation in Europe. To fight international crime and terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal immigration. To develop closer partnership in foreign policy and a greater role for Europe in defence while preserving the importance of NATO. And, on a British initiative, a crucial decision was taken to keep the European Community open to the other newly emerging European democracies. The Community was founded on the desire to bring democracy, stability and prosperity to Europe. The Maastricht Treaty has advanced that cause.
But I was not prepared to accept an agreement on any terms, or an agreement that could have damaged our national interest. That is why we insisted on deleting from the Treaty a Social Chapter which would have put the trade unions back in the driving seat in British industry. And why did we not sign up now to a single currency. Parliament will decided on that only when it is certain whether economically or politically it will become a reality.
Our Party has been consistent in its commitment to practical measures of cooperation in Europe. We Conservatives are not opportunists who flip from one policy to another as the opinion polls move.
We know that it is the effort and initiative of individual people that leads to a successful economy. That is why we will continue to be the Party of low tax. We trust people with their own money. We want them to be able to save, to give them the ability to invest for the future, to start their own business if they wish, and to give their children a good start in life. We have helped many millions of people to own their own homes, to buy shares both in the company for which they work and the privatised utilities, to take out personal pensions. And we have introduced new vehicles for tax free savings.
But I want to do more: people who have worked and saved during their lives should be able to pass on the fruits of that effort to their children – that ability is a great incentive to effort.
I place great importance on the Citizen’s Charter programme. That is widening choice and raising standards in public service. Those services should all be properly responsive to the public’s wishes, and offer them the high quality that they need.
The Conservative Government has already given choice in schooling through providing information, allowing open enrolment and increasing diversity of schooling. It has brought choice in training through training credits. And it has given more weight to local decisions in how the best health care can be provided and new guarantees for patients awaiting treatment.
It is not only important that choice exists, but that everyone has the opportunity to exercise it. There must be no part of our country, no inner city area, no deprived family that does not receive first rate public services, so that they, through their effort and ability, can build fulfilled lives within the community.
We faced great challenges last year and we surmounted them. We were able to do so because our actions were based on the enduring principles of Conservatism – sound money, strong defence, respect for the law and a belief in personal rights and responsibilities. It is on these principles that our Party has been elected for the last three General Elections. It is on these principles that we will win again.