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No confidence? No way ...

By KARIN DAVIES

LONDON -- Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's steely will flashed Thursday as she defended her government against a motion of no confidence brought by the opposition Labor Party in one of her final speeches as the leader of her country.

Labor leader Neil Kinnock paid tribute to Thatcher but charged the ruling Conservatives 'are unfit to govern. They should go now.'

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Thatcher attacked the suggestion with a calm strength that belied an announcement just hours earlier that she had relented to pressure from her colleagues and would resign the prime minister's post she held for 11 years.

She even laughed at the 'funny old world' that had brought a close to her 41-year political career.

'You can't be complaining about Britain's standing in the world,' Thatcher told Kinnock. 'That is deservedly high, not the least because of our contribution to ending the Cold War and to the spread of democracy through Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

'It can't be the nation's finances. We are repaying debt including the debts run up by the party of ... (Kinnock). And it can't be the government's inability to carry forward its program for the year ahead.'

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With unabashed pride, Thatcher recounted the accomplishments of the government under her leadership -- 'Eleven years ago we rescued Britain from the powerless state to which socialism had brought it.

'Once again, Britain stands tall in the councils of Europe and the world and our policies have brought unparallel prosperity to our citizens at home.

'We have given back control to people over their own lives and over their liveihood, over the decisions that matter most to them and their families.

'We have done it by curbing the monopoly power of trade unions to control, even victimize the individual worker.'

Thatcher said her government enabled families to own their homes and gave them choice in public services -- 'which school is right for their children, which training course is best for the school leader, to which doctor they chose to look after their health and which hospital they want for their treatment.

'Labor is against spreading these freedoms and choice to all our people,' Thatcher said.

She also counted among her successes privatizing nationalized industries, including water, electricity and telecommunications, and creating two million more jobs since 1979.

Thatcher conceded disappointment on one point -- at 10.9 percent inflation was higher than it should be. Nonetheless, Thatcher pointed out, it was much lower than the 26.9 percent rate she inherited from Labor in 1979.

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