Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1975 Jan 31 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for Granada TV World in Action

Document type: speeches
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: Various
Source: Granada TV Archive: transcript
Journalist: David Kemp, Granada TV
Editorial comments: Item listed by date of interview completion. The programme was filmed between 24 and 31 January 1975, and broadcast on Monday 3 February - her last public statement before the first ballot on 4 February. The transcript is dated 5 February. The core of the programme is an interview of MT by David Kemp which took place on 31 January, quotations from which were published by the Sunday Times on 2 February 1976. Other elements in the film are dated as follows: a chat with party workers at the constituency office - later that day (1600); the opening of her speech at the Finchley Conservative dinner dance - the following evening (25 January), and film of the Thatcher family reading the Sunday papers - the morning of 26 January morning. (Thatcher Archive: David Kemp to Susan Shields, 23 January 1975.) Extracts from the programme were broadcast on BBC News.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 4351
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Autobiography (childhood), Autobiography (marriage & children), Conservatism, Conservative Party (organization), Labour Party & socialism, Leadership, Conservative (leadership elections), Society, Women

Commentary

Finchley Conservatives' dinner dance last week-end. Local MP Margaret Thatcher takes the floor with guest of honour Jim Prior. Tory power struggles are discreet affairs and there's no hint yet of the coming battle. But, alone amongst the top Tories, Margaret Thatcher is challenging Edward Heath for the Party Leadership. The contest reaches its climax tomorrow afternoon when Tory MP's cast their votes.

Jim Prior hopes they'll stick with Ted Heath—or draft Jim Prior. Mrs Thatcher dreams of winning on the first ballot.

Tonight World in Action reports on the most important week in the life of Margaret Thatcher, the grocer's daughter from Grantham who became the first woman to bid for the leadership of the Party and the country.

Mrs Thatcher

N. J. Sapsted Mr Chairman, Mr President, Mr Prior, Ladies and Gentlemen. First Jim I want to thank [end p44] you very much for the fact that you have taken Saturday evening off, actually being deprived I gather of seeing ‘Match of the Day’, in order to come and be with us. We both know that it's tough near the top, we haven't had any experience of it being at the top. He would of course have one great advantage over me, he can be imitated by Mike Yarwood. I think Mike Yarwood might find it a little difficult to imitate me but I suppose they could always bring in Danny La Rue, even though alarming for me I don't think I'm quite that height.

Commentary

The morning after. At home in Chelsea with 21-year-old twins Carol and Mark, husband Denis, a Burmah Oil executive and the Sunday papers.

Mrs Thatcher

And what headline has he put up?

Mark Thatcher

There's a dreadful picture of Ted on the front page.

Mr Thatcher

Never mind, never mind

Mrs Thatcher

I think that's sweet I only wore that hat once, the cartoonists have never forgotten it. It looks like a bullseye. [end p45]

Mr Thatcher

Well you've got another here, different hat.

Mrs Thatcher

Oh, I hadn't seen that cartoon.

Carol Thatcher

Oh, don't you think that's good? Controversial ex-MP Edward Stonheath intends to stick it out. Are we going to put money on you or not?

Mrs Thatcher

No, no certainly not

Mark Thatcher

I'd better invest in somebody else, hadn't I?

Mrs Thatcher

Has anyone got the Crossman Diary?

Mark Thatcher

Yes, here you are about four pages back.

Mr Thatcher

Are you going to get a copy?

Mrs Thatcher

Oh yes, yes. He was a very interesting person, Dick Crossman, I liked him. I was opposite him for quite a time, so we shall all be reading the [word missing] and hope we're not mentioned. [end p46]

Commentary

Friday afternoon at her constituency office in Finchley. Margaret Thatcher takes time off from her Commons campaign to [word missing] with the party faithful and sound out local opinion. Not everyone's mind is on the leadership contest.

Mrs Thatcher

Now, tell me what you are finding at work about what people are particularly concerned and worried about, because you've got to keep me right in touch every day.

Douggie

You know people are beginning to feel there is far too many people coming into the country and we just can't support it, we're talking about unemployment and yet we are having even more people coming in. I mean, this is just not a question of quoting figures but the average person just simply goes on what he can see, not figures, what he can see and he has only got to look in his local area and he can see the amount of immigrants coming in. He doesn't have to be told figures but he can see for himself and this is what he believes.

Mrs Thatcher

[Talking to workmen sitting in a lorry]

Well we mustn't hold you up. Thank you, goodbye. [end p47]

Commentary

Margaret Thatcher knows her main problem is her image. The Heathmen caricature her as the apostle of middle class values who would lose the industrial vote. So she stops off for a chat with the workers.

Mrs Thatcher

Well, we musn't hold you up.

Man

OK.

Mrs Thatcher

Right, thank you, Bye.

Mrs Thatcher

He was teasing me earlier. He said that they can't afford to employ me.

Man

Employ you?

Mrs Thatcher

No, no, he said “Oh, they can't afford to employ me. I'm too expensive.”

Man

That's right.

Mrs Thatcher

That's what he said.

Man

They work on the [inaudible] … but we don't we go out on the smaller … and we clear the ashes.

Mrs Thatcher

You musn't give him ideas you know.

Man

Ah well, you can't ask for more money. [end p48]

Man

I'm going with him.

Mrs Thatcher

You're going with him, oh.

Did you go around picking up all this?

Man

No, I clear, I clear, … how can I put it …?

Mrs Thatcher

Refuse?

Man

Refuse and people who die, you know.

Mrs Thatcher

Oh yes.

Man

And all the ashes, you know from the hospitals, we clear them out of the boiler house.

Mrs Thatcher

Yes, yes.

And then …

Man

That's why they say they can't afford to pay.

Mrs Thatcher

Well no, it's a job that has to be done

Man

It's got to be done, somebody got to do it

Mrs Thatcher

Someone with quiet dignity to do it.

Man

I can assure you it's not a clean job.

Mrs Thatcher

No, it isn't. [end p49]

Man

No

Mrs Thatcher

It's a jolly important job.

How many lorry drivers have you got? I've never seen so many lorries here.

Man

Well, there's about 150 vehicles running at the moment.

Mrs Thatcher

150 altogether.

Man

Yes

Mrs Thatcher

It's an enormous capital expenditure.

Man

Certainly is. Man kneels down to clean mud off MT's shoe

Mrs Thatcher

Oh look that's marvellous, thank you very much, very kind of you. I didn't realise it would be quite so muddy. I was here just a few days ago. Never had this done in my life before. It's a great thrill!

Man

First time for everything,

Mrs Thatcher

First time for everything, yes. That's fine, thank you, thank you very much, all part of the service.

Commentary

Back at the Commons with Hugh Fraser an unfancied outsider, it's virtually a straight [end p50] fight. But some MPs are still undecided and Margaret Thatcher's supporters including Jill Knight, John Corrie and Michael Morris are looking for ways of swinging them over to the Thatcher camp.

Jill Knight

The press seem to build you up into some sort of Dresden china image with pearls and a perfect complexion, you know, a sort of 1975upper-crust Tory lady. Now, we know that you're not like that at all, but what have you got to say about that, that image?

Mrs Thatcher

Well, I think the only thing I can do, Jill KnightJill, is to counter it with the actual facts, and Alfred Robertsmy father left school at the age of thirteen and had to make his own way in the world. I was brought up in a small town in the Midlands, for which I'm always profoundly thankful, because it's nice to be brought up in a community atmosphere in community spirit where everyone helps everyone else.

John Corrie

I'm sure things are going extremely well for you, Margaret, you must be feeling quite confident

Mrs Thatcher

Yes, well, we haven't got very much longer to go, I just hope that we're foreseeing everything that we can foresee because we all know in elections you never know how [end p51] things are going to go until people have actually voted, but if there is anything else we can do, John CorrieJohn, if we're in touch the whole time, if you know of anyone, got any doubts, I obviously will just have to, we'll have to have a talk together and see that our ideas are the same.

Other MP

I think this is terribly important, because once people get to know you they will realise that any doubts they had will be brushed away.

Mrs Thatcher

That's very kind of you, but the other thing is that as soon as it's all over, with a united party we've got to concentrate then on going forward … and, whoever becomes Leader, we all close ranks and off we go again.

Jill Knight

Yes, and Harold Wilson watch out!

Mrs Thatcher

That's right, that's right, Jill KnightJill, Harold Wilson watch out!

Other MP

I would say we have been feeling that perhaps if we moved left in the party that we would pick up the support from there, but this just isn't so, the people of the centre and the people on the right are tremendously important as well. Margaret believes in reward for a job well done, she believes [end p52] in punishment fitting the crime, she believes that people are important.

Jill Knight

Margaret, the thing I'm anxious to talk about a bit is the family. You see, I reckon that an awful lot of women today work, like you and I, and one of the things which seems so important to me is that you're in touch, because again like me you go home at the week-end and, I think I'm right in saying, you don't have any help in the house at the week-end any more than I do, so that you have to put on your apron and start cooking. I've always found this is very good for two reasons. One is that you really know what's bothering the working woman, the fact that she's got to remember to get the bread in and she's got to remember to get the bread in and she's got to remember to make absolutely certain that there's enough for the family you know, this sort of thing. But also the organisation, because you've always got to drop one hat completely as it were, leave aside all your political things, except nagging away at you is the idea you mustn't dictate your letters over the week-end, but then you've got to get on with cooking, the Sunday dinner or making sure there's enough cakes in the tin. Now I am right, aren't I? You do all this at the week-ends.

Mrs Thatcher

You're absolutely right. I sometimes feel [end p53] as if I go around the house on roller skates and it is one of the differences between men politicians and women, you know, we've just got to remember to make the beds and do the washing-up and above all to see that there's something to eat. Absolutely vital when you've got a family, because you walk in the house and they're apt to say, “Now, what's, what is there to eat?” so it's just got to be done, but I enjoy it like you Jill KnightJill, it keeps us in touch.

David Kemp

[In the Thatchers' drawing room:]You feel then that you are able to spend as much time together as you'd like. I mean, do you try to go out together?

Mr Thatcher

Well, the answer to that one is no. It's very difficult obviously. And I've got a job to do as well. It makes life a little difficult, particularly the amount of travelling I do. We're not together as much as we ought to be and would like to be, I think is the important thing. This Christmas, because of my affairs, our holiday was broken up. We were going to have, what, ten days.

David Kemp

Do you feel that you have to support your mother politically?

Carol Thatcher

No, I think we disagree, don't we, every now [end p54] and then?

Mrs Thatcher

Yes, not fundamentally … about politics.

Carol Thatcher

No, no.

Mrs Thatcher

And you support the Conservative cause and help during elections, etc …

Carol Thatcher

Well I don't help during elections, Mark does. Mark's more active than I am.

Mrs Thatcher

Carol ThatcherCarol keeps the house going for us during elections, which is a tremendous help.

David Kemp

If your mother is elected as leader of the Conservative Party, would you see it as making a great difference to your life?

Mark Thatcher

Not fundamentally, no, because Mummy's been in politics pretty well since as long as Carol and I can remember, and so from certain fundamental points of view we've known no other life.

David Kemp

Do you feel that women politicians operate under a special handicap?

Mrs Thatcher

Yes, it's just really like any other woman who works. She's got two jobs the whole time and it's really like keeping several balls in [end p55] the air, like a juggler keeping several balls in the air. It can be done with skill and, because I love politics and because the family is most anxious I should continue in it, we all combine to help to see that I can, and it's really rather marvellous. I couldn't do without them. It also keeps me in touch. All our lives, whatever we've had to cope with, we have coped with somehow and I think it's a great characteristic of women, they manage to cope.

Mark Thatcher

The more the pressures of say No. 10, I'm sure, the more the family would chip in and accept the challenge wholeheartedly. I don't think it would make that much difference.

Carol Thatcher

When my mother was Minister of Education, I was at University. She wasn't really the most popular person around. In fact, I would say that she was practically public enemy number one.

David Kemp

What were the most difficult times for you as a family when you were under attack for abolishing school milk?

Mrs Thatcher

Yes, and when we got student demonstrations whilst Carol ThatcherCarol was still a student, because it was known she was my daughter, and I was particularly sorry that her time as a [end p56] student came when I was Minister, because it's not really fair on any youngster. You just don't get a fair chance, and that was difficult, because, however much you manage to smile your way through the demonstrations, you are a little bit worried about them, not because of their affect on oneself, you can always take that, but because of the effect on your family. And when Denis ThatcherDenis would go to work or Mark ThatcherMark and Carol ThatcherCarol out, they would see demonstrations against one and rather critical headlines, they knew that the headlines bore no relation to the person they knew, so it wasn't very easy.

David Kemp

But did you ever feel like giving it all up because of the effect it would have on the family?

Mrs Thatcher

Whenever I got the slightest bit depressed they would cheer me up, and I don't think anyone would have contemplated my giving it up, never.

Mark Thatcher

Definitely wouldn't have been allowed to. [end p57]

Commentary

Margaret Thatcher works hard to rid herself of the image of privilege, and likes to show she's just an ordinary housewife. The family sold their country mansion three years ago and this Chelsea house is now their only home. But careful cultivation of the simple life hasn't impressed her critics—including those in her own party.

David Kemp

One of the chief charges made against you by your opponents within the Conservative Party is that you would turn the party into a sort of middle-class pressure group. Mr Heath for instance has gone out of his way to say we are not a class party.

Mrs Thatcher

Well of course we're not, because the kind of philosophy I've been outlining and beliefs that the ordinary person wants really to be independent, doesn't like being dependent on the State, doesn't admire a person who always goes along to say, “The State must look after me whether I work or not.” This is an attitude which goes all throughout society. All my ideas about it were formed before I was 17 or 18. I learned it from my Alfred Robertsfather, I learned it from my surroundings. Just a little bit of personal pride and human dignity, the development of ones own personality, make your own decisions, you find there's [end p58] every bit as much among people from lower income groups as you do among those of higher income groups. Anyway, the income groups have got all muddled up these days, it's an approach or an attitude to life and I hate these labels, I really hate them. I simply don't understand why you can't look at a person quite apart from their social background for what they are, for what they can do, for what contributions they can make, and they make all kinds of different contributions. But if several of us went along to a cinema together from totally different backgrounds and sat there watching, you couldn't label us from looking at us, either from looking at us in appearance or from what we did. To me, I think I see Britain as having an entirely what you would call a middle-class approach. I call it a fundamentally conservative approach with a small c, because it's founded on belief in the dignity of a human personality and the right to let that develop and the right to bring up your own children and look after them as you will, and a fundamental respect for the similar rights of others, and that's really what often people don't realise. They say right to the individual, but those also take into account the rights of other individuals and families and that kind of society cannot exist [end p59] without a very well understood idea of law and order, above all self discipline, but it's a clear picture and it's much much more appealing than the cold state, much more, and it's not confined to the middle classes.

David Kemp

But some of your opponents seem to fear that you might shatter the consensus of the Conservative Party, which ranges from let's say three to four million working class votes on the left …

Mrs Thatcher

I would think a bit more than that

David Kemp

Right through to the right, that you in fact perhaps might be like Mr Wedgwood Benn in the Labour party that you would …

Mrs Thatcher

Oh no please, no, no, no please, there are limits. No, no of course, just give me the chance, just give me the chance.

David Kemp

Yes, but do you see what I mean, representing one particularly …

Mrs Thatcher

But I don't, but I don't, I believe I represent an attitude, an approach, and I believe that that approach is borne out by the development in my own life going to an ordinary state school, having no privileges [end p60] at all, except perhaps the ones which count most, a good home background with parents who are very interested in their children and interested in getting on, and that's what I see as the kind of conservative approach in which I believe, being able by your own efforts to help your children to have a better chance than you did.

David Kemp Sync

If you were elected Leader would you give Mr Heath a place in your shadow cabinet?

Mrs Thatcher

If Mr Heath wanted it of course, and I shall want him to want it.

David Kemp

And would you give Mr Powell a place?

Mrs Thatcher

Well I don't think so for the present. I think again it's a very human reason. I cannot forget that Mr Powell deserted his own people who'd supported him to their great shock and sorrow just a few minutes before the campaign was about to start, this was in 1974, and I just know how those people felt when the person for whom they'd worked and to whom they'd given their total loyalty and support suddenly turns around and says, “I'm not going to fight for you any longer, indeed I'm going to advise people to vote for the person whom you've been fighting against,” and that will take a very long time [end p61] to forget.

David Kemp

Do you see any circumstances in which a meeting of minds might be possible?

Mrs Thatcher

Well, I think he would have to himself make very considerable overtures and show his faith back in those whom he did in fact desert, because he did, has voted Labour twice.

Commentary

As tomorrow's first ballot approaches Margaret Thatcher's campaign begins to take a few knocks. One after another, nearly all the top Tories are lining up behind Heath. Every television interview could be vital in winning new support—but the Thatcher family is convinced that television doesn't do her justice. [end p62]

David Kemp

Mrs Thatcher why do you want to be leader of the Conservative party?

Mrs Thatcher

Well I didn't set out to be leader in any way, I didn't plan it or determine to do it from my youth, it's just the way things have developed. I've gone on at each stage, first a member, then a parliamentary secretary, then a minister tackling each job and I think getting on top of it, and then the last election campaign was very very interesting. I took perhaps a more prominent part in it than I'd played in others, and, whether it was discussing tactics or strategy or the handling of the morning press conferences, it did just pass through my mind that I could cope with it, every bit as well as my colleagues. I won't say it didn't form into any intention any more at that stage, but then afterwards, when there came to be a contest, I felt that I could tackle it as well as anyone else and have always believed when opportunities come you should take them and you should use the abilities and talents you've been given to a maximum extent and should stretch them and you've got a duty to do so.

David Kemp

Why did you feel that it should be you and not another senior conservative who should [end p63] be the one to challenge Mr Heath in the all important first ballot?

Mrs Thatcher

Well, others could come forward just as much as I could. The interesting thing was, I didn't hesitate, I took the decision quickly and I've never had any doubt about it, that it was the right decision and I never faltered and I'm in no doubt now.

David Kemp

How did you come to that decision what factors did you take into account?

Mrs Thatcher

I didn't sit down and work it all out minutely, that would have been a terribly cold blooded process. The decision came extremely quickly. I heard that certain people whom I think would have done very well were saying they weren't going to stand. I knew that if I did stand it would put [me?] right into the heaten [sic] burden of the battle. I knew it would be difficult, I knew it would be difficult for the family, and I knew too and discussed it with them and of course I did that, they would say “Mummy, you go right ahead,” and of course that they're always here to come home to makes it much easier for me.

David Kemp

What do you want to say very shortly to any [end p64] Conservative MPs who are watching this programme tonight and who haven't made up their minds, why should they vote for you?

Mrs Thatcher

I should say that I can only leave them to make their own judgement, I can only lay before them my own beliefs, and they've seen my own particular style in the House of Commons, they know that I don't flinch from attack, equally they know that I believe in a very constructive policy. Frankly, they know I don't like Opposition very much, I much prefer to have the chance to put one's beliefs into action. So we've got the two things, first I can and do attack when it's needed and attack vigorously, but secondly I attack from a basis of belief in the kind of society I want to see, so then they must judge between us.

Commentary

By 4 o'clock tomorrow when the first ballot votes are counted, Margaret Thatcher will know whether she's still in with a chance. Even if she fails she will be the first woman to have reached for the top. And the first try is unlikely to be the last.