TV Interview for ITN (visiting Paris)
|Document kind:||TV Interview|
|Venue:||British Residence, Paris|
|Source:||Thatcher Archive: COI transcript|
|Journalist:||Michael Brunson, ITN|
|Editorial comments:||MT gave interviews to the British press at the Residence immediately after her return from the Press Conference. She left the Residence for the Quai d’Orsay at 1255.|
|Themes:||Law and order, Strikes and other union action, Privatised and state industries, Labour Party and Socialism, Transport, Foreign policy (Western Europe - non - EU), European Union (general)|
Prime Minister, you heard the news about this taxi driver [David Wilkie] while you were preparing for the morning session of the Summit here. What thoughts went through your mind when you heard that news?
At first, I could scarcely believe it. It was murder and I almost went to new depths of despair that such things could happen in Britain to a person who was trying to take someone else to work. Think how the day started for him, doing his duty something to keep his family, and now look at the distress and despair brought to his family.
I find it difficult to believe that anyone can support a strike sustained by these methods. It is not British. This calculated malice is alien to us, and I felt so strongly that if only there had been a ballot none of this would have happened, because I believe that most people—never mind what their politics are—most people, are ordinary and decent and they want to go to work because they want to support their families. There is a job for every one of those men who wants it. It has been guaranteed, and yet they turn to this destruction, to this malice, this violence. Not very many of them—and the rest feel about it just as I do, and I want every right-thinking person to condemn this totally and utterly and to make it perfectly clear that you cannot sustain a[fo 1] strike by this means, and we must see that it is not sustained by this means. That means everyone saying: “Look! This is more than enough! Now, let us get back to normal and to work!”
Every right-thinking person, you just said, should condemn violence. This evening, Mr. Kinnock is sharing a platform with Mr. Scargill . What would you be looking to hear from him?
The total and utter condemnation equal to that which I have given. [ Neil Kinnock ] He gives it not as a politician. He gives it as a human being, but he is also a politician and it is important that he does totally and utterly condemn the specific terrible deeds, condemn them, call for an end to the violence, and an end to this means of sustaining a strike.
There are those, Prime Minister, who say that when things reach this pass it is time for the Government to step in directly to take the heat and the fire out of what is going on.
Mr. Brunson , you never appease violence, never.[fo 2]
Could not, though, direct negotiations by the Government help things along a little, take the heat out of the situation?
By the Government? There have been—I cannot remember whether it is fourteen or sixteen days—negotiations now. The Coal Board, Mr. MacGregor , moved. You do when you are negotiating. You try to move. Moved quite a bit. He got an agreement with one of the unions, NACODS, because they were genuinely interested in the future of the coal industry. The NUM has not moved an inch. You know the fundamental problem. You cannot create a future for the coal industry without closing down totally uneconomic pits which produce coal we cannot buy at a price we cannot afford to pay, and what hope is there for a community in sustaining in that kind of pit? Hope for that community lies in taking up the National Coal Board enterprise offer, of getting it to the industries of tomorrow. That makes common sense. That is hope for a village. It is hope for the youngsters. Not in yesterday's worked-out or highly uneconomic pits.
Other people in the NUM have accepted this. Mr. Daley , in his original circular, describing the colliery review procedure, accepted that pits which make large losses would have to close. You cannot negotiate unless that is accepted. The attitude is totally unreasonable. If, of course, that is accepted then there is a possibility of entering new arrangements, new agreements, but so long as those impossible claims are made, so long as it is the[fo 3] proud boast of someone that they have not budged an inch and therefore have not negotiated, you cannot negotiate.
It is difficult, I know, for us perhaps to change gear from what is happening in the British coalfields to what has been going on here in Paris, but it is important and one of the things you have decided is to go for a top-level working party on the Channel Tunnel. Now, is this just another group of people talking about the Channel Tunnel or are we a step nearer to having that tunnel built?
Let me put it this way: I think we are getting down to the nitty gritty in more ways than one. We are trying to get the precise regulations, safety rules, kind of design, which the private sector can then cost and see how much money would need to be raised and, of course, I think they do not want any financial guarantees. They would want a kind of political undertaking that it would not be stopped for political reasons. Well, you have to work that out and see precisely what it means.
I can only tell you that phrases like “a new urgency" and “a new optimism" were spoken this morning. Can I tone it down a little bit, because you know I am always cautious. I say a cautious optimism. But deep in our hearts, most of us would like there to be a fixed link between the Continent and Britain. Many of us have a dream of being able to get into a car and drive from one side to the[fo 4] other. I do not know that that could be achieved. It would also be a sort of visible thing of what our generation could achieve. We have seen so much changes in technology. We have seen the whole new electronic revolution that is coming about; there would be something visible which our generation have perhaps contributed to the new European grand design. So we would like it and it is in that atmosphere that we are going in to explore further details. That is good.
Finally, can I just lead you on to what is going to be the main topic in the Dublin Summit. Why do you want Spain and Portugal in the Common Market when their entry is causing such upheaval?
For very deep reasons. They are new democracies. We want to keep them democracies. We want to keep them democracies for them. We want to keep them democracies for Europe as a whole, because we wish to work closer together in Europe, to show the world what democracies, by working freely together, can achieve, both for their own peoples and to influence the wider world, because we all live in one world.
We live in a free country, in spite of this terrible violence that has been taking place. We live in a free country. It is the only way that gives life its dignity and its meaning. It produces a better standard of living. We really ought to proclaim it to other countries: that if they are considering which way to go,[fo 5] towards freedom or towards a Communist state, that they see by what we do that ours is the better way, and so we need a great area of stability and influence and success in Europe, and it matters that we bring in Spain and Portugal. Matters to them, matters to us.
Even though it is creating horrendous problems negotiating the terms of entry?
Oh, but you know, you do not achieve anything without trouble, ever.