Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Jan 10 Sa
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for BBC1 Saturday Superstore

Document type: speeches
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane, London
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: John Craven, Keith Chegwin and Mike Read, BBC
Editorial comments: 1045-1245. Mercifully the transcript omits MT’s appearance on the Pop Panel section of the programme, the COI confining its attention to what it described as the "relevant parts".
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 4990
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Labour Party & socialism, Arts & entertainment, General Elections, Education, Defence (general), Autobiography (marriage & children), Autobiography (childhood), Executive, Parliament, Famous statements by MT (discussions of), Employment, Terrorism, Strikes & other union action, Leadership, Women

John Craven

Good morning, Mrs. Thatcher.

P.M.

Good morning.

John Craven

Thank you for joining us.

What would you be doing on a Saturday morning?

P.M.

Oh lots of things. The most frequent thing would probably be going to speak at some conference or other and therefore getting a bit nervous about making up the speech, or something in one's own constituency or going to a meeting of people.

If not, it might be a rare occasion when I can be on my way down to that lovely house called “Chequers”, which is given to prime ministers while they are Prime Minister, and that is a great joy.

John Craven

You say you get nervous. You still get nervous, do you? [end p89]

P.M.

Of course you get nervous! Aren't all your children here nervous this morning?

I have never done this before. You are nervous. I am nervous. That is good. It gives me a lot more confidence!

John Craven

Mr. Kinnock was on the programme and he said that he never thought that you two would ever get on together.

Do you think that is true?

P.M.

Well, you are not asked to get on together as people. You know, you do not spend a lot of time with one another.

But Mr. Kinnock is Leader of the Opposition, just as I am Prime Minister. Therefore, he has an official position as Leader of the Opposition and therefore, whoever has that position I have to get on with as a matter of work - and we do. It would be impossible if we did not.

John Craven

At the very beginning of “Superstore”, we showed a little clip from fourteen years ago when you were on a children's programme and somebody asked you a question [end p90] and you said you did not really want to be Prime Minister. Do you regret saying that now?

P.M.

No, I do not regret it. I remember it. I remember the programme very well. We were in front of a whole audience of children; they asked all sorts of questions and they always ask the most telling ones, much more telling than we get at Question Time in the House of Commons.

But you just think: if a person comes into the House of Commons, is even getting on quite well, because I was Secretary of State for Education and said: “I want to be Prime Minister!” I can tell you what happens when you get back to the House. They say: “Mm! She is pretty conceited, isn't she?”

As a matter of fact, it was an accurate answer then because it had not occurred to me that I would ever be Prime Minister. I did not set out to say: “Look! In thirty years' time, I am going to be Prime Minister!” What I did was try to do whatever job I was doing as well as I could: a Member of Parliament; then with a most junior Minister Parliamentary Secretary; and then a Cabinet Minister. And then, well, just the experience grew, and when the opportunity came I took it, so it was absolutely accurate and true then, because you look at Prime Minister and you think of the immense responsibilities and, of course, you think: “Goodness [end p91] me! I wonder if I could do that!” and so it was an absolutely candid answer.

John Craven

Well, there are a lot more questions from children for you this morning.

Andrew

Do you ever listen to pop music?

P.M.

Not very often I am afraid, because I find it a little bit noisy. But I like it. I like the rhythm about it, but I do like it to have a melody to it. You know, some tune; not just pounding out rhythm, because then you cannot tell the difference between the one …

Question

You like the music from “Cats”?

P.M.

Yes, I love the music from “Cats”. That is marvellous music. There is a fantastic song there called “Memory”. It is lovely. Beautiful, whether sung by adults or … I think in one of the variety shows, you know, it was sung by a young boy and he sang it marvellously. But that is the kind which I love, but you would not call it “pop”. It is just beautiful music. [end p92]

Question

If you were not a Member of Parliament, what would you like to be?

P.M.

Oh goodness me! And I have been a Member of Parliament so long!

Well, you know, I started out life as a chemist and then I changed because I rather liked the life of a lawyer. I got very fascinated with what lawyers did. You often watch things on television don't you, and so I became a lawyer, and it was that which I gave up to become a Member of Parliament.

So if I were not a Member of Parliament, I think I would probably have stayed a lawyer.

John Craven

Well let us take some calls now, Prime Minister.

Stewart Jones, good morning Stewart, you are talking to the Prime Minister.

P.M.

Hallo Stewart.

Stewart Jones

Hallo. [end p93]

P.M.

Can you ask me what it is you want to ask!

Stewart Jones

When will the next election be and if the Conservatives win, what will your plan be for the next four years?

John Craven

When will the next election be? The question on everybody's lips.

P.M.

Well you know, Stewart, I cannot tell you. I know that it has to be by June 1988 and you just do not decide because you do not know quite what things will be like as you come up to the possible time.

You do not decide until you come up to certain dates. There are certain favourite dates: there is June this year, there is October this year, there is March next year, there is June next year, and you never actually make the decision until you come up to that time, so I am as much in the dark as you are.

John Craven

What was the other part of your question, Stewart? [end p94]

Stewart Jones

What will you be doing about education, because my school may have to close within the next eighteen months and I am very worried about it because the nearest school is quite a distance away?

P.M.

Well now, if it is going to close, it will go before Kenneth Bakerthe Minister for Education. He will consider everything, including the cost of education, including the numbers in the school, but you asked a much deeper question: what will we be doing about it?

Some children get a marvellous education. I see it in some of the schools. And some get an education that their parents and the children are not satisfied with at all, and we are going to have to tackle that by, I think, giving more powers to the head teachers and the governors of each school, because they are on the spot. The parents know what that school is like and we are going to try to give more powers to them. I think they will be much more satisfied with the education their children receive.

John Craven

That is a promise from the Prime Minister.

P.M.

Thank you, Stewart! [end p95]

John Craven

Right! Next question. Thomas Austin. Hallo, Thomas Austin, what is your question to the Prime Minister?

Thomas Austin

I would like to ask you: Do you watch “Yes, Prime Minister!”?

P.M.

Yes, I do watch “Yes, Prime Minister!”, but sometimes not when it is on. It can be videoed for me or the BBC are very very kind and will let me have the tape when I can see several together.

I enjoy it enormously. Do you?

Thomas Austin

Yes. It is lovely. And what character do you think is most lifelike?

P.M.

Well, I do not find very much in common with the Prime Minister, I must tell you. I adore the Permanent Secretary, the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Humphrey. I think he is terrific. He has got that smooth, silky voice. I have never met one like him, but it is a marvellous caricature. [end p96]

John Craven

Is it true to life?

P.M.

No. It has certain things in it which, you know, are a bit of a caricature of life, but that is the great fun and there are certain things in it which have a grain of truth.

John Craven

Right! Next caller please! Who is next? It is Alison Standfast. Hello Alison, your question to the Prime Minister!

P.M.

Hello Alison!

Alison Standfast

Hello. In the event of a nuclear war, where will you be?

P.M.

Well now look! The whole point of having nuclear weapons is to stop a war of any kind and if one were to start that whole policy would have failed. It so happens the possession of those nuclear weapons and what they can do are so horrific that it has stopped not only nuclear war; it has stopped conventional war for over [end p97] forty years, and that is the longest time this century which we have had peace and that is worth doing, so the whole point of those weapons is to say: “Well! Any way would be so horrific that it does not start!” and that has been right; it has not. So that is the purpose of it, dear!

Alison Standfast

But if there is one, where would you be?

P.M.

I should be in London.

Alison Standfast

In your own bunker or something?

P.M.

Look dear! Let me again point out possession of these weapons has kept the peace for forty years. Indeed, if I might put it this way, the possession of those weapons has been the best peace policy we have ever had.

Listen! Other nations attack you when they think they can win a victory very easily. They do not attack you if you are strong because you can hit back. It is like the bully in the playground. They do not attack strong guys; they try to attack the weak ones. [end p98]

John Craven

Thank you, Alison. Let us move on now to the next call. Who is this? Suzanne Thurston. Hello Suzanne, you are through to Mrs. Thatcher.

Suzanne Thurston

Hello.

P.M.

Hello dear!

Suzanne Thurston

When there is a political problem in the country like the Anglo-Irish Agreement, do you discuss it with your family? Do you ever use their opinions?

P.M.

Well no, you do not necessarily discuss the formation of policies with your family, but the moment everything is known through the press or … that you are discussing things - and mostly that is known - they will tell you. They do not have to wait to be asked; they will tell you, and the whole point is they keep you very much in touch with people who are not in the know, so you get a completely fresh viewpoint.

I would not go and say: “What do you think about this?” because obviously my Cabinet would not like it. I will learn from the press, I will learn from programmes like this, but I will learn from my family, [end p99] from Mark Thatchermy son, from Carol Thatchermy daughter, above all from Denis Thatchermy husband who is very frank in all his comments, so that the knowledge that I have is not only the knowledge of other Cabinet Ministers or other Members of Parliament, but what people who do not know as much as I do are thinking, and it is very very valuable.

And then you know, when you are down in the dumps sometimes - and everyone is down in the dumps sometimes when things do not go right - families are marvellous. They say: “Come on, Mum! Cheer up!” They are wonderful.

John Craven

It is hard to imagine that, somebody saying to the Prime Minister, “Cheer up Mum!”

P.M.

“Come on Mum, cheer up!” It is often what I say to my Cabinet at the end if we have had a difficult session: “Come on, cheer up! Life goes on!”

John Craven

Well thank you very much for your call Suzanne. We will have a lot more calls later on in the programme, Prime Minister.

P.M.

We shall? Good! [end p100]

John Craven

In the meantime, we are going on to our telegrams. This is when people send in their illustrations and messages and you have picked some music, I think, to go with the telegrams this morning, a favourite piece of music of yours.

P.M.

Well, I have picked … I said “Memory” was one of my favourites. I have picked a big choral piece. If ever you are taught some of the great choral music as you are at school, you will probably learn the Triumphal March from “Aida”. It is terrific. It has got sound, rhythm, lovely choral music, and you remember it. Let us try that!

John Craven

Here it comes now! (MUSIC)

Keith Chegwin

Mrs. Thatcher, a very good morning to you.

P.M.

Good morning. I have been looking forward to it. [end p101]

Keith Chegwin

What did you used to do as a youngster on Saturday mornings?

P.M.

I know exactly. Beatrice RobertsMy mother and Alfred Robertsfather were always very busy because we had a shop ourselves. I had to go out and do the family shopping. I did it regularly, but at the end of the family shopping I was always sent to our public library to get two books to read for the week. You see, in those days there was no television and not a lot of radio so we did far more reading, and it was my job to go to the public library and to get one book either of the political affairs of the nation or the life of some great politician and then one novel, and I used to do that every Saturday morning.

Keith Chegwin

I think [I] had a choice of the “Beano” or the “Dandy”! (GUESSING THE NOISE)

O.K. Kellie, what do you think it will be?

Kellie

Is it a pedal bin opening? A pedal bin opening. [end p102]

P.M.

She is thinking about the kitchen. I am afraid it is not, dear!

Matthew

I think it is someone dialling the telephone in a telephone box and putting some money in.

P.M.

No, I am afraid that is not right either.

?????

Is it polar blinds?

Keith Chegwin

Polar blinds? Oh, roller blinds!

P.M.

No, it is not. I am afraid not.

Alison

Is it someone &dubellip; filing cabinet?

P.M.

No it is not but you have spotted it was a metallic sound. [end p103]

??

A sewing machine.

P.M.

A sewing machine. No it is not, but they are all going for some sort of metallic sound now, you see. It is something metallic.

Carl Evans

I think it is somebody trying to open a garage door.

P.M.

You are so near. I am instructed to say no, but you are so near. Not quite. Not opening the garage door.

Keith Chegwin

Try something else.

Carl Evans

Locking the garage door.

P.M.

That is marvellous. You got it. You see, they were all on metallic things. The official answer is garage door being padlocked. I think that was terrific. I would never have got that one. [end p104] (FRESH PART OF THE PROGRAMME)

John Craven

A lot of questions this morning, Mrs. Thatcher, from children, saying why are not children's views represented more in Parliament? Why is there not a sort of Minister looking after children's interests?

P.M.

Well, I think that we would all think that we look after children's interests. I suppose you might say that Kenneth Bakerthe Education Secretary does most of all and then the Douglas HurdHome Secretary and also Norman Fowlerthe Social Services, but I think all of us would say we are part of a family and therefore we do represent them.

John Craven

Even though they cannot vote you still …

P.M.

Even though they cannot vote. They can only vote when they are eighteen. But when you say “represent them”, do you mean that there should be a child or do you mean that they should be able to give their views?

I think we would say that we do see children each in our own interview evenings or days, so I think … well I will just have to think a little bit more to see whether I am seeing children enough, because if they feel like that then we must do something about. [end p105]

We also sometimes go around schools.

As I indicated earlier, when we have children asking questions, they are the most interesting questions that we get because they are fresh. They have not been put into their minds by someone else. They are things that they want to know the answers to.

John Craven

We have a lot more questions if you would like to pick that telephone up, Prime Minister.

Seymour Lightman

Do you find it easy to keep your temper in the House of Commons when someone from the Opposition interrupts you?

P.M.

Do I find it easy? Well I do keep my temper, because it does not help you if you lose it and indeed, I think you lose a lot if you lose your temper, because every time I go in, which is Tuesday and Thursday, I say to myself two things: now, look, keep cool and concentrate or keep calm and concentrate. And, therefore, you are so thinking of how to find the answer to the question that you do keep calm and when other people lose their temper it looks so awful that you think I must never do that. So I do not know whether it is easy or not but somehow I have managed to do it. [end p106]

John Craven

You seem to have to shout a lot.

P.M.

Well, I have to shout because sometimes when I start to answer a question the people who do not particularly like the answer make a noise. It is much more noisier than it used to be and you can play that two ways: you can either kind of shout into the microphone to make certain your are heard, or you can just wait until the noise has subsided, and sometimes you do one and sometimes the other. But it makes you look always as if you are having to shout, which is not a good thing.

Darren Sides

Early on in the programme, it showed you outside No. 10 Downing Street eight years ago where you made several promises. One of them was: where there is despair, we will bring hope. My question is: what hope is there for the youngsters in the North trying to find work?

P.M.

I think there is a great deal of hope. You are referring to a very lovely and well-known prayer that I think we all know and that one of course did say outside No. 10 Downing Street because that was what one hoped. [end p107]

If you are a party politician, you might think it is very difficult to bring concord instead of discord, but we all do what we believe.

Yes, there is hope for the North and all over the country.

First, I think we spent more on training young people than ever before, not just because they cannot all get jobs, but to give them more hope of having a skill so that they can find it and in the North quite a number of young people are taking advantage of the schemes that are on offer and we are finding that jobs are being created. Sometimes, businesses are coming in from the outside world, sometimes people are starting up on their own. So there are more jobs being created and the unemployment is going down and that is good news, I think, for everyone.

Ben Cronin

I would just like to ask what do you think is the most important decision you have made which will affect the whole country in the long run?

P.M.

That is very difficult. I have just been saying that children ask the most difficult and most interesting questions.

I think the most important decision was to stand up to people who threaten you, whether with terrorism or [end p108] whether with strikes or whether with any kind of intimidation.

It is really like the decision you have to take sometimes to stand up to a bully, and I would think that one of the most important decisions we took was when we decided two things: first, to stand up to terrorism and the invasion of the Falklands; secondly, to stand up to major strikes that we felt were totally unjustified. And they are both the same thing: do not be bullied; stand up for what you believe to be right.

John Craven

This is where you got your image of being the Iron Lady, Mrs. Thatcher, isn't it?

P.M.

I suppose it is, because you have to make tough decisions, but would you say that a person who stood up to a bully in a playground was an Iron Pupil? No. You would say thank goodness someone had the guts to stand up - and guts are not iron. You feel them very much!

Richard Martin

How hard is it to take the decisions you need to take as a prime minister? [end p109]

P.M.

Sometimes, it is very hard to take them because you have to listen to all sides of the question and sometimes a problem comes and you will find it is misrepresented and I say always: “First, tell me what are the facts!” so that you know you have got the facts right. And then what is best to do both for that thing and for the future.

But you very rarely take the decisions wholly alone. You usually discussions about them with other Ministers and sometimes, yes, we are not all agreed, but of course, in the Cabinet after discussion you come to: “What is our decision and then we must go ahead with that!” And some of them are very very difficult indeed!

John Craven

You always have the final say, Prime Minister, don't you?

P.M.

They say a prime minister is first among equals. A prime minister's job is not just to sit in the chair and kind of say: “What do you think?” and tot up all the answers. It is to influence events, but always with reason. There is always a reason why we do things and sometimes there are reasons on both sides. Never [end p110] believe anyone who tells you politicians do not see both sides of the question. They do! The difference is they not only see them, but when they have discussed it they have to take a decision and I think that the question you have asked me is one of the most interesting and one of the deepest questions I have ever been asked because you know how difficult it is.

You must come into politics one day!

John Craven

Thank you very much for the call. Now it is Jarsquoueline Duncan. Hello Jarsquoueline.

Jarsquoueline Duncan

Would you not like to see more women in your Cabinet and more women entering Parliament?

P.M.

I would like lots more women in Parliament. Do you know, we have no more women in Parliament now than we used to have way back in the 1930s and it is very very disappointing. I think we have only got about 25 now to about 650. We want lots more women coming forward, lots more women chosen, whether for the Labour Party, the Liberal Party or Conservative Party. Lots more, and then each of us who are there would not be so conspicuous and people would not think it would be so strange. [end p111]

John Craven

Would you like to be a politician?

P.M.

Well, come on! There have been quite a number of women prime ministers. You know, Mrs. Gandhi was a very very famous prime minister. Mrs. Aquino in the Philippines. We are going places.

John Craven

How does Jarsquoueline start, Prime Minister. How does she start becoming a politician?

P.M.

I think you had better decide which party you believe in and then you had better start taking part locally.

Can I say this: I think women are very much shyer about taking part in debates and making speeches and getting their views known; very much shyer than men. I always say that men and sometimes boys are much more confident on the same amount of ability than a girl is. Overcome that, dear, so do try and start at school, because that is where I started and learned to debate and discuss the things of the day. And good luck! [end p112]

Kellie Bunting

Is it true that the door of No. 10 only opens one way and do you get on well with your own children?

John Craven

Do you mean from the inside?

P.M.

Yes, that is true. Even people who work there, they all go in the same front door. There are about a hundred people who work at No. 10 Downing Street every day but it will only open from the inside, so when they come, they bang on the door and we have a television so that we can see who it is.

You are quite right.

John Craven

I never knew that. And Kellie, was it do you get on well with your children?

Kellie Bunting

Do you get on well with your own children?

P.M.

Yes, I do get on well with my own children. Of course, we have our arguments sometimes, but if parents always agreed with children or children always agreed with parents, neither would ever learn from the [end p113] other. But the great thing is to be able to talk freely and always to say: “Look! Home is the place where you always come with your problems and we always discuss things!”

I was lucky in my home. We always discussed the great events of the day and I think that there is not quite enough discussion about these things between parents and children.

So yes, we do get on well together.

John Craven

That is all we have time for, Prime Minister.

You have brought with you a wonderful bargain for our viewers. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

P.M.

I understand that I have to set a question for children to answer and I wondered very deeply what question I should set and then I thought I would like to ask them: WHAT IS THE THING YOU WOULD MOST LIKE TO DO IF YOU WERE PRIME MINISTER? And of course, that might be too easy. THEN TO SAY - AND WHY.

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO DO IF YOU WERE PRIME MINISTER AND WHY?

In about twenty or twenty-five words.

It is going to be very difficult to judge.

I thought I would like to say to the first three winners: Please! We would love you to come to No. 10 [end p114] Downing Street, bring your mother and father and your brother and sister. So that is the first three winners, and we will show you round No. 10 and we will give you tea at No. 10 and I am sure you will love it.

And then because it is going also to be very difficult to judge I am going to do the same with you as we do if I have a visiting prime minister or foreign secretary. I try to give them something that is typically British and very good for Britain.

I did not know whether it would be a boy or girl, these are for the runners-up. For the runner-up boy or the runner-up girl. One each. One boy and one girl.

This actually is a beautiful goblet made by one of our great porcelain firms and it can be used for flowers, it can be used for water, it can be used for orange juice, it can be used for anything, but I thought, you know, that you would want to have something that you could keep, that you would always eventually say to your family: “I got that on Superstore!” So there will be two of those - one for the runner-up boy and one for the runner-up girl.

And there is also another one. I noticed on this programme, you are very keen on wild life. So am I.

This is a little badger. They call it a paper-weight. We use it as an ornament and the same company make several animals. It makes a lovely wren, it makes a penguin, it makes a rabbit, it makes a frog, it makes [end p115] a cat, so you can start to collect these. They are very very beautiful. We will have one each for the next runners-up.

John Craven

Superb consolation prices.

P.M.

The reasoning is: first, you would like to come to No. 10 and secondly, I thought you would like to have something to keep so you can show it to your grandchildren when they are watching “Superstore”.

The question is: WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO DO IF YOU WERE PRIME MINISTER - AND WHY? I am very much looking forward to the answers.

John Craven

Mrs. Thatcher, thank you for joining us. Mike ReadMike wondered if you would like to join him on the Pop Panel later on.

P.M.

We will try! We will try!

(NOTE: POP PANEL NOT TRANSCRIBED) [end p116]

Mike Read

Mrs. Thatcher, it has been great to have you in this morning. Have you enjoyed yourself?

P.M.

I have loved it, every moment. Can I come again after the next election?

Mike Read

Yes, you can. (laughter)