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1987 Mar 31 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for Soviet Television

Document type:public statement
Document kind:TV Interview
Venue:Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Centre, Moscow
Source:Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist:Vladimir Simonov, Novosci Press Agency; Boris Kalyagin, Soviet TV and Thomas Kolesnichenko, Pravda
Editorial comments:1600-1715. The programme was pre-recorded and embargoed until 1800 GMT. The interviewers' contributions were not individuated by the transcriber.
Importance ranking:Key
Word count:6853
Themes:Autobiographical comments, Defence (general), Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Defence (arms control), Defence (arms control), Defence (arms control), Employment, Education, Foreign policy (USSR and successor states), Foreign policy (USSR and successor states), Foreign policy (USSR and successor states), Foreign policy (USSR and successor states), Housing

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TV

Madam Prime Minister, allow me first of all to thank you for finding time to meet with us to answer our questions.

Allow me to introduce my colleagues, Thomas Kolesnichenko who is the Editor of the Pravda newspaper of the International News Section, Vladimir Simonov who is the Political Observer of the Novosci Press Agency. My name is Boris Kalyagin. I am a Political Observer of the Soviet Television and Radio.

Madam Prime Minister, of course we have a lot of questions to ask you. First of all, we will begin with the main question:[fo 1]

Your negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev are now over and concluded, your negotiations with …   .; what are your conclusions and your assessment of the result of those negotiations and discussions?

P.M

First, I am immensely grateful to Mr. Gorbachev for having giving so much time.

We had talks lasting seven hours and then at dinner another two hours. I do not think there has ever been such a thorough discussion between two leaders and when he came to London we learned to discuss very openly and frankly. That is good.

You know, sometimes when you are talking to leaders you get rather stilted or formal discussions—we do not, and they are all therefore done in a very friendly atmosphere.

I think I have a much better idea now of his hopes and this tremendous challenge for the Soviet people under your restructuring and the new open society. We wish you well in this great endeavour and we hope it will be very successful.

We also talked about all the regional problems because, really, foreign affairs, you know, affect us at home now; they are not something that happens out there in the world; and is something that makes a difference to our lives in the home.[fo 2]

Of course, we spent a long time on arms control. We both want above all peace, because that matters more than anything else, but we want peace with the right to live our own way of life within secure borders. So it is not just a question of saying: ‘No nuclear weapons; no weapons at all!’ We know that would not ensure peace. You have to be prepared to defend your own country because then you are far less likely to be attacked, so we have had very good conversations indeed—we also talked about trade, cultural relations—and I hope they will lead to more frequent contacts, because we do not see enough of people from the Soviet Union and the greater the understanding, the better it will be for all of us and the more open the society, the greater the trust and confidence we shall develop in one another.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TV

This was only an exchange of views on a number of questions. Can we speak of concrete results of your meetings with Mr. Gorbachev?

P.M

Concrete results: first, we have signed some agreements; an important one on what is called the ‘hot line’, so that if we need to get in touch with one another we can do it quickly and with great efficiency; more on cultural exchanges where perhaps there will be more schoolchildren coming to London from the Soviet[fo 3] Union and the other way round too; and quite a number on trade, which is very very important indeed.

Those are the detailed ones, but I think perhaps the most important talks were on arms control, where we more or less agreed on the approach to intermediate nuclear weapons. We would rather there had never been any, but there were; they were stationed here and then we replied with Cruise and Pershing.

We would rather now that we had all of them taken down, not only in Europe but the world over. That would be much better.

But in the meantime, we accept the zero-zero Europe with a hundred for the Soviet Union to the east of her country and a hundred to the United States. We would like there not to be those, but that is the proposal at the moment, together—because there are some missiles very similar to that in range which we shall have to have follow-on negotiations about, and we recognise that.

Also, we had special talks on chemical weapons. We in Great Britain abolished our chemical weapons—we destroyed them—towards the end of the 1950s, so we have not got any. The United States did not modernise hers, but the Soviet Union not only has them but has modernised them and has a large stockpile. You can imagine this gives us cause for great concern, so we are very pleased that Mr. Gorbachev has accepted our proposals for inspection, to try to ensure that these weapons are destroyed—and we know they are destroyed—[fo 4] because, you know, after the First World War in Europe when they were used, they were so terrible that they were never used in the Second, and we hope therefore they will all be destroyed. That is on arms control.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TV

Madam Prime Minister, I would like to ask you what specifically is Great Britain planning to improve the international situation, to strengthen universal security?

P.M

We believe—I think as you believe—that every nation has the right to defend its own security and defence is your only means of knowing that you are secure within your own boundaries. You have the Warsaw Pact Organisation, we have NATO. We do talk across that. We have proposals for reducing the number of nuclear weapons.

We ourselves believe in a nuclear deterrent. I will tell you why:

Conventional weapons have not stopped two world wars in Europe this century, no matter how many there were, and when we had a conventional war the race was on for who got the atomic weapon first. Had Hitler got it first, we should not be sitting here now talking as we are—it would have been devastating.[fo 5]

I think there has never been such a powerful deterrent as the nuclear weapon. Anyone who started a war knowing that that existed would know he could never reach victory, and we believe that one of the reasons we have had peace in Europe for forty years—and peace matters to us very much, with freedom and justice—is the existence of that nuclear deterrent, and although one has dreamed that one day there might be a world without nuclear weapons, you cannot disinvent the knowledge, the information, the fact that there has been, so we will believe in some nuclear deterrent, but we are trying to get down the numbers of nuclear weapons and chemical weapons abolished, and trying to get some balance in conventional weapons. And never think that conventional wear is some cosy alternative. It would be terrible. We know that.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TV

Excuse me, I would like to return to the question of nuclear weapons.

You just said that nuclear weapons preserved peace for forty years, but many times we were at the verge of nuclear war during those forty years; many times we were saved only by accident, by chance, but with that, nuclear weapons developed. In the beginning, they threatened cities; now they threaten the whole of humanity. How can one speak of nuclear weapons as a guarantor of peace?[fo 6]

P.M

Are you not making my point? If you say that many times we were at the verge of war and we did not go to war, do you not think that one of the reasons we did not go to war was the total horror of nuclear weapons?

After all, I think conventional weapons are awful. It did not stop a war, a terrible war, in which the Soviet Union suffered enormously. You cannot just act as if there had never been nuclear weapons. If conventional war started again, the race would be on as to who got the nuclear weapon first. One moment! That person would win.

It would be far better if any tyrant or fascist country knew that if they started a war there would be no prospect of victory, because the other side has nuclear weapons. It has kept the peace.

Some people want to get rid of nuclear weapons. One would like to. There is something much more important. It is to keep the peace—and it has kept it; we have had peace for forty years.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TV

Yes, but one can follow the way of eliminating nuclear weapons, follow the way of reducing conventional armaments. This exactly has been proposed by us. This is the essence of the proposals put forward in Budapest by the Warsaw Treaty nations, so why should we. ...[fo 7]

P.M

Can I just answer this one first?

Look! Europe this century has been disfigured by two world wars. The Soviet Union suffered millions of losses in the Second World War. The Soviet Union had a lot of conventional weapons. That did not stop Hitler attacking her.

Conventional weapons have never been enough to stop wars.

Since we have had the nuclear weapon, it is so horrific that no-one dare risk going to war.

Let me put to you this question:

Would you rather have the absence of war because of the existence of some nuclear weapons or would you rather have no nuclear weapons but the risk of another conventional war? I have not the slightest shadow of doubt what my answer would be. I value peace, with freedom and justice, above everything else, and because at the moment I believe that the nuclear deterrent stops anyone from starting a major war, I believe in keeping it.

There is another reason for smaller countries like us: the nuclear deterrent is the only thing which enables smaller countries actually to stand up to a bigger country. You could never do it on conventional weapons alone—you could not afford them—but a smaller country standing alone could stand up to a bigger one with the nuclear weapon.[fo 8]

You ask why I raise it. Historically, Britain had to stand alone. All Europe was occupied by Hitler. We were alone. America had not yet come into the War. Hitler had not yet attacked the Soviet Union. So it is within our experience that we might be alone. The only way to stand up to a tyrant would be …   . your turn!

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TV

The thing is that there is a possibility of an accidental outbreak of a nuclear conflict. Time passes, nuclear weapons are improved and more and more sophisticated. There is a great possibility of an accidental—not political, that politicians will decide, but computers. The flight time of a Pershing 2 to the Soviet Union would be only eight minutes. Who will be deciding? Who will be in charge?

P.M

There are more nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union than any other country in the world. You have more intercontinental ballistic missiles and warheads than the West. You started intermediate weapons; we did not have any. You have more short-range ones than we have. You have more than anyone else and you say there is a risk of a nuclear accident. One moment!

I believe that you and we know how dangerous these weapons are and for forty years we have had a fail-safe mechanism which has in fact worked. You have worked it.[fo 9] You have worked it, whether it be on ground, in the air or in submarines. These are so dangerous. Yes, we are careful with them.

Please may I say this to you? Conventional weapons, conventional missiles, are also extremely dangerous. These explosives can go off and have a terrible time. Chemical weapons are terribly dangerous. All weapons of war are dangerous. Would it not be marvellous if we did not have to have them? But we can only get to that stage when we have more trust and confidence in one another. That means much more open societies.

And let me put this to you:

Since the First World War, which finished in 1918, there has been no case where one democracy has attacked another. That is why we believe in democracy.

So you want to get rid of the weapons of war. It would be marvellous if we could, but we have to get more trust and confidence.

In the meantime, may I assure you that the Soviet Union has been very careful, with the massive amount of nuclear weapons that she has, she has been very careful with them—as has the West. We know how to be and rightly we are.[fo 10]

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TV

Mrs. Thatcher, is not this doctrine of nuclear deterrence based on a policy of threats—of a threat?

If we from time to time will not substantiate the reality of this threat, the threat will become inefficient, so do you not think that the nuclear deterrence doctrine invites the party which sees a threat to actually eventually make use of its nuclear forces in order to substantiate the threat?

P.M

Is not a policy of conventional weapons, with the terrible bombs raining down, with the missiles, with the aircraft, with the submarines, the torpedoes, with the tanks, with chemical weapons—is that not based on the possibility of threat?

And were you not only threatened but invaded? Are not all weapons of war based on the possibility of threat and is not your response to anyone"Look! If you attack us you will have such a terrible time that you cannot win!" Is that not the best defence to anyone who threatens you? One moment! Does not the bully go for the weak person, not for the strong?

If you take this view, I wonder why you have so many nuclear weapons. Look! You are based, you tell me—and Mr. Gorbachev tells me—the Warsaw Pact is based on defence; not on attack, on defence. In the NATO Alliance, we issued a statement at the beginning[fo 11] of 1980: we threaten no-one, and what we said is: ‘None of our weapons will be used except in response to an attack from someone else!’, we we are talking about defending ourselves from a threat we know not whence it might come, and we are saying to anyone who dares to attack us:"Do not do it! You could not win! The results would be devastating!’ I think you are saying the same.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TV

I think that your parallel with conventional weapons cannot be substantiated, because when we speak of nuclear weapons we speak practically of a nuclear suicide even of that side that would try to make use of its nuclear forces. But I think we have different opinions, different points of view about this problem.

I would like to add to that question, if you allow, we understand your position on nuclear weapons.

By the way, we right now, when we discuss nuclear weapons in Europe, as far as I know the Soviet Government does not touch—leaves aside—the nuclear forces of Britain but in Reykjavik, as you know, there were agreements on disarmament. They could have become practical treaties. The process is underway, but on which stage does Britain envisage to get involved in that process?[fo 12]

P.M

Let me deal first with the other point.

You said:"Yes, nuclear weapons would be suicidal!" That is why they are the most powerful deterrent we have ever known. That is why you have got them to a greater extent than anyone else—because they are such a powerful deterrent that no-one would ever dare to attack you. In other words, they defend your peace.

Where I think that we could profitably go ahead is that you do not need anything like the number you have got at the moment to act as a deterrent and we really want to get them down in numbers, really want to.

On the intercontinental ballistic missiles—and I agree—we should have[fo 13] at least a 50%; reduction on the large Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. I said to Mr Gorbachev"that will be my objective", I said in a speech. Intermediate ones which you stationed first and we had to respond to—you put the SS20's up first—we begged you to take them out and you did not so, we stationed ours, and now we agreed that they should both go, and then there are the shorter range ones. We have got far too many. Let us go step by step and try to get them down. It will be better for the world—you do not need it for nuclear deterrence and it will release resources which people can use in another and better way. Yes, I would like 50%; down in the next five years of the large ones—Intercontinental—we have only four submarines with them on, that is our minimum nuclear deterrent, that is only 2½%; of the numbers you have got, very small, and we have to have our own deterrent. So yes, get the big ones down, yes get the medium ones out, yes, get chemical abandoned and then yes look at conventional because you have far more conventional weapons than we have, far more tanks, far more aircraft, get those down to balance and then we will be making really practical progress, people will be immensely pleased and in the meantime let us do everything we can to have a more open society. You see all of our defence estimates are published every year.[fo 14] Everyone knows what we have got. We have an open society—let us have a much more open society, much more trade, then we might be able to make further advances, Sir.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

I think it is my turn. I am returning to your words of the necessity to reduce strategic arms. Well, first of all I am not in total accord with you when you say the Soviet Union has more nuclear weapons than any other country in the world. It is well know that there is a military parity between us and the United States. In some fields we are ahead, in some fields they are ahead but this …   .

Prime Minister

Launchers of warheads, since every launcher and weapon had six, seven, or eight warheads put on, we count in warheads and really we can get a lot of them down. Get 50%; down and we will all be much better pleased.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

Well, I agree but as Reykjavik has shown, on the way to such a radical reduction, there is the so-called Strategic Defence Initiative which destabilises the situation in the world. How can we renounce one type of weapon only for the sake of creating another?[fo 15]

Prime Minister

First, a Strategic Defence Initiative is only in the research stage. Every new weapon has brought forth a new defence from the time when spears brought forward defence of shields, aircraft brought forward anti-aircraft guns and then the aircraft learnt to throw off the missiles, the nuclear weapon, as you have just said is the worst one in the world and it would seem very strange if you did not try to get a defence against it. Now that is only in the research stage. The United States is not the only country doing research on that. The Soviet Union has a very good anti-ballistic missile defence system around Moscow, it has recently updated it, it has had twenty years experience of tackling incoming, the theory of tackling incoming missiles, from missiles fired from the ground; more experience than anyone else. In 1977 a number of us started to be very concerned by the extent to which the Soviet Union was going ahead on laser development and electronic pulse beams. You were way ahead of us and you may still be as far as I know. But you also are doing quite a lot of work on anti-ballistic missile defence. You have the only anti-satellite system in the world. You are tackling it in a different way from the United States but I do not understand you when in one and the same breath you say to me"The nuclear weapon is the worst in the world"—which I agree," and yet you must not try[fo 16] to get a defence to that weapon". Do you not think it would be better if you did have a defence to that weapon? Some might fail like aircraft which still get through the defences but I happen to think that even if a few—there is the possibility of a few getting through—the threat would be so terrible that no-one would embark upon war. Nuclear weapons are a deterrent; they are not for use. They have been the most successful deterrent against world war we have ever known and they have kept this half of the century free from the world wars which disfigured us for the first half of the century. That really is worthwhile. It is peace which I am after. I do not understand why you concentrate only on abolition of nuclear weapons. It is peace I am after.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

Excuse me, we have already understood your concept of nuclear weapons and how you approach nuclear weapons, now we are turning to a question of a Strategic Defence Initiative. You have called that programme a research programme—a defensive research programme. But if this is a research programme, why then, already now, the American administration stand to the so-called broad interpretation of the ABM treaty; that very treaty which as you know, allows that system around Moscow mentioned by you but that treaty prohibits testing and of course[fo 17] deploying such a system in space and now with the so-called broad interpretation of the ABM treaty we are speaking of deploying already in space in the mid 1990's the first stages of SDI. The old treaty will be torpedoed ...

Prime Minister

You are getting very technical, all right, I will follow you because you are asking me a technical question so I will give you the technical answer. When I first went to see President Reagan, ... one moment, when I first went to, yes it is a technical one, when I first went to see President Reagan at Camp David in 1984 when the Strategic Defence Research started, there was no such thing as a narrow or broad interpretation. That whole language has come in since 1985. There was a question of what you did with new defences based on new physical principles. Those are not dealt with in the main part of the treaty as you know, they are dealt with on a separate part called Agreed Statement D, new physical principles, you have to deal with separately because it did not exist at that time so what you call the broad interpretation of the treaty boils down to whether you should not only be able to do research but whether you should be able to test your research before you start to negotiate on deployment. I can only give you an answer, not based on legal technicalities which[fo 18] you are raising the interpretation of the treaty, I can only give you an answer based on common sense. How can you start negotiating on deployment before you know whether or not a thing works? So of course you have to do the research. Of course you have to test. Only then do you know whether you have anything which it is possible to work, and then, ...

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

In other words you are for a broad interpretation of the ABM treaty?

Prime Minister

I am for the common sense interpretation. How can you start to negotiate on deployment before you know whether what you have got will work or not? If it will not work, you do not start to negotiate. If it does work, you have to negotiate. What I have tried to say is, extend that treaty because the terms, the terms of notice are too short, everyone must have some kind of security in times stretching into the future, but you are the signatories, you can interpret it. I am on common sense, I cannot see how I could negotiate on deployment unless I knew the thing would work. To know the thing the would work you have to test it. Good heavens! We know yours works, the Galosh (phon) system around Moscow, we know that you have updated it. We do[fo 19] not know whether your anti-satellite system works but we would have reason to believe it does but we did not stop you testing it. We know that you are working on lasers very heavily and we know that you are expert at working on lasers and we are not complaining.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

Mrs Thatcher, you will probably understand that such a broad interpretation of the ABM treaty, the deployment in space of components of SDI means deploying weapons in space; this is a new, a relatively new stage in the arms race. Can you be for such a development?

Prime Minister

But if you have an anti-satellite missile and you are the only people in the world that has it and the satellites are in space, are you suggesting that that anti-satellite missile does not go into space or are you suggesting of anti-satellite missiles on testing [sic]; that is something different. Are you suggesting that an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile which goes right up into space and does not go down does not go through space? It does, but what I am saying to you, you are getting very technical, I will go along with you if you wish to be technical the whole time. It is the nuclear weapon—is the most powerful the world has ever known. I am suggesting that it is reasonable to develop a[fo 20] defence to the most powerful weapon the world has ever known. You already have one under the ABM treaty which is a ground defence, I believe some of yours are nuclear weapons against nuclear weapons. The SDI is not a nuclear defence against a nuclear weapon; it is a non-nuclear defence so it would be reasonable to say that a non-nuclear defence against a nuclear weapon is better than a nuclear defence against a nuclear weapon which is what you have got.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

Do you think that the United States will hang all our head satellites with nuclear devices on them and we will, in that atmosphere reduce our nuclear weapons?

Prime Minister

How can you start to negotiate on something before you have even done a test to see whether it will work? We do not know whether it will work, yes we know yours will work, it has been around Moscow, it has been updated already, I believe your anti-satellite satellite will work; what we are saying is that if that SDI—on the United States side—do not forget that you have got some too—is tested, and so that it is able to work, then you simply must negotiate on deployment, that is right in the heart of the anti-ballistic missile treaty, right in the heart of it, no question about[fo 21] interpretation. In the meantime, do not ignore what you are doing in the Soviet Union; we do not anymore than we ignored the fact that you were the first to deply Intermediate Missiles, the SS20. So just, I think, be reasonable about it.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

No-one can accuse us ...

Prime Minister

In anything else, in Soviet/British relations, because you have spent such a long time on this. I am interested in increasing trust and friendship, I think that Mr Gorbachev's new proposals are the most exciting I have heard for a very long time. A more open society, new incentives, restructuring, look this is a challenge, I think which is fantastic and we must earnestly wish you well and something else; we believe that if we get to know one another better, we believe if this works, we believe that we will be able to reduce weapons, all kinds, far more, that is what I want to do.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

This is very good. Do you meant those processes which are under way in our country internally—what we call restructuring?[fo 22]

Prime Minister

Yes, I think that is very exciting ...

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

We are lucky to dwell in some detail of what do you think of the process we call restructuring?

Prime Minister

You are having a much more open society, you can discuss things much more openly than you ever have done before. That is part of our very belief, that this goes to the depth of our fundamental freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear, and freedom from want; a much more open society means that you discuss all of the things in the same way as we do. You have to lay out far more details of what you have got so it is far easier to find the facts. What we have been talking about. You can find the facts about the warheads and so on, but on restructuring, you really have two ways in which you can work, you either have a completely centralised control system in which you are told what to produce, how much it will cost, how much you are paid, and that does not really work to best advantage as you have discovered because it does not pay people if they do better, or you go to what is called an incentive society when the[fo 23] harder you work, the more reward you get and one has to recognise, you know, that people work not only for their country but they work to better their families. They work for a higher standard of living and so if they see the point of working harder, they will. And, you know, no matter what the theory, and there are lots of political theories—I wish there were fewer—no matter what the theory, there is no person alive and no computer which can plan a country as large as the Soviet Union, take into account all its various different conditions in all its various republics, all the various ambitions and needs the wants, the requirements of the people. You have got to disperse your responsibility to the people who are much nearer to the life in those Republics, towns, rural areas and then you have got to give them responsibility and for that they must have incentives. That is what I understand you are doing. What you do internally is wholly up to you, obviously not for us to interfere but we are interested.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

We would like to utilise all the advantages of a social (sic) society in the course of restructuring but I have another question, Madam Thatcher ...

Prime Minister

You have tossed out a quite provocative comment. What do you think are the advantages of a socialist[fo 24] society? We have a very ...

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

But we want to to utilise in the course of restructuring the advantages of our socialist system, in particular its planned economy, in economy it is an advantage; the years of plan, not just a centralised plan, but utilising local initiative ...

Prime Minister

I just wondered because I ...

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

I have another question, Madam Thatcher, you being Minister for Education in the past and we are now taking steps in restructuring our educational system. What is the state of affairs in Britain in the field of education?

Prime Minister

We are thinking of making some changes in our education system, we are putting a lot more money into it per pupil than we have ever had before and we have more teachers in proportion to pupils than we have ever had before, but nevertheless we find that they are not coming out of school knowing the right things, the right number of things and some of them are giving up science[fo 25] too early, some of them are not sufficiently skilled in their own language and not sufficiently grounded in the fundamentals of mathematics and so we are trying to ensure that the basic subjects are better taught and trying to ensure that people do not drop the scientific subjects before the age of sixteen. We have a system that has been restructured in the past and I am not sure that it has got to the best system because it means that children go from comparatively small schools, they are primary schools at about the age of ten. The primary schools are quite small, 100 some, 200 others, a very big one, 300. Then they go straight to a very big school which might be 1500. It is quite a sharp change to make at a very vulnerable time in life as you go into the teens and I have always thought that parents would prefer a choice of some smaller schools because some children would fit into smaller schools and some specialist schools, we have only 150 Grammar schools which used to be our pride and I think we will perhaps need more of those.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

If Mrs Thatcher will allow me a personal question if you wish: people say that you are able, a workaholic, a workmonger, read somewhere that you sleep for no more than five hours. Often you do not have any time for lunch, you only drink a cup of coffee and a tablet of vitamin[fo 26] C. Is that true? What is your daily time schedule? How difficult is it to be Prime Minister and to be a wife and a mother of two children?

Prime Minister

I have worked hard all my life. I was brought up in the family that worked hard. We had to work hard. The only way we could get on was working hard and frankly it is much more interesting than anything else. Work is interesting; I enjoy it. I have trained all my life; I was trained first as a chemist and then as a lawyer and I have had to work at both and then I was interested in politics. Yes, I can get on with about five hours sleep a night for quite a long time. Eventually you do want to rest, a longer rest but I can do it and sometimes I have to do because, do not forget, our political system is a very tough one. I have my own constituency which I represent in Parliament. I have to attend Parliament as a Member of Parliament. I also have to attend Parliament as Prime Minister and twice every week I am answering questions before Parliament. I do not know what those questions will be; they will be right across the whole sphere of Government and I have to work very hard each day when I get those questions to make certain I know the answers because they would trip me up if I did not. Then I would have to go, when I get back from this visit, I will have to make a statement to[fo 27] Parliament—fifteen minutes or so—and then I will be cross-examined on it—questioned, before the whole of Parliament, before the public, on radio, for an hour, they will want to know what I saw. And then we have Cabinet meetings over which I preside and we have Cabinet Committees, I preside over the Defence Committee, I preside over the Economic Committee, and then we go out and about a bit. I will do at least one tour round the country, possibly every month certainly, and possibly more frequently than that, and then I will go to address meetings of businessmen, I will go to visit hospitals, I will go to visit schools to see how things are going because if you are in politics, you have got to get out and about but all this means some days I will have ten engagements. I had ten engagements day after day and then I began to complain a bit because it was a little bit much so we are down to about eight engagements a day now; that is quite a lot, you have to work hard. It is the most fascinating work I have ever done and then there is the overseas aspect. How do you cope? No, I do not have very much breakfast, you are quite right, a cup of black coffee and two vitamin C and I have a very, very light lunch and if I am answering questions, just some clear soup and fruit. I find if you have got to have all your concentration on answering questions, you do not want too much in your tummy. You know, you want all the blood to go to the head and[fo 28] not to digesting your meal. We live ‘over the shop’ as it were, we have a flat over Number 10 Downing Street which is the office of the Prime Minister and at the end of the day, all the papers which all other Ministers have been preparing, they might want—they put a paper up for decision or to come before a Committee—they have been prepared for me all day and my most marvellous staff go home having been working all day, I have been working all day, and then I start about 10 o'clock at night to work on my papers. I think it is the most fascinating thing I have ever done. I have been doing it for eight years, experience is cumulative and I do not wish to do anything else.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

For several years I worked ... as a correspondent, I know that British people would like very much to know more about our country. They are specially interested in arts, literature, the way of life, unfortunately I should note that until recently there are very little possibility to get to know each other or our contemporary culture. Will your present visit assist the further development of our cultural or economic ... to relations?

Prime Minister

Yes, I hope so. We have done a number of[fo 29] agreements on trading matters which will help employment in Britain and which will help employment here. We have done a culture agreement but we see, I saw the Bolshoi Ballet years ago in London when Ulanova was a major ballerina and I saw her while I was here and I had the great privilege of seeing ‘Swan Lake’ here the other evening—it is a fantastic privilege—and we hope to see more cultural exchanges and we hope to have more children over so that they can see one another's schools and how we live. Life in Britain, you know, the standard of living is high, it is higher than it has ever been. We are working very hard. In our housing we have perhaps a different system from you. Out of every hundred families, sixty-four families out of every hundred own their own home, they own it, it is my ambition to get that up to seventy-five families out of every hundred. We have an excellent health service, very, very good indeed and we are building more and more hospitals. The education service is variable; in some places it is extremely good and in some places not so good. Unfortunately we do have unemployment and I do not run away from it when you get technological change, you are almost bound to get some unemployment. It is now falling. But let me make this clear, the people who are unemployed they live like other people in houses, they are rented, their rent is paid for them because they have not the income to pay and every week they get a weekly benefit, a considerable[fo 30] weekly benefit, it is more if they have children and the weekly benefit for some of them will be as much as some of the wages which some people get in industry and they will get that weekly sum for as long as they are unemployed and after six months when they have been unemployed we will take each one of them in and if they have been unemployed we will try to get them a job or will try to get them fresh training or we will put them on what is called a community programme so we are tackling our problems and we are hoping that we shall gradually get unemployment down so that those people too may have the higher standard of living which our other people enjoy. The arts flourish, the science is excellent as indeed yours are so we have a richness to life as well as the working life.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

I think that those 3½ million unemployed, they wish of course to work, but our time is running short, excuse me, Thomas would like to hand over.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer (Thomas)

Mrs Thatcher, your visit has aroused great interest in the Soviet Union and our newspaper Pravada receives many letters and telegrams addressed to you personally and when I went over here for the interview, I took one of the letters. Allow me to read it. So you[fo 31] ... Chim Chigalofra (phon) who is a miner at the Pavragrad (phon) Oval Enterprise. Chigalofra and his wife who is employed in retail commerce and their grandchildren Ruslan and Emira , they write,"Madam we are very happy to see you again in our country. We are sure that you love life and that you are ready to do things to preserve it. We know many great representatives of Britain who made a great contribution to preserve life on earth but not always the British Government has been like that. We would like to wish that nobody would be struggling for the right to dig his own grave first. Let us be always young and helpful, sincerely ...

Prime Minister

I did not quite get that, could you please ...

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

One of the telegrams we have received addressed to you.

Prime Minister

I am so sorry I could not hear the translation, could you just say it in English with which you are very familiar? I could not hear the translation through the ...[fo 32]

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

This is one of the cables.

Prime Minister

Yes, I gathered that and someone in retail trade ...

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

A simple worker and his wife ...

Prime Minister

Saying?

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

... and grandson and grand-daughter

Prime Minister

And what do they want to know?

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

Wish you will be peaceful and they are welcoming you in our country.

Prime Minister

How marvellous!

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

If you want to answer them ...[fo 33]

Prime Minister

Thank you so much for your welcome. You want peace, I want peace. You know that each country has to be prepared to defend itself to keep peace and we recognise the equal right of all nations to do that and we want to be able to do it at far less weapons than we have now. We also want to know one another better. We want to know more about you. We want you to travel more frequently to us because we think it is more and more important to build up friendship between peoples and to build up trust and confidence between the people of the Soviet Union and the people of Western Europe and in particular the United Kingdom. I have loved my visit here. I have very much enjoyed the warm welcome you have given me. I will not forget it and I hope to see quite a lot of you in the United Kingdom so you may know more of our way of life and how we do things and more of our people will come to see you. Thank you for your good wishes, thank you for your kindness. Let us hope that there is a better future ahead for all of us.

Simonov/Kalyagin/Kolesnichenko, Soviet TVerviewer

... to an end. Allow me, Madam Prime Minister, once again to thank you for this very interesting special discussion, for you answers. I do hope that your answers will help our people to know your position better, to know better the attitudes of your Government.[fo 34]

Prime Minister

Thank you. My pleasure and privilege. I am very grateful. Thank you Gentlemen.