Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 May 11 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for BBC (“Yes, I hope to go on and on”)

Document type: speeches
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: John Cole, BBC
Editorial comments: 1500-1615 was set aside for interviews on the General Election announcement. No.10 announced the General Election shortly after 1400. For reason of copyright, the words of John Cole have been paraphrased. The full text can be found on the OUP CD-ROM.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 1968
Themes: Conservatism, Industry, General Elections, Privatized & state industries, Taxation, Leadership, Society, Famous statements by MT

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: What is the choice before voters in this election?

Prime Minister

I think the way the country is run; whether you have government doing the things which only government can do and doing them strongly, decisively and well and strong enough to leave the rest to the people, as should the case with a free people—or whether you have a government which tries to take more and more powers unto itself, as socialist governments do, and restrict the powers and the money available to the people from their own efforts. [end p1]

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: Twice chosen to call elections four years into five year term. Won't voters think you call them too often?

Prime Minister

No, I do not think so. I have made it quite clear from the beginning each time we have been elected with a good majority that there is no question of contemplating going to the country at any time under four years. Perhaps because I have been so firm about that people have realised that any time between year four and year five there is a possibility of an election.

I can tell you what happens. You have a lot of plans for the future, as we have, and you want to feel that you have quite a number of years in which to implement them. Between the fourth and fifth year there becomes some doubt and some uncertainty and I think then it is best to end that uncertainty so that you have a clear run in putting into practice the policies that you place before the electorate.

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: There are stories you felt rushed into calling this election by public comment and you wished people would stay quiet?

Prime Minister

No, I have not been rushed into it by public comment. I know that there are some decisions now which are being held up, both in [end p2] this country and abroad, because people want to be certain about the future and therefore we are trying to end uncertainty.

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: Conservatives way ahead in opinion polls at present. Election result a foregone conclusion?

Prime Minister

It is nice to be ahead in the opinion polls but I say to every single candidate and say once again: we assume nothing. We place ourselves, our record and our policy before the judgment of the British people and we must work every inch of the way for their approval and for their mandate, and that is what we shall do. We do not assume—we work.

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: You are far the most senior, in years and experience, of all the party leaders. Will that be an election issue, indeed will personalities of party leaders be an issue?

Prime Minister

I hope that it will be fought on policies. I think it is the policy. I think personalities maybe only come in in judging whether or not you are the kind of person who knows what he or she stands for, can be seen to make clear decisions at the time they are needed, not hum and ha or haver, and can be seen to be able to stand up to your opposite numbers in international negotiations and see that Britain gets a good deal and Britain is respected. [end p3]

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: Do you think other party leaders could achieve that?

Prime Minister

That is a matter for the electorate to judge. I am not going to make any comment upon them. We place ourselves before the electorate for the judgment of the electorate.

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: Given polls same as 1983 do you think this General Election will be a repeat of that one? Your opponents divided …

Prime Minister

No, I do not. I think every election is different. This will be my eleventh election. They are all a bit different. The polls go up and down. The issues vary, and I do not think you can ever judge how an election will go. After years of hard work and training, you just hope to be able to cope with whatever comes up, but above all, you have got to explain your positive policies for the future because elections are about the future, but you judge parties on their record during their time in government.

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: You’ve served two terms. Is your appeal more of the same or something more radical? [end p4]

Prime Minister

The appeal to the voters will be: “Look at the achievements of the first eight years!” They are very considerable. Britain is now strong economically. It is known the world over as a reliable ally. It is respected throughout the world. That is good. Most people know that industry is competitive, that it is growing, that it is expanding, because of the changes we have brought about which have enabled people to be enterprising, which have enabled ordinary members of trade unions to have their way in a way they did not have before. Yes, that policy will be continuous—that government will continue to be strong and give opportunities for people to be enterprising.

But there are always new things that need to be done, just as in the way that old-established businesses need to have new products, but they still stick to their same principles.

Yes, there will be very new policies on education, new policies on housing, continued policies on trade unions which will go a step further. We shall of course continue our policy of trying to get down income tax because people after all have the right to know they can improve their standard of living by their own efforts and to be jolly sure that government does not take all of the result of those own efforts away from them.

So there will be both strong government, continuous policies, consistent policies, policies which give confidence abroad, but policies also which are a reasonable extension of where we are now and which are appropriate for the problems we face. [end p5]

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: Your opponents say you have divided the nation – north and south, rich and poor – by your tax and social policies.

Prime Minister

But we have not divided them the nation between north and south.

Many many years ago, most of our main manufacturing industries developed in the north. The north then was the really wealthy part of the country. Since then, industry has changed and many of the industries then were based on coal, steel, shipbuilding. Much of those industries have gone abroad apart from the coal. We still have good industries in coal because of our policies. We have a good industry in steel because of our policies, but not so many people employed. And we have all the new industries and we have the service industries.

There has always been a difference between north and south. That actually oversimplifies it because there are some very prosperous places in the north and there are some places of considerable difficulty in the south.

Our purpose is to give opportunity to people wherever they are. Our purpose is to try get new industries to develop and expand, more people to go for self-employment and enterprise wherever they are, because it is business that creates jobs.

There are parts of the north that are really thriving and flourishing. There are the inner city problems, many of them in [end p6] the north, but many of them all over the United Kingdom. Please do not oversimplify.

But in the north we have got more self-employed, more Enterprise Allowance, houses cheaper. Salary-for-salary, you do far better in the north on standard of living than you do in the south, and if anyone has tried to bring about one nation it is this government, by expending and spreading property in housing, in shares, in savings that keep their value, in insurance policies, in second pensions. This is the way to build one nation, not to look at them as north or south, one class or another. We say: It does not matter who you are, where you come from, you shall have your opportunity and you too shall own property; you too shall have the chance to own shares, build up your savings.” That is the way to build one Britain—and we are doing it.

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: But what if business does not take opportunities in these poorer areas?

Prime Minister

Business is taking the opportunities. Why do you run it down?

Business is doing really well. Yes, business is competing in the markets of the world. Britain is economically strong.

It is not governments that create wealth-creating business. It is people. Manufacturing industry is far fitter than it was. It is competing well. The new sunrise industries are doing well. The new service industries are doing well, not only in London. [end p7] Edinburgh is the second financial centre of the United Kingdom. Tourism is doing well. Look at the numbers of people now who are earning so well that they are able to go abroad for their holidays. Business is doing well and that is because we have returned to the people the freedom, the opportunity, the enterprise which was their birthright as British citizens and they are rising to their responsibilities and that is why Britain has been transformed in the last eight years.

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: Opposition has suggested that your personality and style of government— the cry of one-woman government—will be component of their campaign. How will you reply?

Prime Minister

Well, if that is all they have got to say I really should not take much notice of them!

If in that way they are saying Britain has had strong government in which people know where they are with it, a government which knows where it is going, of clear, positive policies, then they are right. We have just that sort of government. I do not think they could provide it.

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: Will this be your last General Election as leader of the Conservatives? [end p8]

Prime Minister

I would hope not, I would hope not. This is only the third term we are asking for. There is quite a long way to go.

Do you know, I think in our manifesto, which will come out next week, I think that it may take longer than five years. I think it really is a manifesto to set the course to go up to the end of the century. We are going to be rather lucky to be living at a time when you get the turn of the thousand years, and we really ought to set Britain's course for the next century as well as this, but it is a Britain that must be strong. It is a Britain that must be respected in the world because of the strength of its people, because its government is determined to defend the freedom, the justice, the opportunity.

Yes, people do know where they stand with us. Yes, they do know we are strong government. Yes, they do know we have a property-owning democracy the like of which we have never had, which will give opportunity in the future we have never had before. Yes, I hope to go on and on, because I believe passionately in our policies. I believe they are right for Britain and I believe people like to feel they live in a country which is respected the world over for its talents and the abilities and the character of its people.

John Cole, BBC

Question paraphrased: You’ve mentioned the end of the century. How close to then will you continue? [end p9]

Prime Minister

Well let us win the first election first. You know, life only comes one election at a time and if we win every one as it comes then we shall be doing what I want.