Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Jun 10 We
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for BBC (eve of poll; "drool and drivel they care")

Document type: speeches
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: Conservative Central Office, Smith Square, Westminster
Source: BBC Television Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist: David Dimbleby, BBC
Editorial comments: Between 1100 and 1205. 
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 1400
Themes: Society, Employment, Strikes & other union action, General Elections, Labour Party & socialism, Liberal & Social Democratic Parties, Leadership, Famous statements by MT

David Dimbleby, BBC

Mrs Thatcher, would you have gained more support during this campaign if you had shown yourself more sympathy for the unemployed and the underprivileged in this society?

MT

Well, I think we have gained quite a lot of support during the campaign. And the viewpoint we have put, consistently, is that it's not only what you say, it's what you do. And we've stood on our record on all of those things. Yes, there is still high unemployment. Nevertheless in this country we have a bigger proportion of our population in work than in any other country in Europe with the exception of Denmark.

David Dimbleby, BBC

But Mrs Thatcher, you're giving an answer in terms of statistics. Isn't it that people watching think that you yourself actually accept that level of unemployment and don't mind about people ...

MT

[Tries to interrupt, but does not persist] Look ...

David Dimbleby, BBC

... being out of work. You never say, you never say that you care about people being out of work.

MT

Isn't caring by what you do? [sic] I must say I have a good healthy suspicion of people who spend all their time saying they care and then supporting every single strike on every pretext - no matter whether it damages pensioners, people in manufacturing industry or in children, children, from the teachers. It's those whom I suspect of not caring but just saying they care. We have fought those strikes. We have in fact by our policies managed to create more wealth and we have seen to it that the less fortunate are looked after and we have one of the most vigorous programmes to help those who are out of work back into jobs, and it is admired throughout Europe. Of course we care. But caring isn't just getting up and saying it, and getting the rhetoric of the headlines. It is the way in which you run the country and fight the really disruptive elements in our society like those who engineered the coal strike.

David Dimbleby, BBC

Isn't the political skill of leading a small country like Britain that you can make it a united country, and not one that during an election campaign appears to fall apart between those who feel they have been left out of society and those who feel they're prospering under you?

MT

No, I hope no one feels they have been left out of society. But I do not think that there is any way that I could unite with some of the left-wing militants who are running the Labour Party, who are running some of the, the left-wing authorities, who are running some of the schools, who engineer things like coal strikes.

David Dimbleby, BBC

[tries to interrupt]

Perhaps they wouldn't ... [end p1]

MT

... There is no way in which I could unite. My job ...

David Dimbleby, BBC

[Successfully interrupts]

Perhaps they wouldn't exist if you have been more successful in your policies?

MT

No, my job ... You know that when we took over, you know that when we took over, the country was in chaos. Cancer wards being sent home, strikes against sick children, the country was in chaos, because for years and years no one had tackled the powers of the unions. We did that. It took some time. But our job is to try to protect the ordinary union member against the diktat of bosses like Scargill. And to protect the jobs in steel against bosses like Scargill, to protect the jobs in manufacturing industry.? Why, a person like that was prepared to sacrifice their jobs.

David Dimbleby, BBC

Well, they might say that the people needed protection from your policies and the high unemployment that has followed from them, just as much as from militant trade unionists.

MT

High unemployment there has been throughout Europe, as I indicated. It is falling. There would have been far higher unemployment had we not pursued our policies because company after company would have failed to be competitive and we should have gone into a much bigger recession and we should have gone into much bigger unemployment. Now we have manufacturing industries, service industries that are fit, which are competing the world over, and that have been achieved alongside a reform of trade union law which was sorely needed. And a higher standard of living for everyone.

David Dimbleby, BBC

[Tries to interrupt]

But ...

MT

Please. If people just drool and drivel they care, I turn round and say “Right. I also look to see what you actually do”.

David Dimbleby, BBC

Why do you use the words “drool and drivel that they care”? Is that what you think saying that you care about people's plight amounts to?

MT

No, I don't [MT pauses] I'm sorry I used those words. But I think some people talk a great deal about caring, but the policies which they pursue - and I'm sorry I used those words - the policies which they pursue do not amount to what they say.

David Dimbleby, BBC

Mrs Thatcher, it is a personal question, but a political one as well - and perhaps you've just embodied it by the way you put that and then withdrew it - isn't one of the difficulties for the Tories that you're way of governing and talking about government gets up the noses of a lot of voters?

MT

Well, I am sorry if it does. It is not intended to. I'm very sorry if it does. [end p2]

David Dimbleby, BBC

Do you think it does you political damage? Do you think that's why the Tories are not making the advances that you must have hoped when you came into office eight years ago they would make?

MT

No, but I think we have made the advances. There is ... I think we have actually transformed Britain. And I think many manufacturing industries realise that we would not in fact have had the results which they have without that reform of trade union law, without that reform of tax and finance, and, er, without the resolution that he has taken to contest some of the strikes, because had they won people would have been have held to ransom by unions which happened to have very considerable power.

David Dimbleby, BBC

Isn't it an indictment, nevertheless, of your eight years in office, that you saw it as a time when socialism in this country would be destroyed. What in fact has happened is that the Labour Party has revived as a result of your policies. That has been the effect.

MT

No. I do not accept that and I think that many many people are very ... fearful of the militants taking over Britain, because this is a quite different kind of Labour Party from any we have ever known ...

David Dimbleby, BBC

[talking over MT]

But why is it gaining new support?

MT

... in my lifetime. Because some of its people went over to the Alliance and because the Alliance is so various in its views, and that has been seen, that some people are returning to their old allegiance.

David Dimbleby, BBC

But do you mean ... are you saying that a third of the people are supporting a party that is revolutionary and quite different - militant and unacceptable in the way that the Labour Party used to be - that they have all been conned?

MT

They have done everything possible to hide their militants and to hide their real plans during this election. And it has been up to us to try to demonstrate what they were, which we have done so.

David Dimbleby, BBC

Were you to be returned tomorrow, Mrs Thatcher, and come back as Prime Minister, is there anything you have learned during this campaign, any lessons you have learned during this campaign, that you would apply in the next period of Thatcher Government?

MT

Perhaps you have taught me one - that it is not enough actually to do things that result in caring, you also have to talk about it. But we have done them and I have done them, as you know, personally, although we don't talk about that either.

David Dimbleby, BBC

Mrs Thatcher, thank you.

MT

Thank you.