Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1991 Jun 28 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN (recalls losing office)

Document type: speeches
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: ? 17 Great College Street, Westminster
Source: Thatcher Archive
Journalist: Michael Brunson, ITN
Editorial comments: Transcript made from four extracts. The exact sequence of extracts 1-3 is uncertain.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 1,770 words
Themes: Conservatism, Conservative (leadership elections)

Extract 1

MT

… It was just very strange. Have you seen a situation slip away from you? I'm a politician. I know. I can feel it, I can sense it and when some people whom I expected to be absolutely staunch had very different views, said “Look, I will support you but I don't think that … it is a foregone conclusion, then – all right. No General can fight without a really good army behind. What went wrong was that we did not get a big enough majority on the first ballot. There was nothing I could do to cure that. That was the thing I couldn't get over. They said to me as I went to them, “ You haven't been to ask us to vote for you. Other people have. ” And I said “ Goodness me, do I, after eleven and a half years, have to go and ask personally for votes. … ”

Extract 2

Commentary to the effect that in deciding to resign MT placed great emphasis on preventing Michael Heseltine becoming Prime Minister

MT

… Um, one had not won and there had been a different leader and a different Prime Minister, you couldn't have gone forward united. You couldn't have done … a Prime Minister really should have the majority of a party clearly behind him.

Extract 3

MT

… Um, I got up early and things hadn't changed, so I decided to take the course of action which I did. And then I went into the House … MT drew her head back, looking upset

Michael Brunson, ITN

Could I just first of all ask you to recall what must have been a very difficult meeting of the Cabinet?

MT

Yes, of course it was, of course it was. You don't take a decision like that without it being difficult, without heartbreak. Heartbreak there may have been, but it was the right decision.

Michael Brunson, ITN

The image that people will perhaps remember … so the Cabinet was extremely difficult. Then you had to come out into Downing Street and you had to face the cameras and in effect you had to face the world.

MT

Mm-hh. [MT evidently upset, dabs her eyes with a white handkerchief.]

Michael Brunson, ITN

You had to come and make what was perhaps the statement of your life. [Brunson also a bit emotional] And then – we notice now that it is effecting you now – and it must have been …

MT

Yes … [Smiles slightly.] It is not effecting my voice now. It is not effecting my voice. You are thinking back to traumatic things. Um, but I managed to get through them. I managed to get through the television, I managed to get through the Cabinet, again because there was something else to do

Michael Brunson, ITN

And then the House …

MT

By that time I was back fighting fit. [Pause] As you saw.

[Clip of MT in House of Commons. “I'm enjoying this. I'm enjoying this. ”]

Extract 4

MT

… Wouldn't life be very much better if more people took responsibility for their families, and for building their own future, and building their own security? And when they do that - and have a little bit over to help people less fortunate than themselves - isn't that a good thing?

And aren't we trying to get the third world out of the poverty it is in, by building up its industries, and having some investment to go and help them with?

John Wesley answered the question you’ve just put: “Do not impute to money the faults of human nature.”

It’s not the money, it’s not the wealth you create, it’s what you do with it. And most people do want a better standard of living. Many many people use their money to … to to do more for arts, to see more, to enjoy more of the art great artistic works, whether it be music, whether it be art. Look at the fantastic voluntary effort in this country. It is enormous. No – those … look, ‘greed’, isn't it absurd. Trade unions mostly argue for higher wages, they argue for higher differentials. But they then come in and say – ‘greed’. Some people are greedy. But people who want a better standard of living and a better way of life for their children are not. They are highly moral, they are highly valued citizens and they are usually those people who look after their houses and their families, look after their neighbourhoods, join in, doing things for their neighbourhood, community spirit. This is the real Thatcherism.

Michael Brunson, ITN

Isn't there always the danger that people might be seeing you still as trying to second guess the Prime Minister?

MT

Well, I hope they won't. I hope they won't. I did all my own first guessing, for fifteen years of what right to do – and it wasn’t guessing, it was going back to the right principles and passionate belief. And you asked me recently what things I remember. I recall one thing very vividly. In 1980 one finance minister from another part of the world, who actually really rather believed in what I was doing but hadn't seen it put into practice before, and saying to me: “Look you are having difficulty. We are watching you very carefully, we are watching Britain very carefully” – that’s good, they always pleased me when they are watching Britain – “because if you can roll back the frontiers of socialism and in Britain roll forward the frontiers of freedom, other people will follow you.” What an extraordinary thing to say.

I knew I must keep doing. My goodness me I took a pounding. But we did. We did change trade union law. We did say to a company, look if you are going broke this is because you haven't got it right and we are not going to pour taxpayer’s money to save you when in fact if there is any taxpayer’s money it to be ought to be going to bringing to birth the new industries. And for the first time they had to take the consequences of their own action. What else is democracy and responsibility all about? We did. And we got people enthusiastic about enterprise. Do you know we have had more young people starting up on their own than ever before. It is a new spirit. That is the essence. To get the economy right, you have to understand human nature. There is a new spirit and we did get it right. And I'm not going to see it go.

Michael Brunson, ITN

Just a final point on the whole business of the way your premiership ended. I think you’ve said that no Prime Minister really ought to have to leave in those circumstances. Of course, the counterargument is … it’s almost like that old phrase about “Be you never so high, the law is above you. ” It’s almost a sense, isn't it, in which you say “Be you never so high as Prime Minister, but you may be out of Downing Street tonight”, and Prime Ministers ought to know that.

MT

Oh, if you are out for what I call constitutional reasons, of course. Slight pause. We were out for reasons of the rules made by the Conservative Party for leaders in Opposition. And that is very different. That is very different. The rules are still there. Uh, they are not rules that apply to the Labour Party or to any other party. This was the first time it had happened and … uh, it happened. It happened, I took the right decision. I am now free to live another life of very practical use, both to the people of this country and internationally. I have a passion for Britain, for the spirit of the people, for their character. It’s done wonders for the world in the past. It can still do wonders for the world into the future.

Michael Brunson, ITN

And what is your Foundation going to do?

MT

It is going to embody all of those things I have explained and believed in. How to roll forward the frontiers of freedom, how to bring it about, educating people about what it is all about, giving practical help to the people in Eastern Europe who are trying to do it. They will want to know how to learn. We can give them scholarships, they can come over here. We can get people to go over there to advise them. We can hold conferences where they all get together and learn from one another and perpetuate the ideals. And also being very active in the environment and … there is a good deal of work to do there on a scientific basis. It is partly education, it is partly practical, it is enlarging the frontiers of freedom, it is bringing more and more of the world to democracy, on the basis of what we in Britain have done. It is taking our leadership to others. They come in – I have telephone calls – “How can we do it? ” - one can't give anything like the amount of money which governments can give, but one knows people who … you give them a helping hand, you put them in the way of grants, of scholarship, you teach them how to do it.

Most of the changes in the world are brought about by a few people who believe things, and don't give up. The Sakharovs, the Solzhenitsyns, knew what was needed. The next generation we have to teach how.

And the young people have never been made servile or passive by the Communist system. The older people have. When I spoke to the young people in Moscow, in Leningrad, they are Thatcherites to a man, and woman. Isn't it marvellous! But they are ready, raring to go. We must help them with the how of it. The spirit of enterprise, the spirit … the character that is Britain. We are such a marvellous people, and we've done so much for Europe. We've done so much, we've taken to the far flung corners of the world our legal system, our common law – one of the best in the world – sound, uncorrupt administration, the spirit of enterprise. America practice it the other side. The best she learned from us. This … we must have a Foundation to make certain we have a centre through which it can continue. That is what I will do. The best of Britain to the best of the world.

Michael Brunson, ITN

Margaret Thatcher, thank you very much indeed for talking to us.