Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1974 Nov 28 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for BBC ("food hoarding")

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Radio Interview
Venue: Unknown
Source: BBC Sound Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1045-1130. MT was due to be interviewed by the World Service on "The Role of a Member of the Shadow Cabinet" but the BBC Sound Archive contains material on the food hoarding controversy, broadcast on BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat .
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 762
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Monetary policy, Conservative (leadership elections), Famous statements by MT (discussions of)

MT

Well, you call it stockpiling, I call it being a prudent housewife and the kind of life I've led you have to buy things when food was comparatively cheap—you know you bought the fruit in summer, you made it into jam, you packed it into kilner jars, you put it on your shelves. Most country women or people brought up in small towns did this as a matter of prudent housewifery. … Of course housewives are in fact doing this. How do you think that … that it is that the deep freeze sales are going so well, that frozen food centres have sprung up all over the country? This is what people are doing, they are prudently putting aside money to put things into deep freezes. My point is a perfectly simple one: if you buy it in tins you don't have to pay or use electricity in which to store things.

Commentator, BBC

What reaction has Mrs. Thatcher's suggestion received? Sandra Brookes of the National Housewives Association.

Sandra Brookes, National Housewives Association

[Interviewed over the telephone:] It's rather sad and I'm not quite sure whether I'm sad or angry. I'm probably a mixture of both. For sheer lack of responsibility and integrity it takes some beating. It's incredible that a woman in Mrs. Thatcher's, as the economic spokesman of a major party, should preach such a … a divided policy.

Interviewer, BBC

What would be the affect of people buying in bulk if everybody did it?

Sandra Brookes, National Housewives Association

Well let's just say … say, say … let me—I don't know very much about percentages—but say 40 per cent of the population had the money to go out and buy £1,000 worth of … baked beans. Would you not agree with me that this could create a shortage of baked beans, and people who need them—mothers with young children and very little money—wouldn't be able to buy a tin? In fact it's the same old story, is it not, that people who've got the money can get things, and the people who really need the help as usual are going to be left way down the line.

Interviewer, BBC

But if everybody starts buying one thing, like sugar, there's a shortage of sugar, but surely you couldn't get a shortage of everything, could you? [end p1]

Sandra Brookes, National Housewives Association

[Snorting laughter:] Well, I would say if we carry on the way Mrs. Thatcher is reported to have been carrying on, there is a possibility that panic is going to start sweeping through the place. It's a grossly irresponsible attitude of Mrs. Thatcher.

Commentator, BBC

And in Sheffield market this morning housewives out shopping thought Mrs. Thatcher's ideas unrealistic. How would they like to stockpile?

Shopper

No chance. Can't afford to keep hoarding food, can we? No sooner do you get it, you use it.

Interviewer, BBC

How much food have you got in your larder now and how long will it last?

Shopper

Only till tomorrow.

Interviewer, BBC

And that's it?

Shopper

That's it. She's got the money, she can get it, can't she? And I don't think she's setting a good example to everybody anyway.

Another Shopper

Nice to have a bit of food in, but not to the extent of really hoarding it, you know. It starts that—everybody starts racing after things, they go, once they're buying out, aren't they, word goes round there'll not be any more, like sugar and that.

Commentator, BBC

So has Mrs. Thatcher been stockpiling sugar?

MT

In fact I am not stockpiling sugar. I have five packets of sugar. There are five of us in the family. That can hardly be called stockpiling.

Commentator, BBC

Mrs. Thatcher's shopping list includes expensive tins of things like ham and salmon. We asked her: “Isn't that a bit of a luxury for most housewives?”

MT

Yes indeed, some do have trouble making ends meet. Uh, but then you look at the vast amount spent on cigarettes, the vast amount spent on Bingo, the enormous queues outside all the wine and spirit shops just before the budget. All I am saying is, I think it's better than spending money that way in a period of rising prices to buy an extra tin of something when you're in the grocer's shop and quietly put it aside.