Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1975 Jan 28 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN First Report

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons Terrace
Source: ITN Archive: First Report 28 January 1975
Journalist: Julian Haviland, ITN
Editorial comments: 1130. The interview was broadcast on First Report at 1300 and all but the first sentence re-transmitted on News At Ten. The commentary from News At Ten follows the First Report text.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1427
Themes: Foreign policy (Asia), Conservative (leadership elections), Women
First Report:

The moment of truth in the Conservative Party's leadership crisis is close at hand. (Even though the agony will almost certainly be prolonged through two ballots, nominations for the first round closing on Thursday, and the vote on that first round taking place early next week.) It's the new complex procedure for election of the Conservative leader which makes it so difficult for Mr. Heath to win outright on the first ballot with any rival running strong. And if there were any doubt about his principal rival running strong it was effectively dispelled this morning by the lady herself, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, in her first interview since, as one might say, throwing her hat into the ring—an interview outside the House of Commons this morning with Julian Haviland. [end p1]

Haviland

Mrs Thatcher, we haven't really heard why you are in for this—I think I must ask you, what is it you are offering the party which Mr Heath doesn't offer?

Thatcher

Well, I think Mr Heath has been leader for ten years and the party decided that there should be a contest. Well, you can't have a contest without a contestant obviously, and I'm one of the main ones.

Haviland

Some of the people who have served in the Shadow Cabinet with you seem to think it would be disloyal to challenge him. No one is accusing you of that. How do you think you have got away without being challenged with disloyalty?

Thatcher

Because I think people realise that, again the same point, after ten years it would be very strange if there weren't quite a lot of people in the Shadow Cabinet who were willing and able to run under these circumstances.

Haviland

Your friends say that there is a lot of evidence of support coming from Mr Heath to you. Do you have evidence of that?

Thatcher

It is very difficult to say. I've been very heartened by the amount of support we've got. Our chances of winning depend upon how much extra support we get this week.

Haviland

Are people coming across to you and saying that they now take you seriously when they didn't a week or two ago?

Thatcher

Very seriously indeed. It is very strange in some ways—I'm about the same age as Mr Heath was when he got the leadership and he got it shortly after doing a Finance Bill, and I'm doing the Finance Bill.

Haviland

I suppose that against that they might charge you with having nothing like his experience in Office or in Cabinet, how would you counter that sort of criticism?

Thatcher

Well, one has had, of course, experience in Cabinet with him.

Haviland

Not so much as he had I think when he was running for the leadership at the same time—he had done the Foreign Office and other major Front Bench jobs. [end p2]

Thatcher

Yes. I have done several Front Bench jobs but in Opposition. It is one of the problems. You could use that argument and say that the longer we go on the less likelihood there is of candidates having been in Cabinet experience because we are in Opposition now.

Haviland

Is there prejudice amongst your fellow MPs, who are your electorate of course, against you as a woman? Do you find this?

Thatcher

That's very difficult to judge. I think that is gradually melting. I think there has been a great change over the last four or five weeks because after all women in other countries have done very well in the leadership. You couldn't have had a country less likely to have a woman Prime Minister than India and yet they have had a most successful one for a long time—Indira Gandhishe is a delightful person.

Haviland

One of your colleagues said that there is no one quite so determined to dislodge Ted Heath as he is to remain and therefore you haven't much chance. How determined are you?

Thatcher

I am very determined. I've had to be during my political life even to be here. I still stay determined.

Haviland

He said you're going through a second and third ballot—do you think so?

Thatcher

I take objectives one at a time. Let's see how well we do on the first ballot. I've great hopes of it.

Haviland

Do you think you've a good chance on the first ballot?

Thatcher

Well, I don't know, that depends upon how much extra support we get this week. I don't count my chickens before they're hatched.

Haviland

Thank you very much.

Thatcher

Thank you.

[end p3] News at Ten:

Reginald Bosanquet

Conservative MPs are more certain than ever tonight that the first ballot in the party leadership contest on Tuesday will be inconclusive. Some MPs say that even a second ballot—due on February 11th—won't solve the issue.

Mr. Heath 's main rival, Mrs. Thatcher, told ITN today, in the first interview since announcing her intention to stand in the election, that she's determined in her bid for the leadership, and that she's been very heartened by the support she's already received.

Our Political Editor, Julian Haviland, has been looking at the contest so far …   .

[end p4]

Julian Haviland

One week today, and we'll know whether the Tories have rejected Mr. Heath, or voted decisively to keep him, or simply put off their decision for a week, or two weeks, or till the autumn. Tonight it's far too soon to predict the outcome—there are very many minds not made up yet among Conservative MPs who alone decide the outcome. And more surprisingly there seem to be many who have not yet been approached—either by Mr. Heath 's supporters, or by Mrs. Thatcher's. (Mr. Hugh Fraser, if he has a team working for him, has a very discreet one indeed.)

So there are votes still to be picked up. But that won't last long—the campaigning is hotting up. And today Mrs. Thatcher, who's naturally far less known than Mr. Heath to the world outside Westminster, decided to reveal a bit more of herself and gave me her first brief interview since she decided to make her challenge. So I asked her what she was offering the party which Mr. Heath did not offer: [end p5]

In

“Well, I think …   .”

Out

“…   . before they're hatched.” Interview as above.

A confident, but not overconfident Mrs. Thatcher, and what she says in public from now on may be important—because Tory supporters in the country have no votes in this contest but they do have influence on their MPs. And the MPs report that there's much support for Mr. Heath in the constituencies, and not a lot so far for Mrs. Thatcher, or indeed for any other probable candidate.

Mr. Heath, the defender, is meanwhile just doing the leader of the Opposition's job—and quite a punishing round it is. Early to the Commons this morning to meet the Canadian High Commissioner: lunch as the German Ambassador's guest: this evening a French Embassy reception. In the Chamber he made the main Opposition speech in the debate on Mr. Stonehouse—a good one, his critics [end p6] acknowledged—and tonight he made a strong rallying speech to the Conservative Group for Europe—urging the Party to take over the role of European leadership which he accused Labour of having abdicated.

As the Tories prepare to do battle against the Government's whole referendum idea, Mr. Heath 's record on the Common Market is one of his strongest assets with his MPs, as he well knows.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Thatcher's had a bit of bad luck in her parliamentary role. After impressing her party, and many MPs of other parties with the aggressive style in which she's led the attack on the Government's Finance Bill, she and the Bill have now had to withdraw to a small committee room upstairs, and for the next two or three weeks, she's going to have very little chance to score any more successes in public. [end p7]

And it's evidently Mr. Heath, and not Mrs. Thatcher, who has the support of the Greater London Young Conservatives. Not so much putting their shirts on Mr. Heath as putting Mr. Heath on their shirts. The Grocer, for anyone who hasn't yet heard it, is Mr. Heath's nickname. And it's Mrs. Thatcher's proud boast that she's a grocer's daughter.