Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1976 Oct 4 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN News at Ten (launching The Right Approach)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Unknown
Source: ITN Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist: Julian Haviland, ITN
Editorial comments: Extracts from the interview were shown on ITN news at 1745 and the full interview on News At Ten. Time of recording uncertain: MT planned to leave Flood Street for Brighton at 1330.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1699
Themes: Conservatism, Conservative Party (history), Economy (general discussions), Employment, Pay, Public spending & borrowing, Housing, Labour Party & socialism, Local government, Race, immigration, nationality, Trade unions

MT

Well I think it's inevitable. I think it has to be at the moment. But you know it's very nearly the end of the line. Obviously I listen very carefully to their modern speeches. Some of them now read as if they've learned some of the lessons which we've been speaking for two years. But … last time, we got a loan, three months ago, I said I thought it might last six months. I called it a loan, an out-and-out loan. The Prime Minister took me to task and said it wasn't a loan, it was a stand-by credit. Well, of course. it's turned out to be a loan. But what we're going to apply for from the IMF has to repay that loan, but what we get from the IMF won't be as big as that loan. So we're not … indeed we're in very, very difficult circumstances now.

Julian Haviland, ITN

Does your criticism of the Social Contract—and your party document also criticizes it—mean that a Conservative government would not be prepared to bargain with the trade union movement in any way at all?

MT

Of course we would consult with the trade union movement. It's an extremely important part of our way of life. Uh, indeed you know trade unions can't function in a Soviet system, er, it isn't as if the Russian and Polish trade unions have any bargaining power at all. So it's just as much in the trade unions' interest to have a free society as it is to ours.

Julian Haviland, ITN

Didn't the electors last time vote Labour into power to repair a breach between government and unions that the previous Conservative government had …

MT

Well, and look where it's got them, look where it's got them now. I'm always prepared to work with the trade unions on things which I and they and the vast majority of people believe in, which is a fair deal for the whole population—not just for a group which happen to belong to the unions because I think only 10 million of the working population belong to the unions, so rather more workers don't belong to the unions than do. It's our job to represent them all.

Julian Haviland, ITN

Are you … I'm sorry … concerned that your policy document does seem to have upset the trade union leaders? [end p1]

MT

Well, I'm not quite sure why it has, because just look at what we've said. We've said that when you get to a third stage we know from experience, our own experience and other countries' experience, that a rigid incomes policy will not hold. But you know that's just exactly what Mr Jack Jones was saying a few weeks ago. He was saying that we'll have to have some way of returning to free collective bargaining. That's what we're saying. So we really think seem to be more in tune with him than with some of the others, and also what we're recommending is the system that has worked in Germany—where the rate of inflation is four and a half per cent and not fourteen per cent—and in the Scandinavian countries. Our way is far more likely to give incentives to get away from this total complete idea of restraint, from stopping people from doing things. Everything about this government is restraint. You don't build a new healthy economy that way, you only build it by incentives. You only build it by saying to the people who are working in a factory that's efficient and working well: “Look, you're entitled to more than the factory that's not working well” . That's my idea of a Social Contract.

Julian Haviland, ITN

Your critics may perhaps have fastened on to some of the other things the document said when it talks of very large reductions in public expenditure being unavoidable and cuts in some public services being inescapable. Can you say where those cuts would have to fall?

MT

They are set out in the document. But let's get the reasoning clear. …

Julian Haviland, ITN

I don't believe the public services are described as being liable for cuts.

MT

Can I, can I, … can I just answer the question. I will as you know but in my own way. If the problem is you're borrowing too much, that arises because you're spending too much. If you're spending too much you must reduce your spending. So that is not in issue. Er, it's a very silly person who says “I'm going bankrupt the way I am, but I can't afford to cut so don't ask me” .

Julian Haviland, ITN

Yes, but where?

MT

You've got to cut. Look, you've got to cut, you've got to find some place. You have to cut some of your housing subsidies, of course you do, because they're going indiscriminately. I have forgotten whether it's in the document or in the work of some of the policy groups, but you know 30 per cent of the people in council houses have higher household incomes than 45 per cent of the people in owner-occupied homes—and yet, the people in the owner-occupied homes are having to subsidize some of the 30 per cent. You don't cut subsidies to those people who need them. The trouble now is that they're right across the board and where do subsidies come from? Not from the government but out of the taxpayer's pocket.

Julian Haviland, ITN

But you and Sir Geoffrey Howe have said that if public expenditure is cut then, in the short term, unemployment will rise and I don't think you're going against that. What you haven't just said …

MT

Can I just answer that first … [end p2]

Julian Haviland, ITN

… another question coupled with it?

MT

No no no. I will do that one first because I don't want that one to pass. [Haviland mumbles assent] In the short term it perhaps would, but not by as much as this government has already let it rise. Don't forget two years ago we were saying “If you don't cut now, you'll have massive inflation and massive unemployment” . Small cuts two years ago would have meant less inflation, less unemployment. But look what they've done. They've just caused fresh unemployment because they've put a payroll tax, a new payroll tax on. I was horrified …

Julian Haviland, ITN

I must ask whether your policies would raise unemployment?

MT

I was horrified when I heard it, a payroll tax at a time of unemployment. They've deliberately created 60,000 new unemployed and it's thought they'll be more. That's not my way. You asked me my policy.

Julian Haviland, ITN

If you were Prime Minister, how would you ensure that cuts … that jobs lost to the public sector, if you cut public services—as your document says you'd have to—that those jobs are replaced by private sector jobs? How do you cushion people when they're being transferred or would you accept a large increase in unemployment?

MT

A very … No, a very very small increase would be incurred, nothing like what this government has and is planning to have on present policies. It's present policies that have produced one and a half million unemployed. People would never have taken it from us. But can I perhaps … can I just give you an example?

Julian Haviland, ITN

[speaking over MT] You recognize the need to reassure people?

MT

Of course I do. The only things I have in life are the things that I've got from my own work. I'm the first to know that if ever there's a fear of loss of job, a wave of alarm would go through me because I wouldn't know where I was going to get the money to pay for the household food, for mending the shoes and everything that you have to do. I'm the first to understand that. I'm amazed that people tolerate one and a half million unemployed from socialism. But where have the jobs come from, recently? Look of the whole of North Sea oil—new jobs, new opportunities, every penny of it by private enterprise, every penny. That's what's given new jobs in Scotland. That's what's given new jobs in the North Sea. That's what's given new jobs in the factories—money in private enterprise, not money in government coffers.

Julian Haviland, ITN

I must just ask you about immigration. Isn't it clear from your document that you mean to withdraw the right to settle in Britain, Mrs Thatcher, from some dependents of immigrants already settled here? Have I got it right?

MT

We've first got to find out how many dependents there are. You know there was a question asked in Parliament—about tax allowances given to people living here in respect to dependents overseas. The answer alarmed us all: it was half a million, half a million. Now not all of them dependents of immigrants, but it's thought quite a lot [end p3] would be. Now obviously we have to find out how many under present law are entitled to settle here. The way to do that is to get a dependents register. If that indicated a very large number under present law were entitled to settle, then we should have to change the law or have them in on a very small quota each year. We are [Haviland tries to interrupt] … and you heard me saying in India and Pakistan several times, and I don't say different things because I'm in different parts of the world. In this country, we're more highly populated than either India or Pakistan. We've six per cent unemployment. We cannot go on taking people at the rate we have been.

Julian Haviland, ITN

One more question. Does that mean that the heads of families, who have been admitted here on the understanding, and with at present the right to bring their children here, may have that right withdrawn?

MT

We want to know how many dependents have the right to come here. If it were half a million, we just couldn't take them. That's what we're trying to do now. How many are entitled to come? That was why Mr Whitelaw said “get a register of dependents” . That's why there is an independent all-party committee sitting on it now. First find the facts, then in fact you can decide what you'll do about them.

Julian Haviland, ITN

Thank you very much.

MT

Thank you Mr. Haviland.