Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1981 Sep 9 We
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for BBC Radio 2 Jimmy Young Programme

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Radio Interview
Venue: BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, central London
Source: Thatcher Archive: transcript
Journalist: Jimmy Young, BBC
Editorial comments: 1030-1130.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 12208
Themes: Executive, Executive (appointments), Conservatism, Conservative Party (history), Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Economy (general discussions), Education, Employment, Industry, By-elections, General Elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Energy, Pay, Public spending & borrowing, Taxation, Trade, Family, Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Housing, Labour Party & socialism, Local government, Local government finance, Liberal & Social Democratic Parties, Northern Ireland, Terrorism, Transport, Trade unions

JY

… in the two and a half years you have been in office, a Mr. Bright of Yorkshire says “With unemployment close to 3 million, acute social deprivation and a disenchanted electorate, would the Prime Minister please explain what her economic policies have achieved?”

PM

They are very telling questions aren't they? Let me try to answer them. First when we came into power a great deal needed to be done. Our industries were not competing effectively with others. The real trouble was that over the previous five or six years we had paid ourselves very nearly twice as much for producing the same goods. In Japan they haven't paid themselves any more unless they produced more. We, as we all know, had a large amount of overmanning in industry, in some cases, in some industries, it took three people to do the work that two people would do elsewhere. If we had gone on like that we weren't going to have a chance of getting through and getting a higher standard of living. So that had to be corrected. Thank goodness we set out to correct it. Because when I was last at the Council of Ministers in Europe and talking to Helmut Schmidt he said “you know we in Germany are making a special effort to be really competitive”—heaven knows they were competitive enough before—but. he said “we've got to to get our balance of payments down.” Well, you have seen the result. They have transformed an adverse balance of payments into a credit by becoming really competitive. We thought we did well last year when our wages went up only by about 9%; or 10%;. Theirs only went up by 5%;. All of this is to get British industry into a chance when it can compete, into a situation when it can compete overseas. Not only compete overseas but our people here will choose to buy British goods because they are good value rather than buy overseas goods.

JY

Now it's strange that you should mention Japan just now. Because we were in Japan just recently—we did three programmes on Tokyo. The thing that struck all of us on the team there was the very close co-operation, consensus if you like, between employers, trade unions, banking, financial communities and government. And oddly enough Mr. Heath was in here the other day and he mentioned exactly that and I said we had just come back from Tokyo and he said, well, Japan of course has the closest degree of consensus of any of the Western [end p1] countries. Now given the Japanese track record of success don't you think there is a lesson there for us in this country?

PM

I most certainly do. Co-operation is the word. Consensus is a very very strange word. Consent, co-operation. They have full co-operation between employees and employers. I wish we had it to the same extent here. They know that their future, the future of everyone who works in Japan lies with the success of their company. And they know that the success of the company is made by all of those who work for it. It is very very interesting, this supreme loyalty. So if they are making something which there isn't a market for, they turn straightaway to find something else people will buy. It's interesting too their attitude to profits. They say “we've got to have a profit:. Not only that, we've got to leave enough after wage claims we've got leave enough in to keep enough profits to invest. To keep a step ahead.”

JY

What's also interesting is Government involvement, you see. I interviewed the Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Tokyo and he told me that the Japanese Government's idea is to plan twenty-five years ahead and they then direct industry into growth areas—persuade was the word he used—they persuade banks to grant them low interest loans, they then support success and cut failure. Now we don't have that kind of Government involvement here do we?

PM

Well, my goodness me, take the car industry. If I might respectfully say so, we've had a lot of Government involvement in British Leyland. A tremendous amount. Not merely loans at low interest rates, but massive grants.

JY

Is that support success and cutting failure do you think?

PM

Well indeed. But having said that, having done it, surely one is then entitled to expect that you do get this supreme co-operation. I know the Japanese employers have said to me ‘we don't need inspection at every stage of making cars’. It is a matter of pride for each worker that he does his job properly. It is a matter of pride for each worker that they're constantly looking for ways for cutting costs, a matter of pride that they leave enough room for investment so they keep a step ahead of their competitors. That is plain straightforward co-operation between everyone who works in industry. We've poured money into both British Leyland, poured [end p2] poured money into British Steel, poured money into British coal. Now, I can't make co-operation between management and workers …

JY

But should you be doing what their Government is doing, do you see, which Mr. Omyah who is the man in question who is the head of Miti said to me ‘what we do is plan twenty or twenty-five years ahead, we decide which areas we are going into’ and they virtually direct effort into those areas.

PM

I don't believe that anyone can plan twenty-five years ahead. No-one, for example, could have foreseen the two world price oil increases, which have made two world recessions. That of course affected Japan.

JY

Of course Japan is particularly vulnerable in that area and they still succeed.

PM

They still succeed because they are constantly reinvesting. Reinvesting their money. They don't take out extra in pay unless they produce more. So all our people are willing to buy their goods rather than ours. You can't plan twenty-five years ahead. You simply cannot foresee the products that will be there. You can plan certainly ten years ahead, for example, a nuclear power station will take seven or eight years to build. We do to some extent. You plan your universities a long long time ahead, but you cannot say exactly what goods will be produced in the many years ahead.

JY

Well, with respect, Mr. Morita who set up the Sony corporation said that twenty-five years ago he knew where he was going. Going into electronics and into video.

PM

That's not, with all due respect, I don't think that's what Mr. Moritahe meant by planning twenty-five years ahead. We have gone into electronics. That was obviously the new thing. Years and years ago we were ahead in nuclear power. We've fallen behind. That is a very very great tragedy. You can decide a sector. Precisely what the products will be in that sector you can't decide. You can say we'll put a lot into development and research. We do quite a lot of that. Why we're not so good as the Japanese is in turning our supreme research and ideas into commercial success. [end p3]

JY

Now coming back to home Prime Minister, both the CBI and the TUC—Mr. Foot in his speech yesterday—want the Government to spend more Government money to boost British industry. Now do you not think things can go on as they are without a radical change in policy to get Britain out of the current recession?

PM

Look, there's no such thing as Government money, no such thing at all. There's taxpayer's money. And every time a politician says he's going to spend more money, he's going to have to take it from the taxpayer in one way or another or he's going to have to borrow it. And what he's got to say is ‘how is it that I think that I know how to spend the taxpayer's money better than he does’. And in the end you know all money comes from successful industry and commerce and on the whole they're just the ones who need the money to plough back to reinforce their success. It's because they've been successful that they are employing a lot of people, and if I am to take money away, those are the ones who I take it away from and I often think that they could spend it better. Just let me give you an example …   .

JY

This is back to leaving industry to the industrialists. In other words non-Government intervention.

PM

Look, successful industry is the industry that makes the goods that the housewife or wage-earner will buy here. I can't invent the goods. We didn't invent transistors in Whitehall. We didn't invent Disney Land in Whitehall, I understand someone is going to try to produce a Disney Land here. We don't design the latest cars in Whitehall. They don't in Japan either. Look we were heavily involved in the steel industry, we spent billions in building up the steel industry. We're now spending billions in running it down again. And so are other countries in steel because we've got over-production. But the people who know what will sell aren't the men sitting in Whitehall, or if I might respectfully say so the politician who has never himself built up a business and created goods and jobs. They are the people in industry who know what will sell and know how to make it and let me have one final word, the countries that have done best are the ones which have given their industries the freedom and the incentive to success. Look at Singapore, look a Japan, real [end p4] free enterprise countries.

JY

The fact of the matter is, Prime Minister, it's not just the TUC saying ‘put money into the economy’, the TUC is saying it, the CBI is saying it, Geoffrey Chandler, Director-General of the National Economic Development Office, is saying it. What's needed now is, and I quote, “a coherent, long-term objective on industrial policy”. Now you can't be the only one in step if you see what I mean.

PM

What they think is that there is some Government money. There isn't. We are just about the second highest expenditure now in real terms in the decade. A great deal is going in, has been poured into steel, has been poured into British Leyland, has been poured into the development areas, was poured into projects. Let me give you an example, Linwood, you know the car factory. Linwood is closing. I was a member of the Government, Macmillan 's Government, which sent that there to Linwood with a good deal of Government or taxpayer's money. We thought we were giving them a chance for new jobs. That factory lasted for nineteen years. In eighteen out of the nineteen years it made a loss. And no amount of Government money could overcome the fact that it was not a success. Now, you may say that it would have been far better and in retrospect it might, to help the smaller industries who were there naturally grow, but success comes from industries and commerce building up their own, the ideas, the co-operation can come on the shop-floor between management and workers. The most successful country in the world in standard of living is the United States, Switzerland, Japan. Government support. Look, you know we again pour money into the nationalised industries.

JY

Yes, but are you pouring it in the right places, that's what people are saying?

PM

Am I pouring it in the right places? The ones who are making a success are the ones who I am taking it from. Where else can I get it from? I am saying to you if you want greater success take less from them and leave them to multiply success. Because what we are doing at the moment is having to take it from them and [end p5] having to pour it into the less successful ones. Now is it right that the CBI really want me to continue to do that? No, they don't. Some of them want it all ways. And we can't have it all ways.

JY

Let me turn to the speculation of which there has been a great deal recently, of the pending Cabinet changes. Do you know when you are going to announce them?

PM

I get this all the time. And we almost can't call Ministers into No. 10 without the Press saying there's a Cabinet reshuffle imminent. We've had about a dozen Ministers into No.10 in the ordinary course of business because we had to discuss future policies. The Press will be the first to know that there is a Cabinet reshuffle when and if there is one, the first after those immediately involved.

JY

The Times leader says “Mrs Thatcher's Government reshuffle has reached a point unrebuffed where she has to do something if only to say she is keeping the same team and she would be well advised not to do that.”

PM

My dear Jimmy, after the people immediately involved, I haven't the slightest doubt the Press will be the first to know. But however much they say and whatever they say I am not going to be hustled into it as and when I am ready and I'll do as and when in the best interests of the country.

JY

Now the Times when on to say your administration is the least harmonious Conservative administration within memory and it has show a singular inability to respond to collectively changing circumstances. Do you accept that circumstances have changed and that you need to change your policies?

PM

But I think they are absolutely wrong. Certainly as I said that our main policy is to try to help industry to become absolutely competitive because if we don't we are all lost. There's too much import penetration because we are buying too many foreign goods and we want even more exports. Now we had to do this when we came into power, also we were at the beginning of a world recession. Other countries have suffered as well. Other countries' unemployment [end p6] has risen, also sharply, not quite as badly as ours because they weren't overmanned. We have responded to that recession indeed. We have in fact, we're doing a great deal to try to see that young people get employed. We have unfortunately had to put up public spending. I myself think it would be better if we managed to make further reductions. I notice that people, if I might respectfully say so, are on my side about this now. The referendum in Coventry said no, we don't want to pay more rates, which is one form of taxes. I understand that in Islington they are saying no we don't want additional rate demands. Do you know why? Not only because the housewife can't afford to pay much more but also because industry says you are putting it on to our costs. They are coming to reinforce everything which I've said and they are at last coming to realise that we have said is true and it's right.

JY

Well, can I comeback to the reshuffle of the Cabinet? A lot has been written about the deeply felt differences of opinion in Cabinet. Assuming that you do reshuffle, when you do, would you dismiss the Ministers who were not wholeheartedly supporting you?

PM

No-one but no-one in the Cabinet has any sound alternative to the policy that is being followed. No-one, everyone knows industry has to be competitive.

(JY interrupted with a remark about Mr. Walker.)

PM

I can point you to parts of Peter WalkerMr. Walker's speeches where he has fully not only supported and praised me but in the United States and here no-one has any alternative. They know we have to earn our keep in the world. They know therefore we have to be efficient and they know that we are going the right way about it.

JY

It's a completely united Cabinet then. Everyone is with you in what you're doing.

PM

I haven't noticed anyone dashing to resign.

JY

It's also said in the press quite often that you, I mean the administration, wasted its first year in office. Do you think there's something in that criticism? Do you regret not having more urgency in tackling problems? [end p7]

PM

Oh no, no, there was a very great deal of urgency in tackling the problems. What I think people are saying when they say that is that during our first year there were very substantial increases in wages, particularly in the public sector. There were, they are quite right. If you just look at things in isolation we'd been in a far better position if those had not taken place. Again because we'd be in a much better position to compete with other countries, with Japan and Germany. Now that is correct, just looked at intellectually. But the fact was that the public sector had been held back and that Mr. Callaghan had said to them, look if you take a low wage increase now we will refer to a Clegg Commission so that you'll have them say what would be a reasonable pay and we will honour that award. I was constantly asked during the election whether we would honour that. Because it was part of the condition under which they had taken a low wage increase on condition that Clegg looked at it. Now Clegg gave very considerable increases. For example, the Civil Service, 50%; increase in two years over what they'd got. They said they'd been very very far behind before. Now we corrected, I believe, all those resentments. And certainly it made it doubly difficult for us. They could say it was wasted. It was not wasted, it had to be done and got out of the way. Now people are very much more realistic because they realise in the end we only make our living by selling things to one another and overseas. So that's over and what we've done is to lay the foundation. Yes, it's all for future prosperity. It's always difficult in the interim but you know it is sometimes painful and difficult to get things right. But you have to do it.

JY

I think everybody would agree that it's been painful and difficult.

(music)

JY

Prime Minister, before we leave the question of policies altogether, I remember you saying to me a long time ago that you thought it would take two terms of office to put the country to rights. Now if your policies which don't seem to be tremendously popular, even given that they are the correct ones, in order to win the next election, in order to get the second term, would you see yourself at some stage having to change those policies to win the election even if you changed back after the election? [end p8]

PM

No, when you have to do difficult things, they are not popular, but you still have to do them. And anyway people know and realise they still have to be done even though they don't like, even more than I like, some of the consequences. We have not yet managed to get enough incentive in to industry, that means reducing taxation, direct taxation, and that means of course reducing public spending. But you know in spite of all the difficulty Jimmy, if I might call you Jimmy …   .

JY

…   . you always have …   .

PM

…   . you know this time, the time of the last Labour Government, you know it's September now, do you know what happened two years in, just over two years in? Denis Healey made such a muck of it that he was on his way to the IMF to seek help. Do you remember when he had to turn back from Heathrow and say that he wasn't going to seek the help of the IMF, within a few months we had to get the IMF to take over the economy and they to do just exactly the things which I am doing now, to show that Britain really has the will-power and the determination to overcome her problems. And the policies are starting to work. In a number of industries their productivity is going up. They are getting orders. Chemicals are doing better. Metals are doing better. Engineering orders are coming in. We are winning very good overseas contracts against competition. It is starting to work—its patchy—but it's starting to work.

JY

So are you saying then that you would propose to fight the next General Election on the existing policies? You wouldn't turn at all?

PM

Look, can I put it this way, what is the alternative?

JY

Well there are several alternatives. I mean the CBI and TUC are putting up …   .

PM

No they are not putting up an alternative which does not put us back into inflation. Now if we go straight back into inflation I can only say that any Government, inflation is setting out to print money without it being backed by production. [end p9]

JY

All I am saying is that they are putting up an alternative. You may think it is the wrong one.

PM

It is a thoroughly, totally, dishonest and dishonourable alternative. Because the moment a Government starts to print money, what it is saying to every person who has saved in a building society, National Savings Certificates, I am going to print money, the money that I print will devalue every pound that you have saved. I will not go for a dishonourable policy. This country will come through by getting industry efficient, by having honest, sound money and that's the way I am going. That is the best way for Britain. That is the only way that will see us through. If we go back to all the other policies that have failed in the last thirty years, failed over and over again, failed, we shall never compete with Germany and Japan. Who in this country is going to stand by and let them beat us in trade? It is nonsense. My policies are right. They are working. As they work the small businesses will expand. We shall gradually again be able to take on more people into jobs and get more service industry.

JY

Just let me get that straight. Your policies are right and you will stick with them whatever happens at the next General Election.

PM

I would do Britain the worse disservice if I went to fraudulent, inflationary policies. And do let me tell you one other thing which I sometimes say to those who tell me this. Government after Government retreated into reflating before elections. I was a member of a Government that did it. 1959 in a way we had big tax cuts, we were into trouble by 1961, then we had to have the pay pause. All right we got back. But with the pay pause we got back with a 100 majority. We had lost it all by the next election. 1973 we had a big reflation. I was a member of the Government that did it and with the best of intentions we got the biggest inflation and we lost the election. Jim Callaghan did it in 1978. He lost the election. People are fed up doing what they know to be wrong. They know we have to earn our living honestly and honourably in the world and they believe that and I believe it and they want honest money. They know it's difficult but let's for the first time have a Government that knows what it is doing is right, is going through to do it and then we shall have much more prospects of good, sound, solid jobs, with a future. That's my [end p10] policy and the youngsters have far more chance with us than they have with any other party.

JY

Let me ask you then about the pains we are going through during the course of the policies. Unemployment—for instance. Mrs. Terry of Yorkshire is one of many many people who wrote about the particular problem. “Will you please ask the Prime Minister if she can tell me and my friend when our two teenage children can expect to be in employment. My daughter of 17½ after being employed for just 12 months she repeatedly tried for another position with no success.” Harry Harwood of Ilford: “why Mrs. Thatcher and everybody in the country must wish to see inflation reduced must we be subjected to 3 million unemployed as the only method of achieving this and if so how much longer does Mrs. Thatcher think it will take to achieve her target and how many more people must be thrown out of work?”

PM

The actual level of unemployment has gradually risen with each recession I'm afraid because we've cumulatively followed the wrong policies although at the moment it is rising very fast in Germany and in France—that's partly because of world recession. We've had the overmanning on top. Can I answer what our questioners say in this way. Let me take as an example, steel and British Leyland. Two in the public sector. Now steel is grossly overmanned and we were having to pour in subsidies and we weren't getting the orders. And so we had to lose about, what, 70,000 steel jobs. Now for the first time we've got Llanwern having productivity which can rival the steel plants anywhere in the world. Is anyone suggesting that steel would have a better chance if we piled back that 70,000 people in? Is anyone suggesting that British Leyland would have a better chance if it doubled up on its workforce for the same production? No. They know they had to become efficient to survive. So those are becoming more efficient and the Government gets the blame for the unemployment.

JY

Well …   .

PM

Can I just go on? Please let me explain. It does matter. I had a case the other day. One of my friends rang me up and said I had a nasty job to do today, I had to make fifty people redundant. The choice was that we had 350 people working, either we had to accept [end p11] that we made fifty people redundant to become more efficient or the jobs of all 350 would have been in jeopardy. Now that has to be done and that is what is happening at the moment and also we have more advanced technology. Now where can those people get jobs?—in new service industries. I mean, look, the whole package tour for holidays is a comparatively new industry. I hear that Corby are thinking of setting up new leisure parks. In new small businesses, the small ones that start up and gradually expand because they are producing something that people want. That is where the work's going to come and some of the work is already coming.

JY

But you see the point people often make that it does seem an odd sort of policy which ends up paying people for doing nothing when you could presumably be paying them for doing something.

PM

Yes, but my goodness me, if they were in flourishing businesses—what is a flourishing business—it is a business where ordinary housewives of this country will buy the product or the service in preference to something else. I mean if people were creating that sort of job we would not have unemployment. Now we are trying to do a very great deal particularly for the young because it is the worst thing that could happen to them if they go out of school and can't get a job and so, as you know, we've got this very big scheme. I understand there is a very interesting programme about it on Panorama on Monday evening. The youngsters can go for six months and get experience being in work and this is operated through Government and then we've done something else. You know a lot of people, particularly small businesses, say to me look, we would like to take on more young people, we recognise, we know some of them, we recognise the difficulty we can't possibly pay them £60–£70 a week. The wages are too high so we've got the new scheme where we say look if you take on a youngster, wages £40 or less, the Government with taxpayers money will pay a £15 subsidy, it will only cost £25. Now can't you take on youngsters and give them a chance for £25.

JY

You know there are criticisms even this very morning and headlines in the press about the misuse of that, about the abuse of that particular scheme, in other words employers are getting cheap labour. [end p12]

PM

No I don't believe they are getting cheap labour. The fact is this. Would people rather have youngsters taken on at lower wages knowing full well that they are inexperienced, taken on at lower wages with a chance of going up the ladder and getting higher wages as they become more experienced or would they rather have them unemployed? And this is the choice unions have got to make because I must say I think it wrong that a youngster almost straight from school can go out and get three-quarters of the pay of his father who has been working for twenty years.

JY

What about the point the unions say …   .

PM

… they have to make up their minds. Do they want the youngsters to have jobs at lower pay or do they want them without jobs? Because those union people and their housewives will not buy the products at the prices we produce them because some of the wages are too high.

JY

But is their criticism that employers tend to take on these young people at lower wages and then to fire people who are earning more money. Is that a valid criticism?

PM

I do not believe that is a valid criticism with the young. I know that most employers would do everything they can to help the young but what the employer's got to do is to say look, don't pile so many overheads or so many wage increases on me, I cannot sell the product. It comes back every time, Jimmy, I can't stress this too much. Which ever Government is in we have to earn our living in the world. In doing that we have to compete with the efficient, with the Japanese, with the Germans, who are efficient. Their wages are higher than ours. Their unemployment is lower than ours because they have concentrated on only taking the extra pay if they have had extra efficiency. There's no magic about my policy. It operates in Germany. It operates in Japan. It operates in Singapore.

JY

You mentioned modern technology just now. Do you think one's got to face up to the fact? I mean, estimates will be made in ten years time one man can do the work of ten men. I mean, is the fact of the matter, brutal as it may be, that there are three million or [end p13] possibly more than three million unemployed here to stay?

PM

There will be fewer employed in manufacturing industry because of exactly what you said. We get machines, this is where our prosperity has come from, let's not denigrate it. If we had not got technology we should not be on radio this morning. New technology creates new possibilities for new jobs, as well as enabling old ones to be done with fewer people. Let's look at the whole of radio and television as an example, early electronics, electronic games. In the last ten years we have lost about one-and-a-half million jobs in manufacturing. We've gained one and three-quarter million in services. You say will there be fewer unemployed [sic] when we get new technology? In manufacturing industry, yes, but you know if you try to be over-manned you don't get the business either. A very good example, motor-bicycles. We used to have, what, Norton Villiers Triumph, where one person working for them would produce about twelve motor-bicycles a year. Now we have a co-operative at Meriden and I think it's about one produces about forty motor-bicycles a year. But you know in Japan, one person produces over 100 motor-cycles a year and the interesting thing is they've got 5,000 jobs in motor-cycles. People are buying their's not ours. I give that example because the countries that keep up to date and embrace modern technology get the jobs and the new technology brings new possibilities. You've only got to look back at your grandmother's kitchen.

JY

But you still haven't answered the question, as to whether you think we are going to be stuck with three million or three million plus unemployed forever.

PM

No, no, not forever. But we shall only get those down if we follow the recipes of Germany and Japan have followed by being competitive that's by not taking out more wages than are warranted by increased production but there's plenty of chance to increase production but if you produce more for the same overheads the prices go down and more people can afford to buy, therefore you get more people employed. In the service industries, we're good at service industries, very good at them, there are opportunities for more and you know in the United States so many of the jobs didn't exist ten years ago, they've gone for new things. New products which we buy. [end p14] That's where the hope lies. There's no magic in it. It's being done by other countries. (Break for 1100 news.)

JY

Prime Minister a couple of months ago I spoke to Edward Heath on the programme here about your economic and industrial policies, and he was fairly blunt, one must say, saying that the policies are incomprehensible to both sides of industry. What he actually said was “they don't understand the purpose of what is going on” and he urged you to, and the word comes up again, consensus policy. And one has to say don't you think he has a point there?

PM

I never understand consensus policies. I think sometimes it's used as a word which means that people refuse to face the only thing that will get us out of trouble. What is a consensus policy? People have different views. But I fail to see how anyone can disagree with my policy which says industry has got to be competitive. And it was ceasing to become competitive. Equally, I can't manage on the shop-floor. And I think it's about time that politicians showed a bit of humility, and knew that they couldn't. We are not over-burdened with people in politics who've actually created businesses. There aren't many …   . created businesses, created jobs. The way they pontificate on how they're created is remarkable sometimes. We cannot do it, we rely on the success of industries.

JY

Again may I quote Mr. Heath to you who said on the same programme “Government policies are responsible for unemployment”, which is a very basic statement to make. Could you deny it?

PM

Well, indeed then, indeed Edward Heathhe must also be saying German Government policies are responsible for German unemployment; French Government policies are responsible for French unemployment: all of which are rising. Dutch Government policies are responsible for Dutch unemployment. And it is certainly true that Germany has the highest August unemployment for twenty-nine years. But we do have a very tough world recession caused by having to pay about 150 per cent more for the price of oil than we did just over two years ago. And you'll say, but we have oil, but the condition on which that [end p15] oil is brought out of the North Sea was that those who bring it out and explore for it shall be able to sell it at world price. That is what I inherited. So where there has been unemployment, part of it is world recession and then Mr. Heath and other people must also be putting very severe criticisms on Germany, France, Holland, Ireland, Italy because they have unemployment and the reason is because when you have to pay a lot more for your oil which we're all having to, the money that would have gone to buying other goods just has gone for paying oil and that does mean I'm afraid that some people who would have otherwise have had jobs in very praiseworthy industries don't have jobs because the money isn't there.

JY

Yesterday, the Treasury issued a warning that if there's any hope of reducing income tax before the next election, it would be at risk unless further cuts totalling £5,000 million are made in Government spending. Does that put you in a position of having to have another round of expenditure cuts do you think?

PM

I think all the time we do just have to look at the crucial question, if we spend the money it is not there to invest in industry for the successful industries. If we spend the money it's the housewife who has to economise. We've taken it away from her in tax, she is having to economise so she can't spend on goods that might otherwise have created jobs. In Government you have to take these decisions and you really must say, well now, can people or private enterprise spend it better than we could? And you must constantly look to see, am I getting best value for money? And also however laudable things are if you can't afford them you can't afford them, and you're a fool if you drive yourself to spend more than you've got.

JY

So you will have to make these cuts then?

PM

We constantly have to look for economies in Government expenditure. I heard the news of the TUC just now, the eleven o'clock news we heard, talking about education. There are a million fewer pupils in the schools over four years. We are not expected to spend the same amount in total with a million fewer pupils than you did. But let me point out what he is not pointing out that the amount spent on each pupil's education has not been reduced. It's as [end p16] great as it was, even taking inflation into account, and we have the best pupil/teacher ratio we've ever had.

JY

But if you have to make the cuts to which I was referring just then, are you not going to have further increase in unemployment?

PM

Oh no, oh no. There are many many times when releasing the amount of money that will be spent in Government into the economy is that people have that money to spend themselves. The question is whether the Government spend it or whether people spend it. This is the question where you say do you trust the people. Now how are people going to spend it? And this is where efficiency matters. Because if every housewife or every wage-earner would dash to spend it on imported goods that would be difficult. Then we would have to ask ourselves the question, why is it that people who earn their money here reject the products produced here? And it may be that those products are not as good or not as efficiently produced. They can produce cars in Germany more cheaply than we can here but they're not paid more.

JY

Well a lady called Jean Todd has just phoned us from Birmingham on exactly that and says “how does Mrs. Thatcher expect us to buy British when it appears to me that she is successfully closing down British firms—I'd love to be able to buy British but there are so many British firms being forced to close.”

PM

She'd love to buy British. What kind of firm is being forced to close? Certainly some are closing, but take cars for example, an almost record number of registrations last month in August, plenty of money about. Now everyone can buy British cars, buy British Leyland, Vauxhall produce here. Ford is produced here, why don't they? Why do they prefer, nearly six out of every ten, prefer foreign cars? Now for that we have to look at our efficiency in our own car industry. And let me say this, if people working in those companies don't produce the design with maximum efficiency at cost competitive, we are not going to get the business. But if they don't do that some of them will become unemployed. It is not my fault. [end p17]

JY

Can I just ask you about something you said? I think I heard you say there's plenty of money about.

PM

Look, what I was saying was that the fact that we had the second highest ever number of cars registered in August can only mean that there was money about to buy those. People have actually bought them.

JY

… people would actually disagree with you.

PM

Yes, but people actually bought them. I am saying if our car industry were more efficient they'd have bought British cars. They would have had fewer unemployed and then we'd have all been better off. I cannot make them buy a British car.

JY

Let me ask you about an area where I suppose you are going to have to spend some money and that's inner city regeneration. Can you achieve that while still holding down public expenditure?

PM

A great deal of money has been spent on inner city regeneration for a very long time now. I think the fact is that we just haven't spent it properly on some of the things that'll be more effective. Just let me take Liverpool as an example. I opened a big new comprehensive there when I was Secretary of State for Education, Netherley Comprehensive. Big new school, excellent equipment, excellent Headmaster, next door to an enormous big new housing estate on which enormous sums had been spent. I understand that people don't like living on that estate. Built by architects of course, but not the sort of houses that they would like to live in. I understand that school is less than full. I think only two-thirds of pupils. It wasn't the lack of money being poured in we just didn't get it right and we haven't got the kind of housing right. Let me tell you in the last two years this Government has spent far more in Liverpool on what is called a Central Government/Local Authority Partnership Agreement. We spent far more than Labour did on that. Let me tell you on industry on encouraging firms to go to Liverpool we've put far more in the last two years in than the Labour Government did. It is not just pouring in money. We have to look to see how it is spent. [end p18]

JY

But you sent Mr. Heseltine to Merseyside and he professed to be absolutely shocked about what he saw. Does this means that Government, whether its yours or any other Government, is out of touch with what's actually going on in places like Liverpool?

PM

Well, I hope not. I think when you go round each and every part of Liverpool you know the amount of money that has been spent there and you still see what it hasn't solved. But you'll say, well how come we've spent this amount and we still have these problems.

JY

But shouldn't you or someone have been asking the question earlier, lots earlier?

PM

Not only were we asking the question. I remember the Plowden Report on Primary Schools and a person called, I think it was Eric Midwinter, went to Liverpool and we were trying to tackle this. We were tackling it certainly by pouring in a great deal of money. Now in Liverpool, there has been a great deal of lack of decision for example about a new ring road. That has blighted a great deal of property and we must get decisions like those through much much more quickly. Liverpool decided that they should put a great deal of money into housing. I think that was right, after all the best form of life is family life at home and you do need a reasonable house for that. They did put a large amount of money into housing but you know for years and years we in fact were building tower blocks and some housing that turned out not to have been well built. We did. Halewood for example went to Liverpool. I'm afraid its had enormous industrial relations problems but there are other companies there that work marvellously.

JY

I'm not blaming you for building tower blocks. But isn't it a bit like Dr. Spock twenty-five years later saying—oh, terribly sorry …   .

PM

Yes I'm afraid it is. It hasn't been for lack of money but I do think we have learned a very great deal about what not to do, and I do think you really have got to get the full co-operation of everyone there in trying to build things up from the bottom, and you need leadership at all levels. One of the tragedies of the inner cities is that so many of the people who used to own businesses, used to live very very near the business, used to take part in full local activities, nowadays so many move out to the suburbs and you've [end p19] lost a lot of the leadership. You then go on spending more and more money on the problems—that puts the rates up and the small businesses move out. We've got to break through this cycle.

JY

Let me ask you a couple of questions if I may about the nationalised industries. W.T. Cross of Gloucester says “why is it that nationalised industries always seem to be the first to put up prices?” Mrs. Thomas of Chessington, same point, says “how does the Prime Minister expect people to accept small pay rises while she keeps letting the price of basic items, like electricity and gas and so on go up?” Sheila Harwood of West Wickham said “My husband and I voted for Mrs. Thatcher because she promised to cut personal taxation and give encouragement and incentive to all workers but the fact is we have been forced to accept swinging increases in gas and electricity prices, rates, water rates, telephone, postal charges, so can Mrs. Thatcher please give me one good reason why I should ever vote for her again in view of her performance up till now?”

PM

I can give you one good reason, that the Labour Party wants in spite of that to go for more public ownership and I'm trying to reduce it, because let's just divide the public ownership, nationalised industry into two. There are some that have to compete for example British Airways have to compete with German Airways, The United States, Pan Am, and so on, and British steel has to compete because you have alternative places to buy British steel. British Leyland, you can buy cars, now they have to compete. They cannot just put up their prices because there is competition. Then you come to a whole block of nationalised industries which are monopolies. Now monopoly is bad for the British consumer and that's why I'm doing everything possible to reduce monopolies. Coal is a monopoly. 70 per cent of our electricity is generated from coal. The price of coal, although we have a lot of coal here, the price of coal if it's high causes the price of electricity to be high. Now that is the very reason, and yet the help which the taxpayer gives to coal, in spite of the prices, because coal makes a loss, the help the taxpayer gives to coal on top of those prices is £1100 million a year. A penny-halfpenny of income tax goes into coal. Electricity we had to put money into last year. Gas we did take some money out I think it was £300 or £400 million. The money to help the others has got to come [end p20] from somewhere …   . but please let me finish, this is the most important point, monopoly is bad for the consumer and you get a monopoly industry and monopoly unions—what I am saying to them is don't think the money comes from Government, if you demand more because you've got muscle, because you are in a monopoly position, you are demanding it from your fellow workers, from the housewife, from the pensioner. It is they who will pay you and I too am pleading do not use your muscle because its a monopoly. There used to be a thing in trade unions “am I my brother's keeper?” If they use industrial muscle to force up prices because they are a monopoly they are taking it from the housewife, they are taking it from their fellow workers, they are taking it from the pensioner. That's what happens.

JY

Why won't you allow some Chairmen of nationalised industries, and Peter Parker comes to mind, as he said exactly this sitting where you are now, why won't you allow them to raise money outside, to raise some money in the City for instance? And in that case are many of the price rises a direct result of your cash limits policy?

PM

Well now, Peter Parker. The British railways only carry 8%; of all passenger miles travelled in this country—go by rail—on freight its only 15%; go by rail, all the rest goes by road and car. In spite of that the taxpayer has to put in £920 million this year to British Railways, the biggest amount in real terms ever. The biggest amount ever. So you are not only paying your fares you are paying the £920 million on top. That's more than a penny on income tax. Now British Rail are heavy losers. Now do you really think that anyone would invest in British Rail when they are heavy losers.

JY

Well, Sir Peter Parker thinks they would.

PM

Yes, but he wants to say: I must have a Government guarantee. I would be only too delighted if I can say to nationalised industries, look you can raise what you like in the City but you are not going to have a Government guarantee. You tell me you can stand on your own feet, well stand on your own feet. But you are not going to have a Government guarantee and you are not going to have a monopoly. [end p21]

JY

So you are saying Sir Peter Parker won't raise his own money unless you guarantee it.

PM

That's right. Of course. But do you think people would invest in coal. Coal loses money. They would need a Government guarantee and they have a monopoly so they can put up the prices to what they like. Now that is wrong. Do you think you and I would be able to buy clothes at the price we can if there weren't competition between Marks and Spencer, British Home Stores, Littlewoods, and all of the other shopkeepers. Competition keeps prices down. Now I would really like to do two things. Let industry raise its own money without a Government guarantee, but I must break the monopoly, because the monopoly enables them to use industrial muscle to force up prices which is what is happening. Telephones—its a monopoly. They take 22%; out in increased wages and the prices went up by 22%; and there isn't an alternative.

JY

But you are saying that your cash limits have got nothing to do with this?

PM

We are constantly saying to them, look, if you do this you are putting so many overheads on little companies, in telephone prices, in electricity prices—we are trying to do something to help actually in electricity and gas prices for industry—that you are putting overheads on their prices and they will lose the jobs because they can't compete. High wage increases leading to high monopoly price increases create unemployment in small business. “Am I my brother's keeper?” Yes. Freedom incurs responsibility that's why many men fear it. That's a quotation from George Bernard Shaw You cannot have freedom unless you are prepared to exercise responsibility to your neighbour.

JY

Prime Minister, the Conservative Party. It is often said your leadership has moved to the right, and given that the Labour Party is moving to the left, aren't you in danger, don't you think, of losing middle ground support to say the Social Democrats?

PM

No, because I don't think we have moved to the right. If moving to the right is making industry competitive, if moving to the right is trying to curb Government expenditure so that people have more of their own earnings, all of those are the best objectives, [end p22] if moving to the right is being firm on law and order, if moving to the right is trying to restore balance between employers and employees on trade union relationships, it isn't, that is moving from the extreme left straight to the centre ground.

JY

So you are saying that you are occupying the centre ground?

PM

I am occupying the centre ground but I am most encouraged that my policies are receiving endorsement when they are really put to the vote in a referendum like in Coventry. People saying no we do not want to pay increased tax.

JY

But they didn't receive support at Warrington. Did they?

PM

Warrington is a place where they vote Labour and will continue to vote Labour. We have never had a hope of winning Warrington and what people did there was so that the Labour Party would get in, and our people voted tactically for Roy Jenkins because they thought he might have a chance of toppling Labour, but he didn't. Now some people are worried, Jimmy, but what I am worried about is unemployment and that's why we are concentrating a great deal of effort now to try to help those to get jobs. I said the Youth Unemployment Scheme, the existing Youth Opportunities expanded and a new scheme to try to get young people employed. Also the extension of the Job Release Scheme for older people because it must be awful if you have a family, can't support yourself and see your youngsters going out to a Youth Employment Scheme, and so we said that if a person will retire early, he'll be down to the age of sixty-two next February and his job can be taken by someone on the unemployment register that gets a job to someone and we get someone into early retirement. So we are doing everything we can to try and help; we're putting a good deal of incentive and a good deal of venture capital help to small businesses so that people with good ideas can start up and we have now got the best scheme—the small business—and for helping people to start the world over.

JY

Can I come back to the Social Democrats, because don't you think that it is very possible that you are actually looking at the biggest shift in the political structure in this country in many many years? [end p23]

PM

I don't know. I'm absolutely amazed they didn't stay in the Labour Party and fight it out. And get rid of the Leftists in the Labour Party. You asked me a plain straightforward question. I give you a plain straightforward answer. It always seemed to me that the Labour Party that I knew as a child, many of whom have policies which are very similar to mine now, it really ought to have been the left wing which was forced out of the Labour Party. But it's interesting. I am always amazed that those people who have now set up a Party didn't when they are actually in power, in Government, in the Party, in Parliament, some of them. Some of them …

JY

But how do you account for the …   .OK, well opinion polls are opinion polls—how do you account for the fact that it is always said that if the Liberals and the Social Democrats get it together that they could very likely form the next Government?

PM

Because I think people are always trying to strain for something new but we don't know what the new goods are yet. Indeed they seem to be very very disparate and they are very disparate and until we know precisely what their policy is, and they will have very great difficulty in getting a policy together. I thought the best summing up of the Social Democratic Party was the one which Shirley Williams gave when she was still a member of the Labour Party “We have got to form a new centre party, a party with no philosophy, no policy, no principles, no values.” I have a Party, I have a philosophy, I have principles. I have values. And they are the ones that we are going to win through with. My Party isn't based on economic theory at all. My economics are based on what I believe are true values—earning your way and keep in the world and having honest money and paying your way.

JY

So are you then writing off the Social Democrats?

PM

No I don't write off anything. I carry on doing the things that I believe are right. I know that in the short term they have difficult consequences for some people. I am just reminding people that at this time in the Labour Government they got themselves in such a mess that they had to go to the IMF to pull them out. I believe our policies, inspite of world recession, yes Germany has problems, France has problems, are the deeper because our long term decline is deeper—we're going the only way to pull us out and to [end p24] enable us to hold up our heads and stare Germany and other industrial countries in the face.

JY

You don't think it is possible, do you, while the Labour Party are certainly having their difficulties at the moment, it would appear you don't think the Social Democrats are really trying to be a force to be reckoned with at the next election?

PM

You know in politics the unexpected happens. They have given no proper economic alternative. There isn't one. And so many people when you talk to them privately say, yes, what you are doing is right and the moment you can start to get unemployment down it will be seen to be right and everything you have done will be seen by the people to be right, and if we can't get unemployment down immediately as much as we would have liked we can take the steps that we are taking now to try to alleviate it, and also I have been saying for a long time that I want really something like the German scheme. The German scheme for youngsters when they leave school—either they go to a job and they are free to go for a job or they go into further education or they go into training—unemployment is not an option. That's what I want to hear and then we'll be able to get the unemployment figures down but also we would be able to get our youngsters trained. And its always a mystery to me. We pour millions of pounds into training but you try to get a plumber, a fitter a bricklayer, a plasterer or an electrician. And frequently in parts of the country its very difficult to do it. So we've got to get our training right and that's a tremendous effort between education and training in the Department of Employment.

JY

Just before we move on to the next area, our switchboard is blocked again, which of course it always is when you come on the programme.

PM

Oh dear, what a pity, but at least it means people are interested. Well, perhaps they will write and then I'll know what they thought.

JY

Well, I will just ask people not to call in for the moment, please, because our switchboard ladies are going a bit potty! Now R.M. Hutchinson of Milford which is Derby says that he is very worried about the continuing arms race and the Government's failure to make any progress at all towards disarmament and he says “why has the Government not made any progress at all towards disarmament?” and he says, “why has the Government not made any move [end p25] towards disarmament talks with Russia? Time is short and it seems to me that the danger of nuclear war is increasing”.

PM

Well, of course disarmament takes two and there are continual disarmament talks in Geneva. On the conventional arms continual. They have been going on year after year after year. We get practically nowhere. And the talks at the Madrid Conference—we are constantly trying to do it but the fact of the matter is whereas we in this country spend about 5%; of our gross national product on armaments Russia spends 13%;. So she is gaining on us the whole time and those talks go on in Geneva, mutual and balanced force reductions talks and they are not getting anywhere.

JY

Does it seem to you that the difference in the priority given to arms limitation by on the one hand European countries, not this country particularly, but European countries, and by President Reagan on the other hand?

PM

No, President Reagan has said, yes, he too is anxious to negotiate but he wants to negotiate from strength. Now one of the problems now is that Soviet Russia has these enormous missiles the SS20s targeted on Europe. We have nothing like it at the moment to counteract that. And a new one comes into operation about every five days. Fantastic. Now they are bringing these latest things targeted on Europe including Great Britain. And we are trying to get a deterrent to that and we will negotiate from strength. And the cruise missile is a deterrent to that.

JY

Is it the fact that rightly or wrongly the disarmament lobby if you like is growing in strength in Europe all the time?

PM

I wish they would direct their attention to the Soviet Union, spending 13%; of their national income on armaments when their people have a pathetically low standard of living and we're only on 5%;. Please direct their attention there because the whole of the Soviet Union is not, the whole of their forces are not aligned or organised for defence as ours are, they are lined and organised for attack. They have got a colossal navy but most of their goods come over land. We have to h, ave a colossal navy to protect our sources coming from overseas. [end p26]

JY

What about President Reagan 's decision, and some would say controversial decision, to manufacture the neutron bomb, do you think this has increased the tensions in Europe?

PM

Well I don't. That is an ordinary, I might put it that way, forgive me, nuclear weapon. All nuclear weapons emit neutrons, let's get that straight. What we have not got is a sufficient weapon that would attack and be effective if we get a colossal tank attack crossing the NATO line. And they have far many more tanks than we do and we have to have some effective means of stopping it. It isn't so much a neutron bomb it is an anti-tank weapon. But all nuclear weapons of course emit neutrons.

JY

But you know that some European countries are noticeably more reluctant to accept the siting of neutron bombs than we are?

PM

Well, that I think is the cruise missile. Some of them have a belief that if they do not in fact have any nuclear weapons they will be all right. That is absolutely absurd. A bully goes for the weakest. Your and my generation has been through this. Do you think anything would have stopped Hitler? Do you think weakness on the part of a nation stopped Hitler? No, he attacked them. He attacked those first.

JY

So the whole idea of a European Nuclear Free Zone, which is not a new idea, it has been around for some time, that's a non-starter you think.

PM

We have to be strong enough to deter the Soviet Union from ever attacking. May I point this out. That policy has worked. For thirty-six years we have had peace in Europe and I remain eternally grateful that our policies have led to peace and that Mark Thatchermy son didn't have to go and fight. Denis ThatcherHis father did and his whole generation did.

JY

But you can't make a complete case that it is nuclear weapons that have kept the peace for thirty-six years?

PM

I can make a case that if you are strong enough to deter an aggressor you are more likely to keep the peace. The Soviet Union now has come up to be very very strong indeed. The whole of our effort is to deter her. Make her know that if she attacks us we would [end p27] be capable of delivering such a devastating blow to her that it would not be worthwhile. And the policy fails unless it deters.

JY

But you can't see us going into a nuclear confrontation situation without America or without NATO. Not going it alone, can you?

PM

I would not like to say that we in Great Britain rely wholly on the United States for our defence and we are not prepared to contribute to that defence. You must, I think, be prepared to look after the defence of your own people. For that we have had an independent nuclear deterrent through Labour governments and through Conservative governments. Was it Nye Bevan who said “don't turn me naked into the conference chamber”? All of those people have had it, it does in fact work.

JY

But what is it there in fact for?

PM

So that if the Soviet Union ever threatened us we would be in a position to deliver a devastating blow to her if she wished to attack.

JY

So you could see us going it alone then?

PM

I am always bearing in mind that we did in fact stand alone for a sufficient time for other people to come in and help us through. You simply have to look to the defence of your own people. But supposing we were to say, now look, we all of us rely on the United States, what a thoroughly immoral, cowardly position to take up. Would you have any respect or regard for anyone who said that? And do you know what would happen? The whole of NATO would break up. And what then would happen? We would be weak compared with the Soviet Union, and very soon they would practise Finlandisation: we would have to do exactly what they wanted. You see if you don't have it they can threaten you. I am not going to have Britain threatened and have our whole way of life in jeopardy.

JY

What about the many many letters we have had in that say “is there something obscene about spending £5,000 million and possibly £6,000 million on nuclear weapons when you have got three million people unemployed?” [end p28]

PM

Obscene? I never understand the use of the word obscene. What is obscene on defending the way of life in this country which is the way of life that the whole of the Eastern Bloc would love to have if they could rid themselves of Soviet Russia.

JY

Bob Trench is a staff counsellor at the Marconi space defence system in the Wirral and he said “we would like to take this rather unusual opportunity to thank the Prime Minister for awarding us the much discussed contract. A lot of work-force came from redundancies as so many firms have closed down in this area so her action has restored our faith and self confidence”. I should think that would please you.

PM

Isn't that nice? Isn't it nice to be thanked? But you know I went to open that factory because it is producing a very advanced torpedo called Sting Ray which we had decided to support and I was very impressed. I talked to the people and they talked to me, and they said, are you going to have the new torpedo as well, the other new one? And I said quite honestly it will depend on price. Because if we have to spend more on your torpedo it means we have less to spend elsewhere, and then you get an employment problem elsewhere. Well, they really have brought the price down and they are still negotiating on price and there is not very much difference. And I do indeed wish them well. You know it is a factory not far from Merseyside and I am … thank you very much for phoning.

JY

Let me ask you briefly, if I may, about the Mexico Conference. Do you think the opportunity is there for the free West to give a real lead on economic aid to developing nations which perhaps might provide markets for the regions of our own unemployment?

PM

We actually have quite a good record on aid and trade and private capital taken together. We have obviously all got to try to help because we get a lot of our raw materials, a lot of our food from those countries. What they really want is capital to develop their own industries. And help with their agriculture. Particularly help with developing their agriculture. What we can do is limited compared with the size of the problem. I mean look at Australia and ourselves for example. We are, what, 55 million people, Australia 70 million [sic] and then you take India 600 million. So what we can do is small. We can help I think with helping them [end p29] to help themselves. I always find that the help we give towards particular projects is something which I very much favour. You know this country has given help to Ceylon, I still call it Ceylon, with building a great big new dam which will help with irrigation for agriculture, with help with electronic power, over five years. You can see what you are doing, you can see it will raise the standard of living of the people and projects that you can do like that really are I think particularly valued. And we have also helped with private flows of capital. You know there is quite a lot of capital looking for a home round the world, to help develop things which will be prosperous. What the developing countries really could help is if they undertook to safeguard that capital because if it is just taken over or nationalised or you can't get reasonable returns out then the capital is not going to go there. But we will talk about this and do what we can to help.

JY

Now tomorrow, I believe, you are meeting Monsieur Mitterrand for Anglo/French talks. What would you hope to come out of those talks?

PM

Usually a closer understanding of one another's problems. There are a number of community problems which we talk about always but then there are a number of problems which we share in common e.g. we are very worried both of us about the Japanese habit of concentrating on particular industries in other countries and making it very difficult for them to survive. We will obviously have to talk about that. Also both of us tackling unemployment. And doubtless we shall discuss how that can best be done because their unemployment is rising. I hope that our worst period is past.

JY

There was serious talk, incidentally I read in the paper this morning, (in France that is) of retirement at sixty, family allowance and pensions going up, minimum wage has gone up 10%; and the creation of 10,000 new jobs, postmen and teachers, if that were a success would that be an embarrassment to your policies?

PM

I think they are going to have considerable problems, but that's a matter for them. At the moment they are a richer country than we are. They have pulled themselves up faster out of their difficulties, over many many years, than we did. They are a richer [end p30] country than we are. But I think myself that they are going to have problems.

JY

Let me, to introduce the final subject, if I may, which is Northern Ireland, because a lot of listeners wrote in who are very very concerned. [Christian name missing] Smith of Belfast says “Could the Prime Minister give some assurance that my children will in the near future be able to live in a normal society purged of gunmen and bombers?” Winifred Dand of Chester wants a question on partition. She says, “As Ireland has only been partitioned for the last sixty years or so why can't you and the Irish Prime Minister not get together and perhaps have a referendum from all Ireland on the continuation or otherwise of partitioning?”

PM

But there was a border poll, a border referendum just a few years ago. And the overwhelming majority voted to stay with the United Kingdom. We had just that referendum and border poll of the whole of Northern Ireland. But Northern Ireland is a separate part of the United Kingdom but a part of the United Kingdom. And my duties are to the people of Northern Ireland. And it is enshrined in law, in the United Kingdom law, that the status of Northern Ireland will not be changed without the consent of the majority of the people there. That is our law. And I only wish that I could be more optimistic that the terrorism would cease. But you see if people who want the reunification of Ireland pursued their point by democratic means, that is the way they should pursue it, it would be very much better than pursuing it by terrorism. They know full well that they have not succeeded by democratic means and they have turned to terrorism.

JY

But they have recently succeeded by electing two MPs, unpopular thought it may be.

PM

But you see when we were dealing—I entirely agree—when we were dealing with the Rhodesian problem one said to the then terrorists, look, give up the bullet for ballot but abide by the result of the ballot. Well now, in Northern Ireland, they have the ballot everyone can vote, anyone can put up, some of them get elected. But they still don't like it when the majority still say we want [end p31] to stay with the United Kingdom.

JY

Does that not though as has been said, and indeed Michael Foot said it on this programme, does that not amount to a Protestant veto if you like?

PM

Veto? My duty is to the majority of the people in Northern Ireland. They are part of the United Kingdom. We have elections here and the majority wins. That is democracy.

JY

You see the fact of the matter is that successive governments have tried and tried and tried to solve this problem. So does it not come down do you think to an end that perhaps we have to turn elsewhere for advice and help? I mean whether that is to American senators with the ears and sympathies of the Irish or whatever.

PM

I think that that assumes that there is a sudden solution. There isn't. We have been trying to get two communities working together for a very very long time. And it is always a mystery to me why people who have suffered so much, and they have, and you see the strain in their faces when you go to visit them, why they have suffered so much, why the families don't just get together and say, well look, for the sake of our children lets come to some arrangement which we will both agree. We have constantly been trying to get them together. But they don't. And so far we haven't got a way through. Except that I am constantly saying that we will do our level best to protect them against terrorism. Because terrorism is a way of saying to people “you can't decide by choice and therefore we will intimidate you by force and terrorism”.

JY

What about people Prime Minister like one thinks of T. O'Neil, Senator Moynihan, Edward Kennedy, Governor Cary in New York who in a way want to get involved in this problem, wouldn't it help you or any British Prime Minister considerably, and certainly the British people, to think that they had got rid of this problem?

PM

Well, there is a new organisation in the United States, in the Congress, called the Friends of Ireland. I notice that in the document [end p32] that they have published they say that there can be no change in Northern Ireland unless the majority of the people agree. That's what I am saying. But for those who want the reunification of Ireland, they have to go about it by persuasion. And if people say “we don't want it”, are they then to be able to resort to force, to achieve by force what they couldn't achieve by persuasion?

JY

Prime Minister thank you very much indeed. You have stayed on considerably longer than you thought you would have been able to in the first place.

PM

Well I always enjoy it and I really am rather pleased with the telephone [word missing], it means people are interested. I just wish I could speak one to one more often. I am sure we would get far more of our problems solved.

JY

Thank you very much indeed.