Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1982 Dec 31 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: transcript
Journalist: Glyn Mathias, ITN
Editorial comments: MT gave New Year interviews for television and radio beginning at 1100.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1090
Themes: Defence (arms control), Defence (Falklands War, 1982), Employment, Industry, General Elections, Trade, European Union (general), Science & technology

Interviewer

Prime Minister, could I ask you about the prospects for 1983, and could I begin with the general election. Is it going to be in 1983?

Mrs. Thatcher

I don't know, we've not yet been in power for four years, that won't be until May, one doesn't usually begin to think about the date of a general election until after that anniversary has passed. I don't know. I hear all sorts of people speculating and I listen to what they say with the greatest possible interest.

Interviewer

Are you saying you've given it no real thought yet?

Mrs. Thatcher

No real thought.

Interviewer

What are the factors which are likely to influence your decision on the matter?

Mrs. Thatcher

The factors—I think perhaps …   . you get an uncertainty factor after a time and you must take that into account because other governments think—oh, well, there's a general election coming up—and they want to know who's going to be in power.

Interviewer

In your new year message you talked about the government bubbling with ideas for the future. What kind of ideas are you talking about?

Mrs. Thatcher

Oh, masses, I mean we really have gone to great lengths to try to get all the new technologies into Britain, to try to get us into the new information technology. All the new electronics, we're putting through some legislation, we've got quite a bit more. Whenever I go round the Cabinet table and ask what they want to do we're just overwhelmed.

Interviewer

Would any of the ideas you're talking about help to bring down the level of unemployment?

Mrs. Thatcher

It's because we're very conscious of this that we know we've got to get into tomorrow's goods. Of course we've done a good deal to try to support some of the industries which are in difficulty today. Provided they got themselves efficient. That is the right way to go about it. To mitigate the effects of change but we've got to be into tomorrow's goods, goods that we're already buying here but buying from overseas. We can make them as well here. [end p1]

Interviewer

Nevertheless do you see any hope, can you offer any hope for the unemployed, that there will be fewer unemployed in 1983?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think it's going to be very difficult to get it down significantly in 1983, very difficult, because the first impact, as everyone knows, of new technology. Is that it reduces some jobs in existing factories. The next impact is that it tends to create new jobs with new products coming into existence and that's already happening. The next thing that happens is that you get new service industries being formed but these things take a time, they take a time in other countries but it's very significant that the country which embraced the new technologies fastest, namely japan, has got the loWest unemployment. Now we used to be ahead, we used to be ahead scientifically, indeed a lot of the ideas they use are ours. We've not yet learned to translate our scientific prowess into industrial profit. We've got to do that and we're learning fast.

Interviewer

Prime Minister, can you offer any hope that economic recovery will really pick up before the next election?

Mrs. Thatcher

Well, I've indicated what I think we're trying to do. I think the other thing is, it depends how much bigger share of the home market we're going to get with products produced here. You know there's a spending spree, the sales in retail shops are going up very well, the question is how many of the things that are being bought are British? Because if people come home from their new year's spending spree, having bought foreign goods, washing machines, refrigerators, washing up machines, things produced abroad, then it's not surprising that we have quite a bit of unemployment here. I don't ask people to buy British if British goods aren't best but we just expect British manufacturers to go on designing better goods, to produce them efficiently, at a competitive price and to deliver them on time and if we do that we can get a better share of the home market and a better share of exports and we can do that no matter what happens to world recession.

Interviewer

Could I ask you about the prospects for world peace and disarmament? Mr. Andropov has just suggested a summit meeting with President Reagan. Is it right perhaps to be a little optimistic?

Mrs. Thatcher

Well, I have no confirmation of that. I think eventually [Ronald Reagan and Yuri Andropov] The two heads of government will meet. But we are all disarmers, the difference is that some people want one-sided disarmament, the unilateralists, that would leave our freedom and justice vulnerable for any tyrant, to any attacker. Most of us want disarmament on all sides and want it to be done in a way that is balanced. In a way that keeps and defends our peace and security. It's a government's job to see that a country is properly defended, you can never let down your guard. If you let it up for two or three years you find other people overtake you and then you're vulnerable and you can't get back. I am a disarmer but a multilateral disarmer, on all sides. In a way that is balanced and safe and that, I believe, is what the vast overwhelming majority of our people want. [end p2]

Interviewer

One final question, if I may, on the Common Market—it's ten years now since Britain joined, in retrospect is it your view that Britain has gained or lost from membership?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think we've ridden the storm better by being a member of the Common Market than we would have been without. I also think we've come to work much better together as democracies by trying to meet frequently and sort out our ideas to the world at large and of course never, never forget that when we had problems and difficulties with the Falklands the Common Market countries, together with some of the Commonwealth ones, were among the first to express their support and to say ‘right, we'll keep out imports from Argentina’—they were very very quick—President Mitterrand and Chancellor Schmidt were on the telephone to me within 24 hours of the invasion. We were true members of the Common Market and they rallied to our support.

Interviewer

Thank you very much.