Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1983 Jun 1 We
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for Granada TV (visiting Manchester)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: VIP lounge, Manchester Airport
Source: Granada TV Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist: Roger Blyth, Granada TV
Editorial comments: 1345-1400.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2296
Themes: Conservatism, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Economy (general discussions), Employment, Industry, General Elections, Monetary policy, Public spending & borrowing, Foreign policy (USA), Health policy, Private health care, Labour Party & socialism

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

Prime Minister, can we talk about unemployment first of all?

MT

Of course.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

Both the Labour Party and the Alliance are quite specific about bringing down unemployment, and the figures which they envisage they could achieve. You on the other hand, if I quote you correctly, have said that you believe unemployment will come down but you won't make an exact promise. If you're so convinced that your policies are right, have people not the right to hope for a specific pledge from you now on the next five years in terms of unemployment figures?

MT

Yes. Well, let me take the things that you have said in order. The other parties are promising to bring it down but not saying how in the world they can achieve that promise. Now you can't just build up private enterprise like that, and say they are going to be more jobs just like that. In that case, then, the only way to which to bring it down is to put people into government service of one sort or another, or into things for which you have to pay, and that means you've got to put extra taxes or extra borrowings, which is either extra taxes on profitable industries or extra borrowing which puts interest rates up. Now that's going to put in jeopardy the twenty three and a half million jobs that we have got, or make it more difficult for them. My way is, yes, we are trying to help those who are unemployed, by special employment programmes, as you know, or special measures programmes—the community enterprise programme and so on, and for the young the training programme. But what we have is a long-term programme which is … I hope will come to fruition soon, for a very much better healthier industry. And in the end you know you only win more jobs by winning more customers, which you do with either products they want to buy or services they want to buy, and that's the whole basis of our strategy for jobs.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

So are you still saying that people should still go on in the belief that it will be all right in the end [intake of breath from MT] but you cannot be specific about unemployment going down?

MT

Can I say this? There are many many jobs being created, jobs in products that didn't exist some time ago. Even take something we import—videos. All right, you say we don't make them. Well, we're just starting to make them. Even importing them, do you know they have created 27,000 jobs here over the last year, as people have set up video shops [end p1] and there are cassettes and they are making the programmes to go on the cassettes. You can't always see where these jobs are coming from, but the new jobs are coming. The problem at the moment is that we are still getting redundancies from some of the older industries, or some of those which are still getting efficient. It's difficult to say when we'll get the cross over point. And I hope very much it'll be very soon, but I am cautious because I don't want to be accused of having made promises which turned out in the event not to be fulfilled. And I'm not always in command you know. Sometimes people who have got very good jobs will go on strike, not only put their own jobs in jeopardy but other people's, and get Britain a bad reputation too.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

When you say you hope it will come “very soon” , can I push you a little harder and say would “very soon” at least be within the lifetime of a new Conservative Government?

MT

Oh yes indeed. I would expect that strategy soon to be working. Because the new jobs are coming and I hope very much that the overmanning and restrictive practices which you have got both on the shopfloor and in some office administration—I hope that that's nearly at an end. But I still note that there are some people who have not got the peak of efficiency. And of course we are all the time coming up against new technology which can replace some of the old things done by people with machines, and that has to be cancelled out by new jobs in new products and new services.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

So you are not saying then that within five years, in the lifetime of a new Parliament, a Conservative Government unemployment would come down?

MT

I believe that to be so, if people take advantage of the opportunities that are there. Whether or not they will, I don't know.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

Can I turn it the other way round, and say could you give a pledge that unemployment would not go up?

MT

No. You are trying to ask me to do something which I have said that no wise politician will do. We have tried to create the atmosphere, the climate, the financial climate—with inflation down, interest rates down and I hope that both will go further. But opportunities for enterprise which help the news business, which help the new products, with training, that's what governments can do. Every single one is being done, and done to the hilt because we feel passionately about this. But also we have tried to allocate considerable amounts to investment. How far, er, advantage will be taken of those opportunities we don't know. We believe it will be.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

You've talked about financial climate and, and fiscal policy—you've succeeded in bringing inflation down to four per cent. Is it the reality that inflation has to come down to zero before you can guarantee that unemployment will improve?

MT

No. Er, it's never enough to bring, to bring inflation down. Er, you have to bring inflation down to give our own industries a chance to compete against other countries with low inflation. But then you have to rely upon the stimulus of enterprise—our inventiveness, our genius, the kinds of things that built the industrial revolution in this part of the world, that made the new inventions, that made Britain the centre for new inventions. We have marvellous scientific research. We are very inventive. What we [end p2] have been a little bit behind on is translating those things into profitable industry. Other people have often taken our inventions and they have got the profits and jobs and we haven't. And that's what I am dearly trying to do, to get industry and the universities and the young people together to say: “Now look, it's the done thing to go into industry” . Don't say it's your great ambition to stay on in university or to go on into research in some state institute. Say: “right, I'm good at research, I'm good at invention, I want to go into industry, I want to make a profit, I want to build up a business, I want to create jobs. That's the sort of spirit we want.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

Can I turn away to something which has caused quite a brouhaha in the last twenty four hours—your plans for the National Health Service, or some would argue the lack of plans, specifically in the manifesto. The Labour Party said that the policy document they acquired implies that you would dismantle the Health Service. You've said that's a distortion. Mr Fowler says it was merely a basis for discussion, and liaison more closely with the private sector. Can you say that in the next five years as a Conservative Government you would not privatize further sections of the Health Service?

MT

But there are times when you can have cooperation between the National Health Service and the private service, to the advantage of both. For example there are many people taking beds in the National Health Service, many old folk, because they have nowhere else to go. It doesn't always make sense to have them using up those beds if you can contract with a private nursing home to look after them for the time being. There are times when you can both use a particular scanner, either a brain scanner or a body scanner. There are times when there's a waiting list in the National Health Service and there might be some beds available in private sector and the National Health Service can contract with the private sector and say: “look we've our waiting list. Can you help us to get through this?” That's to the advantage of the people on the waiting list. It's to the advantage of the National Health Service. It's to the advantage of the people running the private sector …

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

So are you saying …

MT

And don't forget they employ people. Now, one other thing you said—because you asked a lot of questions, tied up one, and therefore I must answer them all. You said, we haven't published plans. Our published plans are published in the Public Expenditure White Paper which goes ahead for three years. When we came into power £7.75 billion was being spent on the National Health Service. After four years of Tory Government it's £15.5 billion. That's far more than prices have gone up. The plans for the further three years are in that Public Expenditure White Paper. On top of the £15.5 billion, this year there is going to be another £700m. Next year we have budgeted for another £800m, the following year for another £700m. I don't know any party that's committed itself in the same way that we have.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

You said the plans were published there in the Public Expenditure White Paper. Some people have wondered why the discussion document—as you have termed it—for a closer liaison with the private sector was not published until the Labour Party made it public?

MT

That document is neither marked “secret” , nor “restricted” , nor “confidential” . It was sent by the Minister to the Chairman of the Regional Health Authorities to say what do you think of this, are there any other ideas, do you think government should prepare a paper on this? Let me say this. The Tory Party is the party with ideas. It is the party which is prepared to consider ideas, from whichever [end p3] sources they come. The Labour Party hasn't moved forward since Karl Marx 's ideas, that's why it's totally morally and spiritually bankrupt.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

Could I turn finally, and very briefly I think, to your ideas then on defence? You've said that we'd stay committed to an alliance with the Americans and that you would …

MT

An alliance with NATO.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

But in this case, specifically, I am thinking of Cruise.

MT

That is NATO. The Americans are providing the Cruise free, but it's a NATO decision.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

But you would have the power of veto on that?

MT

We have a power of joint decision—which of course is equivalent to a power of veto, only it's even more so. It means the decision never gets made unless both of us agree. That actually is deeper and more significant than a veto. But it is that, that power of joint decision, is the one that already applies to American bombers with nuclear weapons here, and has applied since the time of Attlee and Truman, and has been agreed between every Prime Minister and every President since then, of whatsoever political complexion. And this Labour Party is the only one which has ever started to question. And it is interesting—it's the one which they operated when in power.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

What is there then in having an independent nuclear deterrent like Polaris?

MT

Of course there is. That is our last resort—and that is, the Cruise missiles are opposite the SS20s, the Polaris—the big strategic missile—are opposite some 2,600 big strategic missiles which the Soviet Union has. That is our deterrent of last resort. If ever we had to stand alone and were threatened by a power, a power, any power, would had nuclear weapons—you must not always think totally in terms of the Soviet—but if we were threatened by any power which had nuclear weapons. And you see if you hadn't got the nuclear power to deter, and your threatened by a power with nuclear weapons there are very severe restrictions on what you can do. [interviewer tries to interrupt]

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

Can you foresee a situation …

MT

Let's follow it through. You put in all your conventional forces and they say: “all right, we'll go nuclear” . What do you have go do? Sacrifice all your conventional forces, knowing that they can use nuclear? No, the point of having that deterrent is to deter, because don't forget aggressors go for a weak nation, they leave a strong one alone.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

Is it a reality though that Britain couldn't go it alone in that sort of situation? [end p4]

MT

I don't know by whom we might be threatened. What I do know is a government [sic] we have to be prepared for any eventuality, and I do know that possessions of those nuclear weapons has kept the peace between nuclear powers far better than the possession of conventional weapons did. You know when we only had conventional weapons Europe was at war again with 21–22 years. We have had 38 years peace and in another four or five years we will have the longest period of peace in Europe for centuries. That, to me, is the greatest prize of all, and I am prepared to allocate at some expenditure—and we get a lot for our independent nuclear deterrent, we couldn't get many aircraft or tanks, we couldn't get anything like the deterrent value that we get from independent nuclear deterrents, and I'm prepared to allocate that expenditure to keep peace for the people for whom I'm responsible.

Roger Blyth, Granada TV

Prime Minister, thank you very much indeed.

MT

Thank you.