Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for HTV

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Angel Hotel, Cardiff
Source: HTV Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist: Max Perkins, HTV
Editorial comments: MT’s schedule made provision for regional interviews between 1630 and 1740. See THCR 5/1/4/51 for briefing.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 905 (4 minutes)
Themes: Executive, Employment, Industry, European Union (general), Labour Party & socialism, Strikes & other union action
First question missing

MT

I think a very firm one. There's a good deal government can do to give opportunities for employment. Such as, we can help to keep costs down. That's why we help to keep inflation down, interest rates down, and why we cut National Insurance surcharge. We're going to have to give tax incentives, especially to small business, and that's where the new jobs tend to come. We can give major grants for new technology and, as you know, we have done that, and Wales is almost a centre of new technology. And we can have very big training schemes, because it would be a tragedy if, having got the new technology and the inward investment here, we didn't have the young people skilled enough to take advantage of the opportunities. Now, those are four things that we can do.

Interviewer

Do you ever regret making that speech back in Swansea in 1980, when you said that the tradition in Wales was to move if you wanted to find a job?

MT

If you look back to the 1944 paper on employment, you will find that one of the things that it does say is that where you have areas where industries perhaps are dying, [end p1] that you might in fact have to move in order to get a job, so there was nothing, nothing new about that.

Interviewer

Because, as it turned out, there were no jobs to move to, were there? Didn't seem rather a hard-hearted statement?

MT

There are in fact new jobs being created the whole time, and indeed Wales knows that very much. Indeed, I would think that one of the hopes in Wales, a very real hope, is that the new industries are coming to Wales, and there has been a great deal of investment by foreign companies here. The tragedy is that some of the things that are started because we are part of the European Economic Community would, of course, be put in jeopardy by Labour's policy of pulling out of the Community. And there must be quite a lot of investment decisions held up now, as foreign companies wait to see what happens, and a number of companies here wait to see whether they should expand here or whether they will have to start up in the Community.

Interviewer

You suggested last week at your Press Conference that it was also up to the people to make jobs. What exactly did you mean by that?

MT

Well, if people go on strike, for example, there have been a number of strikes of people who have got very, very good jobs. If they insist on over-manning and restrictive practices, there is not a very great deal that government, as such, can do about it. I mean, I … I am always very distressed when we get strikes over pettifogging little things. It not only puts their jobs in jeopardy, it gives Britain a bad reputation abroad, and then it stops other orders from coming here. And, you know, for years we had over-manning, restrictive practices. Those, ironically enough, were somehow to try to protect jobs. They didn't protect jobs in the modern world. What they did was make industry so inefficient that we lost whole businesses. And so we've had to get down, now, to really efficient industry. And again you'll find if you go back to that famous 1944 White Paper on Employment, which I've had with me for years almost since it came out, it says that no scheme will work unless we get a rising standard of industrial efficiency. And we need two things, efficiency and good design, and I believe we're getting both.

Interviewer

But over the years you have blamed the international recession, you've blamed the unions, you've blamed the workforce, you've blamed the previous Government. Do you accept that you are in any way to blame yourself?

MT

Let's take some of those things. World recession's hitting everyone. We have 26 million people unemployed in OECD, of which just over 3 million are here. So, world recession quite clearly hits all countries in the Western world, whether they're Socialist or whether they're Conservative. In addition to world recession, we had a [end p2] number of other things. We had one of the highest inflation rates. That was bad. It made it difficult for us to compete. We had National Insurance Surcharge on employers. We've taken that off. We had bad over-manning. We had pay that didn't keep hand in hand with output, so in fact we had high costs. Some of those things have gone.

Interviewer

But are you…

MT

Can I just finish? In addition to that—those were our fault, that's why we were hit a bit harder—there are two other things which have hit the Western world, which we didn't have to cope with twenty years ago. One is all the newly developed and newly industrialised countries are now very efficient and are competing with us. And the other is that new technology hit us at about the same time. We're coping with all of those things.

Interviewer

Could I very briefly turn to Wales again? Mr Denzil Davies of the Labour Party said this morning that you don't rule the country by Cabinet, you run it by cabal, and that Mr Nicholas Edwards, his opposite number, is not a member of that cabal and that is not good for Wales.

MT

I'm afraid Mr Denzil Davies is talking nonsense. All important decisions are made by Cabinet, of course they are, and I am just amazed at how much people who are not members of ones Cabinet are talking about things which they cannot possibly know.