Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1983 Jun 3 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for BBC (SDP failure to "fight from within" "The Labour Party will never die")

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: Conservative Central Office, Smith Square, Westminster
Source: BBC Sound Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist: John Cole, BBC
Editorial comments: 1020-1045. The interview was first broadcast on BBC News After Noon . Questions have been paraphrased for reason of copyright. The full text can be read on the Oxford CD-ROM.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 763
Themes: General Elections, Labour Party & socialism, Liberal & Social Democratic Parties, Trade unions, Voluntary sector & charity, Famous statements by MT
John Cole , BBC (question paraphrased)

Alliance gaining ground in polls and sound hopeful. Your reply to voters who want an opposition party more central than Labour? MT

Vote Conservative. John Cole, BBC (question paraphrased)

Thought you would say that. Must some time be change of government, though you would like present administration to stay. How do people act if they don't like Conservatives and want a strong opposition? MT

Look, I think we're going to get many, many more people with us this time, because they realize that again, whatever their walk of life, that our policies are right. Er, may I just go back a little …   . What I was always surprised about was that some of those people, the SDP people, who if I might put it this way, hadn't the guts to stay within the Labour Party and fight within the Labour Party. John Cole, BBC (question paraphrased)

They should have remained in the party? MT

Yes, I do. They were always driven left when they were in the Labour Party, they didn't turn round and fight from within, after all Shirley Williams was on the Grunwick picket line, Roy Jenkins could have fought from within, they had in Barbara Castle started with In Place of Strife and then the leftists forced them to drop it or the trade unions. They should have stayed within and fought their way through. The Labour Party won't die, the Labour Party will never die. They should have fought for what I believe, as Hugh Gaitskell Gaitskell started to fight. They should have supported him and supported that wing of the party, so that we had two parties in this countries which are founded on belief and freedom and justice and personal responsibility, and the rejection of state socialism.

The Labour Party went wrong when it became a state socialist party. Had it founded all its policies and its beliefs on its early ideals and still had this passion for freedom and justice, and let's, let's say its fraternity, because fraternity is voluntarily caring for your neighbour. And you can't have democracy without people being prepared voluntarily to take personal responsibility. Somewhere along the line that voluntary spirit—and the trade unions started as friendly societies—that voluntary spirit got replaced with state socialism, keeping people down, controlling their lives. Those people who came out should have had the idealism and the guts to stay within and fight. As it is, they didn't even join the Liberal Party.

Mind you the Liberal Party's pretty divided. Em, I will say some of them are more right-wing than me and some of them are indistinguishable from the Labour Party. So what you've done is get a sort of miscellaneous party. Well, you know if you're in government, you've got to have a team, you've got to make decisions, you've got to uphold decisions and stick to them, and that miscellaneous mishmash in the middle won't achieve anything.

If you want a good Opposition, you've got to reform the Labour Party as Gaitskell was trying, to take away the state socialism and have two parties very much more similar to the kind you've got in the United States.

A long reply, I'm sorry, but I, I feel passionately about the fundamental things of British politics, we're a democratic country. It's a free country that is founded on freedom and a just law, and a just law protects the weak. I, where did they get mixed up with state socialism? Where? They must reject it. John Cole, BBC (question paraphrased)

Who will come third in this General Election? MT

[pauses] You are very kindly assuming the first party and I believe we shall win. John Cole, BBC (question paraphrased)

No, but I expected you would think so. MT

Er, well I believe that we shall work, you know, we shall work very, very hard and I believe therefore we have a good chance of winning. I believe in the Labour strongholds the Labour vote will hold. John Cole, BBC (question paraphrased)

So Alliance third? MT

I believe so.