Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1983 Jun 8 We
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for BBC (eve of poll)

Document type: speeches
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: Conservative Central Office, Smith Square, Westminster
Source: BBC Television Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist: Fred Emery, BBC
Editorial comments: 1020-1050.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1724
Themes: Defence (Falklands War, 1982), Economy (general discussions), Employment, General Elections, Public spending & borrowing, Labour Party & socialism

Emery

Mrs Thatcher, we all understand the economic difficulties, but shouldn't you now tell the voters whether after another five years of Thatcher economics, if you win of course, we can then expect a substantial reduction in unemployment? Can we expect that?

MT

All our policies are designed to make for industrial recovery and prosperity and to increase the number of genuine jobs available for British people. I believe that new jobs are coming in. Indeed the figures show it. They're coming in the new electronics, and they're coming in in new businesses. You ask me to give a precise time. That I cannot give. I cannot tell you how many strikes there will be. I cannot tell you what upheavals there will be in the world. But I believe that those policies will soon begin to show.

Emery

But assuming the best hypothesis for once, that there are no wars and no strikes, can't you even bring yourself to say that the total would then be lower, or would it be higher, or just about the same?

MT

I believe the policies will begin to work in new businesses and new products. I cannot say how many the British people will buy. I can't say how many the world will buy. Neither can anyone else. I can say the opportunities are there. It depends upon us, not any government, but everyone in industry and everyone who purchases, to try to buy British, and for those who produce British, it depends upon them making the goods that other people want to buy. The opportunities are there. The numbers of unemployed should be down, and should be down certainly by the middle of the next Parliament. I hope they will be, but it depends upon the whole of the British people as well as on the Government.

Emery

Aren't you a little bit surprised that, with 3½ million unemployed, you've remained so popular?

MT

No, because I think people realise that it's a problem that afflicts the whole of the Western world and it came about through two world recessions in the last decade, one on top of the other, the second one before we'd fully recovered from the first. And to some extent, of course, we got over the first by lending enormous sums of money to the developing countries, and now they can't afford the interest on it, let alone the repayment. So we've had the backwash of the first recession hitting us at the same time as the second one. They know that's affected everyone. They know too there were enormous inefficiencies in British industry. They know that we paid ourselves [end p1] more than was warranted by increased output. They know that some Government had to take its courage in both hands and put that right. And they think, if I might say so, that it is right to put it right, and that the time has been now, and that we are putting it right. And, therefore, I think what they want is for us to continue along that path, because that offers the best chance of recovery and the best chance of more jobs in Britain.

Emery

But you weren't so popular, if I may put it clearly, before the Falklands came along. Now, the Falklands has been mentioned quite a lot in this campaign. I don't want to go into the specifics except to ask this. Without the Falklands, do you think people would have been prepared, as they seem to be, to have accepted your leadership like this?

MT

Before we had the Falklands, the British people knew that we'd set our face on the course for the long term and we were determined to pursue it. Mr Emery, I always used to be asked by commentators like yourself, “And when are you going to do a U-turn?” I'm never asked it today. They know that I would not do a U-turn, and they knew it before Falklands, because they knew that we'd set our face to do what we believed to be right and we'd stick to it. It was the same thing, the same quality, which came through when the great Falklands crisis hit us. We had to do what was right. We had to do what we did and—I don't like it in this campaign. The whole of the British people were behind us, of all political parties, so let's not say any more about it.

Emery

But just to put it this way, if I may. I think the question is this. Without the Falklands, do you think you would have been in the position you are tonight?

MT

I think you'd have found that the same determinations resolve to get things genuinely right would have shown through and that people would have realised that was the right way to go. And if we didn't do it, we wouldn't have a chance in the future to compete with the Japans and the Germanys and the newly industrialised nations. You don't compete, you don't get a higher standard of living by sitting back and redistributing a lower standard of living. You only get it by rising to the challenge of our times and saying, “We're the most inventive, scientifically able, technological people. We are going to turn that into industrial success in order to get more jobs and a better standard of living for our people.” Rise to the challenge, don't sit back and say, “Well, there's nothing I can do about it.”

Emery

In all the talk—and I know you've denied it—of a hidden Tory manifesto, many people, including your own supporters, worry about the problems you'd face with the growth of spending in our economy. So, the question is, why are you concealing from us the tough choices you're going to have to make? Why haven't you, in your asking [end p2] for a mandate, gone out and said, “Look, we're going to have to reduce expenditure, and these are the tough choices …”?

MT

I am not … and I'm sorry that you're not correct. I'm not concealing in any way the tough choices. And indeed when I've been faced with rival promises that other parties are going to put up this, this, and this, I've been the first to say, “No, I'm not going to promise more.” I'm not going to enter into an auction of public promises. I know what that would mean on taxation, I know what it would mean on National Insurance contributions, I know what it would mean on the burden of industry. I have concealed nothing. Indeed, it's been I who have said, “You will not be able to do that because of the constraints upon you of public expenditure.” And don't forget Governments have no money of their own. They have to get every penny piece from the British taxpayer and from British industry. I've been the person who's brought that to the fore. We've laid out our public expenditure plans for the next three years. You know and I know, every year those are reviewed by every Government and it would be misleading to say otherwise, because you have to manage your financial affairs well.

Emery

But you've only said in your manifesto that you'll control public expenditure. The Williamsburg communiqué, which you've used in your own support, said expenditure must be reduced. So I'm asking really, if you'll say now, what is it and where that you're going to have to make deep cuts?

MT

Well, I'm sorry, you're asking an artificial question. You know full well, Mr Emery, that every Government has to look at the public expenditure plans and review them every year. It lays them out. It has a contingency reserve. That amount of that contingency reserve is published. I do not know what political crisis there will be. I do know that the two … two reasons for world recession were first the war in 1973 in the Middle East, secondly the events of Iran, and that no one could foresee those. I think you're on an artificial question. We have indicated by financial stewardship that we, in fact, spend money where it has to be spent. We spend it well, we try to get value for money, and we're very conscious that every penny we spend has to come from the British people, and where we can get better services by putting them out to private companies, we do so.

Emery

I don't … I don't …

MT

That careful stewardship will continue, and we wish to continue as we have carried on in the four years. And to either … to indicate that you can know just exactly what will happen in public expenditure—you can't. You don't know how many people will go on social security. You don't know whether there will be a particular … supposing there were a smallpox thing and we had to spend massive amounts on vaccination, it would be spent, of course it would. [end p3]

Emery

But other things would have to be cut. That's why I don't think it's artificial. It's central to the …

MT

No, Mr Emery, there is a contingency reserve. That is what it is for, and in the past it's quite often had to go to give more money to the nationalised industries, because they've overspent very considerably. Again, we're getting their budget under control.

Emery

Does it ever gnaw at you in the small of the night that you might, like Harold Wilson, suffer an upset and be defeated?

MT

It is a possibility you always face. The system that brings you in is the system which can put you out, and the important thing is that the system continues. And so, yes, of course it does occur to you. It does not gnaw at you, because what you're concerned with doing is putting your positive policies forward the whole time, defending your record, correcting wrong impressions which have been put forward, and you're getting on the whole time with the positive thing. I have … I believe that we have a reasonable chance of winning.

Emery

Finally, Mrs Thatcher, in your view, what is at stake tomorrow for the voters?

MT

I think a fantastic amount. The manifesto upon which the Labour Party are fighting is the most extreme ever put before Britain. It would alter our whole way of life. It would give government more powers than any government has ever had or wished to take before. It would alter the British way of life abroad, it would upset the NATO alliance, and totally upset all our arrangements with the European Community and industry here. It would be the most dislocating disastrous manifesto I've ever encountered. Ours would enable us to continue the work we have begun, to put things fundamentally right, to get more jobs, genuine jobs, and to be a staunch and reliable ally. And I believe to be a proud Britain.

Emery

Mrs Thatcher, thank you very much.

MT

Thank you.