Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1985 Jun 10 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

Press Conference for regional lobby correspondents

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Press Conference
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Ian Craig, Manchester Evening News; Gordon Jackson, Thomson regional papers; Maurice Toasland, Wolverhampton Express and Star
Editorial comments: 1700-1800. Gordon Jackson’s article appeared in several Thomson papers: copies from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and South Wales Echo are on file in the Thatcher Archive, but there will have been others.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 8249
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Parliament, Conservatism, Conservative Party (history), Education, Employment, Industry, By-elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Pay, Public spending & borrowing, Taxation, Trade, Family, Housing, Law & order, Local government, Local government finance, Liberal & Social Democratic Parties, Leadership, Media, Northern Ireland, Religion & morality, Science & technology, Society, Sport, Terrorism, Transport, Strikes & other union action, Voluntary sector & charity, Women

Prime Minister

Now, who is going to start first?

Lobby Correspondent

Prime Minister, if I might. There seems to have developed a gap of some description between, if you like, the prosperous south east and the north, for want of a better word—the areas perhaps outside the south east. I wonder if you recognise that there is what is becoming known as a north-south divide?

P. M.

Well, we often get this question in the House of Commons but I must say I think it is an oversimplification of the problem. After the south east, for example, the second highest wages in terms of manual earnings is Scotland, and the average for Scotland, Bernard, is higher than the average…

Bernard Ingham

156, I think.

P.M.

Higher than the average for England, so the second highest after the south east is Scotland, and that is on average manual earnings. Now, I gave the figures the other day in [end p1] the House for the north. Well I thought the north was about third—Bernard, will you check on that—third highest. I give those because people tend to think that where they have unemployment problems that they tend to have the lowest wages. That is not necessarily so.

In Scotland, after all, around the Aberdeen area, you have got one of the most prosperous parts of the United Kingdom in “oil land” —one of the most prosperous parts in the United Kingdom. But in other areas you will get parts of high prosperity and then parts of real problems and of course, there are bigger parts of real problems in the north than there are elsewhere. One does not argue with that for one moment.

L.C.

There is, though, the vexed question of investment.

P.M.

Bernard would you give him the numbers of long-term unemployed in the south east. Just check. I think it is 294,000 have been unemployed for more than a year in the south east. It is not the highest proportion; it is the highest number—but not of course the highest proportion.

But I think people sometimes think that we have not got any of the problems down here.

L.C.

Because you have no city areas of problems, apart from Central London.

P.M.

After all, do not forget there are only two urban development corporations; one is in Merseyside and one is in London, and [end p2] that was because there were great big derelict areas that local authorities just have not been able to cope with, so we had to find a different sort of structure for coping with them; for getting derelict land into use and for getting companies to go there and for getting houses built there and all the services. The ordinary local authorities were not able to cope with that and as you know, the land lay derelict for years.

L.C.

So one was in the north, one was in the south?

P.M.

One was in Merseyside and one in London, the docklands.

L.C.

But there is the question of investment. People perceive that the south east is getting more than its fair share and for instance, would turn to Nick Ridley 's statement on Stansted the other day that although you have been generous to Manchester for instance, a massive public investment will have to be put into the area around Stansted.

P.M.

We have been very generous to Manchester. Something new is going up at Birmingham. Is it a new plan for a terminal, Bernard, at Birmingham? There is some new investment going on at Birmingham. What about Prestwick? A lot of investment in a great big airport at Prestwick and there was investment also at Bradford.

B.I.

Leeds, Bradford. [end p3]

P.M.

Leeds and Bradford. There was investment both at Leeds and Bradford recently and a great.…at Manchester and of course, far many more international flights going through Manchester under this Government than previously. We have done as much as we can for Manchester. I do not think anyone could have been expected to do more. We have done a fantastic amount. If I might say so, Manchester is very happy.

Let me make one thing clear! You cannot have the facilities where the market does not want to go. Right! Some of the market wanted to go to Manchester, so we put a lot of investment into Manchester and allowed more international flights to go to Manchester because they want to go to Manchester.

L.C.

Yes, one of them was Singapore Airlines.

P.M.

But the “Guardian” after all was, I think, a northern newspaper if I might put it that way, who said, three cheers, at last a government had the guts to say that you have got to have the investment where the market wants to go. But also to say that Manchester has done extremely well.

L.C.

You approved the Singapore Airlines application. Was that a personal thing? You went out…

P.M.

I went out…it came up while I was there and I knew we had only just had a formal request put to us, although it had been talked about for a long time; we had just had a formal request put to us a few weeks or even a few days before and actually, after the formal request came it was dealt with very quickly. Isn't.… tape change [end p4]

B.I.

It was 33, I think.

L.C.

I think 18 in the last year.

P.M.

Yes, it is 14 or 18 in the last year. Somebody on the radio from Manchester, after the Stansted statement, really welcomed the statement. You have got to have the facilities where people want to fly. Otherwise you may find that they go to Amsterdam, Paris and not here.

L.C.

But you are willing to encourage the airlines.…

P.M.

Yes, Indeed.

L.C.

Could we go back, I wonder, to the start of that question. I take it that you do not recognise—acknowledge—a north-south divide as some of your critics say?

P.M.

What I said was that I think it is oversimplified. Some of the most prosperous areas of the United Kingdom are in Scotland and the manual wages in Scotland are the second highest. The south east is highest, Scotland is the second highest. The south east is highest, Scotland is the second highest. Of course I recognise there are far more problems in the north, particularly in the north east, than there are down south, but I do not accept this rigid north-south divide.

In the north and north east you have got more problems even than in Scotland as a whole, although parts of Scotland also have very considerable problems. What I then said was: “Look! there are quite a quite a lot of long-term unemployed also in the south east and of course in the south west where unemployment [end p5] has always been considerably high. So just do not say north-south divide. Do not imagine some line drawn across and everything north of that is very difficult and everything south of that is all right. That is an oversimplification of the problem.

On investment, you talked about airports, as far as Government investment is concerned, as you know, we have put more per head in the special development areas than we have into others.

L.C.

I will lead on to another question, if I might, which again is from the north east where there were complaints when you went to the Central Council Meeting in Newcastle—Conservative Central Council Meeting—a request and the hope that you would return soon.

P.M.

One day we shall return in the north east. We do not say precisely when. I did not tell you precisely when I was going to Liverpool or York.

L.C.

So you will return?

P.M.

Yes, of course we shall return to the north east. Newcastle most certainly does have problems. Look at the high rates there! Among other things.

L.C.

One of the allegations made, certainly by Labour MPs to me, is that as far as you were concerned they were “no go” areas.

P.M.

They would have said Liverpool was a “no go” area, but we went and had a really wonderful reception there. [end p6]

L.C.

You have got a phenomenal taste, Prime Minister, for going abroad, particularly perhaps last year.

P.M.

No. I think if you look at my journies in the last year they were only 30 days, which was very much less than previous prime ministers in previous times.

Just can I ask you, are you suggesting that I do not go to the European Summits or that I do not go and visit other countries to see for oneself? Because they flood in here! And are you suggesting that when I go that it is not advantageous to Britain—because it is! It is really very small-minded.

You just look! Are you suggesting that I do not go to overseas funerals? Let me tell you, when there is a big international death, leaders of the Opposition cannot get on the phone fast enough to ask for a seat on the place if I am going. That goes not only for the Labour Party for others too.

L.C.

You have mentioned you will be visiting the north east. I think I have to tell you I am mandated by some of my editors from Newcastle, Middlesbrough, South Wales “Please invite the Prime Minister to come and spend two days with us!” What do you say to that? Come and see us!

P.M.

Well I doubt whether two days.…I am asked to go really all over the place and as you know, I do go over pretty hard. I went recently to North Wales and shall be going to North Wales again soon. They said do not go to Wales and Ulster. I went to Wrexham last year, just round the corner from [end p7] Liverpool; Cheshire, Wrexham. We went recently on a tour to North Wales to look at new factories and it was as well I went because it was just after closures of some Courtaulds factories had been announced, but we also went to look at some new ones as you know—Pilkingtons, and there was a chemical one. We went to York; we went to Liverpool. You have got a whole list of the places where I have been.

Of course, I can do them more quickly than overseas. I find I reach far more places here. I go to Scotland two or three times a year.

L.C.

One of the problems you face, possibly to a greater extent than some of your predecessors, is the problem of security.

P.M.

Well of course this is because of the IRA.

L.C.

Yes indeed. Can I ask you whether the terrorist threat and your experience in Brighton makes it virtually impossible to travel around Britain.

P.M.

Well no, it has not, has it? That is the short answer to that! It has not.

L.C.

It is still a very difficult problem though for you security-wise?

P.M.

Security is a question that has to be taken into account.

L.C.

Have you resolved the question of this year's annual conference? Is that going to be more difficult to stage? [end p8]

P.M.

Obviously, security will be looked at very carefully, but obviously you do not talk about precisely what the arrangements will be.

L.C.

You are still very keen to keep the access to the representatives?

P.M.

Good Heavens, yes!

L.C.

There has been talk of a bombproof castle somewhere way out in the sticks.

P.M.

The most secure thing about security is not to talk about security.

L.C.

…local government if I may. You set out to cut out waste. You have sliced one of the layers off the Metropolitan Councils. You have used rate capping to keep spending…   .and in fact you are now even talking about solving the rates problem itself. There are complaints that the Government is interfering too much in town hall.…do you fear perhaps you have gone too far?

P.M.

No, most certainly not. Two things: at law, a local government's powers are determined by Parliament. Secondly, Parliament actually came into existence to limit the amount of taxation by the agencies of Government from the citizens. That is absolutely right and absolutely in keeping with the whole origin of Parliament—that the amount of taxation taken by the various agencies of Government is determined overall by Parliament, and therefore Parliament decides the extent to which any other body should have powers to tax; and that is [end p9] at the heart of Parliamentary existence, and we would be failing in our duty if we did not. And one of the great complaints we were having is “Parliament is the law-making body, why do you allow them to take as much from us in rates?” And you saw one or two places where there has been rate capping. There was a by-election in Lewisham recently where there has been quite severe rate capping. We actually won a seat because the people were very very relieved for the rate capping and therefore they were not having to pay as much as they would otherwise have to pay.

Rates come straight out of net taxed income and they are a very very big expenditure for rate-payers, a very big expenditure.

L.C.

After abolition next year, do you think we will have a more democratic, more streamlined structure?

P.M.

Of course, it will be more democratic in the sense that the point of decision will be nearer the elector and not further away, but the powers will be exercised by your local authority, your district, rather than by the region. So in that sense it will be exercised by people to whom you have more ready access than you had in the Metropolitan Counties.

L.C.

I have one very recalcitrant council, Edinburgh. How far are you prepared to go if they do not toe the line?

P.M.

I am not quite sure what you are saying.

In a way, Scotland has already got different powers from England and George YoungerGeorge indeed has used them, as you know, so I am very very careful about what I say. Scotland has different [end p10] powers over rating than those which England has and George has used them differently.

L.C.

I am wondering whether you would be prepared to disqualify councillors?

P.M.

No, I am not. As you know, the rules are that if a legal rate is not set, then certain consequences follow. You always presume that councils will act in a legal way. Now that certainly is the rule in England. I am not quite certain whether the law is different in Scotland. Certainly in England they have a duty to set a legal rate. If they do not, I think it is the district auditor that comes in and then they can be surcharged or disqualified for a period of years. But that is if they do not act in a legal way.

L.C.

Are you worried about some of the hard-line left wing councils now you have got in some major cities, Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester?

P.M.

I think there will always be certain customs and conventions in the relationship between local councils and central government and I think some of those are breaking down. It is much more difficult now in some ways than it was. But we have a Widdicombe Enquiry and he will look into the facts and we must leave it to him and his enquiry as to what their findings are. [end p11]

L.C.

This includes the spending of money on propaganda, for instance?

P.M.

Yes.

L.C.

Could I just turn to misuse of power by local councils.

P.M.

Or whether it is propaganda or whether it is fact, you know, there is some sort of borderline.

L.C.

I have a purely local problem, but it is one which I am sure could be repeated throughout the country. A number of Labour councils in the West Midlands are siding with the National Graphical Association in an industrial dispute with my newspaper the “Express and Star” over the introduction of the new technology and in the case of Wolverhampton and Sandwell they have banned all employees, including teachers, from speaking to the paper and they have also curtailed press facilities and banned advertising in the “Express and Star” . I wonder whether you would like to make a comment on that.

P.M.

Of course, it is curtailment of freedom of speech, the freedom of action. I think it is just appalling. But can you have a free press if you get that kind of thing happening? How can you have a democracy if you do not have a free press?

L.C.

On the general infrastructure, particularly in the north west there are some very difficult housing conditions and quality, for instance, of sewers and certainly the condition of roads is said to be nearing collapse. [end p12]

P.M.

Is it? Because in fact our records on roads is good. Bernard will give you the precise figures. We have spent more on roads than the last government did. We are spending more on capital, on water, as you know, which of course is to do with sewage as well, and indeed, as you know, we have had great problems because it means that some charges are going to go up. We have deliberately been spending more on some of those things and roads and water—Bernard will give you the precise figures—the record is very good, and they are not crumbling. We are trying to get up the maintenance of roads and new roads as well.

L.C.

So it calls for more public investment obviously.

P.M.

Well we are doing more public investment, and that is within the context overall of 55 billion on fixed assets, and as you know, I think 51 hospitals…hospital schemes…health service schemes now under construction. So that is a lot.

L.C.

There are fears…I am Lancashire as well…all over the place…

P.M.

In one very dry summer when we had the water strike, Lancashire suffered didn't it? It had very considerable problems.

L.C.

It was mentioned to me today the worries about improvement of grants, the system being changed and perhaps cut and that this will have a bad effect on north east and north west Lancashire—the older property. Could you say a world about that? [end p13]

P.M.

Well of course, the record on improvement grants is colossal. It shot up about fourfold and when the construction industry was in a bad condition, we deliberately increased the amount spent on improvement grants, but when you do that as a counter-cyclical measure you cannot sort of keep it going all the time. Now we are having a look at improvement grants because what we found is quite a number of people were entitled to improvement grants who in fact would probably have done the improvement in any event and obviously it does not make sense to pay for things which would nevertheless otherwise be done, because money you send in that direction cannot be sent in another direction and therefore, yes, we do need to look at it, because you spend money on one thing and you cannot spend it on another and if it would be spent in any event by people who could well afford to do it, then it does mean that you cannot spend it in another direction.

And also, let us face it, every pound the Government spends is a pound that has to be taken away from the people. Sometimes people say: “But I cannot afford to do my own thing although I want to do it, because I am paying such high taxation!” Now, that is not right either. It just is not right if you take away so much to decide what you shall subsidise as far as other people are concerned and leave the tax-payers with insufficient of their own money to make their own choice or to do their own … or what they particularly want to do. So you do constantly have to review these things, and we must never get to the position whereby if a thing is worth doing you go to the government to demand a subsidy. All government can do is say: “Well if we are going to spend all the money, then we can only do it by taking away all the money from the people!” So [end p14] you have always got to keep a balance of what you spend and who bears the burden. And I will tell you who bears the burden: it is the great working population of this country, because your great mass of taxation comes from the broad working population in the broad middle bands. So do not only think of “Please Mrs. T. can we have more money!” I say: “Now how much extra burden are you putting on your readers? How much more are you asking me to tax them?” They might not even be able to afford to buy your paper!

L.C.

We are on to South Wales very quickly. I was asked to ask about the position of the valleys with mines and pits more threatened now, particularly the Severn Bridge, lifeline to South Wales. Tolls have gone up 2½ times recently. If there is going to be a new crossing will you get rid of tolls?

P.M.

There is a feasibility study about a new crossing isn't there which I think Nicholas RidleyNick announced some time ago, because we felt in order to give increased security, increased confidence, we must undertake that.

No, I do not see that we will get rid of tolls. In fact, I think the existence of tolls actually would enable us to do more bridge-building. The Severn is one and the Erskine Bridge is another.

Now there is a scheme also for strengthening the Severn Bridge, so there are two things going on—the strengthening of the Severn Bridge to take increased traffic and also a feasibility study on another bridge—not that decision has yet been taken obviously but there is a study in existence, because the [end p15] importance of that crossing is recognised in trying to persuade more inward investment to go into South Wales. It is very very important.

L.C.

You do not think 2½ times was too big a leap? They think it is a disincentive to investment in South Wales.

P.M.

I do not think so. Far from it. It is much more important to have that crossing.

L.C.

Could I now turn to the West Midlands? Unemployment in the West Midlands has risen faster than any other region during the recession and the latest figures show that one in five males are now out of work in the metropolitan county. Can I ask you, Prime Minister, do you feel that the price of defeating inflation, which is rising again, is unacceptably high?

P.M.

I thought I got one thing clear a long time ago. You do not in the long run create jobs by creating inflation. You might for a year or so, for 18 months. Then what you do is turn many people out of work because the higher inflation makes all of their jobs uncompetitive.

You cannot defeat unemployment by creating inflation. You have to fight the two at the same time. We believe that inflation will be down again by the end of this year. I do make the point that although you were talking of unacceptably high, and I think it is unacceptably high, it is lower than it was at any time under the Labour Government and it is very interesting to me that at one stage people thought, you know, the battle [end p16] against inflation was won and you could just sit back and it would be all right. It is not. You have to re-fight the battle every week.

L.C.

But what words of comfort have you for the high percentage of long-term unemployed who face the prospect of never getting a job again?

P.M.

On the long-term unemployed, as you know, we do have a special programme called a Community Programme, which is specially designed to get back into work those who have been unemployed for a long time and in the last budget we doubled that programme—nearly doubled it—so it is going up to 230,000. It will take some time to collect the jobs together you offer to them.

For younger people, we have the Youth Training Scheme. Now, apart from that, we do everything we can to help small business and business to expand. Now Birmingham is now an intermediate area is it not, so that it can get certain help and also can get help from Europe. In a way, Birmingham suffered in the past because factories that wanted to expand there were not allowed to do so and were sent to the regions to expand and some of them did not all unfortunately survive in the regions. I think there was a steel plant which was one which had to go to South Wales, but steel has been under difficulty anyway and I remember years ago we sent Lynwood to Renfrew up to Scotland and, as you know, Lynwood did not survive. So it had that. Now it is an intermediate area.

In the end, you know where jobs come from. They come from people, companies, partnerships who produce goods or services that others will buy. There is no shortage of demand. You [end p17] have seen the retail sales figures out today? The retail sales are booming. No shortage of demand. The question is how much of that demand is filled by manufacturers in this country? Why shouldn't we re-establish our ascendancy for example to get in the white goods market? Why should so many cameras be made abroad? Why should the Japanese corner the video market in the first place? All of these things are things for which there is a demand, and the framework of our policies is designed to try to get people who have the capacity to build up a business to do so here. So that we have fewer imports and more of our goods made here.

L.C.

Think British?

P.M.

Oh very much so! And also, if you are a manufacturer, think: “Well now, what components do I buy from overseas? Is there one that is as good, as good value both in design and in money, made in Britain?” Now, CBI have been trying to do just that and there is something or other by Basil Feldman, so far as textiles and shoes are concerned, called “Better Made in Britain” and it has been very successful.

It is a policy that some of the big High Street shops use—can we get it made in Britain? The demand is there, you see. The demand for cars is there and you only win the business by producing the best design, the best value, and governments on the whole, as we learn from things like Lear Fan and De Lorean, are not the best at picking the winners, but we do try to help people prepared to start up on their own. We do also to try to help with grants for innovation. [end p18]

L.C.

One of the major problems in the Midlands and in other areas which we represent is industrial dereliction. Will you provide Government cash for a clean up?

P.M.

There is no such thing as Government cash. Every pound I spend comes out of the pockets of your readers and readers of other papers, every pound. So the question I ask you is are you asking me to take more out of their pockets in taxation or are you asking me to switch expenditure from one thing to another?

Now part of the Community Programme which I mentioned earlier goes to clearing up dereliction. A part is already allocated to that because I do not like derelict sites. Another thing is some sites are derelict and some land is in local authority or other public sector possession which the private sector wants to get hold of to build upon and often planning permission is too slow or local authorities or public institutions or nationalised institutions will not yield up the land, and when they will not, it stops jobs, because there are jobs in planning and slow planning means that jobs are often stillborn.

That again, as I indicated earlier, is one reason why we had to put in a structure into Liverpool and into London, into Dockland, to get the land coming forward for development. You have only got to go and look at both to see how a go-ahead urban development corporation could bring the land forward for development. Some of it has been on precisely account of grants as you indicated, because we do not like derelict land either, and we do think that it helps to lift up the whole [end p19] spirit of the place if you allocate some of the money and some of the money on urban grant of course goes to clearing derelict land. Unfortunately, if you look at some of the housing that local authorities have got, some of the tall blocks, Liverpool for example, sometimes I think the rate of dereliction in those blocks has gone very fast because the blocks were not, I think in a way, what some people wanted to live in. I think if we had that money again we would spend it very differently.

L.C.

In the end, Prime Minister, we come back again to unemployment.

P.M.

Yes we do.

L.C.

You talked about the twin task…you, if you like, have accomplished…

P.M.

…about the Welsh valleys. So far as it is coal or steel, as you know, there are special enterprise … the National Coal Board do all they can to try to get small workshops going and where they get them going it is astonishing how people come forward to start up their own small businesses.

L.C.

Yes, you have accomplished, if you like, part of the formula, that is the reduction of inflation…

P.M.

Also reduction in overmanning and much greater efficiency and new jobs. There are over 600,000 new jobs in the last two years. We are getting new jobs. [end p20]

L.C.

I have heard the argument though that if you slim down an industry successfully, as you have been doing, possibly you have reached a plateau—that perhaps you cannot get below three million unemployed.

P.M.

No. I think, obviously, industry itself had to get rid of restrictive practices. Some still remain, as you know. I need hardly talk about the press about that, but the press is not subject to overseas competition. Now if you are in a business which suffers from overseas competition you have got to be efficient so you have got to get rid of the restrictive practices and you have got to get rid of overmanning. As new technology goes ahead, there still will be some companies in which output can go up with the same number of people or even with fewer people and that means the whole time you have got to look for new business, new products, to keep your existing employees going and to take on more.

This is not the first time it has happened. It happened in the first and second industrial revolutions. As people saw their work taken over by machines, they said: “We shall get colossal unemployment!” but eventually the machines made possible many more products.

Now the new electronics make possible many many more products and in the end new technology will create new jobs, but we are in that gap at the moment where new technology, as well as creating new jobs, which it is, is also creating some unemployment, and there is a third factor which will turn at the end of this decade: because of the birthrate—we have had 10 years now in which there are far more school-leavers wanting jobs than there are people at the other end of the [end p21] market retiring from jobs. So the numbers who want jobs are increasing. It is not because of unemployment; it is because the population of working age is rising. Now that turns the other way in about 1990 when the numbers retiring become more than the numbers leaving school, so we have got to get through to that and that is one reason why we are going up to two years with the Youth Training Scheme and why we are putting more on to the Community Programme, to try to help that way, to get over this difficult period.

L.C.

So is 1990 when we turn the corner?

P.M.

When we turn the corner on the population of working age no longer expanding but contracting, except insofar as more and more women want jobs. But it is thought that we are coming to possibly another plateau there in the proportion of women of working age who want work.

L.C.

By 1990, you will have fought the next election. Can you win that still with a big unemployment population?

P.M.

No, I am not just waiting until that time. As indicated, there have been 600,000 more jobs since 1983.

L.C.

But can you win the next election if you have several million still unemployed?

P.M.

Also, in the last budget, as I say, we doubled the period for the Youth Training Scheme and nearly doubled the Community Programme, but of course there are now 100,000 more businesses [end p22] than there were when we came in, so all of that is going in the right direction and the question is whether that is going faster that the number of redundancies. Obviously. I hope very very much that it is, but there is another thing we did in the last budget because we want manufacturers to take on as many young people as they can and so we reduced the National Insurance Contribution on the lower paid. That should have an effect.

Obviously, we have to explain what we are doing and how it is leading to the creation of new jobs. If I had said to you as you were sitting here two years ago: “Look! In two years you will come back and I assure you there will be 600,000 more jobs” , you would not have believed me. If I had then said to you: “There will be 600,000 more jobs, but that will not actually have got unemployment falling!” you would have believed that still less. But of course, a lot of those new jobs have gone to people who did not come off the unemployment register, but many who had taken jobs for the first time and many married women now who are wanting to work. That is no bad thing, because many of those businesses are run with the kind of skill that married women can provide and the kind of work patterns that they want. I do not regard that as a bad thing at all. It raises the standard of living and with their earnings they then go out to buy more things and that also raises the demand.

L.C.

A question I think the Prime Minister may have answered. It was whether you can win the election with several million still.… [end p23]

P.M.

I am not there yet. I think that we do need explaining is the amount we are doing, the number of jobs that are being created. I think everyone knows that you simply cannot print money on a big scale to create new jobs. All you do then is create more inflation and when you create more inflation two years later you will create even more unemployment. So you have to go the right way about it and not the wrong way. Can I also point out that even with the unemployment problem, a higher proportion of our population of working age is in work than is the case with either Germany or France or Italy. 66%; of our population of working age is in work. It is about 61%; in Germany and France, rather lower than that with Italy. Indeed, our population of working age in work is the same as the United States—66%;

L.C.

Could I turn to law and order. You fought two elections as the party of law and order yet we still have a drugs problem, rising crime, terrorism. Even Leon Brittan was booed both by the police and prison officers when he addressed them. Has something gone wrong?

P.M.

It would have been a lot worse if we had not increased the numbers of police, the pay of police and the equipment of police. If we had not started to increase the numbers of prisons and also to increase the numbers of prison officers. All of that has been done, all of it, each and every one. On that, we have put more into the battle against crime.

But it really is not only a matter for the police or government. Everyone has to get involved. Everyone has to be [end p24] prepared to give evidence before the courts if need be. Everyone has to be prepared to do all they can to prevent crime and to look after keeping their own homes carefully locked, their cars carefully locked; get involved in a neighbourhood watch, because prevention is a great deal of crime (sic) and I think both parents and I am sure schools—that is why we have religious education as a compulsory subject in schools—have to be prepared to teach straight out what is right and what is wrong and people in public life must be careful that they uphold the law, because if ever they give an example that they defy the law, then a great deal of leadership is leadership by example. And insofar as you give bad leadership by example, then of course it is bad for young people.

One reason why is so deeply concerned when teachers are on strike. It gives such a bad example to those whom they teach.

L.C.

This week of course you are seeing the football chiefs again?

P.M.

Yes.

L.C.

It is disturbing. Who is to blame for the hooliganism?

P.M.

Look in the end…I will tell you who is to blame…the hooligans are to blame, because every single person is responsible for their own conduct. That is what the dignity of man and individuality is all about. Each of us is responsible for our own conduct. You cannot turn responsibility off on to anyone else. Each of us is responsible for our own conduct. Now, [end p25] of course, you expect to be taught what is right and what is wrong, so that you have clear rules by which to judge. That is why it is important to have the right upbringing in the home as to what is right and what is wrong; why it is important to have the right education in school as to what is right and what is wrong. Beyond that, each person is responsible for his own conduct and you cannot pass the blame on to anyone else. There are a few cases where there really have been terrible cases of children in the home where they are abused or where the father is drunk and one has to do absolutely everything possible for those children to get them out into a better environment and make them see that someone really does have great affection for them and care what happens to their future. But in the overwhelming majority of cases, every single person is responsible for their own behaviour. That is what the sanctity of the individual is; that is what the dignity of the individual is; that is what choice is all about. It is a choice between good and evil.

The overwhelming majority will choose good, decency. And yes there were terrible things on football hooliganism but let me put a different viewpoint to you.

Almost universally in this country people recoiled from what they saw, found it repugnant, disgraceful and shaming. That meant that the fundamental decency of British society was still there! As I call it, the skin of civilisation held. Yes, it had a gash and a wound, but the skin of civilisation was still there, and the wound will have to be bound up with the skin of fundamental sense of decency. It held! That is encouraging. Yes, we have a very right and proper understanding of decency and the way to behave and what is right and what is wrong, and [end p26] you have only to look when anyone really needs help when there are disasters, how people come forward to help, how our hospitals were superb, how our police were superb at Bradford and so on, and when you get the great overwhelming majority, over 90%; of British people, 95%;, pouring out, then you begin to realise how the other small minority let us down and if you cannot persuade them through choice then it is prevention. The part of prevention is severe punishment to see that it does not happen again.

L.C.

In setting an example, you mentioned the teachers. Would you put professional footballers.…

P.M.

Let me say this about teachers. I would say most teachers are setting a magnificent example, not only by carrying on with their fellow teachers but carrying on when their fellow teachers are on strike, and I hope that the children follow the example of those teachers. I know how much I owe to my own teachers. They set me a fantastic example and they were held in high prestige and high esteem.

L.C.

Right. I was wondering on setting an example whether, on hooliganism, you thought professional footballers should set or were setting a good example on the field.

P.M.

Professional footballers obviously have a very considerable duty. They are idolised by young people and by some of the crowd and what they do matters. But you know, many of our sports personalities do set a superb example, they really do. [end p27]

L.C.

You do not think FIFA and UEFA went over the top?

P.M.

I think UEFA were absolutely right in what they did. I understand the reasons FIFA did it. I think there are quite a number of things still to be worked out, but let us concentrate on putting our own house in order. As I say, it is a gaping wound. It has got to be healed with the skin of civilisation.

L.C.

The image of the Government and the Conservative Party. You suffered setbacks in the County Council elections and…against you…(speaker not very audible)…and the Brecon by-election will obviously be a very important…test for you. How important is victory in Brecon to you?

P.M.

Of course we want to win Brecon. We had very many difficult times in the opinion polls in 1981. Governments do not have easy choices to make. The important thing is that they do not run away from the difficult ones and I think that whatever happens between elections, people understand that we are facing the difficult choices, that we are facing them in the right way and I think when it comes to choosing a government again, yes they will want a government which has that courage; which had the courage to do.…the right things…and I think steadily we are beginning to explain exactly more about what the choices are and why we have to make them. People understand about new technology; they understand that governments just cannot hand out jobs; they understand that governments just cannot have a whole lot of promises without considering how those promises are going to be fulfilled and without considering the burden on the working people; they understand that. [end p28]

L.C.

You have one or two critics, amongst them a small group of turbulent priests, the Bishops of Rt. Rev. David SheppardLiverpool, Rt. Rev. David JenkinsDurham, Rt. Rev. Stanley Booth-ClibbornManchester. Does that concern you, that the Church itself has become vocal in a political way?

P.M.

No, I think you will find that the Church cannot keep out of the great issues of the day, but after all the Church has an enormous job to do in keeping the standards of the nation, teaching between right and wrong and keeping those standards high, so that too is an enormous much more fundamental job than politics in a way, because although we can make laws in Parliament about what people should not do and punish them, it is only really by having some sort of inner spark and inner belief that you really come to be kind to one another and raise the whole level of society.

L.C.

We welcome The Bishop of Manchester to the House of Lords. He has just arrived.

Getting back to Brecon for a second, would you say a word about the Alliance? Are you worried about the rise?

P.M.

I will not comment on my opponents. I go steadily on trying to talk about what I believe in and why it is right, why we have in fact not run away from problems which other parties have run away from, why we have a clear policy—we go on having a clear policy—and it does not change according to the constituency we are fighting. In other words, we do not say one thing in one constituency and a different thing in another, contradicting what we said in the first and there are many many people in the Alliance now who voted against some of the things which we [end p29] introduced and now they are very glad of them! For example, postal votes for members of trade unions.

L.C.

How about now, could I talk about your personal image at the moment?

P.M.

I am not the person to talk about my person. You all do it. I do not know why. I am not the person to talk about it. One never sees oneself. You simply cannot see yourself as others see you.

L.C.

I read in the “Daily Mail” not long ago that some people thought that you were cold, hard and inflexible, when they wanted warmth and sympathy.

P.M.

I think you will find some people who say just exactly the opposite. As I said to a questioner the other day, yes, you do have to have a toughness to do this job—a toughness and a firmness—and if you did not, you would be no good here and you would be no good standing up for Britain abroad and no good when foreign statesmen came here to discuss things with you. Yes, you have to have a toughness to stand up for Britain. You have to have the toughness to stand up for what you believe in. Of course you do! You have to have the courage to go through with what you believe in, but also in your personal relationships. You know, so often, I find that the people who talk most about compassion are not always those…the people who talk most about welfare are not always those who actually do most about it themselves. Sometimes they are, but sometimes they are not. [end p30]

L.C.

Your old friend—if I may thus describe him—Patrick Cosgrave has a new book…

P.M.

I have not read it. Patrick CosgraveHe very kindly sent me a copy, but you know, I never read about myself.

L.C.

He suggested that although as a prime minister you may talk in a way which encourages people to call for compassion, but actually you worry a great deal behind the scenes about issues and subjects, but that does not come over.

P.M.

Of course you worry a great deal. This is why a moment or two ago I said children who come from really terrible homes…I mean, I hear people laying down colossal generalisations and yet I have come across—obviously every Member of Parliament comes across in dealing with cases I came across when I was Secretary of State for Education I came across through being involved with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children… terrible cases…cases which ought not to exist. Cases which you cannot understand people treating children in this way. They might have treated them in that way years and years ago, but look, everyone has a basic standard of living. We look after that in supplementary benefit. Everyone has a good education. Everyone has access to a health service. Now, we used to think years ago when you have a reasonable income so that you do not have to worry about basic necessities, good education, good health, that problems went. Oh but they do not! That is when you come up against the behavioural problems and you will find the problems of drugs. You will find sometimes problems of cruelty. Sometimes they occur just as much in affluence, in [end p31] the case of drugs perhaps even more than in the case of poverty. I remember going to to a school where there were children from all sorts of backgrounds. I remember the headmaster saying to me: “You must understand Mrs. Thatcher that we have as many problem children from homes with a good income as from homes with a low income. The problems are different, but they are problems!”

So when you finish with what I would call the education, the health and the social security, you are left with the behavioural problems, so you say why hooliganism? Each and every person has a choice and in most people the good triumphs over the evil most of the time. We are none of us perfect, and if does not you know when you have done wrong and you limit the amount of your wrongdoing, and most of the wrongdoing is.…you know, it is tiny, unkindness more than anything else.

I hope that does not sound too much like a sermon but it comes down to the guts of what a free society is all about and you choose. There is a saying of George Bernard Shaw that has always struck me as so apt: “Freedom incurs responsibility. That is why many men fear it!” Very good.

L.C.

I passed Lord Salisbury 's portrait on the wall.

P.M.

Isn't it fantastic. Lord SalisburyHe is one of my favourite prime ministers. He was such a fantastic man.

L.C.

Indeed, you are heading, really, towards breaking his record in fact. [end p32]

L.C.

Yes. If you go up to the next election.…

P.M.

He had a broken period didn't he? 13 years all told. I think he had a broken period…

L.C.

Lord Liverpool certainly was longer than him.

P.M.

Lord Liverpool was very long, yes. Interesting. He had difficulties after that…   .yes go on…

L.C.

When does a prime minister decide that enough is enough? Do you have any plans to.…

P.M.

Well I do not think it is enough yet!

L.C.

I remember Harold Wilson, in the 1970 election, John Dickinson said to him: “Are you going to go on for ever?” and he laughed, and he lost, I think. Are you going to go on for ever?

P.M.

For ever, no.

L.C.

How would you like the history books to remember you.…

P.M.

I do not know. I just hope as someone who did not shirk the fundamental problems which faced them and did what she and the government believed to be right, having taken everything into account—right and best in the long-term interests of our people. And also who gradually gave more and more powers back to people and limited the amount of powers in the hands of government. As I say, that is what responsibility is all [end p33] about, but to back up the responsibility you try to say all right, more property goes to people, less to government. Out goes nationalisation. More property to people, so that you have more of the decisions. That again is what freedom is all about. Freedom is about dispersing decisions. It is about dispersing property. It is about dispersing money. I take less of yours because I trust you more!