Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1985 Apr 22 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

Interview for Der Spiegel

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Herr Engel, Valeska von Roques
Editorial comments: 1630-1730.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 9555
Themes: Autobiography (marriage & children), Executive, Executive (appointments), Conservatism, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Defence (Falklands War, 1982), Economy (general discussions), Employment, Industry, General Elections, Privatized & state industries, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Law & order, Leadership, Science & technology, Sport, Strikes & other union action, Women, Famous statements by MT (discussions of)

Interviewer (Herr Engel)

You are going to the Bonn Summit. What do you hope to achieve for Britain there?

Prime Minister

Well, if we achieve something for the world economy, we achieve something for Great Britain.

There are obviously a number of things which we must consider. The international debt position is still giving rise to great difficulties. The danger of protectionism and, indeed, the amount of protectionism we already have; that we must consider.

Then, I think the third thing that we have to talk about also is how come that in both United States and Japan they have somehow been much more vigorous and have more vitality in the creation of small businesses and new jobs. That really is the difference. Why the difference? Why the enterprise culture in the United States and Japan much more surely developed than it is in Europe?

Interviewer

But how could this be discussed at a Summit like this? [end p1]

Prime Minister

Oh, but we did last time, because I was in the Chair and we started it, I can assure you!

Interviewer

You were the one that started all this?

Prime Minister

Yes indeed. So you actually do get down—not to the macroeconomics—I do not think you are going to solve the unemployment problem by macroeconomics, by great increases in the amount of money in the system; all you do there is put up inflation. But see whether any small policy matters which one can introduce or change in order to get …   . what they do have the other side of the Atlantic to a much greater extent than we do, this enterprise, thriving, driving, ambitious, self-reliant culture.

Interviewer

Mainly in the service industry, I understand, especially in America there are people who fry hamburgers now. That is not something we look for in Europe.

Prime Minister

Are you not in a service industry?

Interviewer

We are in a service industry. [end p2]

Prime Minister

Why do you view it with such contempt if it produces the jobs for the future?

Interviewer

No, not contempt.

Prime Minister

It is in two things in the United States. It is both in the new technologies, particularly electronics, and also in the service industries, but that is right, because not everyone is going to be a brilliant electrical engineer. There are going to be quite a lot of people who do make their jobs in tourism by serving others.

Interviewer

But we will have engineers in Germany who will fry hamburgers!

Prime Minister

With respect, you miss the point. If there are engineers, why are they not starting up something on their own? Why do they start it up much more on their own in the United States, whereas here, somehow they wait for someone else to put things together. You see, we have still got it, but you are not ever going to get one thing that is going to solve all your unemployment problems. It is no earthly good saying: “Look, in Europe, you have got to have everyone with a degree in something and have really top skill for everyone!” Life is not like that. You will have a [end p3] lot of people in service industries.

Interviewer

We know, and we would like to have a taxi driver who reads Schopenhauer maybe!

Prime Minister

Well, quite a number of taxi drivers probably do!

Interviewer

So this would be your answer to people who ask you what you want to do to get people from the streets to tackle the enormous amount of jobless we have in Europe altogether?

Prime Minister

The answer can only be that unless we are going to get the formation of new, small business growing to bigger business, we are not going to tackle it, because otherwise, all government is doing is redistributing what is already there—not creating new wealth.

No, the creation of new wealth, new products, new jobs, new services, is going far faster in the United States and has done for many years, and one wants to try to find out why.

Interviewer

How can this turn it into actual political decisions? This is an exchange of ideas, an exchange of experience at the Summit, but how can this be promulgated in politics? [end p4]

Prime Minister

Well, for example, when I was over in the United States last time, they said to me did I realise that a person working for a big company in the United States, if he wanted to leave and set up on his own, could actually leave and within one month have set up and be in his own business. I do not think it could be done in Europe. The planning permission, the regulations, the financing, the venture capital; all of the practical things would stop it. That is question one: is it the actual regulations that are stopping it, and if so, why do we not have more of our own people leaving big companies to start up on their own?

I am told at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology they start up three new businesses a week on average. I do not think I have any universities that do that. Why? You see, one must try to analyse this vitality, this vigour—that everyone expects them to be successful and they are, and everyone will lend a hand to some young person who is starting on their own.

But I do not see why one should be snobby about whether you are going to start on information technology or space communications or setting up a hotel for more tourism.

Interviewer

Space communications. That is a catchword I would like to …   . because in Germany we feel we expect a lot of routine declarations on the Summit. [end p5]

Prime Minister

Of course …   . of course, all the blanc-mangey ones, they will be there. Do you know what blanc-mange is? Well, rice-puddingy ones! Starchy ones! Yes, standard ones, all right.

Interviewer

All right. But it looks to us as if the Bonn Summit will get a special quality by turning into a Star Wars Summit behind the scenes.

Prime Minister

I would doubt it. I would doubt it. I mean, certainly we discuss these matters at the meals we have together, at the interviews we have together, but go on, do not let me upset your question!

Interviewer

You are trying to! But, you see, we feel that that will be a first chance for Mr.Reagan to use his persuasiveness on the other great leaders and you would be a most valuable adviser, we feel, to your European colleagues and the Japanese Prime Minister, because you have dived into this matter apparently more deeply than others. Is that not true?

Prime Minister

We have been into it fairly deeply, yes, both scientifically and politically. [end p6]

Interviewer

You have seen the President, I think, twice on this; you have been briefed by his technicians on it, and you came away saying that you have been given assurances that there will be a break for negotiations before the systems are produced and deployed. That was the reason why you supported fully research. Is that correct?

Prime Minister

I think we have to do research in any event, because the Soviet Union has been doing a good deal of research.

Interviewer

On that matter?

Prime Minister

Yes, most certainly. They have been very …

Interviewer

How do you know?

Prime Minister

Well, we do know! They have been quite far advanced in lasers, electronic pulse beams; they have an ABM system around Moscow—they have had it for twenty years, they are updating it. We know some of the work they are doing on radars. Yes, we do know that. It is public knowledge that they have an anti-satellite capability. We have not. [end p7]

Interviewer

They deny it.

Prime Minister

No, no, no. They do not deny it. They do not deny that they have an anti-satellite capability. But they are well up on lasers, electronic pulse beams, the new radars. They already have an ABM system and they have updated it around Moscow, and they have an anti-satellite capability. Now, surely you are not going to start off by denying that?

Interviewer

But how does it fit in with the American claim that they are ahead ten years in electronics?

Prime Minister

Well the Americans, probably on computers, are generally known to be ahead. Usually, that is the sphere in which they absolutely excel, as you know. It is very difficult for any of us to catch up with IBM. It is very difficult for us to catch up with the speed at which they are going ahead in computer electronics, in computer technology.

We are going quite a bit here. I have got a big programme of both public money and private money, known as the Alvey Programme, to get ahead with fifth-generation computers, but I think they are probably well ahead, and after all, when the United States really does get down to doing deep research, she will put a lot of people on it and probably will go ahead faster.

But certainly in lasers and electronic pulse beams the [end p8] information has been in scientific journals for quite a long time.

Interviewer

That reminds us a little of the bomber gap, the rocket gap, the window of vulnerability, and so on.

Prime Minister

I do not get into those technical things in a journalistic interview at all. Let me put it this way.

Interviewer

I did not want it to get technical. I just wanted to see if we had information on the bomber gap and later on it turned out not to be a bomber gap.

Prime Minister

Let me take you up on that—not on the bomber gap. Every time you had a new weapon, whether it was an aeroplane, whether it was a doodlebug, whether it was a V-bomb, you try to develop a defence—of course you did.

Every time you have a missile to an aeroplane, you try for the aeroplane to develop a defence.

Why in the world do some people say that it is wrong to develop a defence to the world's most devastating weapon? It does not make sense.

Interviewer

Technically, this sounds all right …   . theoretically. [end p9]

Prime Minister

No, no, not technically. The idea is fundamentally right and the idea is fundamentally comforting to ordinary people—that you actually develop a defence to the world's most devastating weapons. What possible argument can there be for not developing a defence to the world's most devastating weapons?

Many many people—your people and mine—would be delighted if those things, if ever let off, were intercepted in the sky and could never reach ground. I do not understand what sort of mind it is that says for conventional weapons you develop a defence, but you do not develop a defence against the world's most devastating weapon? What kind of argument is it?

Interviewer

There are a few arguments. Even the Americans say themselves you cannot develop a 100%; sure defence.

Prime Minister

No. You did not develop a 100%; sure defence against aircraft, but it does not stop you from developing the massive defence you did, whether that is in anti-aircraft fire or whether it is in Rapier missiles, whether it is in Rowland (phon.) missiles the fact that you cannot get 100%; does not stop you from trying to get 95%;!

Interviewer

Here, it seems to challenge the whole political defence structure we had till now. There is mutually assured destruction, [end p10] which is a crazy idea.

Prime Minister

No, I have never accepted that doctrine. It is not mutual assured destruction—it is unacceptable damage. We could never, from our independent deterrent nor I would have thought France, do the complete assured destruction of the Soviet Union. No! What we say is that our independent deterrent could inflict unacceptable damage—and it could, I believe still, and will be able to for some time.

But I do not understand the kind of mind that says it is right to develop a defence against a 1,000-bomber conventional raid, but wrong to develop a defence against a nuclear bomb. It is nonsense!

Interviewer

If it upsets the precarious balance of threat to each other, which has kept the world at peace?

Prime Minister

The balance is already being upset by the Soviet Union doing research and, in fact, you cannot monitor research. You can know roughly what is going on, but you cannot monitor it, and the moment you know someone is going ahead with research, you must yourself, and in any event, I need hardly tell you that in pure science things will be discovered which make all sorts of things possible, and therefore, yes, you do attempt to keep a balance, and therefore that is why if it ever comes to deploying the defence system, then in fact you negotiate and after all …   . you negotiate with the other party … and that is what the Anti-Ballistic [end p11] Missile Treaty of 1972—signed both by the United States and the Soviet Union—is all about. That treaty, as you know, has a clause in it which foresaw the development of new weapons as new science became possible. It foresaw it. It set up a structure for it. It did not prohibit research for the very good reason it is not possible precisely to monitor research. You can find out a lot by various means, as you know, but you cannot precisely monitor it.

So you cannot have an agreement about you are not going to go on with research, because you simply cannot verify it. There is no way.

Interviewer

…   . go ahead, because if you develop on such a grand scale, spending so much money on it, there will certainly be the pressure in 1988 to put it into production because we do not know of any example in military history where you developed a new weapon system—even nerve gas—that was not put finally into production, is that not true? You just cannot stop after having invented it.

Prime Minister

But you negotiate, because both sides in fact have invented—and do not underestimate the scientists in the Soviet Union; they were the first to put up a man in space. [end p12]

Interviewer

Why are they so terribly frightened? They seem to be genuinely frightened—to me.

Prime Minister

Do you think that if they had got the whole thing first they would really be desperately frightened? They would really stop doing it because of what the United States said? No! What they would do, I believe, is negotiate under the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty—but let me take you back again to the fundamental thing.

Why is it right to develop a defence against a doodlebug, against a V-bomber, against an aircraft, against a firebomb raid—not 100%;, but to develop as much defence as you can to stop as much as you can—but not to develop a defence against the world's most devastating weapon?

I say one other thing: I personally think that chemical and biological warfare also is one of the world's most devastating weapons and obviously one tries to develop a defence against that. But really, the worse the weapon, the more you want to develop a defence. No defence is going to be 100%;—of course it is not. It does not stop you trying to have big armies, it does not stop us trying to have big armies.

Interviewer

The way this has been developed there seems to be many people worried about it; even your Minister Howe had some public sentence …   . [end p13]

Prime Minister

Geoffrey HoweHe stuck absolutely to my line.

Interviewer

He warned of building a Maginot Line of the 21st century.

Prime Minister

I am not talking about building new Maginot Lines. I am talking about trying to have the maximum defences against the world's most terrible weapons—about both sides maybe having those defences. Don't you think people would be happier if they thought there were good defences, but you have got in fact to negotiate under the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which both the Soviet Union and the United States entered into in 1972, and that was the message which we got in a communique in Camp David, and it was repeated by the Ronald ReaganPresident when I was over there in February and which you probably also saw in Paul Nitze 's recent address, which I thought was a very very good exposition. I do not think I could have disagreed with what he said … I agreed with what he said.

Interviewer

But if you take this apart and it looks as if at first there will only be a 95%; chance of defending the United States alone against long-range ballistic missiles, Europe would still stay out in the rain. That has been said by many people. [end p14]

Prime Minister

Not necessarily. No, no, no. Maybe it has, but it has not been said by the Ronald ReaganPresident of the United States who said: yes, of course, it would be available to Europe and to the Allies, just as much as the United States. You have got a shorter trip wire, you have got a shorter time, yes.

Interviewer

And then you would leave defence completely to computers if you have only sixty seconds to decide.

Prime Minister

Yes, because that is the only thing, but you have also got to bear in mind that not only will you have a world in which the big powers may have nuclear weapons—you may have a world in which others may get nuclear weapons, and the only way actually to stop one may be a very rapid trip through computers. But your computer is going to stop the thing; it is not going to deliver another one.

I mean, your defence is not a nuclear weapon. Your defence against the nuclear weapon is not a nuclear weapon. So I do not quite understand what it is you are desperately worried about. I understand that you might get an imbalance, and that is why I say you have to negotiate on deployment. That has not been in doubt, and you will find that President Reagan has said: “Yes, I think it would be a much better world if we were all able to stop these weapons!”

Now, I do not believe you will ever have 100%; and therefore I still think you will have a nuclear deterrent, because to me— [end p15] we have a small number, 2½%; to 3%; compared to what the Soviet Union has got—therefore to me a small number is still unacceptable damage.

Interviewer

Then the French “Force de Frappe” and your atomic U-boats would be obsolete?

Prime Minister

No, not for a very very long time! I remember when I was in the House of Commons after we had the homing experiment, when as you know, the missile found the incoming device. That very afternoon, I thought: “Well, isn't Trident out of date!” You know, just as if one experiment meant that you had the whole technology. No, it will be a long time before the whole technology is …

Interviewer

So you are convinced Mr. Reagan at present is only striving for research; he is not bent upon fireworks getting rebuilded and so on …   .

Prime Minister

Ronald ReaganThe President has said, both to me, in a joint communication with me, and later when I was over there in February and again through Paul Nitze, that if it comes to deployment they will negotiate under the ABM treaty. [end p16]

Interviewer

So you are supporting his line fully, if I understand you correctly?

Prime Minister

We are both on the same line.

Interviewer

Because in our country we have a conditioned reflex and the French have suggested that the Europeans develop their own research on this matter. Would you agree to this? Would you think this is a good idea?

Prime Minister

Well, I rather thought that that was not quite what the French said. Please correct me if I am wrong. I rather thought that they were suggesting that insofar as we do research on SDI in response to the American invitation, that we coordinate our efforts. I doubt very much whether we could all put the fantastic number of resources—scientific resources—on to it that would be necessary so much as the Americans can and it does not seem to me to be wise to duplicate the effort. After all, we are allies. Let there be no nonsense about it. We are not non-aligned. We are not neutral. We are part of the defence of the Free World and we are allies.

Interviewer

But sometimes we are unequal allies. Some are more equal than others; because they have atomic power, they are more [end p17] powerful. They are global powers, like the United States and the Soviet Union.

Prime Minister

Yes, indeed.

Interviewer

Helmut KohlOur Prime Minister, just in the Bundestag, called for Europe to unite their technological forces to form a group that could talk on an equal basis to the Americans and we not just be sub-contractors for American industry. Is that not a reasonable suggestion?

Prime Minister

It is a possible suggestion, but I would not accept that necessarily in our research effort to complement theirs that we were just sub-contractors for American industry. We have some extremely good research scientists. So have you. So has France. So has France. When I first went over to NASA to see the Gemini Programme, the person I met who was in charge of it was a former constituent of mine. He is now on the space shuttle. I mean, we have a lot of people who are very good on the communications aspect of it and on certain aspects of software as well, and I would hope that our scientists will be in demand from the United States. After all, our people went over in war-time and did work on that atomic weapon as well. We have a long history of cooperation in research with the United States. [end p18]

Interviewer

It is a very sad story as far as technological two-way cooperation is concerned with the space lab. You know, we built it, we put the money in it, we got almost nothing out of it.

Prime Minister

But surely you put some of your own experiments on the space lab?

Interviewer

Very little, and it all went over to the Americans and we felt that this was not the way it should work and with other projects it failed too, so our experience was rather a sad one, and that is the reason why in the German Bundestag people keep pushing Chancellor Kohl to take a tougher stance.

Prime Minister

May I just say this? I do not think we help anyone if we try to divide the United States from Europe or any of us from them. You are going to ask me some questions about Mr. Gorbachev later. I have always made it perfectly clear in any discussions I have ever had with the Soviet Union, any representative, “Do not waste your time trying to divide me from the United States! We are the Western Alliance! And there is no point in trying to divide me, because you will not succeed in doing!” and I think that is true of almost all of the Western Alliance. Whenever we talk at heads of government we are not going to be divided, all right, because it is not in the interests of our countries or of our peoples or of the history of liberty to do so. [end p19]

Interviewer

That has come through to the Russians perfectly, because whenever we talk to them in the Kremlin they start off very often with sentences like: “Of course, we are not trying to break you away from the Americans!”

Prime Minister

And then they promptly proceed to try to do so!

Interviewer

You are in a unique position, because you talked to Mr. Reagan on Star Wars and you talked also to Mr. Rabacha (phon.) [Gorbachev?] on Star Wars, so what was your impression? Was he genuinely frightened by this, because he has threatened to walk out in Geneva if Mr. Reagan insisted …   .

Prime Minister

Why do you use the word “frightened”? I do not think Mr. Gorbachev is frightened of anything. I think that he would say …   . I told him … he knew full well that the Soviet Union in some respects was ahead of the United States, certainly in the anti-satellite capability and I think on lasers and electronic pulse beams—at one stage they were, I do not know quite how far the United States has caught up …   . he would understand that if you have to negotiate deployment, then in fact it gives him a mechanism to have influence over the deployment and do not forget that the …   . system round Moscow is pretty effective already. [end p20]

Interviewer

…   . an old-fashioned system.

Prime Minister

Yes, but it is being updated, of course it is. Mr. Gorbachev is not frightened about anything. What he would say is that if this is going to be the next generation of weapons, then of course we have to get into them.

Interviewer

And his threat to walk out in Geneva? You think the West should run it?

Prime Minister

I have not seen a threat to walk out in Geneva operative yet. In fact, they have come through the first round of talks—they are over tomorrow—and I think they will go back after a reasonable break. Both sides—both sides—want to, I hope, diminish the stock of nuclear weapons. Certainly, President Reagan is very anxious to do. I also believe that the Soviet Union would like to do that as well. There are far too many, far too many. You would still have totally unacceptable damage if you reduced them by half.

Interviewer

It is terrible to have …   . many times. [end p21]

You said Mr. Gorbachev was a man one could do business with. What did you actually mean? Is he sober, realistic? Is he one you could trust or what do you mean by this—to do business with?

Prime Minister

Mikhail GorbachevHe is extremely well-briefed and therefore you can talk both in general and in considerable detail. He does not do what so many Soviet leaders do, you know, read out a typewritten document. He is very well-briefed on everything. I hope to goodness I am also very well-briefed. It has always been my purpose to be, so we naturally get on well together; he is well-briefed, I am well-briefed, so we understand what one another is saying. There is no difficulty about that.

Interviewer

Can you talk to him about laser beams and high-speed particles?

Prime Minister

Yes, I do, but you do not need to know the details to be able to talk about those things. Mikhail GorbachevHe must have some considerable scientific experience in agriculture. You only need to get the basic; you are not going into the full details obviously. But he is very well-briefed. He is obviously a very self-confident person and a person who is quite willing to enter into debate, discussion and argument and therefore I can always do business with that sort of person. I understand when he is talking propaganda. [end p22]

Interviewer

And he is understanding you understand he is talking propaganda?

Prime Minister

Yes, that is right, yes, and I expect Mikhail Gorbachevhim to do the same to me. Look! I am not interested in that. Let us get down to what really matters. No, I found that I had a very long talk with him. I had a very detailed talk with him. He would respond to my arguments, I would respond to his arguments. Now, that kind of person, yes I can do business with. No rose-tinted spectacles about the communist system. He does not look at us with any rose-tinted spectacles either, but it is an assessment of the other person and an assessment of how far you can get with them and the way in which you can go. But I believe that both the Western Alliance, of which we are a part, and the Soviet Union Alliance would like to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and the amount spent on weaponry, and I did not expect this round of talks to get anywhere. Obviously they are skirting one another and assessing the other's position, which you would expect.

Interviewer

He has suggested high-level meetings at a regular basis between the Soviet Union and the United States. So you would say that a man like Gorbachev would really be interested—would be a man who should be promoted on this idea?

Prime Minister

Mr. Gorbachev would be very much in command of everything [end p23] that goes on there.

Interviewer

So you think this is a good idea?

Prime Minister

Well, I certainly have no objection to it if it helps to achieve …   . but normally, that is only something that you need when you have got stuck in the talks. Then you might need a high-level meeting to get a breakthrough. But you only use that procedure, in my view, on very rare occasions. First, because it gives an artificial (sic) to equal and opposite things; either a heightened idea of crisis which you do not want, or a heightened expectation. It is very difficult for heads of government, and particularly heads of state, to meet frequently…

Interviewer

Like the French and German Chancellor …

Prime Minister

Well, that is all within a framework. We do it twice a year. That is all within a known framework. But I do not think it would be possible to have a quiet meeting between the Ronald ReaganHead of State of the United States and Mr. Gorbachev without there being either a heightened crisis or heightened expectation, so I would use it, but rarely. I think when it comes it has to be a very great occasion. The hopes of the world will tend to hang on it, whatever one says. Therefore, I think myself [end p24] those meetings should be enormously carefully prepared, unless they take place in the margins of another meeting, either of the United Nations or elsewhere, so I would not use that particular mechanism, those particular meetings frequently. I think they would take away from the significance of them.

In Europe, we are a partnership in an economic community—and much more than an economic community—so we have a framework. We meet with each other three times a year anyway altogether and then we go bilaterally.

Interviewer

Coming back on what you said about Gorbachev, what became of the story you told me when I saw you last about Little Red Riding Hood, sweet voice, should watch out, not forgetting the teeth of the wolf?

Prime Minister

Very much so. That is right.

Interviewer

That is still unchanged?

Prime Minister

Absolutely unchanged. You take your main assessment.

Interviewer

…   . [end p25]

Prime Minister

Believe you me, as any woman will ever tell you, they are always more dangerous when they are polished and charming!

Interviewer

That is a very definite answer!

Interviewer (Valeska Von Roques)

Turning to the domestic scene, Prime Minister, some of your policies have become known as “Thatcherism” and many people seem to understand different things by it. What is your own definition of it?

Prime Minister

Well, my own definition of it is really sound financial policies and sound industrial policies against a background of limitation of the power of the State in order to give freer rein to the talents and abilities of individuals and companies to make the most of the available opportunities.

It is a doctrine called “Thatcherism” which is very widely accepted the world over. I find Thatcherites not only in Germany, in France, in Australia, in New Zealand.

Interviewer (Male)

You have been asked whether you are a Thatcherite yourself sometimes. [end p26]

Prime Minister

Have I really?

Interviewer

Yes, I have seen it in the newspapers at least.

Interviewer (Female)

Going back to what you said earlier, there has been some interesting criticism on Thatcherism lately coming from well-meaning people of your own camp actually, saying that the uninhibited free enterprise society you are trying to create in this country actually runs against the British character. The “Sunday Telegraph” wrote: “We are victims of our own feudal heritage which despises hard work and encourages tolerance of idleness!”

Prime Minister

But I am not trying to create an uninhibited free enterprise. I will tell you what would happen if you tried to do that. You jolly soon would not have free enterprise, because they would all get tied up into cosy little cartels. It is my job to prevent that happening. That is why I have an anti-monopoly policy, so they cannot get tied up into cosy cartels, because the freedom of one implies the freedom of another, and many industrialists would like to get a nice cosy protectionist framework. My policies stop them. You cannot have uninhibited free enterprise. If you did, it would soon lead to the extinction of free enterprise. You have got to have the right framework of both financial rules and the right framework of regulations, [end p27] although they must never be too intricate or detailed, to enable that very freedom and competition to flourish and not be extinguished.

Interviewer (Female)

After your great wave of popularity and very great electoral victory, the public mood now has turned a bit against you lately. According to the polls, Labour is way up, about four points ahead of you, and your personal rating has fallen too. How do you view it?

Prime Minister

At this time, during my first term of office, I was much worse off than I am now. Indeed, we are seven points ahead of the comparative position where we were then. I shall be absolutely delighted if that seven points lead continues all the way—the seven points ahead of where we were then—continues all the way up to the election.

Yes, we have to make decisions. Some of them are tricky decisions and some people do not like them.

Interviewer (Female)

You took office on the pledge to get the country moving and you did; inflation is down, profits are up, productivity is up, 4%; economic growth forecast for this year …   . have we missed any out? [end p28]

Prime Minister

Record output, record standard of living, record investment. The problem is unemployment.

Interviewer (Male)

Would you say that the bitter medicine you prescribed for your country has worked generally?

Prime Minister

As far as getting efficient industries are concerned, yes, very much so. As far as moving State industries into the private sector is concerned, yes. As far as getting inflation down is concerned. As far as getting more people owning their own property, yes. But unemployment has hit not only us, but the whole of Europe as well.

Interviewer (Male)

(inaudible)

Prime Minister

Yes, because we had in fact more disguised unemployment. We had overmanning and restrictive practices on a scale which you never encountered in Germany, and therefore …

Interviewer

… and that is the reason in your eyes why you have such a high level? [end p29]

Prime Minister

Also that, and I am not quite sure how your demographic curve goes. Here, we have a much bigger population of working age now, and it is going to go on, because we have more school-leavers than we have people retiring right up to 1989. I do not think it is the same for you, because I understand you are getting a shortage of people to go into the armed forces. It is the other way round. And you have also got conscription, do not forget; we have not. But between 1974 and 1984, that is when we were last in government to now, there are 1.3/4 million more people in the population of working age than there were in the last ten years. So that also is a problem.

So you have got the technological revolution. You have got the getting efficient and you have got this demographic curve and then you have of course the effects of the world recession about which we are coming out.

Interviewer (Female)

Prime Minister, you did say: “Yes, unemployment is a big problem” and maybe it is the main problem. What is your idea about what are you going to do against it?

Prime Minister

What are you going to do against it in Germany? We are both going to try to do the same thing. There is only way in which you can create jobs and that is by having people who have the talent to create products and services that will sell, and it does not matter what any economic institutes say, what any institutes of any kind say, unless we get more people doing that [end p30] and this is where we started—with the United States having this enterprise culture; much greater formation of small businesses.

We have now 100,000 more businesses in existence than when I took office, and the numbers of self-employed are increasing, but unless, by your policies, you can persuade or give incentives to people who have that talent and ability to do it, then all that people can ever do is just redistribute what you have got, and that really would not be good enough.

But it is slowly beginning to work. We have created over the last eighteen months 600,000 new jobs.

Interviewer (Female)

But did they not go mainly to sort of part-time jobs?

Prime Minister

What is wrong with that? Why the criticism? Is it not better to have 600,000 more part-time jobs—not all part-time, but most of them are—because those people will also be earning, they will spend money and therefore you will have the possibility of them spending on other things that are produced in this country and create other jobs. So I say, yes, service industries, and you say but aren't there any service industries [sic]. I say 600,000 jobs, you say they are only part-time jobs. You tell me another country in Europe that has created 600,000 more jobs in the last 18 months!

Interviewer (Male)

As far as service industries are concerned, Madam Prime Minister, only a minority of these youngsters who are unemployed [end p31] find work in banks and insurance companies, for example.

Prime Minister

Well, tourism is a great attraction in this country and on our Youth Training Scheme, for example on hotels—on tourism, hotels and catering, 90%; of the youngsters get jobs immediately from the training.

Interviewer

Is it not so, Madame Prim Minister, that it is very important to concentrate more on the vocational training of young people in this country because, for example, only 30%; of the British workforce has attained vocational qualifications like an apprenticeship? What are you doing about that?

Prime Minister

Well first, we have a Youth Training Scheme which is going from one year now to two years. Again, I do not know any other in Europe which will match it. So that every youngster who leaves school and does not wish to go on into higher education can have youth training and that will give a lot of them skills. We have a hundred computer centres up and down the country—information technology centres—which also is training young people, most of whom have not gone into higher education.

As far as the proportion of the age group going into higher education and in professional training is concerned, we do match quite well with elsewhere. [end p32]

Interviewer (Male)

The intentions behind these programmes, Madam Prime Minister, are certainly good but critics claim that school-leavers are being used as cheap substitute labour in these schemes. One girl in a group of unemployed youngsters that was recently received by you here in Downing Street said afterwards: “Most of us have never been on those schemes and they do not work—you are left with nothing!”

Prime Minister

May I say that that group who came to 10 Downing Street, I had here to meet them the Personnel Director of Vauxhall, the big motor car firm, the Managing Director of Dewhurst, a very big textile and clothing firm that works with Marks and Spencers, the Personnel Director of Trust Houses Forte, a very big hotel group, the Chairman of the Manpower Services Commission, the Area Manager of the Manpower Services Commission; there are not many youngsters who have had the chance of seeing those, all of those three, Vauxhall, textiles, Trust Houses Forte, and while we were sitting there information came in from another hotel group in Liverpool: “We are recruiting”. Those youngsters had a fantastic opportunity. It took me quite a time actually to persuade them even to listen to those who said they had jobs to offer.

The Youth Training Scheme is excellent. May I point out one thing where in Germany you are perhaps slightly better off than we are. Your apprentices are paid approximately between 20%; and 30%; of the adult wage and therefore a lot of your youngsters go and take apprenticeships for a very long time. Our [end p33] youngsters, including those youngsters who came to see me, many of them said: “No, we expect something much bigger. We will not work for that amount of money!” Now, you cannot have training and be paid a great deal at the same time. Your youngsters have a different approach than we do, and so they get training. I am trying to get the same approach here and say to them: “Look! If you are unskilled, why in the world do you think that an employer can just afford to take you on unskilled? He has got to sell his product at the end. If he cannot sell his product at the end, there is no job for you!” But they came here thinking that I could just conjure up jobs, you know, out of a hat. One cannot, and I had to get across more of the fundamental economic facts of life: that the employer has to sell his product; that if the price of the labour is greater than the price of the product there are no jobs.

Interviewer (Female)

Coming from the Continent, Prime Minister, one does indeed see a shocking contrast between bustling London and …   . Sheffield in the north. What do you plan to do about the economic …   .

Prime Minister

Well, I think you should look at a programme that was shown recently on Channel Four, which showed some very difficult towns in the south and showed some very flourishing ones in the north. Indeed, one of the most flourishing of our towns is of course Aberdeen which is right in the north of Scotland, so I think it is a very simplistic approach, the one which you have said, and I think if you look at the figures you will find that in the south of [end p34] the country there are just as many people who have been unemployed for a year as there are in the north.

Now, of course, there are parts of the north which suffer and you must indeed have parts of Germany that suffer because they had the old heavy industries, the old smoke-stack industries …   . it is where the smokestack industries were. There certainly were more in the north and it is also for shipbuilding, because ship-building has moved out to the newly developed countries. They are doing it much more cheaply. Same story in Germany. Steel has moved out. Every newly developed country wants a steel plant.

Now, this actually affects all of us. We have in fact an enterprise company where steel plant has to close down to help them start up new businesses. Now in Corby that is doing very well. We had to close down a main steelworks in Corby. In Consett it is at last going—it is further north—but it is a good deal more difficult.

But certainly, where they had the old heavy industries that is so, but you know there is a whole belt through Scotland which has got the new electronic industries right through there. They have got the new oil industries, they have got the new oil technology, and I do not think these simplistic divisions actually help, because we have problems. In the south west we have got difficult problems. We always have had. So it is not a straight north-south. In days of yore, of course, when the heavy industries were in their heyday, the north was more wealthy than the south.

Interviewer

Exactly the same as Germany. [end p35]

Prime Minister

So do not fasten on to simplistic things.

Interviewer (Female)

Prime Minister, when you formed your second Cabinet, you showed a clear preference for new and fresh forces in conservative politics. Why is it then that you did not find a woman to join …

Prime Minister

I did. Lady Young was in the Cabinet for a time. Unfortunately, we have far too few women in Parliament, far too few. I have in fact got quite a lot of women Ministers.

Interviewer

But it seems strange that the first female Prime Minister in history in Great Britain has taken an assistant colleague or whatever you would call it …

Prime Minister

Lady Young was a member of Cabinet.

Interviewer (Female)

She is a …   . minister.

Prime Minister

She is now, but she was the Leader of the House of Lords. She was the first woman to lead the House of Lords and then, when Lord Whitelaw went up into the House of Lords from our House, we [end p36] changed. Lady Young was in my Cabinet and was the first woman to lead the House of Lords and was a full Cabinet Minister. And I have a woman Valerie StrachanPermanent Secretary.

Interviewer (Female)

So you think you actually did something for women?

Prime Minister

Oh my goodness me, yes.

Interviewer (Female)

You certainly are aware of what has been said about women in power, that they must become like men.

Prime Minister

No, I do not necessarily accept that. Normally, it is said by men, not by …   . I have not heard another woman say it.

Interviewer (Female)

Oh no, I would disagree with that statement too, because it does imply a woman cannot be strong, a woman cannot be aggressive and I think women can be and should be too. What do you think?

Prime Minister

Firm. You do not need to be aggressive, but you can be very firm. After all, in life we have quite a lot of experience of that. [end p37]

(Note: Sometimes in the following piece, Male and Female interviewers butt in on each other.)

Interviewer

Talking about being firm …   . there is a lot of admiration for your resolve and many of your qualities … courage … yet one criticism one hears often is that you tend in …   . your Cabinet members for instance to be very aggressive, very dominant and impatient. Why do you think that criticism comes? Do you think there may be some resentment in that criticism?

Prime Minister

It seems to me that everything you are saying is acceptance that one has a strong personality. That can either happen to a man or a woman. But you do not get to be Prime Minister, I would have thought—or should not—without being a fairly strong personality and without knowing what you want. I do not think that the job of being Prime Minister is just to chair a Cabinet. Not at all. It is to lead it in the direction which you want to go and there is nothing wrong with the Prime Minister actually knowing the direction in which he or she wants to go, and trying to steer the Cabinet in that direction.

Interviewer

Looking back at your experience, would you say that being a woman has helped or hindered you in your career?

Prime Minister

I do not think it has hindered, no, at all. I do not think [end p38] it has hindered. I do not think it has helped either! There were times when the initial leap was difficult to make, but I do not think you should necessarily look at men or women. I think you should say: “Is the right personality there?”

Interviewer

So you would not accept this criticism and would rather say that being firm is the ability that counts?

Prime Minister

That is right. Having a strong personality, knowing the direction in which you want to go and being fairly firm.

Interviewer

Otherwise you would not have had three clear victories over powerful men, Heath, General Galtieri, and Arthur Scargill?

Prime Minister

Well, we were firm and knew what we wanted, the direction in which we wanted to go.

Interviewer

The catchword “Arthur Scargill”, Madam Prime Minister. For one year, Britain went through the most bitter industrial conflict of its recent history. Here again, you showed impressive determination and one could basically agree with your position. One could not go on subsidising unprofitable mines nor could Mr. Scargill be allowed to topple the Government. But looking at it [end p39] now that the smoke has cleared, do you not think that the strike has damaged the social fabric of your nation?

Prime Minister

No, I do not think it has damaged the social fabric of the nation. What would have damaged Britain almost beyond recall would have been had Government given in to the violence and intimidation which was an essential feature of that strike. We would have had no future had we given in to that.

No, the outstanding thing about that strike was that the moderate miners kept working and that moderation found its own leadership, and that was a really big lasting plus which is going to come from that strike.

Interviewer

The strike has cost the country £2.75 billion according to the Chancellor.

Prime Minister

It has indeed cost a good deal, because we had to buy a good deal of oil, but the immense damage that would have been done to Britain's whole reputation and future had we given in to that demand, made without a ballot, an unreasonable demand, an impossible demand, not made by any previous executive of the NUM to any previous government, the harm that would have been done to Britain's reputation would have been incalculable. [end p40]

Interviewer

Yet on the other hand, Madam Prime Minister, for almost six months you did not comment at all, or very seldom only; on the contrary. You could not, by virtue of your office, have intervened earlier or even acted as some sort of concilator?

Prime Minister

There were many many sets of meetings between Ian MacGregorthe Chairman of the National Coal Board and it is absolutely fatal for politicians to take over the management of an industry. The people to manage an industry are the Chairman and the Board of the National Coal Board. They met frequently, quite frequently. There were many rounds of meetings with the NUM. They always came up against the fundamental problem: that the leadership of the NUM at that time wanted the right to manage the industry. No management can ever give over that right.

Interviewer (Female)

Prime Minister, what was your darkest and what was your finest hour?

Prime Minister

My goodness me! I never quite know how to answer these questions. I think the most difficult time of course was during the Falklands War when we suffered some very bad losses. [end p41]

Interviewer (Male)

Have you ever had a moment when you felt you would have to step down if something went wrong?

Prime Minister

No, I do not think so. No.

Interviewer (Male)

The Falkland War created quite a big impression in Germany but because of a different thing on the Continent than here. You see, when you went in to send your boys down there many people were impressed by courage and resolve shown not to give in to armed aggression. That is all right. But on the other hand, when Britain really went to an old-fashioned type of war, people were taken aback …

Prime Minister

It was an old-fashioned type of invasion.

Interviewer (Male, Same Man)

True. People were somewhat frightened when they saw on television the what we call [word missing] or “jingoism” or whatever you call it that swept your country and it seemed a bit hard to understand how a modern industrialised nation that had gone through the horrors of two World Wars would send young soldiers halfway round the globe to defend tiny islands …

Prime Minister

You mean Germany would have given in and not gone to [end p42] rescue either her territory or her people who wanted to stay with her? I do not believe you! Our territory and our people. We discovered that territory. Some of our people have been there longer than some of the people who colonised the Argentine. There were no indigenous people there when our people got there. Our territory, our people, invaded. Do you really suggest that Britain or do you really suggest that it is jingoism to go down and defend international law? Do you really suggest it is jingoism to go down to defend the right of our own people to choose their own way freely?

The gap is very big if that is so.

Interviewer

The gap is very big, but on the other hand you gave away Hong Kong. That was ceded to you eternally …   .

Prime Minister

92%; of the territory of Hong Kong is under a lease which terminates in 1997. 6%;—the island itself and a tiny bit of the peninsula—was ceded in perpetuity. If anyone thought that it was possible to run that tiny little colony alone, when we get all of our water and all of our food from mainland Japan …   . I'm sorry …   . mainland China … and 92%; of it was going to be taken away … so it is absolutely absurd. 92%; under treaty ceded to China.

China was anxious to keep Hong Kong in its prosperous form and its present way of life. We both entered into a very successful negotiation. China was anxious, saying “one country, two systems, yes we can have a capitalist Hong Kong. They [end p43] shall keep their way of life” and they entered into agreement as you know. A very detailed agreement. The way of life will stay for fifty years after 1997.

What we did was, yes, we were wise enough to enter into negotiations soon. It is the lease of 92%; of that territory that terminated in 1997.

Britain keeps her treaties. That would have been returned and therefore we said: “Look! We have got three treaties here”. The Chinese were not happy with the treaties in any event and so we negotiated a new agreement.

Interviewer

On the Falkland Islands you are going to stay?

Prime Minister

The Falkland Islands are British because the people wish to stay British.

Interviewer

And you want them to be within the, should I say Commonwealth or whatever?

Prime Minister

Yes, they are, yes.

Interviewer

Because they are part of the United Kingdom are they not? [end p44]

Prime Minister

They have a right to come to the United Kingdom.

Interviewer

You have taken on General Galtieri, you have taken on Scargill. Is it one of the duties of a British Prime Minister to take on British football fans?

Prime Minister

Well I think football hooliganism is a disgrace to Britain and it is a disgrace to the overwhelming majority of people who go to football matches and the overwhelming majority of matches which are played without any trouble at all, and so the Football Association has been very cooperative. They are as worried about it as we are.

Interviewer

Why do you feel it necessary to take it up personally because in Germany generally the Chancellor does not care about how the football fans behave?

Prime Minister

Because I think we may well need changes in the law. That is why. To help the Football Association in order to carry out their duties.

Interviewer

But is it really necessary to cage in people like animals in a zoo it has been called, even electric fences are being [end p45] erected.

Prime Minister

I have no comment about what Chelsea is proposing to do, but I understand that in Europe there are perimeter fences around most football grounds, fairly standard.

Interviewer

We have that problem too. One hour is over and one last question. Maybe you could let us in on this secret. In America, it is known about the advisory and growing influence of Nancy Reagan to her husband. In Germany, we do not know whether Hannelore Kohl is advising her husband on political day-to-day matters. Could you tell us of the influence your husband has on the Prime Minister of Great Britain?

Prime Minister

Well Denis Thatcherhe is absolutely marvellous as you know. He carries out a very heavy round of duties and also carries on with his own work as well and it is after all …   . I am very fortunate in having a person as a husband who has run a business, knows what it is like to run a business, to have to sell goods abroad, to have to deal with industrial relations problems, knows what it is like to have strict financial control and who has not got a bottomless purse like some of the things that depended on the taxpayer. Yes that is very useful, very useful.