Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1985 Apr 28 Su
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for BBC Radio 4 It’s Your World (phone-in)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Radio Interview
Venue: BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, central London
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Sue MacGregor, BBC
Editorial comments: The phone-in began at 1210. MT was due to return to No.10 at 1255.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 8586
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Commonwealth (South Africa), Conservative Party (history), Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Defence (Falklands War, 1982), Privatized & state industries, Energy, Trade, European Union (general), Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (Australia & NZ), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Leadership, Northern Ireland, Religion & morality, Sport, Terrorism, Trade unions, Strikes & other union action, Famous statements by MT (discussions of)

Macgregor

Hello from London. Our guest with me in our London studio today is the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher and on a cold sunny day in London, may I say good morning Prime Minister.

PM

Good morning. It's better than yesterday's snow.

Macgregor

It is. That was remarkable.

Mrs. Thatcher is the longest serving Leader of a major Western power. She's been Prime Minister since 1979 and Leader of the Conservative Party for ten years. Margaret Thatcher was born in Grantham in Lincolnshire, educated locally and at Oxford University and she was a research chemist and a barrister before becoming a Member of Parliament in 1959.

Since becoming Prime Minister she's of course travelled widely and often. Mrs. Thatcher recently undertook a characteristically intensive tour of the Far East in which she visited amongst other countries, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and India. Next week she joins six other Heads of Government, West Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and the United States for the Economic Summit in Bonn where trade and exchange rates will be discussed.

Now, the numbers on which you can ring in for a question to the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, are London 580–4411 and London 580–4444. [end p1]

Macgregor

Our first caller is in East Germany in Gulitz and he is Mr. Wolfgang Truoel. Good morning Mr. Truoel or good afternoon to you.

Truoel

Good morning.

PM

Good morning Mr. Truoel.

Macgregor

Would you like to put your question to the Prime Minister.

Truoel

Good morning Prime Minister. The arms race especially in nuclear weapons is frightening. The talks in Geneva between the super powers give rise to a little hope for people. President Reagan is going to develop weapon systems in outer space that means a threat to those negotiations. Madam, please what is your opinion to the Star Wars project?

PM

Mr. Truoel, I don't regard the development of a defence against nuclear weapons as a threat to negotiations. After all, Mr. Truoel whenever there's been a new weapon in military history we've always tried to develop a defence to it and it would be very strange if to those most dangerous weapons of all, countries didn't try to develop a defence. But that started quite a long time ago with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which both the United States and Soviet Union signed. Both I believe are doing research but if there's to be deployment of any weapons, if any should come out of the research that would still be a matter for negotiation between the two. So I don't find it strange in any way that either side should wish to develop a defence to those most dreadful weapons.

Macgregor

Your Foreign Secretary, Prime Minister, Sir Geoffrey Howe had rather more reservations than you I think about Star Wars in a speech that he gave last month.

PM

No, his approach is exactly the same as mine which Geoffrey Howehe reaffirmed in a debate on Thursday and so I'm very interested to see is the approach of Paul Nitze who is doing some of the negotiations on behalf of the United States at Geneva. [end p2]

Macgregor

Mr. Truoel, would you like to come back to the Prime Minister?

Truoel

Yes, I think this new project is a new think time [sic] dimension in the arms race and imbalance would grow up to a higher level.

PM

As you know Mr. Truoel there is already an Anti-Ballistic Missile system in existence around Moscow, has been for the last twenty years and it's being updated. The Soviet Union has an anti-satellite capability and is very good with lasers and electronic beams. I think you'll find both sides are doing research. The importance is to negotiate on any deployment of weapons. That I believe should and will take place under the ABM Treaty.

Macgregor

Mr. Truoel, perhaps I can ask the Prime Minister on your behalf, Mr. Gorbachev in Warsaw just a couple of says ago at the end of the Warsaw Pact meeting did seem to make an offer to the United States, “Stop SDI, stop Star Wars research and we will cut our weapons by 25%;”.

PM

Yes, there was nothing new indeed in what Mikhail Gorbachevhe said. But you see, there's no way of verifying who's doing what research. There's no way of verifying whether it's being stopped or not. That's why it's not been dealt with in any previous … in any previous Treaty about this subject. And when he said, freeze nuclear weapons or even cut, good heavens, the Ronald ReaganPresident of the United States had proposed much deeper cuts in nuclear weapons than that and of course to freeze would freeze in the enormous superiority of the Soviet Union on the intermediate range weapons. It's always easy for the … for the power that is in superiority to say, now freeze; that won't do.

Macgregor

So you agree with the rather cool reception we've been hearing about on the news.

PM

I think what we want is balance. I think defence depends upon balance between the two great alliances.

Macgregor

Mr. Truoel thank you very much for your question from the German Democratic Republic. We will now move on to rather closer to home, to Nicholas Berg who's in Luton in Bedfordshire. Hello Mr. Berg. [end p3]

Berg

Hello there. Good afternoon.

Macgregor

Good afternoon Mr. Berg, your question please.

Berg

Yes. Mrs. Thatcher you just talked about balance in nuclear weapons at the moment and yet Britain is still going ahead with the Trident missile system. Now isn't this rather devastating for a strike weapon, immensely costly, based on American maintenance and American machinery …   . and isn't this going totally against the grain of any attempt to get sensible negotiations going?

PM

No, not at all. Our nuclear weapon system, our independent nuclear weapon system amounts to about 2½%; or 3%; of the Soviet Union's big intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is our only last resort and to give it up would mean that should we ever be threatened alone, we could … we would have to surrender because any nuclear power would be able to say, right unless you surrender we'll go nuclear …

Berg

But surely—

PM

If you have an independent nuclear deterrent, you have a last resort weapon but it does not upset the balance because at 2½%; of what they have got as you can see it's comparatively insignificant.

Berg

But is that 2½%; not what the current situation is. The increase surely in the number of missiles that the Trident system would have, the actual massive difference, a 6,000 mile range as opposed to two and a half thousand and, more importantly, can I just put the point that was made by Field Marshall Lord Carver, who said he could find no scenario in which we could possibly employ our nuclear weapons and the United States had not decided to use theirs. That there really isn't a situation in which any NATO country is going to be challenged by the Soviet Union without bringing anybody … What is the point of having a system this costly when even a Field Marshall of his standing has said that?

PM

It is not a costly system when you consider what else could be purchased for that amount. For the same amount as we get an [end p4] independent nuclear deterrent, yes, we could have a few more planes, a few more tanks and so on. Those would buy us nothing like the deterrence that the nuclear weapon purchases. As I've indicated, if you've only got conventional weapons and you stood alone, you could not stand up to a nuclear power. The answer would be you would have to surrender because they would immediately threaten to go nuclear. The only deterrent against that is if we have an independent nuclear deterrent. You threaten us or you use them on us and you would in fact also receive unacceptable damage. It maybe, and we hope that the whole structure of NATO is that an attack on one is an attack on all—

Berg

Can I just …

Macgregor

Mr. Berg, can I just put one question perhaps on your behalf to the Prime Minister—

Berg

Thank you.

Macgregor

Prime Minister, it has been estimated the cost of Trident has doubled since 1980 and maybe now as much as eleven thousand million pounds.

PM

Well that will depend of course, upon the exchange rate at the time it comes. But you take even eleven thousand billion pounds, how much extra deterrence would that purchase in terms of aircraft and tanks? Compared with the deterrence of a nuclear weapon … the two just—

Berg

Can I just put …

Macgregor

Thank you Prime Minister, Mr. Berg we will have to move on because as you'll appreciate, many people want to speak to the British Prime Minister.

Our next caller is in fact in Singapore and he's Ronald Bunnett. Hello Mr. Bunnett.

PM

Good morning Mr. Bunnett …   .

Bunnett

Good afternoon, Prime Minister …   .

PM

Oh good afternoon, I'm so sorry.

Bunnett

… I'd like to put the following question to you.

PM

Yes of course.

Bunnett

Do you subscribe to the view that a politically and [end p5] economically united Europe could become sufficiently powerful to act as a balance between the two super powers, USA and the Soviet Union, which through their interaction appear to be on a collision course. Now if you do subscribe to that, do you think that there are any politicians in Europe today who are able to see themselves and to act first and foremost as Europeans?

PM

Can I just ask you one thing Mr. Bunnett, when you say a politically and economically united Europe, you're talking about Western Europe, the European Community nations.

Bunnett

Well, initially I would be talking about Western Europe but I think if it was once established, perhaps the extent of it would be somewhat greater.

PM

Well, we have of course just extended it with the admission shortly of Spain and Portugal into the community. I think I differ with you on one fundamental thing. I do not see a united Europe, united in a European Economic Community with … with certain political functions as we have now as a balance between the United States and the Soviet Union. The European Economic Community with the exception I think of one country that is neutral is part of the NATO alliance. We are part of the Western alliance. We're not a buffer, we're part of the free world and it's absolutely ridiculous for us who are part of the Western alliance to talk about the two super powers as if they were equal. The United States is the defender of Europe's freedom and we are the defender of the United State's freedom. So I do not believe in any way of talking about the United States and the Soviet Union as the two super powers in the same breath.

Macgregor

Mr. Bunnett, you feel there is perhaps a separate role for Europe to play in this?

Bunnett

Well, yes … what I was really thinking of was that since the technology, technological development, culture, heritage and all the other good things that are being put onto the world market, tend to have their roots very often in Europe, I feel that if the European countries could forget their [end p6] identity from a national standpoint and see themselves as Europeans, then the cooperation among the European countries which would ultimately give rise to a federation of states, of Western Europe, and as I say, perhaps that would be extended, could then become such a powerful influence, and I'm not thinking in terms of military might, but such a powerful influence that perhaps the other two big powers would be more willing to listen to what Europe has to say.

Macgregor

Prime Minister:

PM

Well, of course, you don't need to forget your identity to do that, in any way. And I can't see any of the nations forgetting their identity, I can see us remembering our identity with cooperating an ever greater measure together and of course we are the biggest trading bloc in the world and therefore we probably have more influence on the future of world trade than any other group. We also do act together politically. So I think we're already a greater and greater influence but we're an influence on the side of the defence of freedom and justice. We're not neutral. We're aligned.

Macgregor

Mr. Bunnett, thank you Prime Minister. Mr. Bunnett in Singapore, thank you for your question.

Our next question comes from the other side of the world, from Iowa in the United States, Mr. Patrick Powers, hello Mr. Powers.

PM

Hello Mr. Powers.

Powers

Good morning.

Macgregor

It must be very early in the morning where you are.

Powers

Oh, after …   . twenty-three after six in the morning here.

Macgregor

Right, your question please.

Powers

Okay, Mrs. Thatcher, I have a question to ask you, my question is this: It's been three years now since the Falklands Crisis between your country and Argentina. Do you believe in the near future that you would ever hold a talk with the Leader of Argentina on resuming diplomatic relations and economic ties between your two countries?

PM

We are quite willing to have talks on resuming diplomatic relations and economic ties. Indeed, some of our representatives [end p7] met some Argentine representatives in Bern with a view to doing just that. But I'm afraid the talks did not get very far to our disappointment.

Macgregor

But I wonder whether you feel now that exactly three years after the Falklands Conflict, Prime Minister, that it isn't time for sovereignty to be on the table, to be discussed.

PM

Why?

Macgregor

Well many people feel that it is, including a lot of Argentinians.

PM

Why? The Falklands is British sovereign territory. Many of our families have been there for 150 years. There before a lot of the people who are now Argentinian families, even emigrated to Argentina. It's British sovereign territory, there were no indigenous population when our people went there. They are British people, they wish to stay British. Do you expect me to deny them that right? Do you expect me to give up their right? Do you expect Britain to give up their right? Do you expect me to give up their right? Certainly not, that is their right, we shall defend it.

Macgregor

But of course sovereignty has been allowed to be put on the table in the negotiations over Gibraltar.

PM

The same thing will apply to the people of Gibraltar in the preamble to the Gibraltar Constitution. We guarantee the rights of the people of Gibraltar to choose to stay British.

Macgregor

Would you like to come back to the Prime Minister Mr. Powers? Are you still … are you still there in Iowa?

Powers

I'm still here.

Macgregor

Would you like to … comment on what you heard …

PM

The … the status of Gibraltar is governed by the Treaty of Utrecht which provides that Gibraltar shall be … go to the British but if ever it ceases to be British it shall go to Spain so the intermediate of total independence is precluded by the Treaty of Utrecht.

Powers

I see.

Macgregor

You've no further question for the Prime Minister? Your original question was about the Falklands of course. [end p8]

Powers

That's correct.

PM

Well I think you got a straight answer Mr. Powers, didn't you?

Powers

I certainly did.

Macgregor

All right, thank you for calling the Prime Minister from Iowa. Our next caller is in Preston in Lancashire, Mr. Stephen Dooley. Hello Mr. Dooley.

Dooley

Hello.

PM

Good morning, Mr. Dooley.

Macgregor

It's young Mr. Stephen Dooley is it?

Dooley

Yes.

Macgregor

What's your question to the Prime Minister?

Dooley

Good afternoon, Mrs. Thatcher.

PM

Good afternoon. Do I call you Stephen, or do I call you Mr. Dooley?

Dooley

Stephen.

PM

Stephen.

Dooley

Do you think that now that Mr. Gorbachev has come into power in Russia that relationships between Europe and the Warsaw Pact will improve?

PM

I think that we might see a little bit more of Mikhail Gorbachevhim than we saw of some of his predecessors. He's a younger person, he's a different background, he's a different kind of person really from any other Soviet Leader I've met. He's willing to talk and discuss and debate the fundamental issues. But I think one has to remember this, Stephen, all his life he's only known Communism. He can't, I think, envisage any other system for Russia and all his life he's been brought up to the Communist belief, that is the duty of the Soviet Union to spread Communism to the rest of the world by one means or another. So I don't think you must expect any changes in policy. But I think he and we have this great thing in common. It's the interests of the people of the Soviet Union and of the people of the Western world to see that [end p9] conflict never breaks out between us and in that we have to live and let live alongside one another and therefore we have a good deal to talk about to prevent conflict and perhaps to improve trade and contacts between the Soviet Union and the rest of us.

Macgregor

You did say Prime Minister when you first met him I think, that here is a man we can do business with. Do you plan to meet him again in the United Nations when they celebrate their 40th birthday?

PM

Well, I felt that very much because we had very long talks together and he was very personable, very self-confident, very self-assured but very willing to debate and discuss, you know very much in the way that we would, and of course I met him again when I went to Mr. Chernenko 's funeral in Moscow. I don't know whether I will be going to the United Nations at the same time. Obviously I would like to take advantage and see and meet him again because yes, I do believe we can do business. You often have to do business, you know, with people with whom you disagree. Most of us have to do that but when you do business it's because you have a great interest in common. And to try to stop any major war breaking out again is in the interests of his people and ours.

Macgregor

Stephen, would you like to come back, yes?

Dooley

Do you think that there'll be more interaction between Europe and the Warsaw Pact countries …   . that there'll be more communications?

PM

We're already trying to do that, as you know Stephen, I visited Hungary just … some time ago and then the Geoffrey HoweForeign Secretary has recently been to other countries, Czechoslovakia and Poland and so we are trying to get more contact. You know it's very much easier if you know the people you're dealing with, if you know what they're like as human beings to talk to them. It's very much easier if ever there were an emergency to get in touch with them and I'm a great believer in getting more of their people out to come and see our ways of life. It is in some ways easier for our people to go there than it is for their people to come and see us.

Macgregor

Would you like to extend an invitation to Mr. Gorbachev [end p10] to come back to Britain?

PM

Well, I think it would be a little bit soon to expect Mikhail Gorbachevhim to come back to Britain. He's got a lot of other places to visit. But we must have more contact between Leaders of all the Warsaw Pact countries and Leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States.

Macgregor

Stephen, thank you for asking that question—

PM

It's a very interesting question, Stephen, and of course what happens is going to affect you and your generation even more than us, that's why we're doing it.

Macgregor

We now move to Northampton and talk to Michael Burke, hello Mr. Burke.

Burke

Good morning.

PM

Hello, Mr. Burke, good morning.

Burke

Mrs. Thatcher, do you think that the recent political breakdown between the South …   . Southern Ireland and the British Government is really forcing the hands of people in the North, i.e. making people turn to the IRA or the Protestant side because they think politics can't solve their individual problems?

PM

Well, you know, politics could solve the problems if it weren't for terrorism and I firmly believe that the majority even of the nationalist community in Northern Ireland and that's of course a minority of the whole of the people in Northern Ireland would much prefer a peaceful, political solution if it hadn't got terrorism operating in its midst. Most people would prefer a political solution and most people could find a way of living alongside one another. But they're not able to do so because of the tactics of terrorism.

Macgregor

Mr. Burke, were you particularly perhaps referring to the All Ireland Forum, the proposals out of which our Prime Minister did appear to reject totally out of hand?

Burke

Yes. Not so much that, it's like, well, my parents are Irish and I've got a lot of experience of going to Southern Ireland on holiday and Protestants live in Southern Ireland and there appears to be no problem at all. [end p11] But there just seems to be, I don't know, it's almost like the sort of unionist side of Northern Ireland seems to be a block, if you see what I mean. You know, like there's lots of Protestant churches in Southern Ireland and there's no shootings or killings or whatever.

PM

No, I don't think it's quite the same. Comparatively few, proportionately, Protestants in Southern Ireland compared to the great majority. There are a much bigger minority in Northern Ireland of the nationalists. I wouldn't regard it, if I might say so, wholly as a Catholic/ Protestant issue.

I don't believe it is. I think it's a nationalist/ unionist issue because I think that there are a considerable number of Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland who might prefer to stay part of Northern Ireland and I think it's a mistake to tie it up wholly with a religious issue. We are constantly trying to find political solutions and will continue to do so and not only do we continue within Northern Ireland as a whole but I do meet Mr. Garret FitzGerald, I see him of course at every European Summit and try to find a way of finding a political solution because terrorism is just as much against the interests of the Republic of Ireland as it is against Northern Ireland. Terrorism really substitutes a rule of force for democracy wherever it reigns and so he's very active in trying to prevent terrorism in the Republic of Ireland as well as in Northern Ireland and I do …   . I do thank him most warmly for the forthright statements he's made whenever we've had terrible terrorist attacks, the forthright statements he's made against the terrorists.

Macgregor

Is there any area in terms of a political solution where you and the Taoiseach, Dr. Garret FitzGerald, Prime Minister have come to any sort of agreement?

PM

No, we are still discussing and we'll continue to discuss and if there is any statement agreed then of course we'll be ready to make it. But we're still very much in the discussion stage and I know that a lot of people are interested in finding a stable peace in Northern Ireland.

Macgregor

Mr. Burke in Northampton, thank you for your call.

Burke

Okay, thanks very much.

PM

Thank you very much Mr. Burke. [end p12]

Macgregor

Our next caller is in Worthing in Sussex and it's David Nicholls, hello Mr. Nicholls.

Nicholls

Yes, good morning. Mrs. Thatcher …   .

PM

Good morning Mr. Nicholls.

Nicholls

Yes, Mrs. Thatcher, you recently condemned the New Zealand Rugby team for their proposed visit to South Africa …   .

PM

I didn't, I haven't said anything about it …   .

Macgregor

Perhaps you'd care to give us your comment now Mrs. Thatcher.

PM

I don't think I have … made any … verbal comment about that at all.

Nicholls

All right then. You also requested sports people to boycott the Moscow Olympic Games because of Afghanistan. Do you think it's time that you, if you wanted the sporting world to follow your political requests, you should lead the way by demanding the city to impose trade sanctions?

Macgregor

I wonder Mr. Nicholls if we could first of all sort out something that seems to be putting you under a misapprehension. You haven't yet made any comment on the proposed New Zealand Rugby Tour of South Africa, Prime Minister, could I invite you to comment on it now?

PM

That is a matter … that is a matter for the Government of New Zealand and for the … for the Rugby team in New Zealand. We are bound by the Gleneagles Agreement. So is New Zealand. That Gleneagles Agreement recognises that governments can only persuade voluntarily … in the end they must do all they can to persuade voluntarily and we do. In the end it is up to the citizens of New Zealand to make their own decisions. We do shy away from force in that respect.

Nicholls

Then you did, when the English Cricket Team went to South Africa, you made comments then.

PM

Yes, we do everything possible to persuade our [end p13] teams not to go because that is the terms of the Gleneagles Agreement. Yes, we do persuade them … try to persuade them not to go. Or indeed, try to persuade them not to have South African teams back. That is the agreement to which we signed under a previous Government, to which I reaffirmed and we adhere to it. And when I asked similarly, people not to go to the Olympic Games in Moscow, I asked as you know for specific reason, because I thought it might be used politically but it was the same, I asked them voluntarily not to go and left them to make up their own minds. Some of them didn't and some of them did.

Nicholls

So I come back to my original question. Can you not lead the way by imposing trade sanctions?

PM

No, I think that that would be highly damaging for all of the people in South Africa, including the 22.8 million blacks, including the nearly one million Indians, including the one and a half coloureds there and I think it would lead to a terrible struggle, much worse than at present with little hope of South Africa coming out with any improvement in trade and standard of living which is so vital for all of the people living there. Trade sanctions have not worked and I'm very much against them.

Macgregor

Mr. Nicholls, thank you for that question. We move now to Amsterdam in Holland, and I'll invite Mohamed El Hassen to talk to the Prime Minister. Hello Mr. El Hassen.

El Hassen

Hello.

Macgregor

Your question please.

PM

Hello Mr. El Hassen.

El Hassen

Good afternoon Ma'am.

PM

Good afternoon.

El Hassen

During your latest tour of South East Asia, Ma'am, you made mention …   . you advised the Third World against closing their doors to the flow of goods from the developed world …   .

PM

Would you say that again. I advised …   .

El Hassen

The Third World against closing their doors …   .

PM

That's right, yes …   . against …   . yes. [end p14]

El Hassen

…   . to the flow of goods from developed world—

PM

It was the word ‘against’ that I failed to hear. I'm very glad it's there.

El Hassen

So, might Eastern Asia … if you look at the economy of the Third World, they have been having falling in prices of their commodities that come to the West since 1960 and that has made them really short of money, now. And for that matter, most of them are really in high debt, very very high debts that they cannot pay off now. I think they have to import more from the West. They continue putting themselves in a very serious situation whereby their prices are continually being depleted for them by the West and if I think it would be very morally just for you maybe next week to raise up this topic in Germany where you meet the other colleagues of yours in the developed world.

Macgregor

Mr. El Hassen, you are asking about the Third World and its products, getting a fair price …   . when so much seems to be against them and you're wondering whether this may be raised at the Economic Summit in Bonn next week? Mrs. Thatcher, perhaps you could answer …   .

PM

Mr. El Hassen, the whole question of trade will come up at the Bonn Summit next week, indeed, I think it will be one of the main questions. The Third World of course, varies a good deal. As you know some …   . some of the countries are very very poor indeed and their agriculture is poor. Others are the newly industrialised countries which of course are building up their manufacturing trade very fast and those are really treated very differently. On commodity prices, I think you get two things. They vary with world recession and they vary as people find new substitute materials for some of the older primary products. So there are a lot of factors there. What I think we have to try to do is to keep trade as open as possible. But if we're to do that, then I think some of the newly industrialised countries who export to us highly manufactured products must also begin to open their countries to exports from us. Otherwise Britain has indeed been in the forefront of trying to import from the developing world because we're the first to understand that as well as aid, they [end p15] need to pull themselves up by trade.

El Hassen

Yes Ma'am … you have … but then the price being paid for it is what makes the difference, Ma'am.

PM

Yes, but we have to look at the prices in the markets of the world. Sometimes we do have commodity agreements under which we pay more for those commodities. Sugar is a classic example.

El Hassen

Yes but Ma'am …

PM

We pay more under some commodity agreements and of course it puts up the price to our own people. But we simply cannot duck the market altogether because in a world recession there will be less of the things like copper and tin purchased and indeed, in a world boom, sometimes the prices of those go up so high that people find substitute materials. You can't duck the market altogether but we do make a certain number of special arrangements.

Macgregor

And very briefly, if I may interject, Prime Minister, the question of foreign aid will no doubt crop up in Bonn next week. Do you think there's any way in which the European countries can help the developing world and their manufacturing industry by giving more aid?

PM

Well, I don't think the best way to help the manufacturing industry of the developing world is by more aid. Most of the aid given tends to be tied to orders from the home country …   . other than aid given for disasters, …   . we tend mostly to tie it. Really where you get the tremendous investment in the developing world is through the private sector and for that private investors want to know, look, if we invest in a developing world, we want to make certain that our investments are not going to be confiscated. So what we're trying to do is to promote an investment code of conduct amongst the developing countries so that if people pour their money in there, and many companies and people do, that they will get a fair deal. But that's the best way. Actually, it's the best way of solving one of the debt problems too.

Macgregor

And that I'm sure will crop up in Bonn next week as well. Mr. El Hassen thank you for your call from Amsterdam.

PM

Thank you Mr. El Hassen. [end p16]

Macgregor

We now move South to Nairobi and to Kenya in general. Hello Mr. Nigel Slade, you have a question for the British Prime Minister.

Slade

Hello.

PM

Mr. Slade, good morning or is it good afternoon with you?

Slade

Well, we say “jambo” in Kenya which covers everything.

Macgregor

What's your question Mr. Slade?

PM

Good day, good day Mr. Slade.

Slade

Madam Prime Minister, I feel very privileged to be able to speak to you because I'm a very great admirer of yours. I don't pretend to understand the implications of your politics …   . being …   . being a Kenyan. But I am as I say a great admirer of your tenacity and your courage.

PM

It's very nice of you to say so.

Slade

Now, speaking of admiration, I would like to know who in the world, alive or recently dead, do you most admire?

PM

Alive or recently dead. Well of course I cannot give you any sudden revelation. I thought that Winston Churchill was the giant of our century and a giant perhaps across many centuries. The most remarkable man who for so many years in the political wilderness but always got the long-term things right and never sacrificed the long-term interest of short-term expediency. I sometimes think providence works by having quite a number of personalities like that, about the world and a time comes when their particular prophecy, sense … sensitivity and idealism and decisiveness and resolve comes to the fore. Winston was just such a person and I don't know anyone who's his equal on the political scene.

Macgregor

Mr. Slade, I take it you're not very surprised by that revelation? [end p17]

Slade

I'm not in the least surprised. In fact, just before …   . just before …   . you telephoned me I was making comparisons in a letter to a friend in England. But I would like to ask Madam Prime Minister does … does she … does she take him as a personal model?

PM

No, I don't think we can ever take anyone as great as that as a personal model. Each of us has to develop our own style according to our own talents and abilities. If you try to be someone else, you won't be yourself. I think you can learn some lessons in the sense that never, never, never act on expediency, always try to keep the long-term in view and that does require a certain amount of resolution but you've got to do it in your own way, the way you see things, otherwise it just wouldn't ring true.

Macgregor

Mr. Slade in Nairobi, thank you for your question, and as you said, we rang you, but let me make it absolutely clear, you rang us first and we rang you back in case people think that these calls are engineered in some way. Now—

PM

All right Mr. Slade. Thank you very much. Goodbye.

Macgregor

Let us move to Hong Kong and talk to Mr. Brian Wong. Hello Mr. Wong.

Wong

Hello …

Macgregor

You have a question—

Wong

Good morning Mrs. Thatcher. I am reporter of Singapore daily. Well, I would like to ask, is it a good idea to have Hong Kong Chinese officials in a joint liaison group?

Macgregor

You're asking …   . Mr. Wong, the line from Hong Kong is not very clear, let … if I may I'll just repeat the question. You're asking whether it would be a good idea to include Chinese officials of the Hong Kong government …   . in a Sino-British liaison group? Are you …   . are you referring to now or are you referring to after 1997?

Wong

No, no, no, I'm referring …

PM

I think he's referring to …

Wong

…   . becoming nameless … [end p18]

PM

There's a liaison group to be set up between Britain and China and that is going to start its operations not at first in Hong Kong but elsewhere with a view to having a smooth takeover in 1997. And the liaison group is going to persist beyond 1997 for the further three years and we're just in fact negotiating the composition of that liaison group and I think it's best to let the negotiations become complete before we say anything more about it.

Macgregor

So you'd rather not commit yourself on whether …

PM

Oh, indeed no …   . when you're negotiating with China and with Britain about the precise composition of that group I think it's best to continue the negotiations at the table and not try to do it this way.

Macgregor

Mr. Wong, I take it you have a view on this.

Wong

Yes, the negotiation is still going on isn't it?

PM

Yes it is.

Wong

Okay …   . well—

PM

Have you got a supplementary question?

Wong

Yes, could you tell me when the …   . the rest of the names of the members of the group be announced?

PM

Well, not until the negotiations are complete. We're in a chicken and egg situation. I hope it won't be too long.

Wong

You know …   . two months ago, isn't it?

PM

Yes indeed, but there's no great hurry you know, we have to get it right and we have to get it acceptable to China and ourselves and acceptable to the people of Hong Kong.

Macgregor

Thank you Mr. Wong for your call from Hong Kong. Our next caller is in Rottwell in West Germany. Our first caller was from East Germany of course, Mr. Wolfgang Karl. Hello Mr. Karl.

Karl

Hello.

Macgregor

You have a question for Mrs. Thatcher.

Karl

Yes, good morning Prime Minister. [end p19]

PM

Good morning Mr. Karl.

Karl

You know …   . sorry, I was …   . I've just been interrupted. First of all, I want to emphasize that I do not want to offend you by my question. Okay. And—

PM

No toes to tread on. (Laughs)

Karl

There are two criticisms and what I'm reading through here, USA …   . adapted sorts of newspaper article. There are two criticisms that have often been made of you: Your fondness for Victorian virtues and your supposed aspiration to be more than just Prime Minister, and of course it would be very interesting for me to know what you feel about those criticisms?

PM

Well, first, I've never heard of the second one. First, Victorian values aren't Victorian, they're really I think fundamental eternal truths and I think those endure from generation to generation. There are some things in life which go on, they're as true now as they were when the ideas and ideals first came to be discussed and there are other things which change, the technology and the customs and the habits of people change according to the times we're in. And I think the whole of life is in trying to get the right balance between the two. Don't forego the fundamental values—they're part of your heritage, part of your way of life, but adapt them to each generation.

And I don't think there's really anything to be said in criticism about those and of the second, I would love to go on being Prime Minister.

Macgregor

I wonder what you …   .

PM

I have no greater aspirations.

Macgregor

I wonder what you mean by more than Prime Minister, Mr. Karl, did you have anything in mind?

Karl

Sorry for interrupting you …   . it's not my own wording. I do research with the New Statesman …

PM

Oh well, I'm not … I have … that explains why I have never seen it. Now and then I do read The New Statesman but when it says anything about me, I don't. [end p20]

Macgregor

Prime Minister—

Karl

It has a montage in it …   .

Macgregor

May I just ask the Prime Minister on your behalf Mr. Karl, I think this returning to Victorian values is worth dwelling on for just a moment because I believe when you were asked in the past Prime Minister about whether you believed in Victorian values, you said yes, you did, you didn't deny that. Some people criticised you for what that implied.

PM

Yes, I don't think they quite knew why they criticised me. Yes, I do believe in duty, responsibilities of one's family, self-reliance, and I do believe in … the fundamental freedoms of the individual and I believe that the State is there to serve the individual and not the other way. But the individual is really …   . can only exercise duty, responsibility in relation to the community and I think that if you have a society of responsible people, you are far more likely to get an independent thrusting, thriving, honourable, honest society and I think you would get a society of property owners. You're much more likely to get people who respect the property of others.

Macgregor

Of course not everybody—

PM

Those I think are absolutely fundamental rights. Marxism is a very very late development and I think, when you've seen it in practice, you fundamentally recoil from it.

Macgregor

Not everybody had their freedom in Victorian times. Women didn't have … they didn't have the vote for instance.

PM

No, indeed they didn't. But you never saw such a development of standard of living, or such a burgeoning of voluntary service, or such an increase in freedom as you saw in Victorian times. There have not been another … nor have we seen anything like the tremendous investment in the future that we saw in those times. Oh yes, the progress was tremendous.

Macgregor

Mr. Karl, thank you for raising that point from West Germany.

Our next caller is in Port of Spain, and that's in Trinidad I think, hello Mr. Oliver Hull. [end p21]

Hull

Good morning Mrs. Macgregor.

Macgregor

Good morning Mr. Hull. Would you like to put your question to the Prime Minister.

Hull

Yes. Good morning Prime Minister.

PM

Good morning.

Hull

It's a privilege to be speaking to you.

PM

It's a great pleasure for me.

Hull

My question with its preamble is: Without the contribution of North Sea Oil to the figures, Britain's adverse balance of trade is running at ten thousand million pounds annually, possibly more and this at a time when the pound is at a low level. How do you view this circumstance and can anything more be done to galvanize British management into the effort to bring about an improvement?

PM

Now this comes of course from one oil producing country to another, doesn't it?

Hull

Yes.

PM

Exactly. So you know that … that you too believe that maybe your oil resources are limited. But the fact is that you have oil and we have oil at the present and it's going to last quite a long time and of course we are developing, probably both of us, oil related industries. We're developing quite a big offshore oil industry because we have tremendous experience of how to explore for oil in deep waters and difficult waters and gradually we hope that we'll have that expertise and have the expertise in the chemical industry which will gradually take over and we shall get bigger exports from that. But you can't just say well if you haven't got this, wouldn't you be worse off? Yes we should. But the fact is, we have got it and you can't ignore the fact that we've got it. It's a tremendous filip to private enterprise that this oil was discovered and developed and came onstream in such short order.

Macgregor

On the other hand, Prime Minister, as you're only [end p22] too well aware, the fact that we had to buy in a lot of oil last month gave us our biggest trade deficit ever for the month of March, £900 million.

PM

Yes, indeed it did because it was perhaps one of the last months of the coal strike. But the other fact is that after one year of coal strike, let me just blow Britain's trumpet, inspite of one year of coal strike, we had record output, even though the coal miners, two-thirds of them weren't working …   . three cheers for the one third that were—in spite of their strike, we had record output, record investment, record standard of living. That's not bad for a country stricken by a coal strike.

Macgregor

Thank you Prime Minister and Mr. Hull in Trinidad, another oil producing country as the Prime Minister said, for calling.

Our last caller today is in France, Doris Menton…   .

PM

Are we nearly at the end already?

Macgregor

We nearly are, I'm afraid. And Madam Menton it says here, you're ninety-one years old, is that right?

Thellusson

My name is Thellusson.

Macgregor

Thellusson and you are in Menton.

Thellusson

Yes.

Macgregor

I beg your pardon.

PM

I'm so sorry, I didn't get the name.

Macgregor

It's Mrs. Thellusson.

PM

Mrs. Thellusson.

Thellusson

Good morning Madam Prime Minister.

PM

Good morning Mrs. Thellusson.

Thellusson

I'm one of your very warmest admirers.

PM

Oh thank …   . thank …   . that's the second one …   . I'm delighted.

Macgregor

Did you nearly say thank heavens for that, Prime Minister?

PM

No, no, I said thank you …   . thank you. [end p23]

Thellusson

I would like to know how you manage to preserve your wonderful energy and vitality. Do you have a special diet and do you ever relax, or do you belong to the …   . new school of …   . medicine …   . alternative medicine?

PM

No, no. I have absolutely no particular secrets. I was born fit. I was brought up to work extremely hard. We had to. I have worked extremely hard, I've been trained that way and I'm just lucky. No, I don't have a special diet. I wish I carried just a little bit less weight, now and then, I do. But I could never go on a really tough diet because I don't live that kind of life. But I think, do I relax? Yes, I do relax sometimes, we all have to. And I think that, as with all of us, experience gets cumulative. You know, I've always noticed that with the climbers of the Everest and we've just got this famous one who at fifty has climbed Everest, you know, as you get older, you somehow develop both a philosophy and a stamina which perhaps the young don't have and maybe I've just got both.

Macgregor

On the other hand, Prime Minister, you were having a few problems on your Far Eastern tour when you appeared to lose your voice in Sri Lanka—some people criticised you for taking on far too much in that tour.

PM

Well I lost my … I lost my voice for a short time but we managed nevertheless to deliver the forty-five minute speech, or perhaps was it was thirty minutes, I don't usually speak for forty-five …   . but that really was a record heatwave in Sri Lanka for eight years.

Macgregor

You don't feel you took on too much?

PM

No, no, no. No, no, no, we got through every single engagement.

Macgregor

Mrs. Thellusson in France, aged ninety-one which is remarkable in itself.

PM

I think it's fantastic.

Macgregor

Thank you for your question.

PM

If I have that vitality at ninety-one, I'll be delighted.

Macgregor

May I just put one final question to you Prime Minister? If I may remind you, you're going to celebrate your sixtieth birthday later this year. [end p24]

PM

Don't remind me, yes, I know, this October.

Macgregor

There's a General Election coming up in either 1987 or 1988 I believe. Although you said earlier you had no idea of fulfilling a role more than Prime Minister, are you ever tempted to put your feet up and think about a quieter life?

PM

Not yet. No, no, no. Not yet. As you know I think, Winston ChurchillWinston became Prime Minister when he was sixty-six, other Presidents have been very very successful over seventy. So I in fact hope to go on and I really think that I would like to carry the policies forward. We have changed so many attitudes. You've only got to look when trade unions are now voluntarily reholding their ballots. That shows you just how much the attitudes have changed. How much even they realise they've got to listen to their members. No, I want to go on a third time.

Macgregor

Prime Minister, thank you very much. Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain, I thank everyone who called us on It's your world today, we have another programme next week of course. But from us today, goodbye.

PM

Goodbye.