Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1985 Oct 1 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

Interview for Sunday Mirror

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: John Knight, Sunday Mirror
Editorial comments: 1700-1800; published article 6 October 1985.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 7861
Themes: Arts & entertainment, Autobiographical comments, Autobiography (childhood), Autobiography (marriage & children), Executive, Parliament, Conservatism, Conservative Party (history), Education, Employment, Industry, Monetary policy, Public spending & borrowing, Taxation, Family, Law & order, Leadership, Media, Religion & morality, Science & technology, Society, Sport, Women

John Knight

The thing I wanted to ask you, Prime Minister, was if you think you have changed at all since you have become Prime Minister. I mean outwardly or inwardly. Do you feel any change of any sort?

Prime Minister

I find it a very difficult question. I am still the same person I was. I still have the same friends and a few more. I still have the same family. We are still as close together as we always were. We are still as necessary to one another. You know, we all gather strength from being members of a family. I am still in and out of the kitchen, not I would say just as I always was, but not a lot of difference. I still manage to keep up one or two interests in music and theatre—not as many as I would wish. One of our favourite things is just to have people in for a meal and just to talk. I still love gardens. So I do not think I have.

Now you really are making me look back to the first, for example, European Heads of Government Community Conference that I went to. It was in Strasbourg in France. I suppose one has benefited from experience without realising it. One does seem to have learned quite a lot since then. And the [end p1] first economic summit I ever went to was in Tokyo in the July after I became …   . it does seem a long time ago, and I suppose it is.

John Knight

Six years is it now? It must be.

Prime Minister

Yes, just over six years. It is just that one has got used to it and of course since then I have seen quite a lot of other people come and go. I think for example of the London Economic Summit. I think I have probably been there longer than anyone else. Let me think! Yes, because it was President Carter first, President Giscard, it was Helmut Schmidt for Germany, it was Andreotti who was then Prime Minister for Italy; it was Joe ClarkMr. Clark who was then for Canada; and so on, so I suppose one has been there. But you know, you absorb experience don't you, without realising it. It is a daily business. We are looking backwards six years, but I am just the same person I was.

John Knight

Yes, but do you think any lessons have been learnt at all or is that too awesome a way to put it?

Prime Minister

Again, you are learning lessons the whole time. [end p2]

John Knight

Do you feel: “Well, I wish I had known this, which I know today. If I had known that ten years ago or five years ago!”?

Prime Minister

It is not quite so much that kind of thing. You look back to see whether you made the right choices at the time. The question is whether you would have made a different choice at the time. You are asking me to do a great confessional. I cannot.

I think you do though. Let me say this. I said it to a group of businessmen the other day and they looked at me and really began to think about it. On one of the taxation things, we were very anxious about unemployment and wanted to do everything we could to help businessmen to cut their costs, because if you cut your costs your sales go up. And so we decided to take off this this thing called the National Insurance Surcharge. That is a lot of money—£3,000 million—and we did it in three slices, because you could not do it all at once, and we did the last slice at the beginning of this government, and then it had gone. And I did say to them the other day: “I wonder if I was right to do it, because you just took it and pocketed it and took it for granted and I now do sometimes wonder whether it would not have been right, instead of trying to get your costs down which you should be doing more to get down than I am, whether it would not have been better to say that almost everyone in the country can benefit and then with that amount of money we could have taken down the standard rate of tax; from 30 pence in the pound it would already be down to 27 and therefore well on the way to 25” [end p3] and I do still wonder whether it was right to do it. I am sure it was right at the time, but sometimes I wish we had got the standard rate of income tax down to 27 pence in the pound. That kind of thing you think about. There is always a battle over how much of the people's money the Government should spend and it always comes over that there are cuts, cuts, cuts. It is not, because we have not in fact cut the amount spent. It is always a battle of expenditure of one thing against another and it is no earthly good taking away so much in tax from people—that we as governments can be generous with their money—if they are not left enough of their own earnings to be generous to their own children, their own parents, their own friends.

John Knight

This is a constant battle to explain though, isn't it?

Prime Minister

Constant battle to explain that. The number of representations I have, people coming to see me, the Government must spend more money. I just say: “Tell me, where is Government money? There is no such species as Government money. There is only the money which I take from your pocket. That is not Government money—that is your money which we take to spend on your behalf on things which you cannot spend it on, defence, law and order, education, health and social security and so on.”

Now, in a free society, I must be very very careful to see that you still have the incentive to go on earning more and enough in a free society to spend in your own way. You know, enough to look after your old parents if you want to; enough to [end p4] spend on your own children to take them away to see something you did not have the chance to see. There are those things which are quite difficult to get across.

John Knight

Exactly, but do you find that this has been a lonely job? You have not been isolated—I do not mean that in an absurd way, but do you feel that you can be surrounded by people who do not always tell you what they think?

Prime Minister

Oh, but most of them do tell you what they think. There is no difficulty about that. Contrary to what people think, I do not have a Cabinet of yes-men. I have never conducted business in that way. The way I conduct business is: “Now look! What are the arguments? We have got to talk this through! The decision we come to has got to be fair and reasonable and sensible! I do not want just generalities, we have got to talk this through!” So yes, we do have considerable arguments and we come to decisions by argument and by having a clash of opinion and I have always worked that way. And indeed, if they have not come along with all the arguments, I am quite likely to sit and cross-examine until we do get all the arguments out. They are quite lively! They are not just quiet and me pontificating. Not a bit of it! They are very lively. Quite exciting sometimes, but in the end—this is why it is lonely—I have got to say: “We have got to come to a decision.” It is no good just looking at all the difficulties; no good saying on the one hand and on the other. We are the people who, in spite of the one hand on the other [end p5] have to say: “This is the best and fairest way. This is the way we go!”

That sometimes is lonely, because you have some people against you and some people for you and those who are against you will stand up and criticise and those who are for you will often keep quiet. I am not talking about in Cabinet, but after the decisions have been known.

John Knight

Who are your sort of friends, not by name, but I mean, do you have time for friends outside the political world? You were talking about your sort of parties that you would have at home and so forth, which you had maintained.

Prime Minister

Obviously, many of one's friends are in politics, in industry, because Denis and I have been in industry, or people from the neighbourhoods where you have lived.

John Knight

So you still maintain those links?

Prime Minister

Yes, we still maintain those links.

John Knight

Your old friends from Finchley and so forth would come and dine here … [end p6]

Prime Minister

Yes. Well they will come when we are entertaining. Of course they come. Yes, of course they come, quite a lot. I have been very fortunate. My constituency is only 12 miles away, so I can get up and down and they can get up and down quite quickly and easily.

John Knight

So it is not like going out to Yorkshire or somewhere?

Prime Minister

No, it is not. It means that we do keep in much closer contact, because a lot of them work in London.

John Knight

Do you ever feel that you are sort of over-vilified? You know, people say: “That bloody woman!” and so forth. Does this …   .

Prime Minister

Well most of it is said by people who do not know you.

John Knight

Does this hurt you? Do these things annoy you?

Prime Minister

Do they annoy you? No, they do not annoy you; they hurt, of course they hurt. Sometimes I will try not to read something because I know that it will hurt, but on the other hand, you have got to reckon that if you are in public life and in this [end p7] particular seat, you are going to be shot at and I sometimes do think that people try to do personal attacks because they have not anything to say about policy, because they really cannot argue with the policy, because they know, really, that what we are doing ought to have been done a long time ago, and most of them are jolly relieved that it is being done, but they cannot say so, so they turn their attack in a different way. I have just got to live with that.

What I have got to do is to try to go on doing the things which I believe to be right to do because they are right to do, because they are fair and reasonable. You cannot, in Government, be popular with everyone. You do not need governments to do that, and anyway you would soon have a terrible mess because you would find that all the expenditure mounted up far more than the income. But you can try to be reasonably sensible and fair and that is not always apparent to the people who have wanted more.

But you know, we do run a democracy. We do not run a grantocracy.

John Knight

There has been a lot of that around though, hasn't there?

Prime Minister

People tend to confuse the two things. I voted for you, therefore I am entitled to a subsidy or relief of some sort. I said: Look! We represent all of the people and we have to consider the demands of one group against the demands of another, the income we have got, what are our priorities, what we have to do this year and what will have to wait. What is reasonable to [end p8] say: Yes, we must spend more on that! I was at a great big scientific institution this morning. Marvellous. Capital £60 million. It is a neutron accelerator and £60 million a year as well. I think that thing is worth every penny, but that meant that you could not have spent as much on some other scientific venture. So the people you spend it on are quite pleased; the people you did not, are not so pleased. But that is in the nature of making decisions, but yes, it is lonely, because you hear so much from the people who did not get what they want and so little from the people who did. But you to endure that, but it must never put off from saying: What is the decision? Why are we taking it? Because there is always a “why?”.

And then you try to explain, but do not forget I sometimes go on television and supposing you are on for a 6-minute interview. I remember doing five on the trot the last time I was in the States, we did breakfast television …   . five channels …   . you go round doing one …   . six minutes …   . and I said to the man … tell me, how many areas are you going to cover? And there was economic affairs, East-West and the topic of the day and I said: “All in six minutes?” So you often cannot get an explanation over, although there is one.

John Knight

But exactly. Just to go back to the things that you continue to do obviously. What books are you reading at the moment? Do you have any particular …   . [end p9]

Prime Minister

John Colville 's has just come in about his time with Winston. I always read … the Forsyth books I think are marvellous …   . Frederick Forsyth and I do just love to read detective books. I would read Dick Francis, P.D. James, I think I have read all the Agatha Christie s long ago. Of course, one has read all the [unclear] books, absolutely marvellous, but they are just when you have …   . you want to relax or that you have been working extremely hard late at night and you have got to read something. It may be one of those books or it may be something like “Ideal Home” or “House and Garden” you know, because I do love reading about those things. You have got to put something different in your mind, to try to empty your mind of the things that have been going round and round.

John Knight

And television? Is that something that you would … do you have any favourite programmes?

Prime Minister

I do not see a great deal ordinary week-days. I try to watch the news and to listen to the radio and sometimes you know there are some marvellous programmes on radio, and the Reith Lectures, one always listened to. But on Saturday night, sometimes, if I come back, I will turn on and watch or listen and do you know, sometimes on Saturday nights there is practically nothing worth watching …   . it is a very bad night to watch. Sometimes on Sunday evening there are some very good things. [end p10]

John Knight

I remember reading, or maybe you told me, that you liked “Yes Minister”. That is over.

Prime Minister

It was a marvellous skit on everything we do. It was terrific, and then some of the serials like “Barchester Towers” was a fantastic one. You do have to watch—I do not watch very often—but you will have to watch two or three of “Dallas”, you will have to watch two or three of “Dynasty”. Otherwise you will start to read about things and you will not know …   .

John Knight

No connection.

Prime Minister

No connection. What are the two policewomen who are back on now?

John Knight

Cagney and Lacey.

Prime Minister

Yes, aren't they really rather nice?

John Knight

Very good aren't they?

Prime Minister

And then there is another one, Makepeace and … [end p11]

John Knight

They are the English ones.

Prime Minister

This is my Saturday evening you see. But I do not watch them regularly, but you have got to know what people are seeing and watch quite a number.

John Knight

But you would actually enjoy some of them?

Prime Minister

Yes, I do enjoy some of them. I enjoy watching golf on television.

John Knight

You are a golfer of course, aren't you?

Prime Minister

No, Denis is. It is a very good thing to watch on television and I enjoy watching snooker on television and I tell you something about both those sports: the people who take part in them and the people who watch them have the highest possible standards. You know, it is a sport and they live up to the best in that sport and that is a great pleasure, and that has happened with golf or with snooker. The highest possible standards. You know, there are no histrionics or anything like that. No histrionics …   . and that matters. I did of course watch for a time the Ethiopian Geldof concert. One had to and I know some of the pop stars. They do very well, our [end p12] young people. Our young people in pop, they do very well. You know, they are often in the top 10 and top 20. They are very good.

Question

Have you watched our programme …   . 150th [sic] birthday?

Prime Minister

No, I just said. I was just duly explaining that I never watch myself. Now you know that don't you?

Female

Is that true?

Prime Minister

I will watch it in about a year's time. I will have the BBC and Yorkshire Television very kindly let me have a whole lot of tapes for the Recess and then I will go through and see a lot of the things.

John Knight

I was wondering whether you ever videoed anything on television or got someone to do that for you.

Prime Minister

The whole of “Barchester Towers” was videoed. “Tender is the Night” I am not watching, but it is being videoed so that I can watch the whole thing, because I think television really specialises on doing some of these things superbly. One is very proud. Frankly, I think they are much better than “Dynasty” and [end p13] “Dallas”.

John Knight

Different sort of thing, but the literary content is very much better obviously in every conceivable way.

Prime Minister

So one does watch a really goodly selection of what is going on.

John Knight

You do not play golf at all do you?

Prime Minister

I do not play golf, but it is quite fascinating.

John Knight

Will you ever do that, do you think?

Prime Minister

I'd love to be a good putter. You can lose a match by not being a good putter. You can do fantastically well, but if you miss your putts …   . I do not play. I really do not think I would have the patience to look at that little white ball. First you have got to hit the thing in the middle; second, it has got to go in the right direction; third, it has got to fall and roll right; and then spend about the next four hours discussing what went wrong! But it is marvellous; Denis loves it. Marvellous exercise. [end p14]

John Knight

I see there is a golf course near the home in Dulwich which you bought.

Prime Minister

Yes, that is one thing that appeals greatly to Denis. There is also a little art gallery. There is also a lovely park with rhododendrons and azaleas.

John Knight

So there is no thought of you taking it up?

Prime Minister

Last Sunday evening, we went to a little concert … It is for charity …   . at which both John Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft were reading and Julian Bream was playing the guitar. He has had a bad accident …   . and so one just did have the chance to, just for two, two and a half hours, to listen to some lovely literature being read, some very charming music in company with many friends.

John Knight

Those are relaxing moments of course.

Prime Minister

Yes.

John Knight

I hate to mention this age which always …   .

Prime Minister

I do not feel 60. I had no idea it felt as young as this [end p15] …   . terribly old.

John Knight

I believe …   . any intention of flattery, you always look younger when I see you.

Prime Minister

Well that is very nice of you.

John Knight

It is absolutely remarkable.

Prime Minister

I sometimes look back and think I look younger now than maybe I did 10 years ago.

Female

I think you do.

Prime Minister

I do not know why. That is really because one is kept so busy. You say to someone: “Tell me, how old is she?” mentioning someone and they say “60”. You say, “Ah! Quite old!”

John Knight

Do you think it is the adrenalin of your high office and your responsibilities? [end p16]

Prime Minister

Yes, and I have lived a fairly intensive working life, so yes it is.

John Knight

But on the other hand, conversely, so many leaders are totally wilting under, or have wilted or aged physically under the strains of office. We have noticed that so often.

Prime Minister

Yes they have, but you know, most working women have been used to both running a house and family and their job and do not forget … I could not do this job if my family was still young obviously. Fortunately, they were off-hand when one came to the top.

John Knight

But you were a very successful politician when you were young.

Prime Minister

Yes, indeed, but you see, therefore, you have been used to running a house, making decisions quickly, getting things well organised and running your political life, which includes a constituency. So therefore one had been used to a very intensive day and quite long hours, so you are used to keeping several things going. It is extraordinary. You find women, I think because of that, are quite good at keeping several things going at once and used to having to make decisions of all sorts. [end p17] And also, when the children were young, if you did not have good nights with them, you were used to having broken nights as well and when I think back to that time I often think—well I had twins of course and they were premature—I think having been through all that you can keep going.

John Knight

That is it, isn't it?

Prime Minister

Yes it is. That is right. All one's life one kept going. My mother kept going. She looked after us in the house. She did a big bake twice a week. She made some of our clothes. She could do the wallpapering, she would do some of the upholstery; she served in the shop; she looked after things when my father was at council meetings. We always took part in great church things. You always took part in anything voluntary. If there was a fete for charity, we were there, you know, setting up the stalls. Selling. If there was a flag day, we were there selling.

John Knight

There was never a spare moment really?

Prime Minister

No, our life has been if you have got time use it and you know, improve the shining hour, as we used to say. Got time? Use it and never wait for people to come and ask you, go and offer. If you walk under a church fete or anything, don't be [end p18] astonished …   . don't say: well no-one spoke to me. Go and speak to someone! If you want to have a friend, you have got to be a friend. This is all I suppose, having been brought up over the grocer's shop. You are often in the shop, people came in and out.

John Knight

This is communal level, isn't it?

Prime Minister

Yes, and you know them all; you talk.

John Knight

That is an interesting aspect.

Prime Minister

We used to have more talking to parents, to friends, than often is in families now, because I think television stops a lot. As well as giving you a lot of opportunities, it stops a lot. So you had to form your own opinions.

John Knight

It is over-used television surely? That is the only problem, isn't it?

Prime Minister

I think it is better now one is getting more selective. If there is a lot of tripe on, you just turn it off. [end p19]

John Knight

Many women have to retire at 60, don't they?

Prime Minister

Isn't it sad?

John Knight

It seems ridiculous to me.

Prime Minister

Isn't it sad, but you have got to think of people coming on. I sometimes say this to Denis. When I am here you will find someone in the diplomatic service, a lifetime's experience, and they are supposed to retire at 60. He has got all that experience and it is just taken away from him.

John Knight

That is the moment when they are probably going to become useful.

Prime Minister

Absolutely! But you see, we did ask someone to stay on. For example, I was tremendously lucky during the time of the Falklands that I had got Sir Nicholas Henderson as our Ambassador to America. I asked him …   . that was after his retiring time …   . and then Tony Parsons, the United Nations, also stayed on. Weren't we lucky?

John Knight

He came into your office here. [end p20]

Prime Minister

And then came into our office and I have now got Percy Cradock. So this is why I try to use people who have got a lifetime's experience, to come in, because you need two things in this job: you need the enthusiasm and new ideas of young people, always coming on it, be open to new young ideas; and you must always have the voice of experience. And the thing is to get them together so they learn from one another.

But then Denis often says to me and after all, he is just over 70 and he still works, if you are running a business, yes, you have got to use people after that time, but perhaps in a different capacity, because do not forget your young managers are 35 …   . you think they are young … but after all, they have been at it for 15 years or so and they are wanting to get on. So you have to keep their eye open and their way open to the top jobs within a reasonable time. So we have got to do both things.

John Knight

45 or 50 is too old, or old enough anyway.

Prime Minister

Yes, but in politics, there are a lot of people in the House over 70.

John Knight

There must be.

Prime Minister

So you have got to have all age groups. [end p21]

John Knight

And Winston used to come here.

Prime Minister

In 1967. It is one of the great sort of prides that I have that Winston Churchillhe retired in 1964. I served one parliament with him, 59–64 and you know he always, but always, observed the traditions of our great parliamentary institutions. But I will never forget him leaving for the last time. He was old. He died in '65 about the age of 90 didn't he, and so he was nearly 90 when he left. Had to be supported on both sides as he left the chamber … last time …   . turned at the bar of the House, where we always as we leave, bow to Mr. Speaker; and in bowing to Mr. Speaker you are bowing to your parliamentary institutions, and remembering Mr. Speaker sat when it was St. Stephen's Chapel, where the altar was, so you are bowing to the rule of the Church as well as … meticulously paused, turned right round and bowed and then went for the last time. You think “My goodness me, if a person as great as he can bow to recognise the greatness of the institution he serves, then we all have to be meticulous in observing standards”, and do you know, that is one of the most important things today: that those in positions of leadership or in the public eye observe those traditions and standards.

John Knight

Are they being maintained do you think, generally? [end p22]

Prime Minister

I find Parliament a little bit noisy sometimes, but then, when I came into the House in 1959 I remember thinking it was noisy then and some of my colleagues on the back-benches said to me: “Well you should have been here at the time of Suez. It was noisier then!” So maybe it has not quite changed but we must all observe and obey Mr. Speaker.

John Knight

It is still done.

Prime Minister

Sometimes, you know, you cannot make yourself heard and I think that is bad.

John Knight

Do you think that broadcasting has confused the issue slightly?

Prime Minister

Yes, I think it has because you hear and you do not really quite know what is going on. The background noise sometimes cuts out what is going on.

John Knight

And you can hear you obviously sort of rising for something … you have not heard what …   .

Prime Minister

Someone might have spoken into a microphone which the radio [end p23] will pick up but which I cannot because there is so much noise.

John Knight

Or the radio has not picked up …

Prime Minister

Or the radio has not picked up, but I do think that people have been very very pleased with the House of Lords, because it is dignified. It is a beautiful place. It is dignified, and they are courteous and that, I think, is what people expect of the Mother of Parliament and I think they have been very pleased with that.

John Knight

Do you think it will come into the Commons?

Prime Minister

I do not know. I think we may have an experimental period to see how it goes.

John Knight

Is that really on the cards, do you think, Prime Minister?

Prime Minister

Well, we are going to have a debate about it this autumn, so it will be by the will of the House … [end p24]

John Knight

A gestational period.

Prime Minister

Yes.

John Knight

Can I just ask you about the polls? Are you disturbed at all by the polls at the moment?

Prime Minister

We would obviously prefer them to be better, but we did go through a period like this in 1981, and I think it is that everyone who has a particular grouse, you know people who think they are paying more, indeed they are, for their mortgage, than they would wish to pay, and I agree with them. But when I saw the pound going down, we had to put interest rates up and we have got them down a little bit. Do people think that things should be easier? It is strange. Sometimes, I look … yes, I know we have unemployment … it is a problem that afflicts the whole of Europe. It is partly due to all the latest technology; it is partly due to the fact that we have far more people of working age—nearly a million and a quarter more—than we had when we came into office. That is because there are fewer people retiring now than there are leaving school; and we go on like that until the end of the decade.

But I know that we have created more jobs in the last two years than the whole of the rest of Europe put together. So that is our problem. How do you create more? But we have got all of the people in work … which after all is 87%; … are enjoying a higher standard [end p25] of living than ever before. We are producing more as a country than ever before. Last year we invested more than ever before. As well as having a lot of people investing in Britain we have a lot of overseas investments, and that is right. You cannot invite people to invest in Britain without we also investing overseas, because you do not want other people taking over quite a bit of your country unless you also have a slice of their action.

The Health Service has never been better. More nurses, more doctors, treats more patients.

Education worries me a great deal, because I do not think the quality is what parents want and yet we have more teachers compared with the number of pupils than ever before. We are spending more per pupil than ever before.

Overseas, wherever we go now, my goodness me, we are respected. Whether in Europe, in economic summits, we are respected. We have a place in the world.

And therefore, yes it does seem a little bit disappointing. People are worried about unemployment. They know that it is common to the whole of Europe. I think that between elections they will still think there is an easy way. If there were an easy way we would have taken it. There is not. In their heart of hearts they know that you only create more jobs when you get more business. How do you get more business? When more people start up in business, produce something that we will buy or a service that we want to buy. There is a lot of scope. We were first into the Industrial Revolution, so we ought to have a lot [end p26] of people who like building something, building business.

Now, we have got a lot more businesses than we had when we first came into power, but you see, the other thing is that there are a lot more people wanting to work. There are many many married women who, when their children are off hand, now start to take up work again who used not to in the past, and a lot of business is geared to them and that does help with the standard of living and it gives them an interest and it gives them a lot of social contact

Now, I am not pessimistic about unemployment. Yes, it is going to take a time, a considerable time. When we come, I think, to the middle of the next decade, the workforce, the numbers of people of working age, will be much smaller compared with people retired than they are now, because at the end of this decade there will be far more people retiring because that is the age of the population, and far fewer people leaving school, because that is the way the birthrate went.

So we shall be, I think, over this technological revolution, we shall have accommodated to it. We will have got more job creation, which we are getting now …

John Knight

The old industries will have gone.

Prime Minister

Redundancies will have gone in the old industries, which is the stage we are still going through and we shall have more new ones coming on in time to mature, so I think this time next decade the problems will be totally different and we shall probably have far fewer people in the workforce and be short of [end p27] some skills, but our job now is to train young people for the skills we need, because day after day I have people coming in here. I had people come here last week with the smallest cordless telephone that anyone has ever created and very good, we lead the field, and they said: we cannot get enough radio engineers. They said: We could take double the amount we have got, and they had over a hundred. I said goodness me, we are spending all this on training our young people, spending all this on universities, all of this on polytechnics …

John Knight

Going in the wrong channels so often, of course. That is the problem.

Prime Minister

It all goes back to whether you can get enough mathematicians to train pupils at school to be able to profit from training, and we have to look at that.

But please, I am not pessimistic. In the year 1900 they must have been more worried about the technological revolution and you know they had about 40%; in either farmwork or domestic. They could not have foreseen what new technology would create.

John Knight

When you say “decade”, you mean sort of the next decade, you mean the 1990s, do you? [end p28]

Prime Minister

Yes, that is right. Governments tend not to build business, but the private sector has created 620,000 new … more jobs since the last election that we had then.

Female

You would not see it as a problem that will last for ten years?

Prime Minister

No, no, no. What I am saying is at the end of ten years, I think the whole situation will have changed.

But they are now going well on job creation and therefore I believe we have a chance of getting more jobs. Well we are creating more jobs.

John Knight

Do you think that unemployment will have fallen by the time the next election comes up? It is always the spectre at the feast isn't it?

Prime Minister

I am always very cautious. We have in fact created …   . there have been I think some 620,000 more jobs since the last election and yet the numbers of school-leavers are enormous at the moment and will be enormous for the next two or three years, and therefore, what we are doing—we are not just standing idly by—we have increased what is called the Community Programme under which people who have been out of work for a certain time can get community jobs; [end p29] jobs which need doing. It might be repairing the church hall, the village hall. Jobs that need to be done. And also we have got the big youth training programme. We have not stopped at one year; we have got two years. So we can train some of these young people for jobs where there are still vacancies.

Do you know in parts of the country there is unemployment and at the same time you cannot get people for certain jobs, and that is what we really have to turn our attention to.

So all of that will be done and eventually, by the time you are doing the job creation, the training of people where there are jobs waiting for them, then it should in time tell, but at the same time I still notice that there are redundancies in the old smokestack industries.

John Knight

I was looking through the resolutions for the conference next week. I noticed that many of them were saying, talking about unemployment in a very concerned way, that after six years they felt there should be some improvement. Is this a fair criticism?

Prime Minister

Well, job creation is going well, as I have indicated. We have created more jobs in this country in the last two years than the whole of the rest of European Community put together. We have got the big youth training scheme going and we are doubling the time and increasing the numbers of people in it. We have [end p30] doubled the Community Programme. We have got something called an Enterprise Allowance which we are quite excited about. Young people who become unemployed, who want to start up a business of their own—and that is exactly the kind of person we want to encourage …   .

John Knight

This has always been your theme, hasn't it?

Prime Minister

And so, because they have got unemployment benefit and they dare not start up on their own because they would lose their unemployment benefit and how are they going to live, so we said all right, we understand that, of course we understand it, because we would feel the same. And therefore we said: you start up in business on your own, we will get people to help you with advice, the enterprise agencies, and for a year we will ensure that you have £40 a week, so that sees you until you know whether you can build up your business and build up your own income. And you know, we have more people applying for it. We have got to increase the amount for that, because we have a lot of young people wanting to come and do it. Isn't that exciting?

John Knight

It is marvellous at that level, isn't it?

Prime Minister

Yes, some of them in the second or third year have employed people. [end p31]

John Knight

So they are still only in their early twenties?

Prime Minister

Oh yes. That is exciting, really exciting.

John Knight

Well that is the way it is going to be, isn't it?

Prime Minister

If there were an easy way, don't you think we would take it, because …

John Knight

If there was an easy solution, of course.

Prime Minister

It will revolutionise everything, transform everything, won't it, so we are going as hard as we can with genuine jobs.

John Knight

But are people convinced of these answers?

Prime Minister

I think when I start to tell them what we are doing they say: “Well, we did not know all of that”. They are quite right. I can give a whole list of things … trying to do the job creation. [end p32]

John Knight

You have always been marvellous at explaining things. Of course, there has been this sort of criticism that the Government's policy has not been explained correctly or clearly enough.

Prime Minister

I think they are quite right. I think you have to beware of two things. First, you have got to get the policies right. That matters more than anything else. Those people are quite right when they are saying: “What is the point in having a good product unless people know about it?”

John Knight

This is a genuine criticism.

Prime Minister

A genuine criticism, but we must never never, on the other hand, run politics just for the publicity, just as if it is a gimmicky public relations exercise. It is not. I am in politics because I believe passionately in what we are doing and it is my job to see that the policies are right and that there are reasons why we do things and that they are reasons which amount to a fair and sensible solution. But they are absolutely right. We have got to explain.

Now, I am often asked: “Why don't you do as President Reagan does, have a press conference say once every six weeks?” and I would only be too delighted. Admittedly I answer questions, but they are very artificial questions some of them in the House twice [end p33] a week, but you see, I would be only too delighted if I could feel that the whole of the press conference were televised or on radio, so that people heard all of it. But what would happen is that you would just have half a sentence taken which would not …

John Knight

That is a sort of an awful problem, isn't it? That the television programme, particularly, it does give a wrong impression just as a newspaper article very frequently can do that.

You are wonderful always, Prime Minister, but can I just ask you about something contemporary about Brixton and Handsworth. When you came in in 1979, it was on a law and order …   . not on a law and order ticket, but this was very much a strong part of the platform. But since then there seems to have been more violence. Can you explain this?

Prime Minister

Violence, I am afraid, has gone up in pretty nearly all societies, whether it be ourselves, Europe, the United States and sometimes I understand in the Soviet Union crime has gone up.

How best can I put what I want to say? Do you find this sometimes? You know what you want to say but you cannot always find words to put it in.

What Government can do is to see there are enough police available; they are properly equipped; they are properly trained; they are properly deployed; and they are properly paid. All of that has been done. So far so good. And one supports them and understands the work they are doing. I cannot bear it when the [end p34] police are criticised. I think they are the police which act with the greatest restraint anywhere in the world. You have got to understand that behind that uniform and that helmet is a man, who is going into a situation when people perhaps are using guns or using violence. He has got a split second to react on what to do. We have done all that. The police are marvellous, but you must never think that law and order is a matter only for governments and the police.

If you hear a cry of help from your next door neighbour, it is the next door neighbour that has got to respond. If you see something wrong going on in the street, fights, there are a whole host of people round about. You must not say: “I won't get involved!” There are many many that they could stop. If you witness an accident or something, you have got to be prepared to give evidence. When you have the Handsworths and the Brixtons, all the leaders of those communities have got to search those people out and say: “Look! This is not acceptable and is not acceptable to us! We are not going to have our good name disgraced by this behaviour!” Do you see it is a problem for everyone to get involved. If there is a cry of help from next door, it is the next door neighbour that has to go.

You must never tolerate crime. You must do everything you can to see that someone who is a wrongdoer …   . go to your violence …   . yes, see that their names are given to the police, see evidence is given against them. After all, if you do not, it might be someone else against your own family. But whichever community it is, the leaders of that community have got to get on to those and say: “This will not do! This is unacceptable to us!” [end p35]

There are offences. For instance, if there are drugs on your premises. There must not be. You have got to take effort to see that there are not. You must make effort to see that people cannot break into your car, break into your house.

John Knight

This is because things have got a little bit more lawless …

Prime Minister

It is. Let me put it this way. We now have far more prosperity and far more freedom than we did in my young day. There are not the same taboos I am afraid, conventions, there are not the same conventions and therefore there is far more opportunity to go wrong, if I might put it that way. It is not society that is responsible for this violence. I almost cringe when I hear people say that. It is easy to blame society. No-one is society and therefore no-one is to blame. That is not correct.

I knew from the time I could speak or was conscious, people from all walks of life who had their own respect, their own decency, their own personal responsibility and in the end, even in the beginning, everyone is responsible for his or her own actions. Every same person is responsible for his or her own actions and the whole training is to try to bring out the good that is in people and to try to stop the evil. Sometimes the evil triumphs. Governments and police cannot know about it all … people must accept responsibility for their own actions and for their own omissions. You cannot have law and order unless you have good [end p36] neighbours, unless you have good citizens, conscientious citizens, and that really is the message I want. It is a matter for all of us certainly and we all have a part to play.

A violent person, he is responsible for his own or her own actions and they must be held responsible. It is just as important to catch and convict and sentence the guilty as it is to arsquouit the innocent.

John Knight

Yes, absolutely, of course. You have marvellously answered, Prime Minister, as always. That is really kind of you.

Prime Minister

A lot of problems, but I often think that young people you know …   . we had far many more conventions and customs. You still do in a smaller town. Our families had their own rules by which they lived and if you did not obey them, you were exposed to the criticism of your fellow citizens.

John Knight

Yes, that was worse than anything.

Prime Minister

Much more anonymous in the big town, the big city, the crowd, and that is why they have to be caught now and convicted if they are responsible for these terrible hooliganism or crimes of violence. [end p37]

John Knight

People have got to be pretty tough. They have got to get at it, haven't they? You have got the police organised.

Prime Minister

Self-defence is different. I mean, there are families that are violent and there are people who lash out in their own self-defence. That is not a crime, self-defence. Sometimes I think we do not know some of the things that go on inside families and some of the problem families. We have to help with those too.