Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1985 May 4 Sa
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for IRN (Bonn G7 Summit)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Radio Interview
Venue: British Press Centre, Bonn
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Sheila Jones, IRN
Editorial comments: Precise timing uncertain: the interview probably took place between MT’s Press Conference at 1630 and her next appointment at 1830.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1048
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Conservatism, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Terrorism, Transport

Sheila Jones, IRN

Prime Minister, you have made it clear at this Summit that British economic policy will not be changed. The goals remain: low inflation and keeping public spending down.

Does this mean that you believe these policies are working in spite of record unemployment and disappointing results in the shire country elections for the Conservatives?

Prime Minister

Look! We believe these policies are the right policies. We can sustain them. We believe that they are the only right policies ultimately to solve the problem of creating more jobs. And not only do we believe it, but seven industrial Summit countries have endorsed the same policies, whatever their countries, whatever the politics of the government of those countries. So that it is that people actually in charge, who actually make the decisions—as distinct from talking a lot of hot air, which you can do in opposition—people actually in charge who actually make the decisions are pursuing the same policies and endorse them. They are the ones that we have been trying to pursue for many years.

[end p1]

Sheila Jones, IRN

A main theme running through this Summit—40 years on—has been reconciliation: 40 years of peace in Europe. Do you feel that Mr. Reagan 's reconciliation gesture in going to Bitburg War Cemetery is an appropriate one?

Prime Minister

That is a matter for President Reagan and Chancellor Kohl. I am very much for peace and reconciliation. As I said when I was over here on a bilateral talk last time, freedom began in the Federal Republic of Germany the day the War in Europe ended. That was the day freedom began for them. They are now staunch allies in NATO. Together, we defend democracy and the freedom and justice which for them started that day. That is the positive side. Let us look forward to staying allies. Let us look forward to continuing to defend everything we believe in and let us look forward to having discussions with people who believe different things from us, but remember that we have one interest in common: that there should never be a world conflict again.

Sheila Jones, IRN

In your talks with President Francois Mitterrand, some progress was made on plans for a Channel link between France and Britain. When would you like to see work on that link begin?

Prime Minister

Well, we are now having to have a look at which of the three possible schemes is the right one to go ahead and we are having to set up all of the parameters which will enable the tunnel go ahead. [end p2] As you know, it does not involve Government money, so we have got to set out the scheme so that the promoters can then go out to the banks and to the markets to raise the money. I am always trying to get it ahead, because I feel quite strongly that we have not really built anything really exciting in this generation, and I do not like it that we have had a whole generation which, I think, either in the Continent or the United Kingdom, has not really had something exciting. It has all been just a little bit humdrum, and this would be an exciting thing and I would love it to be in place by the time we come up to the millenium 2000.

Sheila Jones, IRN

Security worries have been a problem here in Bonn, particularly with the bomb attacks in West Germany in the past few days. Have you been concerned for your own personal safety, particularly in the light of the Brighton bombing?

Prime Minister

We have been looked after marvellously and I have been very conscious of the amount of security precautions that they have taken, and I think they have done a wonderful job. All you can do is say: “It is their job; they do it wonderfully; and they will do everything possible they can and so that leaves us free to go about our business.”

Sheila Jones, IRN

Finally, Prime Minister, 40 years on, as VE-Day, the anniversary, approaches, what are your memories of that day 40 years ago?

[end p3]

Prime Minister

Well I remember it very well. I was studying for a chemistry degree at Oxford. It was very much a world in which science was the thing that had been very effective then and which obviously shaped the industries of the future. We all gathered together in groups and everyone seemed to go out into the streets, and we were laughing and talking about what the world would be like in the future, and in the evening we had a great big bonfire.

But you know, there are two things which I remember so very strongly. First, the overwhelming relief that the war was over and your generation, if I might say so, and people who have not experienced it, do not understand what a tremendous boon it is to have peace; a tremendous boon that there is no danger of bombers coming over or doodlebugs coming over or V-bombs coming over or incendiary bomb attacks or terrible news from the front or the Battle of the Bulge, you know, that was being so very difficult, or Arnhem, or the landings; so many people's lives at stake. Agony on every person's face. All that, save for the war in the Far East of which we were so very conscious because some of the atrocities there were terrible, but in Europe it was over, so we had to look at the Far East and were very very much aware of that.

That was one thing, and then we were just beginning to think what kind of world would it be. You know there had been a tremendous number of reports. I remember the Beveridge Report, I remember the report on full employment, 1944. Winston Churchill Winston, in the midst of the war, had given all his attention to these items of reconstruction, and so we entered that period knowing that the job had to be finished in the Far East, and that was dangerous, [end p4] but really rather confident that we had peace and that was the greatest boon of all, and we had health and strength. And really, this nation that had won the war with our allies, ought to be capable of tackling by our own efforts and our own endeavours all the problems that would come in peace.

We expected to do it in partnership with government, but we were not going to put our problems on government. No. We were healthy, we were fit, we were educated, and it was up to us. It was very much that feeling of personal responsibility.