Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1986 Mar 24 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

Interview for The Times

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Interview
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Geoffrey Smith, The Times
Editorial comments: 1430-1600. The interview was published on 28 March.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 11524
Themes: Agriculture, Executive, Parliament, Conservatism, Defence (arms control), Education, Secondary education, Employment, Industry, Elections & electoral system, By-elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Energy, Public spending & borrowing, Taxation, European Union (general), European Union Budget, European Union Single Market, Housing, Law & order, Local government, Liberal & Social Democratic Parties, Leadership, Media, Northern Ireland, Society, Terrorism, Transport, Trade union law reform
Off the record material removed.

Geoffrey Smith

Prime Minister, can I go on to ask you some of the more central matters affecting the Government?

Now, an impression has been created, after the Westland episode, that the Government has become either accident-prone or has lost its sense of direction and momentum. Can I ask you about one or two of these episodes in turn?

First of all, the future of British Leyland.

Prime Minister

Can we just stop, because first, you have made an accusation … you do not have to turn it off … you have made an accusation as a prologue to a question. The question is totally different from the accusation, so I have to deal with the accusation first, before we come to the question.

The Government has not lost its strength, has not lost its direction, has not lost its momentum, and you had only to take one look at the Budget to know that. Inflation is coming down, we are bringing direct taxation down, we are privatising more, we are in fact getting popular capitalism—all of that. We are very active in foreign fields, in foreign affairs. We have in fact kept our defences up. We have in fact added and allocated a great deal more to law and order and we are getting people involved more and more through neighbourhood watches. We are as active as ever in Europe. We have lived up to our priority on putting more into the Health Service. So we have not lost our sense of direction or momentum or intention and we are going on in precisely the same way. So that is that one. Now what was the question, [end p1] which did not depend upon that at all?

Geoffrey Smith

Now, the question related to General Motors.

Prime Minister

So you were going on to Westland were you? You were going on to Westland.

Geoffrey Smith

No, after Westland.

Prime Minister

After Westland.

Geoffrey Smith

After Westland. I am looking to the position that we have now and the position in the future. The position now over the future of British Leyland.

First of all, do we assume now that any possibility of General Motors buying British Leyland is now dead, and if that is so, is this not a case of the Government actually being pushed off course by its own back-benchers?

Prime Minister

Now, there will be a cabinet meeting tomorrow. This puts me in great difficulty, doesn't it? And there will be a statement [end p2] tomorrow afternoon on Tuesday, and this puts me in great difficulty as to how to answer you.

It is still the Government's intention to privatise British Leyland. May I make that perfectly clear. And everything that I have been through the last few weeks about British Leyland reinforces my view that governments ought not to be involved in this kind of decision or this kind of negotiation. In other words, governments ought not to own 99%; of the shares in companies like this, and therefore the decision to privatise is right. Governments are not … members of the Cabinet are not industrialists. They are not fully equipped to take these decisions and, of course, you have to rely heavily on the British Leyland Board for advice.

Now, that is point one.

Point two—and I am sorry it is going to take a little time—point two: nevertheless, when the negotiations with General Motors became public—and it is very difficult to do commercial negotiations in the full glare of publicity—there was a very sharp reaction. Reactions of that kind are something which I think you cannot ignore. There was a very sharp reaction about one particular part. As you know, we were very anxious to try also to consider not only Land Rover, Range Rover, but also the position with regard to the production of lorries and trucks. There is enormous overproduction in this country and in Europe. Sooner or later, that business will have to be rationalised—sooner or later—because we just cannot go on. Any decision, in other words, is painful. [end p3]

We took steps in what we thought would be a very good rationalisation, but it became painfully clear that General Motors would not go ahead with the lorries and trucks reationalisation unless they also had Land Rover and Range Rover. I'm sorry. It is very difficult for me to get everything just exactly right. And so, as you will know, and I must ask you to handle this carefully, from what has already been published in the press, the negotiations with General Motors were not successful because they were not prepared to rationalise the lorries and trucks unless they had Land Rover and Range Rover and feeling is running very strong and we did not think that we could sell the whole of Land Rover, Range Rover, to General Motors, although we would have sold …   . would have considered selling …   . 49%;, so that we still kept 51%; in ownership in this country. So that will not come about.

It gives us considerable problems.

Prime Minister

[Off the record material removed.] [end p4] Cabinet will be asked the best way forward with regard to Land Rover, Range Rover, and Cabinet, I expect, will take the view—indeed I think we have to legally—that you must of course consult the British Leyland Board about the best way forward with regard to Land Rover and Range Rover and Freight Rover, but the British Leyland Board will also have to consider the way forward now with British Leyland Lorries. They will have to make proposals.

Geoffrey Smith

But the British Leyland Board has surely indicated that the complete deal with General Motors would actually have been the best? Do you think that is correct?

Prime Minister

Yes, I think that their view on a commercial basis was a view they held totally and they did not have to be influenced by other factors as we have to be influenced by other factors, and the statement they put out indicated—just correct this, Bernard—that they were sorry that the General Motors offer had not been accepted in its entirety by the principal shareholder which, of course, is the Government. That was their view on a commercial basis. When Government, on behalf of the people, owns these shares, we have to take other factors into account as well, but we cannot wholly ignore a commercial basis. That is why we tried for a long time to find a compromise which would take both factors into account. We were not, as you know, [end p5] successful.

So we have now to consider what will be the best way forward … You will have to edit this a bit, because I am repeating myself … with Land Rover, Range Rover, Freight Rover …   . because there are some offers in, as you know, and it will be for the British Leyland Board to have a look at those and consider which they would recommend or whether they would recommend an alternative course of action, and we will not be able to decide until the British Leyland Board have given their decision, and they also, just as before, will have to chart the way ahead with the trucks and lorries.

Now, the only other factor which I should perhaps mention is that, as you know, Mr. Graham Day is going to take up the chairmanship fairly soon, I think in a few weeks, and it may be that the British Leyland Board, in reaching its decision, will also wish to involve him, because after all, he is going to be the person who is going to be Chairman of the Company and will be charged with the duty of finding the best way ahead.

Geoffrey Smith

But are you saying, Prime Minister, I do not know if I am understanding you correctly at this point, that there really …

Prime Minister

[Off the record material removed.] [end p6] But this is as I know it from the legal position, the commercial position, the political position, but from the legal position the British Leyland Board, because there are minority shareholders as well and those have to be considered, and therefore the British Leyland Board has to consider the commercial way ahead. Also again, do recall what I said to you earlier: the more and the longer I am in this job—and I hope to be here a long time yet—the more I know it is not for Cabinets to make detailed industrial decisions. If that is what they were qualified to do, they would be in industry.

Geoffrey Smith

But am I understanding you correctly. Prime Minister, that the Cabinet has had to consider two conflicting considerations? One the commercial considerations, as expressed by the British Leyland Board, which are that it would have been best for General Motors to have taken over both the trucks division and Land Rover; and on the other hand, the political considerations, which as a government you must very much bear in mind, and those political considerations have been conflicting ones which have therefore made it impossible to go down the straight commercial road?

Prime Minister

They are not wholly conflicting because commercial considerations have to take into account people's feelings, so [end p7] they are not wholly conflicting. There will be people, and I may be one of them, who will say that there is no such thing as a pure commercial decision if it ignores some of the political factors, because in fact you get tensions set up.

Now certainly, we tried to get them totally and utterly together with having a compromise solution so that the political prides were satisfied. You see, political pride does not necessarily produce orders for cars, but it can, when people are in fact alerted. It can produce orders for cars which would not have come forward unless this thing had been discussed and therefore, can produce orders which improve the commercial factor. It can produce extra interest which improves the commercial factor and that is why I say they are not totally in conflict.

Now when it comes, and what has always been of concern to me, is the overcapacity for Leyland Trucks, and that is still worrying, and that of course will to some extent depend upon how much more competitive British Leyland can get and how far they can compete. So it is a mistake to think that they are necessarily conflicting. It is a mistake to think that there is a pure commercial decision which totally ignores …   . if I call it “political” , I mean the feelings which have been aroused … it is not party political … I mean it is the feelings which have been aroused, and your best conclusion will be one that has a good commercial chance of success on objective factors but which also is in accord with feelings, because if you get that right, then that can produce either the extra effort in the [end p8] company or the extra awareness on the part of people that here is a good product and really, hadn't they better buy that rather than another one, not just because it is British, but because it is best. So they are not necessarily in conflict.

I can only tell you that they are both things I have to take into account and the one … neither of them can be ignored …   . and I do not think we have ignored those … I do not think we have ignored them.

Geoffrey Smith

Right. Can I now, Prime Minister, move to another problem and that is the problem of Ireland.

Prime Minister

I hope the decision will …   . all along the strain and stress and …   . is there another word which means those same things? … which I am under is to try and consider those things which I think would give the greatest number of jobs in Great Britain and for that I also have to consider the components industry and the greatest prospects for the future and where you have got over-production you have eventually got to rationalise or be so good that you take another share of the market, and that we cannot run away from, but that the British Leyland Board will have to decide to advise how best to go ahead. Is that clear?

Geoffrey Smith

Yes, although they have already said that they would have [end p9] preferred to go the other direction.

Prime Minister

Yes they have, on purely commercial grounds, and I think they took the view, and we took the view, that had we been able to get just the truck division of British Leyland along with British Leyland and the Bedford together, that would have been excellent, but General Motors would not in fact take it that way.

Geoffrey Smith

Now can I move on to Ireland then? Now, I understand that Douglas Hurd the Home Secretary is. …

Prime Minister

… making a statement … here we are, another one you see …

Geoffrey Smith

And therefore, let us look a little further forward if we may, not only at the episode itself, but at the consequences for the episode. Do you think that this is actually going to make it more difficult to secure a satisfactory arrangement in Northern Ireland? Do you think it is likely to make relations with the Government in Dublin more difficult and harder to reassure the Unionists in the North?

Prime Minister

What has happened is of enormous concern to us all and [end p10] when something like this suddenly bursts on the world, again feelings run very very high and there is a temptation to say things of a kind which you are hinting at, which you cannot really mean because you know full well that what we have arranged long-term is the best way ahead if we can bring it about. And what I am saying is that when these things happen, we feel just the same way as most other people about them but, equally, we have to say: “Well now, look! Keep calm. Don't dash into anything which may put the long-term objectives in jeopardy!” and that I still say.

You know, what was very obvious was that the Gardai really did make every effort between the two warrants to make certain that Evelyn Glenholmes the person concerned did not escape and that, I think, indicated that they were very anxious to carry out their duty to the law which, whether you are in the Republic or in Northern Ireland, is to bring people to justice who are accused of crimes and to let them have a proper trial and, if need be, to try to secure extradition for that purpose. You cannot say what happens if you get before the court and people are innocent until they are found guilty, but we must not let the strong feelings run away with us on this particular thing, because the Anglo-Irish Accord is, I am certain, the best way.

You know, it was only a few days ago that we lost a young man from Sunderland, a young soldier. He had only been there four days and he was, as you know, killed by a bomb which went off, and I remember saying at Hillsborough Castle: “Don't you think that the whole of the United Kingdom which supplies the [end p11] security forces in support of the civil power and has gone on—and it is the only part of the kingdom in which we have to do that—don't you think we are entitled on behalf of those young men to say ‘Look, you have got to try to get reconcilation. You have got to try to get on together’” and this Anglo-Irish Accord was and still is to encourage those people who live within that province to do that.

Geoffrey Smith

Now, in order to give the Agreement a better chance of working, is there anything that you can do to reassure the Unionists? Are there any new initiatives that you might take?

Prime Minister

I do not think there are new initiatives. The ones that we made when Mr. Paisley and Mr. Molyneaux came to see me still lie on the table. I knew how strongly they felt and therefore I really made strenuous efforts, really strenuous efforts, to try to give them quite a lot, and as you know, they went away with it and held a …   . to say “look, we are going really as far as we possibly can to signify our efforts to persuade you that we believe that this is best …   . the best course for unionism as well!” and you know there were four things:

First, that we were prepared to have a way of consulting with the Unionists, not necessarily tied only to the inter-governmental conference … get together and discuss that.

Second, I knew that as Unionists they were a little bit [end p12] concerned about how Irish legislation … how legislation affecting Northern Ireland is dealt with in the House of Commons. Please consider that, and we will set up a working party and we will consider the best way forward.

And then, the Assembly has to end soon. Will you think about the kind of Assembly which you want and we will consider that together, and then you wanted a round table conference on devolution. We will take up your offer. Now, we will still do all of that.

Geoffrey Smith

But what are the chances of getting these off the ground because, as we all know, Paisley and Molyneaux went back that night and then they were disowned, as it were, by their own supporters.

Prime Minister

I know. It was tragic because we were three-quarters of the way to getting …   . on board.

Geoffrey Smith

Is there anything more now that can be done?

Prime Minister

You always keep an open door and it is still there and they have written to me and we have written back as you know, and you have seen the letters, they went out this week-end, and [end p13] we would still like to discuss with them because I also have to say to them that if we do not get together and discuss these things, just where in the world do they think we are going, because the Anglo-Irish Accord is about living together north of the border with a kind of guarantee, or with a guarantee so long as the majority wish it, that it will remain like that. So yes, you have to go on very patiently, keeping the door open, and I think that a number of Unionists were really rather shocked at what happened on that day of action, and I think that they too would like something that takes us forward, because you know in people's heart of hearts, and when you calm down, you do think of what really happens in your heart of hearts and the anger perhaps dies a little bit. I think they know that we offer a way forward.

Geoffrey Smith

But you do not see a prospect for example of a new Assembly, you do not see the prospect of new initiatives for local government in Northern Ireland?

Prime Minister

But we have to talk about that, you see. I hope that we will eventually be able to get down to devolution talks. That, I think, is one of the most important things. I did not want to limit it to that, because I knew full well that the Unionists were upset and therefore we wanted to say we want special consultative arrangements with you, we do not want you to feel left out. In a way it is all for the Union. And we also want [end p14] things about legislation in the House of Commons, and also, you know, the Assembly has been very much a Unionist thing, so we want to talk about that, and if we can get the talks going I think it will be tremendously helpful.

Geoffrey Smith

Now can I move on then to the future? You said that it is necessary to look to the future. Can we look to the future now, not only in the case of Northern Ireland, but to the third term which you will be seeking at the next election?

How far are you now planning for a third term? When the General Election is held, will you be seeking the support of the British electorate on the basis of the general line of direction which you have been pursuing up to now, or are there going to be new initiatives? If I may use the word again, a new momentum, and new policies in particular areas?

Prime Minister

We will have a new impetus in the direction in which you are going obviously.

Geoffrey Smith

Can you tell me something about that?

Prime Minister

A lot of the work that we are doing now will be for legislation when we return. For example, we call it “popular [end p15] capitalism” . It has only just got started.

Geoffrey Smith

How much further can you take it?

Prime Minister

But quite a long way. There are far more people who would like to own their own homes. The numbers of people who own shares and have their own, what I call little bit of independence, are still too few, and that can go a great deal further. In about 25 years' time, even as far as we have got now, there will be quite a lot of people, very ordinary folk, great grandchildren, who will be inheriting something, because for the first time we will have a whole generation of people who own their own homes and will be leaving them, so that they topple like a cascade down the line of the family, leaving to others not only their homes but some of their shares, some of their building society investments, some of their national savings certificates—only on a bigger scale than ever before. So that everyone—almost everyone, the overwhelming majority—of people who could never look forward to that will be able to say: “Look, they have got something to inherit. They have got a basis to start on!” That is tremendous. That is popular capitalism. That is one thing.

Geoffrey Smith

Popular capitalism. We have got …   . we have got fear … [end p16]

Prime Minister

It is more than that. It is your independence. It is thinking about future generations as well as your own.

Geoffrey Smith

But in order to achieve that purpose, is there more that can be done? When one takes this phrase “popular capitalism” , one is looking at home ownership, one is looking at share ownerships—and you mentioned …

Prime Minister

You are looking at the levels of taxation too. There has been something … I wonder how best I can put it … there has been, I think, a rather shallow debate about whether … a rather shallow debate which has attempted to put as alternatives more public expenditure and less taxation, and it has tended to put those alternatives in the way that public expenditure is moral and leaving people more of their own money in their own pockets is not so good. Now that is absolute nonsense, total and utter nonsense. People work mainly for their families. Yes, they are prepared to pay their fair whack of tax. Most British people are. We are one of the fairest sort of tax-paying nations in the world. Prepared to pay their fair whack of tax, but what in the world is the good of, in a democracy, in a free society, having a government saying: “I am prepared to be generous with your money as a citizen, but I therefore am not leaving you enough of your own money in your own pocket to be generous to your own children and look after your own parents!” Now, if anyone ever takes that view it is anti-democratic, it is anti-freedom, and it has [end p17] no trust in the people and it is pure arrogance, pure arrogance, and so part of my job was to get the balance right. Can I just say, a person in my constituency put it absolutely right to me in 1979 …   . also in 1976. … “Mrs. Thatcher, we have got to vote for you in order to get the centre back to the middle because the centre has gone so far to the left that we have gone …   . the government is doing far too much and not leaving us enough control over our own lives.” No we are not yet, I would say, quite back to the centre. Let me just give you one example and it shows the next question which you might ask me about privatisation. I said a word or two about it, that governments ought not to run industries, but you know, at the end of this Parliament, when we have got everything privatised that is now going through in legislation and if we get British Airways privatised, we will be back to the same proportion of GDP coming from the public sector as it did in Harold Macmillan 's time. In other words, after all the privatisation we have done. I will only be back to where he was when he left it.

Geoffrey Smith

But that prompts the question, of course, how far you can now take privatisation.

Prime Minister

Yes, but it is good and I am delighted with people being full of management buy-outs, because privatisation has become popular and some of your water companies are saying: “Look, we want to be privatised because we believe that we could be more [end p18] efficient and we believe that we will not have to wait for our investment on Government decisions. We believe we can make our own way and we can make a better fist of it.” All right, they should have it, so privatisation has to go further.

Geoffrey Smith

But how much further? How far can you go?

Prime Minister

There is still quite a lot to do. We shall just go as far as we can, and we still have far many more things nationalised than many other countries. We want to get quite a lot out, but we like to get them out best, I am the first to admit, which gives ordinary people who work in a firm the chance of owning some of their own shares. What is lining up now? Gas, British Airways, Airports Authority. Those are lining up. Well, we want water and as you know, some of the water companies are at us hard to try and get privatised. It takes us longer. We cannot do things by decree as they can in France, thank goodness. We do things differently.

And then we will have to consider further attempts. I do say to you again, repeat what I said earlier, round my Cabinet table are very good politicians. They are not supreme managers in industry and if they were they would know jolly well we cannot take good industrial decisions round that cabinet table. Get it out to good managers, good shareholders, excellent arrangements with the work-force, so we have to go further in that direction. [end p19]

Geoffrey Smith

I am not asking you to justify privatisation. Prime Minister, I am asking you: by the time you come to the next election, are you going to be able to put on the menu for the general election further proposals for privatisation?

Prime Minister

Yes, I mean steel for example. Steel is one. We have got steel actually coming up, making a small profit, not enough to be wholly independent. The shipbuilding one is still being done. Steel is one obvious one that will come up and then we will have to have a look at others, but we have got quite a way to go.

Geoffrey Smith

Are you going to have to accept that there is a hard core of the public sector that cannot be privatised and if so, what is going to be done with that?

Prime Minister

What are you meaning precisely? I do not want to talk at cross-purposes.

Geoffrey Smith

What about the railways, for example? What about the mines?

Prime Minister

The railways is quite difficult, but you see, we have already done quite a lot. There are lots of subsidiaries of [end p20] railways, like hotels, which have been privatised. There is a lot of land owned by railways which can be sold off and privatised. There are a lot of things that railways do that can be privatised, their catering and so on. There used to be in your time, as well as in mine I think—correct me if I am wrong—Pullman coaches. They used to be coaches that ran on railway lines. The railway lines belonged to the State, they were a sort of railway roads if you like to put it that way, and you could put different trains on them. The pullmans were separately owned. Now that should not be impossible, and so you start to look at it with that in mind, but you must sort of enlarge one's ideas and there is Rolls Royce which is not yet privatised. Doing very well, and I went round there recently. Marvellous feeling between management and all the people who work there, the workforce, really absolutely marvellous, so there is a lot to do, and it is much better when it gets out like that, much better for Britain. They get much more efficient. They have got much more incentive. You would have to ask another question, but you will not let me forget that keeping the finances of Britain on a sound, prudent, well-managed basis is what people tend to take for granted, but it is crucial. So you will not forget that? I have just said it in case you forget it!

Geoffrey Smith

Well you have said, it and I certainly will not forget that Prime Minister, but what I am looking for are the new directions. What about education? [end p21]

Prime Minister

I was about to come to that. Rent. We will have to free up the rent control sector. That is to say, vacant … things that are vacant and things that have never been let, will be coming on to the market for the first time. I think we will have to take steps to free and we would put it in our manifesto.

At the moment we have got assured tenancies as you know; those can be freed from rent control and I think that they are going a bit further now. Already we are going further in the direction … going from short tenancies, that is where you build with approval and then you get an assured tenancy and it is rent-free. We are going a little bit further, improved assured tenancy, improving property. Putting capital in and we want to go in that direction and then further along to get property that is vacant, freed-up, so that you can get more possibility of people moving about to get a job. At the moment there are quite a lot of people who move to get jobs and leave their families at home and they just cannot find anywhere to live, and that is appalling.

Geoffrey Smith

You are thinking in this instance as something that would take place after the next election rather than before?

Prime Minister

That is right. Now education. Also, incidentally, I think many of us are very keen to get more improvements to council blocks so that they can be sold. You know, there are a number of council blocks in the country which have been taken [end p22] over, with the cooperation of the local authorities, completely by developers, by construction companies. There are one or two in Liverpool. You know, the ones that have been done. Minster Court. There are several. Kenneth Baker brought a whole load in the other day. Really, some of the blocks that look simply dreadful and they have been sold to private developers and they have completely redeveloped them and because the land is cheap and they are taken over cheaply they can really sell them cheaply, and there are some spanking pictures … can you let Mr. Smith have some … and we must do more of that … we really must do more of that.

Geoffrey Smith

But if I am understanding you correctly, you are thinking here of after the next election reforming the law … in other words, removing the legal rent control restrictions that exist at the moment?

Prime Minister

For certain limited things, for example for properties that are vacant.

Geoffrey Smith

I was not quite sure whether you were simply taking …   . as examples. [end p23]

Prime Minister

No, that is for properties that are vacant, taking off the rent control.

Geoffrey Smith

These are not examples of a more general deregulation that you would …

Prime Minister

Not a general deregulation, no. We are doing short tenancies, and now we are doing improved tenancies, and I think the stage beyond that is to …

Geoffrey Smith

Why not general deregulation?

Prime Minister

Because I do not think we are ready yet to do it. I came through the 1956 one. Indeed, I moved. We had a rent control property and then we moved and bought our own and I think if it had been rent-controlled we should probably still have been there. Rent control, as you know, in the end does not enable you to have enough to repair the property properly, so they went from rent control and the Labour Party …   . went to fair rent. Can I just go on to education?

Geoffrey Smith

Prime Minister, can I, just before you do, make clear in my own mind that you are mentioning here a number of specific aspects [end p24] of deregulation, but we should not look forward in the next Parliament to general rent decontrol?

Prime Minister

No. I do not think that is possible and I say that as a person who lived through the 1956 … then, of course, some control was put on again.

Geoffrey Smith

Right. Now can we go to education?

Prime Minister

Yes. I remain extremely worried about it, particularly in the inner cities. I know that some people in the shire counties are extremely satisfied with the education that they are getting. I know that there are other people who are very concerned, even in some of those places, with a lot of political indoctrination, but what really concerns me is the inner cities and some of the things which I learned there from parents and from pupils, where undoubtedly the education is not up to the standard which most parents not only expect but are entitled to expect.

One talks about education being free. It is not. Nothing is free. It is paid for by the rate-payer and the tax-payer pocket and it really must be more responsive to the needs of the rate-payer and tax-payer. It ought not to be a service that suits those who produce, and those who receive it have very little choice or very little say. [end p25]

Now Sir Keith JosephKeith, as you know, is trying to do great things about having a proper curriculum for youngsters, about making certain that they do not give up subjects which might be quite critical to them in their later life. We are trying to look at certain things again. I wish to goodness we still had more direct grant schools and I will tell you why.

There are some children whom the large comprehensive schools do not suit. You go from a comparatively small primary schools, you are quite happy; the size is sort of within your perceptions, within your consciousness, and then at a most vulnerable time in life you get catapulited into a big school of some children never settle down, but there is no choice. They cannot get to a smaller one. We would love to have something of starting up technical schools …   . we would love to start again some more direct grant schools, but the reason is to to try to get ordinary folk who are paying a lot for education by taxes more choice if they feel … some of them say to me they are not getting the best of John or Jane and I know that in some areas where the teachers' strike hit very badly, for example some areas in Scotland, the small private day schools are full, absolutely full.

Now, we have not yet decided whether we will be able to have an education credit to enable ordinary folk—this is what I am after the whole time … I had a grammar school education. … [end p26]

Geoffrey Smith

We are talking here about educational vouchers? [end p27]

Prime Minister

Well, we are talking about education credits, which perhaps are not quite the same thing, and we are considering that because my objective is to enable people, if they do not like the school where the child is at, to have a credit …   . [change of interviewer's tape] … to give parents who are unhappy more possibility of getting their child into a school of their choice.

Now it is a very very long-term thing. We looked at it once and did not find a way through and we will have to have a look again. Some people are against it because they say that that would enable those who send their children to public schools, which are private schools, to independent schools, to have an enormous bonus, but you could deal with that one by way of taxation.

But the main objective is to enable children, all of them, to get an education that suits their parents and abilities, where they are taught well, and I think in a slightly bigger variety of schools than we have got now.

Geoffrey Smith

Well, I follow the objective, Prime Minister. I am interested particularly in the means towards that objective. You speak very favourably, as I would have expected, about direct grant schools, but as we know, they were abolished. Can you reintroduce direct grant schools?

Prime Minister

Yes, I think we could. It would take longer than most people think, but at a time when some schools are coming out of use because of the change in the registers it would be possible, [end p28] if one could get finance to start them up.

The interim solution, of course, we had was assisted places so that you could get assisted places to independent schools, but what always bothers me is that ever since the 1944 Education Act you had to go either wholly State, which is 95%; of the pupils, or wholly private, and a kind of middle way—you might find it strange that I should use that phrase—but it is not strange at all, because it involves people more themselves with education … the middle way was denied people because the structure of the 1944 Education Act was either wholly State or wholly private.

For example, there is no way in which you could, even if you were at a village school and wanted to keep it open and not go to a bigger smart one up there, in which you could pay a little to keep that school open. I think that that is a pity, but what I am trying to find the whole way, is a middle way. The direct grant schools were absolutely marvellous. I suppose Manchester Grammar School was the best one, and so were the ordinary grammar schools. Now, we have not got enough technical schools. Sometimes in the United States they have things called “magnet schools” . All of these we must have a look at, but the ordinary folk whose children are either not happy or they feel they are not doing well, we must struggle, and will struggle, to get an alternative to go to, which is still free.

Geoffrey Smith

But Prime Minister, can you tell me if I am interpreting you correctly here, that the reintroduction of direct grant schools [end p29] is likely to be on the menu, that you are much attracted by education credits, you would like them to be on the menu but you cannot be sure yet, and magnet schools—there is a question mark in my voice—are you going to …   . magnet schools?

Prime Minister

I am talking of things that we are considering now, with the objective of trying to get a really good education for every child.

Geoffrey Smith

Yes, Right. Can I then move on to industrial relations and ask you, do you have any plans for further industrial relations legislation, either in this Parliament or in the next Parliament?

Prime Minister

I do not think that we shall have any more in this Parliament, but they are already looking at things for the next Parliament, some things that emerge … things that have already been done; other things which they will need to consider.

If I say what I think they will need to consider, you will not report it as already decided, because it is not!

I think there are certain things of the closed shop that one needs still to consider. I still find a closed shop myself repugnant.

I think that there are certain things which you need to consider about contracts between employers and trade unions being [end p30] enforceable, which it is in other countries, but it is not here. It is not always as easy, and they are already looking at a number of other things. I think we have done the main things, but I think there are other things.

Geoffrey Smith

Compulsory postal ballots?

Prime Minister

Postal ballots. There are things against that, as you know, and you have to look at it, because sometimes if you hold a ballot on the premises you can get—totally independently supervised—a bigger number voting, and you can be certain of the independent supervision. You can sometimes do it and that is why one does not like to go to compulsory postal ballots.

Geoffrey Smith

And you will not go to compulsory postal ballots?

Prime Minister

We will have a look at it. I will not say we will not go to it, but you do have to consider the other things as well, because there are things on both sides. It is not such an open and clear-cut case. Let us say the objective is to have the maximum number of people voting in conditions of total secrecy. Now, there will be some who will say that if you work in a factory where a lot of people work, it may be better to have [end p31] totally independent supervision for that ballot and people able to go in and put their cross wherever they want it, and put it into a ballot box; that that can give you more secrecy than a postal ballot, but perhaps sometimes, in some small village, you never know, the shop steward might come down and say: “Come on, we are all going to fill up our ballots in the pub this morning!” So you have got to watch all things. A lot of these things are not so clear-cut.

You also have to consider whether you should take the ballot for officers further down, officers of trade unions, further down than you have now. That is another thing. But I think you will find that that will wait until after the election.

Geoffrey Smith

Do I take it that after the election, though, there will be such legislation?

Prime Minister

We expect there to be such legislation after the election, we expect there to be a new Industrial Relations Bill after the election and probably fairly soon. I do think that one of the main things now is the attitudes between management and work-force, the really getting on together, which I think requires supreme efforts on the part of both.

Geoffrey Smith

Does it require more from Government? [end p32]

Prime Minister

I do not think it requires very much more from Government. Things that work really well, apart from as I said, some of the things that we shall need to do, but I really think the big strides forward can be taken by supreme management, getting on with people who themselves are very anxious to look at things not as “we and they” but as: “Look, we prosper when the company prospers and the company prospers when we prosper!” It is also important to make progress on that front as well.

Geoffrey Smith

You have been speaking earlier, Prime Minister, of the broad themes of the Budget, and you have been putting this in broad context, looking to the future, as I was asking. There is one small point about the Budget at the moment that I find a little perplexing … why the Government feels it necessary to be telling the oil companies what they ought to be charging for petrol. I think you mentioned in the House of Commons last week that if the motorist finds that he can get his petrol more cheaply going to the independents he will do so, in which case why is it necessary for the Government to intervene, even by giving a price?

Prime Minister

But the Government did not intervene. What the Government is saying is that we know from the profits that they are making that there is absolutely no reason for them to put up the petrol by the whole amount or indeed by any of it we believe, and we made that perfectly clear. But they might just try all to do it. [end p33] I entirely agree. It will be dealt with by competition. The independents will buy. What I am faced with … and I can tell you, you are frequently faced with it in the House Commons … someone is making a penny piece, put on an excess profits tax. It is ridiculous, and so you have got to say: look, if they put on what is really regarded as a price which is higher than they need charge, I do not believe they will because if they do they lose face to other people, but in fact the independents, so long as you can make competition work, that will deal with it, so what you have to do is to make jolly certain that there are not any agreements between them under which competition does not work, because it is the job of government to stop cosy arrangements and to see that competition works. That is really what we are saying. It will work and it is working.

Geoffrey Smith

Prime Minister, I follow the logic. I was a little surprised though, because I thought that it was the general thrust of this Government to get the conditions right and not to worry about exhortation in that way.

Prime Minister

Well I think you quite often have to do quite a bit of exhortation, quite often.

Geoffrey Smith

In that way? [end p34]

Prime Minister

I think that we have alerted people. I think it has really been rather successful, hasn't it? I always wish companies to have good profits, by virtue of producing a good product and a good service, because only out of good profits will you get good investment in the future, but there are a number of people who would, if they could, charge a little bit more and the way to deal with it is through competition so you have got to make sure that competition works and for that, I mean, you have to say: “Well all right, we do not see any need for them to put it all on because we thought in fact that some of them were not bringing it down as far as they could because they thought something might happen in the Budget” and I thought on the whole it was handled really rather well. The companies need to make good profits because they have a tremendous amount of investment to do, and we need them to invest more in the North Sea, more on shore, but just to remind them that if they attempt to have a margin which people might think is too big the independents will come and undercut and that is why it is so important to keep your competition going.

Geoffrey Smith

We have been speaking about the future of the next election, how the policies on which you hope to win it … I want to ask you just one question. I do not want to ask you a whole succession of hypothetical questions about what would happen if there is such and such a result, except to ask you just one.

If there is a hung Parliament, do you rule out any deal of any kind with the Alliance? [end p35]

Prime Minister

I do not expect the conditions to arise. I do not like coalition governments and I myself would be unlikely ever to go into one. I have seen the effect of them in Europe.

I will tell you what happens. You make a speech. You make your speeches. You have your election address. You set out your philosophy, you set our your principles, you set out your policies, you set out your programme. And do you know what happens when you get hung parliaments or coalitions? The first thing you do is abrogate everything upon which you have been elected. Now that is not my style. You abrogate it and I think I know a number of countries that say: “We are the largest party. We will put our policies to the test and the House of Commons can see whether or not it upholds it or not!” I have seen a number of countries, and I am very much against coalitions, which have a lot of small parties—when there are small parties there are usually quite a lot of extreme parties—and those small parties determine the entire political complexion of the government. That is not democracy. So I myself would be unlikely to go into a coalition.

Geoffrey Smith

You say unlikely, but you do not say impossible.

Prime Minister

I do not think it is possible for me to do it. I do not expect it to arise. [end p36]

Geoffrey Smith

Now can I move to foreign affairs?

Prime Minister

I may say we should never have wrought the transformation we have in Britain under a coalition government. Never, never never. You have to be decisive to do that and there is a lot of work still to do and the more you play with the words, the more you do this argy-bargy behind scenes, bargaining … goodness me, we see enough of it in Europe …   . it is very difficult … without having it at home.

Geoffrey Smith

Can I ask you about Europe, not individual countries of Europe, but in the second half of this year Britain assumes the presidency of the European Community. What do you particularly hope to achieve during this period of the presidency?

Prime Minister

Well first, it is not yet, as you know, a common market. There are far more barriers to trade in Europe than there are in the United States and some countries are very slow to put those barriers down, because it suits some of them to keep them up. They are particularly slow in some of the services, so as you know full well, they excel sometimes at manufacturing industry, Germany in particular, and has a marvellous market to export her stuff over here. We are getting better and better in manufacturing but we excel at some of the services such as insurance for example, [end p37] in some financial services, and have not got the same free market over there. We cannot just set up over there and export our service as they can their things over here. So we have to call their bluff sometimes and say: “Now look, you call yourselves communitaire. Come on, it is about time you did this! That directive has been around a long time. What are you doing? You are having lorry quotas in a common market. What are you doing trying to cut down the number of our lorries that can go across Europe? Quotas. Common market.”

Geoffrey Smith

But you are not wanting to go as far as the whole range of the Cockfield proposals?

Prime Minister

No, no, no. …   . I have the greatest possible respect, admiration and liking … believes that you can only have …   . is attempting to say you can only have an internal market if you have harmonisation of tax laws. No, I do not believe it and indeed we could not. Our tax laws are completely different from those of France. They have much lower direct tax and much higher value added tax and value added tax on food. Each of us has our own historical things and we fight that harmonisation of taxation very fiercely. Indeed, I always do, because they want to … you know we have special arrangements for the VAT threshold … people in business on their own or a small business only comes into a VAT threshold on services … at a certain level … and the Common Market [end p38] tells us that is too high to which I say: “Look, you say you are trying to sort out unemployment; so am I. You know full well that to sort out unemployment you want more small businesses and yet you are proposing to put the VAT threshold lower down so people come in to paying it earlier. That will not do!” And we headed that one off very successfully at the last meeting.

But it is the internal market which is not yet fully working. Now the second thing that we really must have a further go on is everybody knows that you cannot go on taking such a large proportion of your budget, producing surpluses of food that no-one can eat and they have to be stored expensively and sold cheaply. Now, you have got to face it. You cannot have sudden changes because your farmers have got to have a chance to adjust and also you simply cannot run a Common Agricultural Policy in a way that forgets the amount of time, effort, money and capital people have put into being efficient and puts all of the accent on the small farmer whose efficiency is much smaller. It would be absolutely absurd if efficiency is the watchword in manufacturing industry but you paid no attention to it in farming and in any case, our family farms are just as much family farms as they are, although our family farms are bigger and we do not want them discriminated against, but we have got year by year to tackle this and it is going to be very difficult. I see that France is not very anxious to tackle it and neither is Germany, but we shall soon have to tackle it because now we have a 1.4%; VAT ceiling on contributions and that is a firm VAT ceiling. It is firmer than we have had before because it is not only a VAT ceiling; it is [end p39] that we have got a fair deal financially within that VAT ceiling and so that will begin to tell.

The tendency for them is to put on more co-responsibility levies as a means of getting extra money without altering the VAT ceiling. We do not like it because it is of course … what it is is a selective reduction in price but it tends to bear more heavily on our farmers so broadly speaking, the two things … completion much faster … much faster progress on the internal market and on the CAP. Eureka …   . we have got the next meeting here … we have not got enough of our companies yet forming cross-country companies on certain collaborative projects.

Geoffrey Smith

These are purposes which have been the objectives of the British Government for some time. Is there any reason to suppose that during the six months when Britain will have the presidency of the Community that any decisive steps can be taken in either field?

Prime Minister

I think we shall probably put, and I must say Holland is very good as a President, excellent, and she too has some of the same ideas as we do, so we shall take over from a movement which she has been pushing in the direction, also in which we want to go.

The most difficult one of all is the CAP, the Common Agricultural Policy, because you can put forward a number of things, a number of proposals. To get agreement on them from [end p40] very different countries is difficult but we have a number of ideas which we shall pursue.

Geoffrey Smith

Now the other field of foreign affairs which attracts a great deal of public concern is the question of arms negotiation. There are two areas I would like to ask you about here.

First of all, we now know that after Ambassador Paul Nitze 's recent travels round Western Europe, that the United States is proposing to the Soviet Union a zero-zero option … globally …

Prime Minister

Global zero-zero. That is to be reached over three years, gradually over three years.

Geoffrey Smith

Exactly, by the end of 1989, and that if that goes through there will be no intermediate range missiles at all, not as you say, globally. Do you have any reservations about this proposal? One knows that in a number of instances people in Western Europe have felt that perhaps the connection with the United States would be better preserved if at least there were some Euro missiles in Western Europe. [end p41]

Prime Minister

You know, the initial approach on intermediate weapons was just exactly what you have said, that you got the inter-ballistic missiles in the Soviet Union, you got the inter-ballistic missiles from the United States, and if the Soviet Union ever put hers down on Europe, would in fact the United States be prepared to sacrifice—what was it de Gaulle once said?—sacrifice Chicago for something on Europe? And therefore it was felt that because the Soviet Union would try to decouple, disconnect, the United States from Europe, that there ought to be some United States NATO missiles that could be loosed off from Europe as a deterrent—not loosed off but would be in Europe as a deterrent to those.

Nevertheless, we said right at the beginning of that NATO decision to ask them to come, that if the Soviet Union got rid of her intermediate ones, then there would be no Cruise or Pershings, and that really is the zero-zero global option, and we are reverting to that, so it is not a new option. It is the one. Now all of the nuclear is to deter. I do not find, I think, many people still concerned, as they were originally, about the decoupling of the United States and Europe. It is these reasons that we keep our own independent nuclear deterrent and so does France, because we still would have something, but they are last-resort things. So we are quite happy to go along with the zero-zero global to be reached in three years.

If I might say so, what a number of us are extremely concerned about is the position over chemical weapons where the Soviet Union seems to have an enormous number. We have not got [end p42] any and the United States only has some very old ones, and none of us want to be in the position where the only answer to chemical weapons are nuclear, and either they … we really have to make strenuous efforts to make them get their chemical weapons down.

Geoffrey Smith

Where do you think the best chance of an agreement lies now?

Prime Minister

I think it is fashionable to say on intermediate nuclear, because there is a view somehow that that is not coupled up with SDI. I am not sure that that is a correct view. It might have been a misreading of the results of the last summit, but that is the fashionable one, but you know, there is room for getting down the intercontinental ballistic missiles on both sides, if they wish to do so. There is room for getting down.

Geoffrey Smith

As a first step?

Prime Minister

You asked me where you can make it. You will probably make it on the intermediate ones, but if he is prepared, and only if he is prepared to drop the argument on SDI, that is Mr. Gorbachev is prepared to drop the argument on SDI, there really is scope for getting it down on the intercontinental ballistic missiles. [end p43]

Geoffrey Smith

How seriously do you take …

Prime Minister

…   . and most people say that because he will not drop his demands that SDI be taken no further, that you cannot get anywhere on that, but I believe in SDI, as you know, and may I put my view this way:

Both of them have expressed a view, both the President and Mr. Gorbachev, that they want to see a world without nuclear weapons. I cannot see a world without nuclear weapons. Let me be practical about it. The knowledge is there to make them and I cannot see it, so do not go for that, too hard for that, pie in the sky, because all right, everyone would like to see it, but I do not believe it is going to come about. You cannot disinvent the knowledge of how to make them, you just cannot, and therefore you have got to look—and indeed, if I might go further and say if you want there to be a world without any nuclear weapons you have got to have an SDI, just to make certain that when you have got rid of them and some other power—and there will be nuclear proliferation—came in to make some and you did not know about it, you were jolly certain you had got an SDI to stop it. So on that argument you have got to have SDI and Gorbachev cannot say “do without it” . On his argument, you want a world without nuclear weapons, you have got to have SDI, to make jolly certain that if anything does get up there it is knocked down, but leave that. That is a long way away and therefore my main purpose, and I know you will have to edit this, my main purpose is to try to make [end p44] practical advances where we can and I do not mind where that it is; whether it is in the big ballistic missiles or the intermediate ones. The chemical ones, we will never never never let go the importance of negotiating on that. We will negotiate on it as hard as we can.

Geoffrey Smith

Conventional forces?

Prime Minister

Conventional. You see, the less important your nuclear become, the more important a conventional balance becomes, and as you know, we are so far from that, and I belong to the period when I can remember Winston Churchill Winston saying about nuclear weapons right at the beginning: “They are the things, the only things, which equate the smaller countries and the bigger ones!” People tend to have forgotten some of that. I am sorry, you will have to edit that, but I think the thread is there.

Geoffrey Smith

It is indeed. May I just … one quick point … then there are two others just … but out of order entirely …   . the question of the Fulham by-election …   . we were talking earlier of the momentum of the Government and you said that you did not accept for a moment that the Government had lost momentum and I was talking about the impression that had been created … in order to secure the public impression that this is a government which still has momentum, how [end p45] important is the Fulham by-election in immediate political terms and how well do you expect to do?

Prime Minister

Well, we can win. We can win and I think that the Budget indicates that we have not lost momentum. As a matter of fact, if we had left the National Insurance Surcharge where it was and used that money to reduce the basic rate of income tax, we would now be down to 25 pence in the pound, but we did not. We thought it important to get industrial costs down.

Every by-election is important to me, every single one, and sometimes we think we do not get our message across cogently enough. You see, even we did not start off by discussing the really big things. We started off by discussing—you mentioned Westlands, you mentioned British Leyland—those are things which are in people's minds, but the really big things are the big strategies—the transformation of trade union law, the transformation that has come about in ownership, the transformation that has come about when you have your finances well and truly run properly, run on a sound footing; the certainty that inflation will be kept down. Perhaps a little blip down and then, and go down, and I believe in people's heart of hearts they know that the way we are tackling the economy is the way ultimately to tackle unemployment, because you are not going to solve the problem of jobs until you have got efficient industries on a sound base. Then you can expand. Until you have got people with a sense of independence, so that you get more people starting up on their [end p46] own. It is coming. It is coming! We have only been here six and a half years.

Geoffrey Smith

When you say it is coming, do you mean the industrial transformation of Britain is coming or the particular signs which people are looking for such as the decline in unemployment? Will that come through before the next election?

Prime Minister

I do not know. I most earnestly hope so. Increasing jobs are coming through and if we were not facing also the simultaneous increase in the population of working age then we should be getting on top of it, but you know that since we have been in, for the last seven years the population of working age has gone up by a million and a half. It is because of the birthrate and the retirement rate which there is nothing one can do about, that we are going through a period of nine years or ten years when there are far more school-leavers because of the birthrate at that time than are people retiring. The population of working age has gone up by one a half million, so you needed to create a lot more jobs even to stand still on unemployment, quite without a world recession. So I do not know and obviously one's dearest wish, one's earnest wish is to get that down and even now one hears of certain skill shortages in the midst of unemployment. But I have never made predictions because I know of the several factors and I know too that manufacturing industry is still getting more [end p47] efficient and therefore there are redundancies. I know that coal is getting more efficient. Therefore, there are a lot of redundancies in coal.

I know that a number of industries … textiles have now got very efficient. I hope that steel has done most for efficiency, but there are still great leaps in productivity coming about because we now are a nation which embraces the latest change.

I am aware of Wapping, which is a blot and deeply concerned about it. That sort of intimidatory demonstration and violence; it should be no part of anyone's way of proceeding to do things in this country and I cannot condemn it enough.

Also overmanning in some other things. There is overmanning in some of the television work as you know. The overmanning is in things where you do not get overseas competition and it just shows you what industries would be like if they were protected against all overseas competition. They would be inefficient, slack, and we should get no exports. We have got rid of that and we really are getting much more efficient—not perhaps quite as efficient in some respects as Germany—in our chemical industries yes, we are as efficient as any the world over, chemical, pharmaceutical. So there are still some more redundancies to come, but then there are new businesses starting, expansion is starting, a tremendous number of service things and of course you need a lot of service industries because they service the manufacturing industries as well. You need them both. [end p48]

Geoffrey Smith

I follow that, but it is not possible to predict at this moment?

Prime Minister

I wish it were, but it is not possible to predict and I have always been very cautious because I do not like to raise people's hopes only to dash them.

Geoffrey Smith

I follow. Now, I take it that your other dearest wish is to bring taxation down further substantially before the election. This will really depend, won't it, if I understand correctly what has been said by the Chancellor and by others, on holding public expenditure down in the next round. Now there has been the tendency, hasn't there in the past, for expectations of further substantial tax cuts to be held in one year but then for it not to be possible to hold public expenditure sufficiently. Do you think it is going to be possible this year?

Prime Minister

I do not know, but I hope so. I notice you wisely used the word “hold” public expenditure, because if you actually hold it, in a background of growth you have got what you want and one reason why our taxation is higher here than in some of the European countries is that we have not yet broken through to the amount of production per head of the population which they have, and that after all is the wealth of a nation, how much do you [end p49] produce per head of the population?

Now, the more you do it, it is like breaking even in a company; you get through to break even to profit and everything else on top of that you are away; it is pure profit. It is like that in running the nation's finances. You go hard until you get through a barrier, of breaking through to a bigger production per person.

I hope with the periods of growth that we have had there is going to come a time when we are going to break through to that. Then you see when you get that you do have the money actually to do much bigger reductions on direct taxation and in spite of the some people who come to me and say “Don't reduce tax!” the first question I ask of them is: “Do tell me, is your income in the top half?” . “Yes!” . “Very considerably in the top half?” . “Yes” . And I say: Well, I do not find many people coming to me, teachers, nurses, people who are working hard but earning below average, I don't find them coming to me and saying you are leaving too much of my own money in my own pocket Mrs. Thatcher. I find them coming and saying: “I have not got enough of my own money left in my own pocket to pay my rates, to pay my fuel bills, to pay food and clothes” . You look at the black market. That shows …   . black market, the black cash economy … that shows how hard people will work when they see a direct relationship between what they earn and the effort. So yes, I do want taxation down. It is people's own money. They are entitled to have more of it and I am not so arrogant as some politicians as to think that I know better how to spend it than the people who earn it. [end p50]

Geoffrey Smith

But you are going to have to persuade the Cabinet aren't you, to hold down public expenditure sufficiently to …

Prime Minister

Yes I am, and I am going to say to them, I do say to them, what is moral about saying to your constituents “I have spent your tax relief because I think I know better how to spend than you do!” So yes, you have a reasonable level of public expenditure. My goodness me, and we have had our priorities with defence and law and order and health and our pledge to pensions and we have honoured the lot, but we have to watch the rate at which it goes up, because if your public expenditure goes on going up as a proportion of national income, then your freedom is diminished and there was a time you know, during the lifetime of a Labour government, when right-wing Labour politicians were saying: “If it goes on like this we shall no longer be a free society!”

Geoffrey Smith

And do you think it will be as easy or easier … it needs to be easier doesn't it to persuade the Cabinet that … it will need to be easier to persuade the Cabinet to hold down public expenditure this year than in the past, won't it?

Prime Minister

No, it will be about the same. It will be about the same, because you see, you have got your growth going and you want … of your growth, you want the main proportion of your growth to be able [end p51] to go to tax reductions, you see, so you are right when you say “hold it” . You can never quite hold it, because you do not know what number of pensions there are going to be; you do not know quite in health service; you do not know quite in police; but what you want is a larger proportion of your growth to go to tax relief than goes to increasing expenditure. Then you gain on it every year.

Geoffrey Smith

Can I ask you a quick question about leadership, a very quick one? During the Westland crisis there was speculation about your leadership. I understood you then, and I take it it is still the case, that you made it quite clear that you had no intention of being pushed out of the leadership by critics.

Do I also take it that there is no question at all of your voluntarily deciding that the time has come before the next election—you are still absolutely, without equivocation, determined to take the Conservative Party into the election?

Prime Minister

Yes.

Geoffrey Smith

Right! Finally, my last question …

Prime Minister

That was the last one. [end p52]

Geoffrey Smith

I want to ask you one final question and that is, how would you like your premiership and your Government to be regarded in history?

Prime Minister

I really think that it was the turn of the tide. We were slipping so fast into a Socialist state, where the individual mattered less and the collective more. That is not right for the British character. We turned that whole tide because people knew it had to be turned. As my constituent said: “We had to vote for you to get the centre back to the middle!”

Geoffrey Smith

Prime Minister, thank you very much!