Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1986 Feb 26 We
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for BBC Radio 2 Jimmy Young Programme

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Radio Interview
Venue: ?BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, central London
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Jimmy Young, BBC
Editorial comments: 1030-1120. MT was interviewed live.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 10371
Themes: Conservatism, Employment, Industry, General Elections, Privatized & state industries, Pay, Public spending & borrowing, Taxation, Trade, Foreign policy (USA), Labour Party & socialism, Leadership, Science & technology, Social security & welfare

Jimmy Young

In the studio with me this morning, special guest of the day, the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher. Good morning Prime Minister.

Rt. Hon. Margaret Thatcher

Good morning Jimmy.

J. Young

Perhaps we could talk first of all about the issue which is very much in the news at the moment of course, which is British Leyland. Now the whole BL controversy began when the opposition forced you to admit, if I may put it that way, that secret talks have been going on for at least the past 12 months with General Motors. I suppose the first question is, why did you think the talks should remain secret for so long?

Mrs. Thatcher

Well I think when you are dealing with commercial matters, and when you are dealing with possible bids for part of an industry, you have to probe and make arrangements quietly, otherwise you never get anywhere to see if it's possible to make an arrangement with another company, and the real thing that triggered that were that the …   . the bus, lorries and trucks business in the United Kingdom, and indeed in the whole of Europe, has far more factories than the demand for lorries and trucks. We've got in this country about 40%; overcapacity. Now you can't go on saying to the taxpayer, you've got to finance that indefinitely, and sooner or later there would have to be a rationalisation. So we thought it would be advisable to try to see whether we could make a rationalisation with people like General Motors who've been making Bedford trucks here for years, and that's why you probe and you make enquiries, and it's no earthly good I think starting off by saying, we're going to [end p1] make enquiries, if they're not likely to come to anything.

J. Young

The ironic thing is that since the talks came into the open a large number of groups and companies have come forward wanting to buy at any rate, the parts of BL Group, and I suppose what people wonder is, haven't you significantly handicapped those companies and haven't you significantly given the Americans a tremendous advantage?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, I don't think so. I don't think anyone has come forward to purchase both the part that's in very considerable difficulty, the buses and trucks, as well as the Landrover, Range Rover, Freight Rover, which as you know, even that I'm afraid got to a loss-making position having … in spite of having the most marvellous product. I think only the …   . one has come forward to purchase the lot and therefore you have to look to see, well, are there others who would perhaps purchase separately? But also look after the lorries, the trucks and the buses …   .

J. Young

Well …   .

Mrs. Thatcher

…   . as well as British Landrover because you know, you can't just sacrifice those.

J. Young

Good. Well perhaps we can come onto those in a moment, come back to the people who seem to be interested in buying bits of BL. If BL …   . another question that gets asked, if BL has to be sold off, why couldn't it have been sold off in a partnership deal? One thinks of …   . I mean with safeguards written in for the workforce, for the use of British components and so on, because you could then justly have claimed that you had kept the company British, I mean why did we have to go for a complete takeover by a foreign company?

Mrs. Thatcher

Well we could put the whole of BL on the market, who do you think would bid for it? [end p2]

J. Young

I don't know.

Mrs. Thatcher

Well no …   . I don't think we would get anyone bidding for British Leyland as a …   .

J. Young

(Interrupting) Well you already have someone bidding for Landrover and we are told the management are putting a consortium together for buses, and let's face it, it's only been in the open for a couple of weeks, so who knows?

Mrs. Thatcher

Look …   . British Leyland as a whole has been making considerable losses. That in spite of the fact that the taxpayer has already put in, in grants, 2.2 billion. That's equivalent in one year to twopence on the rate of income tax. On top of that, British Leyland cannot borrow money without a Government guarantee. They've borrowed up to a further 1.6 billion.

Now you add all that together, and every family in the United Kingdom on average has already put into one company, British Leyland, £200 per family, and it is still making considerable losses.

J. Young

Right.

Mrs. Thatcher

Now, we can't go on like that. When it comes to doing new models, they'd be back again for more money, and you can't go on and on. That's money which could have gone to education or health, and they really ought now to be thoroughly prosperous. They're not; trucks and buses are in very considerable difficulty and we've got to think about those. What we want is the most …   . the arrangement that is most likely to give flourishing industry with a future in Britain.

J. Young

Well, now we read that the management of Landrover want to put together a consortium to buy Landrover. [end p3] As I was saying just now, one reads that Leyland bus directors want to get together to do something. I would have thought that these kind of consortia would have appealed to you greatly. I mean, they have all the Thatcher virtues—wider share ownership, workers' participation, entrepreneurial spirit, I mean, wouldn't you be … wouldn't your public image seem considerably better if you put your thrust behind that kind of British exercise?

Mrs. Thatcher

But I've got to think of something even more fundamental than that. What is the best chance for a good prosperous industry in Britain? Who can go in and put in a good deal of capital to develop? I mean, don't forget, Landrover, you and I think it's a marvellous product; we've never sold a single one in the United States, which is the biggest truck market.

J. Young

Of course, Lonrho are saying they think they could double …   . double production.

Mrs. Thatcher

I think if you've got a good deal of money put into that, if it had been in private sector a long time ago, there'd have been a lot more jobs than there are now. But for a long time the management of British Leyland said—oh, don't let the best parts go, we'll never sell the lot, and we've now come to the position where after, as I say, 3.8 billion either grants or guarantees, they're still in a loss-making position, and what we have to think of is how to get it into the private sector in a way which gives the best possibility of jobs in Britain, and prosperity in the future; and you can't just say—I'm only going to look at one piece, and to hell with the rest. You've got to have a look at it all, but I can only say that if we were to take the whole package and put British Leyland on the market, I do not think that there would be a single bidder for it, and sometimes I say to those who say, keep it British [end p4] —Go away, come on, you've got lots of money in the trade unions, lots of money in the City, go and put up a bid for the whole lot and take it off the taxpayer, and not one person has. What they … General Motors has put up a bid for Landrover, Range Rover—not the bus, trucks and lorries because they have a lot of experience of making Bedford lorries, they make the trucks, but you can't just say pick out the good pieces and leave the rest to the taxpayer.

J. Young

But, Prime Minister …

Mrs. Thatcher

I've got to think of the future of the whole lot. I think of it in terms of jobs … [end p5]

J. Young

Of course you have. But, with respect, in only the last two weeks or so, since the deal, or the proposal came into the open, we already have … we're told ten consortia queueing up to get bits of it at any rate and already are after Landrover and buses, who is to say that someone in a minute won't be after trucks, I don't know, perhaps they will.

Mrs. Thatcher

Well, if they were I think they'd be coming forward, I mean there are some people who would like trucks and we have to consider and the company has to consider the best arrangement which will give best hope for the future for all of the people who work in British Leyland and I don't think that's a bad position to be in, but please, I beg of you, do not offend people like General Motors and Ford who have been employing people in this country for a very long time and who are very miffed when their bids or offers to help are pushed away … Ford, for example, in 1984 put over £450 million into the Treasury, that can go out in favour of education, in favour of hospitals.

J. Young

When you say offers to help, Prime Minister, I mean American businessmen—well, all businessmen are fairly hard-headed, but American businessmen are particularly hard-headed and I don't think they would be pouring their money in here because they want to help us, I mean maybe they will along the line, but they will be pouring their money in because they think there's something in it for them.

Mrs. Thatcher

Well, in that case why aren't more British companies pouring their money in?

J. Young

I haven't the faintest idea.

Mrs. Thatcher

Many of those—many of those who are saying ‘keep it British’, ‘keep it British’—I turn round and say ‘all right, how much money are you prepared to put up in a consortium, now show the colour of your money, don't just talk, put up’. And there are many, [end p6] many people who are doing a lot of talking, who if they really believe what they said, could in fact put up … not just for the bits that they would like, but for others. Certainly there are one or two bids who can do a rationalisation of the production of lorries and trucks and that is important …

J. Young

Every time you say rationalisation you'll frighten everybody to death because rationalisation usually means sackings.

Mrs. Thatcher

If you've got 40%; over-capacity, what are you going to do—have a truck and bus mountain?

J. Young

I don't know—you're going to sack people you're saying I suppose.

Mrs. Thatcher

You've got in fact, you've got in fact—look, people have had to lose their jobs in steel, in coal if there isn't a market for their product.

J. Young

And now they have to lose them in the car industry?

Mrs. Thatcher

The question is—how many can we sell? What is the best way we can get a strong bus and truck business in Britain, we've got over-capacity. You can't go on with over-capacity, you have in fact to make the best arrangement to get a strong bus and truck—the latest products, plenty of capital to develop, plenty of marketing the world over. But, look Jimmy, you know full well, there had to be closedown in steel because you couldn't have steel mountains, and because we had to put up productivity. There had to be losses in many of the big firms, redundancies because first there was a lot of hidden unemployment and, secondly, if you're not selling your products then I'm afraid firms have to close.

J. Young

What you're saying, Prime Minister, as I understand it at any rate, is that there's no place for sentiment in business, we have to be hard-headed about it and that's [end p7] that and if BL or anything else for that matter, can't make a profit—out it goes!

Mrs. Thatcher

Now steady the buffs, what is the alternative? What are you saying—what are some of my Members of Parliament saying, not mine, some of the others—what are they saying …

J. Young

Well, some of yours are very critical.

Mrs. Thatcher

What are they saying? What they're saying is this—each family on average has already given or guaranteed £200 to British Leyland, what are you now saying? They've got to go and put in another £200, £200 that couldn't go to buying the goods which they would like to buy—possibly cars, possibly furniture, possibly carpets, which also produce jobs, is that what people are saying? Because let's just get it straight, a lot of people are doing a lot of talking, now if they were really honest, if they were really sincere, they would go and put a bid together for the whole lot, not just pick out the good pieces and say ‘to hell with the rest’, that is not the attitude we're taking, we want the prosperity of Landrover, Range Rover, buses, trucks, yes, and Austin Rover, who only have 4%; of …

J. Young

So just—underlining what we just discussed then, what you are really saying is that there's no sentiment in business, we've got to be hard-headed and businesslike about it, if BL has to go it has to go and you're saying to people who're listening to this—either put up or shut up.

Mrs. Thatcher

I am saying to people—put up or shut up, because I'm fed-up with people getting up and talking and not in fact saying—as I said to Neil Kinnock yesterday, the unions have got a lot of money, why don't you put in a bid for the buses and trucks …   .? But why are you on this hard-headed, no sentimentality? Look, flourishing business is business that provides what the customer wants. You say that's hard-headed sentimentality, it gives flourishing business, it gives flourishing jobs with good prospects. Marks and Spencer, British Home Stores, Sainsburys … [end p8]

J. Young

You're not going to flog off Marks and Spencers surely?

Mrs. Thatcher

One moment, hard-headed, non-sentimental, they're flourishing businesses, flourishing, because they produce what the customer wants and that is good.

J. Young

What about the other side of this, there was a Sunday Times …

Mrs. Thatcher

Incidentally we actually own quite a bit of America …

J. Young

Oh, of course we do.

Mrs. Thatcher

… as you know and in a world which gets smaller and smaller, you know, it's not a bad thing for us to own quite a bit of theirs and for they …   . have done so much in our regions …

J. Young

I don't think anybody would argue that, the only question is the way it's done, I mean can we come back to something that we touched on earlier on—why couldn't it be a partnership, I mean, for instance, you've got Rover/Honda, seems to be doing very well, why couldn't we have had BL/General Motors or whatever?

Mrs. Thatcher

Well, I'm afraid that Austin Rover/Honda only has 4%; of the whole European market and it has to compete with companies like Volkswagen, Fiat, Renault, General Motors, Ford, all of which have between 10 and 12%; of the market and that's the problem and that is the extent of the task. Again all of those who want it to stay British either have to buy those cars, or else they have to get together and say—look, we'll put a consortium together to buy this, but what I believe they cannot say is the taxpayer, every family having put in £200 to British Leyland already in grants or guarantees, must line up to put another £200 in, that's £200 which can't go to education and health.

J. Young

Can I just touch on perhaps the political side of it, if you like: Ted Heath has warned that the [end p9] Government will pay dearly, he says, if it ignores the British public and it steamrollers through the sale to General Motors the key parts of British Leyland, and in fact there was a Sunday Times MORI poll published over last weekend which showed that more than 90%; of the people questioned wanted the firm to stay British-owned. Now you may say that's sentiment and perhaps it is, but it's the way people feel, just the same.

Mrs. Thatcher

I don't mind sentiment, but I also feel a good deal of sentiment about what is the best chance for the future of those businesses and undoubtedly the best chance for the future is to think about the future of the trucks and lorries as well and to think about whether there's plenty of capital to develop them, to think about whether you can get a distribution network in the United States which matters very much indeed, to think about whether you can recover in the Middle East where the Japs have got a lot of the market, they should never have got in, we have some excellent products because ours couldn't be delivered or we hadn't got enough production capacity, so I've got to think about what is the best future for the jobs of those businesses in the Midlands and I can't just ditch the lorries and buses, we've got to think about that too. [end p10]

J. Young

Something which I think is very interesting politically as far as you're concerned, I was reading only the other day—someone was writing about your patriotism actually—and they said of you that you never hesitate to wrap yourself in the Union Jack—and I may say there's nothing wrong with that—so isn't it ironic though that in the case of British Leyland it's your political opponents who are coming out with the image of battling for Britain, fighting to keep British industry British, and you are coming out with the image of the person who wants to flog British industry off to the Americans?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, I do not …   . I do not accept that at all. What I want is the best prospects for the future, in the Midlands and in the North West …

J. Young

But that's how it looks, doesn't it?

Mrs. Thatcher

… and elsewhere. Well, let me just say, don't listen to just what people say, judge them by what they do, judge them by what they do and just talking isn't enough, it just isn't. And don't forget that we have a lot of companies in the United States, we have in fact invested more in the United States, we have in fact invested more in the United States companies than the United States in Britain in the last three years, and what would you think …

J. Young

(interrupting) …   . which a lot of people are critical of, of course.

Mrs. Thatcher

…   . well, one moment—there's … it is for very good reasons and it's bringing us back a monthly income into this country which is helping with our balance of payments. What would you think if American Senators and Congressmen were getting up making anti-British statements merely because we were purchasing their companies; I mean [end p11] of course the ICI purchased Beatrice* Chemicals last year for 700-million; they are not; we mustn't be anti-American, we mustn't. …

J. Young

Can …   . No …   .

Mrs. Thatcher

… we rely on them for a lot of jobs here.

J. Young

Let …   . oh, well, let me clear that one up. Bob Pryce, Executive Vice President of General Motors, is on record as saying …   . he said only a couple of days ago, that opposition to the General Motors takeover, he said, in this country is not anti-Americanism, which is what some people have been trying to claim; he said General Motors has been taken aback at the strength of nationalism, patriotism and emotion that the bid has raised. That's what he said and he's a General Motors person.

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, because General Motors, as you know, made the Churchill tank, it was not made by a British company, General Motors have been supplying trucks to the British Army for a long time.

J. Young

Doesn't it please you though that there is an upsurge of patriotism and nationalism?

Mrs. Thatcher

I like an upsurge of patriotism and nationalism but I like it accompanied not only by talk, I like it accompanied by action …

J. Young

Fair enough.

Mrs. Thatcher

… and I would like some of those people, some of them are very influential in the City, among institutions, who have large amounts of money in pension funds, of the union pension funds, trade union pension funds, of large amounts of money coming for trade unions every year, to stop doing what they are now saying, the tax … British taxpayer must pay any losses no matter how high and say, right, this is a matter of British pride, [end p12] we can put together a very good bid for the whole lot. Now when they come and do that I'll say, ah, now you're talking.

J. Young

Can I just ask you another couple of questions, then we can leave British Leyland. You mentioned the amount of money that we poured into British Leyland, absolutely right, and the situation now is that we've got the most modern plant and we've got the best productivity, we can compete with anything in Europe. There are some people, of course, who say … who agree with you, yes we have poured all this money into British Leyland, absolutely true; they will also say, and that is why this is the very last time we should be selling British Leyland, just when it's beginning to turn the corner, just when we're going to reap the benefit.

Mrs. Thatcher

Absolutely marvellous wouldn't it, British Leyland has done a great deal but I'm afraid the losses are still considerable, and what one has to consider is when you've poured in 2.2-billion by taxpayer plus another 1.6 in guarantees, you would expect to have companies that were actually contributing to the Exchequer, contributing to education, contributing to health, instead of lining up and saying you've got to guarantee every pound we borrow, and of course when it comes to new models if we've only got 4%; of the market we shall need more help. So just look … just go and look at the balance sheet, and that's what people who are making bids for are going to look at the balance sheet, and I think that had we got it out in the private sector earlier—we did get Jaguar out, for it has gone streaking ahead—had we got it out in the private sector earlier, which is what I wanted to do and we were not able to, I think it would be a lot more successful now, I think it would have done its rationalisation on trucks earlier; I think that Land Rover, Range Rover, would [end p13] have had more capital poured in, they then would have been able to build plants and Range Rovers and Land Rovers that could have found a market in the States because they were up to their standards, and we could have tackled the competition from the Japanese in the Middle East. We didn't, but now, yes, we do want to get it out in the private sector. It has a better chance there. But in looking at them, every single one is going to be looked at, every single one; we've got to look at what is the best chance for the future of that business if we're to flourish well.

J. Young

What about the …   . what about the …

Mrs. Thatcher

No bids for Austin Rover, I must tell you.

J. Young

What about the deadline, Prime Minister, which is March the 4th isn't it, are you going to extend that?

Mrs. Thatcher

The … it's not … the deadline is March the 4th, is are you serious about the bid and in what sort of order of magnitude are you bidding.

J. Young

So it's no longer a guillotine so to speak …

Mrs. Thatcher

That's right. We want to know whether you're serious and the order of magnitude, which you're bidding … but that's quite … people who do bidding are used to acting very quickly.

J. Young

Yes, but of course, I mean General Motors have had over a year's start on them but they've got to still get their act together, haven't they, the new boys?

Mrs. Thatcher

This is … bids are made much more quickly than that …

J. Young

Okay, let me ask you …

Mrs. Thatcher

… the limit on this one … much more quickly, but I say it is, are you serious and what's the sort of … roughly how much are you thinking of. [end p14]

J. Young

Okay, let me ask you one final one. Last week you said that talks with Ford over the Austin … Austin Rover … had been stopped only because of strong emotions in the wake of the Westland affair. We now have Bob Pryce of General Motors saying they've been astounded by the feelings of nationalism and patriotism and emotions; now would these emotions that have now been raised encourage you perhaps or persuade you to stop the GM talks?

Mrs. Thatcher

I still come back to the same point, Jimmy, those people who say stop the talks are saying that the taxpayer, some of whom have already been made redundant from coalmines, from steel companies, from … in textiles, 200-thousand who've lost their jobs in textiles because of new technology, those people you're going back to say, and Members of Parliament are saying to their constituents, you have in fact already given or guaranteed £200 a family to British Leyland, it's making a loss, there's 40%; over-capacity in trucks; Austin Rover only has 4%; of the market where others have 10 to 12 per cent in Europe; you have got to put more taxpayers' money into that even though in your own companies you've had to come into the modern world, with modern technology …

J. Young

So the message … the message to …

Mrs. Thatcher

So the message is, don't just stand and talk, look at what you're actually doing, you're asking your constituents to pour more in there when in fact we could have it into the private sector and I hope that it will flourish and get more capital put into it, and we have to look at the best prospects for work.

J. Young

And the message to people who want to keep it British is put your money where your mouth is? [end p15]

Mrs. Thatcher

That's right, that's right.

J. Young

Prime Minister, we've got to break for some news, then we'll be back for some more. Thank you very much for that. With me this morning, the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher. It is 2½ minutes to 11 o'clock, we have to pause for the News, that we shall do. More after this. [end p16]

J. Young

The time is 5¼ minutes past 11 o'clock, and in case you've just joined us my special guest this morning in the studio is the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher.

Prime Minister, perhaps we could move on now and talk about unemployment. In a recent poll, and I know you don't study polls, but in a recent poll 80%; of the people interviewed said that they were dissatisfied with the Government's performance on unemployment, in fact they were all really just asking one question, which is—when are you going to start bringing the figures down.

Mrs. Thatcher

Let me make just one thing clear at the outset, no Government can guarantee a job for everyone, unless you're a total dictatorship, have a total direction of labour, live in a total Communist country, where no-one can decide the job they have, or the amount they should be payed, and there's no such thing as free collective bargaining, and you will find that in the United States they've solved the problem of unemployment by the enterprising self-reliant nature of their people, and where you'll find President Reagan makes speeches about it, he says—Look, this wonderful American people have created, not the Government, created 9 million jobs in the last few years. They've created them, they've started up businesses, they've discovered, you know, what people want, and they've made them and they're selling, or they're serving the manufacturing industries. Now that is the nature of a free society. Governments have to get the tax regime right, they have to try to keep inflation down, they have to be certain of running the finances so that Britain doesn't run into difficulty, and I hope that one thing everyone listening is sure of, under a Conservative Government the finances of this country do not go into crisis … [end p17]

J. Young

Taking …

Mrs. Thatcher

… Governments can do something, not too much regulation, we can help with setting up factories in the regions, we can help people start up on their own, Enterprise Allowance, all that we do, but there's no way in which Ministers can pour out of the Cabinet Office, or Civil Servants can pour out of the Department of Trade and Industry, bowler hats and brollies, saying—I'm going to start up ten new businesses in each town. They wouldn't know how to do it.

J. Young

Well, coming back … taking up a few points which you've made there. You say no Government can guarantee a job for everyone. I don't think anybody expects that the Government can guarantee a job for everyone. However, what you didn't really answer was the question itself, that in the poll everybody questioned said they really wanted to ask just one question, that is—when are you going to start bringing the figures down? Now you will say—we can only create the climate. But of course, at the end of the day people don't see it that way, they say—why doesn't the Government do something?

Mrs. Thatcher

Well, the Government is doing a very great deal, first for young people, because it's frightful … it's dreadful for them to come out of school without anything. Some of them of course could stay in for training, so that's why we've got the training scheme to last up to two years, so they should be better able to get a job, and have the experience of working …

J. Young

Of training schemes you see, people say they are no good if there aren't any jobs to go to at the end of the training scheme. [end p18]

Mrs. Thatcher

Ah yes, but you see most of those … I think most of those youngsters in that training scheme get jobs, or go on to more higher grade training. The most … so it is working.

J. Young

But you see you can't spend your life training, Prime Minister, you have to train for a job and get a job.

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes. and where do jobs come from? All right, let's say … we've got 700,000 jobs have been created since the last election. Some part-time, a lot self-employed, jobs come from people doing things that other people will pay for. Why are we not so good at creating them as the United States? I don't know. What I do know is that there have been more jobs created in this country since the last election, than in any other country in Europe.

Now why isn't it getting on … 700,000, why isn't it reducing the unemployment register, which is what I want more than anything else, of course I do. That's because we're just going through a period of ten years when we have more school-leavers each year than we have more people retiring. That turns about in 1990, in 1991. So you will have a complete change on what's called the labour market then, because we will have far more people retiring, than school-leavers.

J. Young

Right, a couple of points to ask you about that. The 700,000 jobs that you've created, as you well know …

Mrs. Thatcher

Well the people have created.

J. Young

All right, people have created. 540,000 of them were only part-time. Now I'm not knocking part-time jobs, but a part-time job doesn't help, let us say, a long term unemployed miner, or an unemployed steel worker or a shipyard worker, with a wife and family to support, does it? [end p19]

Mrs. Thatcher

No, but it does help because if you've got the part—time jobs, someone is earning money, and it may well be … quite a lot of married women, earning money, they therefore have more money to spend, and if they spend their things … on goods made in Britain—better made in Britain—I ran a campaign last evening in Number 10, “better made in Britain”. I see I'm served Perrier Water here. Please note the BBC, not Malvern, not Ashbourne, not Highland Spring, not Derby Buxton …   . Perrier Water.

J. Young

I drink Highland Spring at home, Prime Minister.

Mrs. Thatcher

If your people have part-time work they have more money to spend, and if they spend it on goods made in Britain, then that creates more jobs.

J. Young

Let me ask you one …

Mrs. Thatcher

And a lot of self-employed, and those are the nucleus of new businesses. So please don't run down what is being done, encourage the people …

J. Young

I am not running down what is being done at all, all I am saying is that part-time jobs, while good, don't replace full-time jobs. Now let me take you up on another thing, and this is really a political thing I suppose. You are saying, in effect, more people are leaving school than are retiring, so there is this bulge so to speak, but it will all be all right in 1990/1991 …

Mrs. Thatcher

No I am saying the position changes. There are one and a half million people of working age more now than there were in 1979. So you'd have had to have created that number of extra jobs even to stand still on unemployment … [end p20]

J. Young

But the point that I'm making is, and you say, in 1990/91, it will all start to get right …

Mrs. Thatcher

It changes.

J. Young

…   . yes. Unfortunately, the general election is in 1988, or before. Now, rightly or wrongly, if you go to the polls with 3½ million unemployed, the people won't be saying—ah yes, but it's not the Prime Minister's fault because there were 1½ million more, but they will say—why hasn't the Prime Minister done something about the 3½ million unemployed?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think people are a lot more canny than you give them credit for.

J. Young

I'm not so sure about that.

Mrs. Thatcher

Well, one moment. I think they know for example, that quite a bit of unemployment in the first place is caused by adapting to new technology.

J. Young

Right.

Mrs. Thatcher

In the first place new technology does create unemployment, but later on it creates new jobs. That has been our experience throughout history, as all kinds of things become possible, that were not possible before. On the whole, computers are now creating more jobs, because more things are possible, that's an example, but there's a gap. Secondly, I think they realise the extent to which we're trying to help young people, the extent to which we're retaining adults, something like 250,000, for new skills, new technology. The extent to which we're trying to help people to start up on their own, that's an Enterprise Allowance, that enables [end p21] them to have £40 a week for a year, to tide them over starting up on their own. The extent to which we're giving aid to the regions, to try to persuade new business to go there, including inward investment.

J. Young

But we still have 3½ million unemployed you see, and when you go to the polls at the next election, you are going to be accused of being the person who's still got 3½ million unemployed.

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, and I'm going to turn round and say—you tell me any other way of reducing unemployment in a free society and getting more people to start up on their own, and creating new wealth.

J. Young

Can I just get this three …   .

Mrs. Thatcher

And that is … and that is why the increase in the number of self-employed is very good and I think people know and understand. It happens in the United States.

J. Young

But what you are saying is that there is no way really of getting rid of unemployment, is that what you're saying?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, I am saying the way of getting rid of unemployment is to help people who are the kind of people who can start up a business on their own and employ others. It's not necessarily taught in our schools I'm afraid, enterprise, self-reliance, how to get on well in manufacturing industry, how to create service industries; and that is a thing we had a seminar about the night before last in Number 10 Downing Street, where we had industry and education talking about engineering and technology. All of these things we're doing.

J. Young

Let me ask you then about another couple of things. Recently an All Party committee of MPs called for the Government to guarantee a job within three years [end p22] for all the long-term unemployed. Now, that's one thing. The CBI the other day wanted the Chancellor to spend more money, or allocate more money in his Budget, to put 330,000 people back to real work in real jobs. Yet you see, the Government always seem to turn their back on these schemes.

Mrs. Thatcher

No, we don't turn our back on those schemes. We've got a scheme for the long-term unemployed, it's called the Community Programme. It is specifically for those who've been unemployed, if they're older, for a year, if they're younger, early twenties, we don't like them to be unemployed at all, but six months, we try to get them back in. Now that's 230,000 jobs there to try to get them back into the habit of work, and it restores their respect, and often they can go on and get a job from there.

J. Young

The All Party committee is of course talking about 1½ million you see.

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, they are, but look they're talking about infrastructure and other things, and let me just point this out. Last year we had a record for investment in this country. It was 55 billion. That's what went into investment, some of it into roads. We're doing very well on roads, far better than ever under a previous Government. We're doing very well on building hospitals, we're doing well on renovating houses, far better than any other Government. But 55 billion didn't solve the problem, so an extra 1 billion isn't going to solve it. That is why we do have to concentrate on people who can start up businesses or on companies that can expand businesses. [end p23]

J. Young

But you know. …

Mrs. Thatcher

Because …   . how else, how else?

J. Young

Well we've had repeated Ministerial statements of 5 years of sustained economic growth and so on and so on.

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes we have had it.

J. Young

But you know, it … it doesn't …   . you talk to the people in the North of England and in the Midlands and the inner cities you know, and they say—well I don't know, it doesn't look like sustained growth to me, the Government either doesn't know what's going on, or even worse, don't even care what's going on!

Mrs. Thatcher

No, it is, of course one cares what's going on. One wouldn't take some of the tough decisions one has to, unless one cared deeply about restoring Britain to her former pre-eminence. But you only restore it by having industries that stand on their own two feet by virtue of their performance.

J. Young

But how long is it …   .

Mrs. Thatcher

Not by virtue of having great demonstrations, but by virtue of their performance. Can I just say one thing—we are producing now more than we've ever produced in history. Yes, we have had five years of successive growth, and we're producing it with fewer people, because that is what technology is, and we've been through this period before.

J. Young

Yes, but we've also …   .

Mrs. Thatcher

If you'd been talking to me here at the beginning of this century, with so many people employed in agriculture or domestic service; when agriculture then got mechanised, you would have said—what future is there? But of course technology created more jobs. [end p24]

J. Young

But we still …   . but we still have …   .

Mrs. Thatcher

And it will.

J. Young

We still have 3½ million unemployed …   .

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes we do.

J. Young

…   . and one forecast says it's going to be 3.3 million in 1990, and you are the person who's going to have the job in 1988 or 1987, as we touched on just now, of going to the polls and saying—well there we are chaps, I'm terribly sorry …   .

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, well now let me tell you a new scheme we've got, and we're finding out a lot from it. It's called Job Start. Because there are lots of … there are quite a lot of more low-paid jobs that people will not take because the Social Security system is such that they can get more out of that than they could not out of a low-paid job. So, many I also say, if they have a low-paid job, they get topped up on Family Income Supplement and it's better to work at a low-paid job and get topped up than not; so we've started Job Start. If you take a job I think of £75 a week or under, you get paid an extra £20, and then of course you can … you'll get your family benefits and so on. What we're finding is that there are very few people coming forward for that, and we're bound to ask why. And I'm afraid there are …   . Social Security at the moment does provide some people with a higher standard of living than some of the low-paid jobs. Now this is a worry, and therefore we have to try to persuade people to take the lower-paid jobs and to top them up with Family Income Supplement or the new system of income support, because it is better for them to work and have it topped up than not to work. [end p25]

J. Young

Can I just finish, perhaps, this segment of the programme by saying one … one thing one seems to be agreed on is that unemployment isn't going to go away. That's the first thing. The second thing is that you're going to have the job—as you admitted just now—in 1987 or 1988, of explaining it to the electorate. You're going to have to say, well here we are and this is why we're here. In the closing days of the last Labour Government you attacked Jim Callaghan for presiding over a Government which had seen unemployment doubled—in fact, you accused him of going down in history as the Prime Minister of unemployment. Now aren't the roles now reversed? Do you think there is a danger, if something dramatic doesn't happen to the 3½-million unemployed, that you could go down in history as the …

Mrs. Thatcher

No …

J. Young

… Prime Minister of unemployment?

Mrs. Thatcher

He knows and they know that we have got a problem across Europe, they have not got it in the United States—as a matter of fact they have not got it in Switzerland—but it's not the Government that creates jobs, it's the people who create the jobs, it's the people who are self reliant and enterprising. But you know and I know, full well, that the last Labour Government wasn't tackling a lot of the problems. There was a massive amount of hidden unemployment …

J. Young

But they didn't have 3½-million unemployed, did they?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, there was a massive amount of hidden unemployment, companies and whole industries were not competitive and unless they had become competitive whole industries would have gone out of business and the unemployment would have been far worse than now. [end p26]

J. Young

So … so … could you tell …

Mrs. Thatcher

At the moment our industries are doing well, they've got good profits and I'm looking to them for expansion.

J. Young

Could you tell me … because I … it interests me greatly, what are you actually going to say … let us say that it's 3½-million or it's 3.3-million or whatever, what are you actually going to say when you go into the next general election? How are you going to explain it?

Mrs. Thatcher

Quite simply—how else, in addition to what we're doing, can you possibly, can Governments, create jobs? Because the only way is taking more from the companies who are creating the wealth. When you take away from them you take away from their possibility to invest; when you take away from the taxpayer you take away the money they would otherwise have spent; so you're not just creating new jobs, you're stopping a number of others from coming into existence. Please go and look at an enterprising society, like the American ones, where they start to create jobs, where they're self reliant, where they're enterprising, and take the enterprise spirit in Britain—which created the first industrial revolution—have a look at your education, we started a technical education system, a special one, we started on trying to …   . to do more to teach enterprise to young people. Tell me, don't just talk about the problem—there isn't a magic wand. …

J. Young

Projecting your …

Mrs. Thatcher

… except enterprise, self reliance, producing what other people will … will buy. We can do it, there's no shortage of demand in this country.

J. Young

Projecting … projecting yourself forward [end p27] two years, can you see what you have just said to me—if you go on television and say that, or you go on the hustings and say that—can you see that as a … a line which is going to win you the next general election?

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, I can …

J. Young

Can it?

Mrs. Thatcher

… because what I say is right, what I say is right, and if you want the sort of society—an East European society or a communist one—where everyone can be allocated a job with no freedom whatsoever, then what you're giving up is far more precious than anything you're gaining.

J. Young

Right. We'll break, Prime Minister, and have some music. You've now told us how you're going to approach the next general election, that's very important …

Mrs. Thatcher

And do a lot more too.

J. Young

We'll break and have some music and then back for some more. It's 21½ minutes past eleven o'clock, back with the Prime Minister after this.

… (music) … [end p28]

J. Young

Taking us back to the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher. Just a couple of questions on taxation Prime Minister, if we could. Just before the 1979 election you said it was your intention to cut taxes, in fact you said—We'll cut taxes so that people can look after themselves and their families and can build their own future. And yet one reads for the majority of poor families the tax burden has actually increased since you became Prime Minister. Now, can you do anything about that?

Mrs. Thatcher

Now just lets go back to that 1979 Manifesto, which said—We shall cut direct taxes … Income Tax … and as you know it was part … that we switched to some indirect taxes, so that people at least could choose whether they spent extra, and we have cut direct taxes, indeed if the level of … the rates of Income Tax now were where they were in 1979, when we took over, the average that each family would be paying more in Income Tax, is £250 a year. So it has been cut.

J. Young

Well now perhaps I could just ask you …

Mrs. Thatcher

… Direct taxes, and it's been cut, the thresholds have been raised.

J. Young

Yes.

Mrs. Thatcher

Very important.

J. Young

The thing is, it depends what you mean by direct tax I suppose. For a single person earning half the national average wage, the proportion of earnings going on Income Tax and National Insurance …

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, you always put National Insurance contributions …

J. Young

Well, I'll tell you why in a minute … stood at 23.8%; in '78/'79, and it's now 26.1%;, and for a married couple the proportion has gone up from 16.4 [end p29] to 18.7. Now you say you always include National Insurance. Now shall I tell you why? Because when a person gets their pay packet at the end of the week, or the end of whatever it is, I mean, the two things that immediately jump off the page are Income Tax and National Insurance contributions. I mean, they are taken off at source and that's it. And you don't get very much more personal than that.

Mrs. Thatcher

No you don't, but they are quite different. National Insurance contribution is what you pay for Unemployment Benefit, should you need it, Sickness Benefit, or when you're retired. National Insurance contribution is to ensure that you get some income at a time when you are not working, either because you haven't got a job, because you're sick or because you're too old to have a job, and that is an insurance contribution. That goes … and the biggest demand on that fund is paying pensioners, and the people who complain are usually the first to say the pensioners have to be paid more; and I say—Right, but what I've got to do is get a balance between what we pay out in pensions and between what you're prepared to pay in contributions, because what goes out this year, comes in this year; what comes in this year goes out this year. So what you can't say—and there's a tendency to do this in democracy—to say the Government, which is a taxpayer, must pay everything, more pensions, more subsidies to British Leyland, more subsidies to build things we can't otherwise do, but please don't put up taxes. Above all don't put up National Insurance contributions—and it doesn't add up. [end p30]

J. Young

I hear … everything you say I hear, but …

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, this Government has, I believe, done well by the pensioner, yes it has meant National Insurance contributions … what else can I … what else can it mean?

J. Young

Well, let me ask you about the impact it has on people. If I gave you £100 and I immediately say—Oh by the way, I want £10 back. You would say—Hold on, you have directly pinched 10%; of my £100. And that the one thing which is a very direct …   . in that respect National Contribution is a very direct and personal tax.

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, well in that case it's as well in fact that we raised the thresholds and took less in Income Tax, otherwise you'd have been paying far more now. Yes, the working population … let me just make it clear, and this is why I do get a little bit hot under the collar when people demand … shout and demand more and more and more subsidies for everything, because what they're saying is I want to put my hand deeper and deeper into my constituent's … taxpayer's pocket, and I don't. But yes, we have to look after the pensioners, that is done through a National Insurance contribution, and I think most people would think it reasonable, because in future people will have to help us when we are pensioners by their contributions. But on Income Tax we have, in fact, taken it down, as we said we would, and raised thresholds.

J. Young

What about low wage earners? What are you going to do for them? Obviously I can't ask you to anticipate the Chancellor's budget, but nonetheless …

Mrs. Thatcher

Well … you can't, but you know, when we came into office the standard rate of Income tax [end p31] was 33 pence in the pound. We took it down to 30.

We've raised, even after inflation, thresholds by about 20%;. Yes, I would like to take Income Tax down more, because I believe people work for their own families, and they want more of their own money to spend, and when they spend it—if they spend it on things, Better Made in Britain, that helps jobs. But as you know, I must just say that the income has suffered enormously by the fall in oil prices. The fall in oil prices helps us in some ways, but it means that we're about £5 billion less in income, and that means therefore that there's not the same amount of money available for reduction in tax that there would otherwise have been.

J. Young

Would you hope that after the budget, for instance, you could bring low wage earners up to the position they were in in 1979?

Mrs. Thatcher

Well, you're adding the National Insurance contribution, but I don't think you've taken into account the fact that we actually reduced the National Insurance contribution for the low paid in the last budget down to 5%;, as you know we were on to this point, and I think you'll find that that alters quite a number of the figures.

J. Young

Because we are told yesterday it will cost the Treasury approximately £2¾ billion to actually put low paid people, that's under £5,000 a year, back to where they were in 1979.

Mrs. Thatcher

Well, are you on National Insurance contributions as well …

J. Young

And Income Tax …

Mrs. Thatcher

But don't forget most people … I think you're looking at if the wages had not increased at all, wages have gone up enormously, since 1979, and you'll find that people are … not only average wages, but below average wage, in terms of net take home pay, in real terms, are better off than they were, [end p32] because the wages have gone up so much. [end p33]

J. Young

Can I … can I, perhaps in the final section of our chat, can I ask you about yourself and your future and the Conservative Party future?

Mrs. Thatcher

We'd better get out our crystal ball!

J. Young

There are certain things on which we don't need our crystal ball actually. After Westland—now you … I don't know if you knew before you came in today but you and I have been talking on and off for some 12½ years now …

Mrs. Thatcher

It doesn't seem like that at all.

J. Young

(laughter) We've known each other for a long time.

Mrs. Thatcher

Do you reckon we're halfway through?

J. Young

After Westland, for the very first time, very first time in all the time I've know you, your integrity was questioned. A public opinion poll revealed that seven out of ten voters polled didn't think that you'd been telling the truth. Now with BL for the very first time, again the very first time, your patriotism is under attack. Now two … that's two of your strongest political attributes, your integrity and your patriotism; even people who didn't like you, or didn't like your politics, never queried those things before. Can you, do you think, re-convince the public that those two qualities are as sound as they were once perceived to be?

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes. No-one in fact gave more details than I did to the House of Commons, and people heard the speech, they heard it over radio. We set up an inquiry. People criticised me for setting up an inquiry. There'd have been an awful row if I hadn't. Of course I did. Of course I did. And that too … evidence was given too on that to a Select Committee. Patriotism doesn't consist in making [end p34] a noise and bellowing about things. It consists either in buying the goods or putting up British bids for the things which you want to stay British. And this, as I say, is … I don't necessarily take a lot of notice of people who only talk. I take far more notice of what they do, and I think that is much more helpful to British industry.

J. Young

Did it … did it …

Mrs. Thatcher

Can I put in just one, or two things, for myself? When we took over there was a Winter of discontent. The Government wasn't being run by Government, it was being run by trade unions, Britain was defeatist; its industries had precious little future because they weren't competitive. Britain is not defeatist now. Our industries can compete with those in the rest of the world. We want more of them. We have now got wealth more widely distributed, we've got what I call popular capitalism. Oh, they would not have got that from a Labour Party. The ordinary people in trade unions wouldn't have got secret ballots in the Labour Party before strikes.

J. Young

Did it hurt you, did it …

Mrs. Thatcher

I think our reputation stands high on these things.

J. Young

… did it wound you when seven out of ten voters said they didn't think you were telling the truth and questioned your integrity?

Mrs. Thatcher

Yes, deeply. Yes, deeply, because it's not right. It wounded me deeply.

J. Young

Okay. Now for a long time you've been accused of dividing the country by your policies—a lot of people have said that. As a result of Westland and BL, you have divided your own party, or so many people are saying. Do you think that you're going to have to change your style and approach? [end p35]

Mrs. Thatcher

No. Do you think we'd have been able to have done some of the things we have, like trade union reform, like getting Council houses sold, like privatising 12 big companies, all of whom are doing better than they were, like the … what we have done for law and order, putting back support, more resources into Police, support for the Courts in their decisions, like having been a reliable ally in defence, like tackling Europe as we have done, like getting the Rhodesian problems solved, like getting the Hong Kong problem solved? We did that not by any mishy-mashy wish-wash but by saying this I believe, this is the direction in which I shall go. And then saying to people, just come along with me.

J. Young

Perhaps … perhaps it is not so much what you've done, perhaps it's the way that you've done it. You used a phrase just now where you said, people don't get things done by making a noise and bellowing at people. Now John Biffen and Douglas Hurd have both said that the Government needs to be less raucous and they need to be more conciliatory. Now the Iron Lady was perfect in 1979, no doubt about that, absolutely perfect in 1979. Do you think the Iron Lady image is perhaps out of date, out of touch, out of style in 1986?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, no, no. There's still so much to be done. Let me say this, if you want someone weak you don't want me, there are plenty of others to choose from.

J. Young

Fair enough. Can I finish by … by just asking you one further thing. According to a Gallup Poll very recently, within the last couple of days, over 70%; think you're capable of listening to reason; only 6%; see you as caring and only 5%; think you're likeable. Now then, if you're [end p36] going to lead the Conservatives to victory at the next election aren't you going to have to add to the toughness and determination the likeable, reasonable, caring face of capitalism?

Mrs. Thatcher

You have just been criticising me for taking in so much in national insurance contributions because I wished to meet our commitments to the pensioners. It doesn't tie in with what you're saying now. Let me say who those people are, who accuse us of being uncaring. They're the people who had the Winter of discontent …

J. Young

They accuse you … you specifically actually.

Mrs. Thatcher

… they're people who did not spend anything like as much on the Health Service as we did and who backed a strike of Health Service workers. They're people who would have put everyone into the cold last Winter by wanting to bring the electric power stations to a stop if it hadn't been for the loyalty of the trade … electrical trade unionists. They're the people who backed a coal strike to put everyone into the cold, and yet they accuse me of being uncaring …

J. Young

Well now, with respect, I don't think it is they …

Mrs. Thatcher

… it is just not true.

J. Young

… I don't think it is they who are accusing you. What is even worse, this is … this is your problem, it's the public who are accusing you.

Mrs. Thatcher

No. It is people who try to saddle me with that image. I will stand by my record on the Health Service, the Conservative Party record on the Health Service, on pensions, on trying to stop strikes which do damage to everyone in this country, on income tax, on the whole of the social services, I will stand it up with theirs on the way in which we have managed the economy of this country; [end p37] Britain, the name of Britain does mean something abroad, because we have been strong; because, first if you want to distribute the wealth you've got to make it. Right. There is more being produced in this country than ever before. We have looked after the pensioner. It was a Labour Party that knocked off the Christmas bonus. It was in Labour Party for two years, it was the Labour Party that cut the capital spent on hospitals. We've done more on roads, more on hospitals. Caring consists in running this country well. It consists not in getting up and saying ‘we want more money’, it does consist in having the kind of economy under which more wealth is produced; that we have.

J. Young

You are saying the Iron Lady is here to stay and the Iron Lady will be present at the next General Election?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am saying caring doesn't consist in putting up a banner saying ‘more from the taxpayer’. That isn't caring. That's not carrying out your duties. That's running away from them.

J. Young

Prime Minister, a great pleasure to talk to you again. Thank you very much. A very informative discussion, thank you very much indeed.

Mrs. Thatcher

Thank you very much, nice to see you again. Halfway through, do you think, number of years!

J. Young

(laughter) Well, just about!

Mrs. Thatcher

Just about.

J. Young

Thank you. For me, at any rate!

Mrs. Thatcher

Well, didn't know … with the EEC … with the EEC, coming from Europe, I really think women are going to go on much, much longer.

J. Young

Yes. Right. Thank you for coming in. Nice to see you. The Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher.