Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1986 Jul 19 Sa
Margaret Thatcher

Interview for Sunday Telegraph

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Interview
Venue: Chequers
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Graham Turner, Sunday Telegraph
Editorial comments: 1030-1315. Published on 27 July. Questions have been paraphrased for reason of copyright. In Geoffrey Howe’s memoir, Conflict of Loyalty (p492) he draws attention to MT’s remark in the interview that her stance on sanctions had not changed, commenting that this had the effect of undercutting the authority of his mediating mission.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 18966
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Executive, Monarchy, Parliament, Civil liberties, Commonwealth (general), Commonwealth (Rhodesia-Zimbabwe), Commonwealth (South Africa), Conservatism, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Economy (general discussions), Education, Higher & further education, Employment, Industry, General Elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Energy, Trade, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Housing, Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Local government, Liberal & Social Democratic Parties, Leadership, Race, immigration, nationality, Religion & morality, Science & technology, Security services, Society, Sport, Social security & welfare, Terrorism, Trade unions, Voluntary sector & charity, Women, Famous statements by MT (discussions of)

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] When first elected PM how bad was condition of country? What was baseline?

Prime Minister

The base-line we had to start from was just after the Winter of Discontent, when it was quite clear that the unions had colossal power. Some people felt that the unions were more important than the Government of the country. You remember that in some cases people had to apply to the unions in order to take their lorries through in certain factories. We had had incomes policies, prices policies, dividend policies, exchange control, development certificates. We had had more and more nationalisation. And we had had various financial crises which we had come through because the IMF took over.

All of this, I think, meant two things:

First, that you saw the true nature of Socialism and that although, in a way, it sets out to say: “Look! We do more things [end p1] for people!”, what that really meant is that they set out to control people's lives, and that is a fundamental part of their doctrine, and they like to create a dependency on Government. So they like more and more council houses, because they can say who shall go in them, and they like more and more rent subsidies, because they can say: “Look! You are in a council house; you have a rent subsidy!” They like to put more and more people into Government jobs or local government jobs. They like more and more nationalisation, because that means they can control, and what they are really doing is the old—if I might say it—Communist thing: you preach revolution as being the thing which in fact will benefit the mass of the people, and when you get in power you take away all the liberties of the mass of the people and it is the control of the political privileged few. Then runs the theory: they, the privileged few, represent the country, represent the people; therefore, if you question the privileged few, you are against the people. It was getting that way and the people recoiled from it.

The second factor was … there is a subsidiary to that which I think is perhaps peculiar to Britain. The Labour Party is the political wing of the trade union movement. That is how it started, and the trade union movement is the thing which, as you know, mainly finances the Labour Party. And so you had this subsidiary thing, that a part of the Labour Party doctrine is always to hand over quite a bit of the say to the trade unions; and that had happened just at the time when the trade unions themselves had been handed over more and [end p2] more to some left-wing leaders.

So, what I am saying in answer to the first question was even truer because the left had got more and more important in the trade union movement, as the extreme left knew that if they stood for Parliament they would never get adopted, if they showed themselves in their true colours, so for years they had been working through in the trade union movement and got to the top of that, as a means under the Labour Party structure, of getting power. And also now, you find them working in the actual Labour Party structure in the constituencies.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Economic situation?

Prime Minister

Let me say, politically as a country, we were going further and further left, and people recoiled from it because it is contrary to the British character and that is why they put us in.

And economically, you cannot get through to success. As you see, in the fundamental international system, the countries that are the most successful ones are the countries which are based on a free society, which is a free enterprise system, because it is that free enterprise economy which backs up the political freedom. In other words, the more you have to be dependent on Government for everything, the less independent you are and therefore the less liberty, and that [end p3] soon topples over into the political system.

Can I put perhaps a third point? If you go to places now where you really have problems—some of the centre cities where you have your worst problems—there, you will find you have had the Labour Party in control for decades, for a very very long time, and everything they try to do is to use the taxpayers' and the ratepayers' money to get more people dependent upon local government or upon the State. Independence is something they cannot tolerate, and that is why they fought personal ownership, owner occupation. That is why they fight the taking off of every control. So they really want more dependence of the people on the decisions of Government, and they very very nearly got so many people with a vested interest in the continuation of a Labour Government, because they depended upon it, that we only just really got back to, I think, a freer society, and I have always thought that 1979 was an absolutely critical election.

You ask it for economic reasons; I ask it for much more fundamental reasons than that.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] We were becoming like Portugal. But there were deeper issues.

Prime Minister

That is right. [end p4]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] But we were going in direction of Portugal.

Prime Minister

Well, the gap, I think, between some of the European countries and our own performance was becoming bigger and bigger. During our time, we have stopped the widening gap and in some cases, I would not say we have begun to close it as much as one would wish, but we stopped the widening gap between Germany and ourselves, in general terms.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] How far have we come since? Has decline been halted?

Prime Minister

No. The decline has been halted and reversed enormously.

First, as I said, the thing is between Labour saying: “We are the masters now!” and us saying: “The people are the masters!”

We have had this enormous change in many different ways.

First, our thing is to get property more widely distributed. Our thing is to get every earner an owner. All right, every man, every person, a capitalist—put it every way—but that they own some of their own property. They have the chance, all of them, to own their [end p5] own home. Whether they choose to take it or not is a matter for them.

They have the chance to own shares—an ordinary thing—because you see, in the future, more and more of the country's wealth is going to come from technological machinery an so you want some shares in that machinery, to get the wealth.

More and more to build up savings in building societies, because savings, again, is building your own security.

And if that is our fundamental philosophy with the people, our fundamental contract with the people, then you owe it to them, if you are saying: “Yes, we believe in ownership! Yes, we believe in savings! Saving the money!”, you owe it to them to see that those savings are not eaten away by inflation, because otherwise it would be a cheat and a fraud. So that is the first on ownership.

Then we have got Government out of a lot of control. For example, we have privatised a lot of things. Government ought not to be in control of many many industries. It does not know how to do it. So we got that out.

We have taken away many other controls and, as a matter of fact, prices are much better and inflation has fallen far more when you have taken off the price controls than it ever did when they were on.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Are we really more competitive internationally? [end p6]

Prime Minister

On productivity, again because of this relationship between the Labour Party and the trade unions, we were heavily overmanned. Industry could not manage. It was not allowed to manage, because every time it started to manage, the trade union leaders said: “All right! We will be in No. 10 tomorrow! We will not allow this!”

Industry is now able to manage. Yes, it has for the first time got efficient. It has brought itself into the 20th century, even if I might say so, in Fleet Street, and it had to bring itself into the 20th century to be considered seriously—to be an important country in an industrial and commercial sense. So productivity has in fact gone up.

It has meant that we have had heavy redundancies. It has meant that those areas which really were not competing and were heavily dependent upon the shipbuilding, the heavy engineering and the nationalised industries which were grossly inefficient, have suffered. They have suffered not only because of that, but they have suffered because they have not had enough people there who did what their ancestors did. That is to say, the North was built by enterprise long before we had a Ministry of Industry. The North was built by enterprise, but then it got so kind of ossified that people expected jobs to be forthcoming from big companies and the small companies there were the ones that serviced some of the big companies that did not have enough small business on their own. Why they are not recovering as quickly now is they have not got as many people as [end p7] they did in days gone by to start up business on their own, and you know, the answer to unemployment is in the end, you have a job because you make something or do a service which someone else will pay for. There is no new way. It is coming back. We are getting more self-employed and more businesses starting up there but, you see, this was a kind of decline there and it is a sort of reinvigoration of the spirit that has been necessary, teaching young people how to start up on their own and getting enterprise agencies where businessmen will go—I think there are nearly four hundred of them now—and tell young people the pitfalls: “Now, this is what you have got to do! Do not do that! Do not spend all your money on stock and then find you cannot sell it!” and it is coming. It is a reinvigoration of the spirit that you have to have, and it is taking a long time.

Let me just say: in a way, we had about thirty-five years of what I might call the post-war general political settlement that Government first takes a larger part in life, which one accepts, but ours was: the Government is the safety net and you must have a ladder of opportunity.

Right! We had the safety net. We were forgetting about the ladder of opportunity, and you only get the ladder of opportunity where a person starts up on their own—the first rung—and then is ready to take the second. That is what we had to bring back and really, you know, when you think of thirty-five years with this kind of—even in our Party—thinking that the touchstone of showing you are for the people is that you take more and more of their money to do more and [end p8] more things for them, it took quite a time, and people had to see that it did not work. It is a reinvigoration of the spirit.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] We haven't closed gap with the competition as much as you would like. How big a gap still?

Prime Minister

I cannot tell you how big it is, but after all, we have had steady growth for five years now and it has all flattened out. Growth has flattened out in the States, flattened out in Germany, flattened out in Japan. It is flattening out for the specific reason, we think, that it is taking longer for the beneficial effects of the lower price of oil to work through than it was for the effects of those people who had the benefit of high prices. They could stop the export orders they were giving to Europe and other countries. They could stop those more quickly than the secondary beneficial effect of lower-price oil could work through.

Some of our industries now can compete with the best in the world: the pharmaceutical industry, the chemical industry—absolutely superb. Some of our steel is competing extremely well, and it would not have done had we kept the overmanning. Some of the other industries have got their overmanning down and we really are competing. [end p9]

The car industry, as you know, still gives us some cause for concern, because we lost the volume trade.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Yes, but we are not falling further behind?

Prime Minister

No. Look at Jaguar, for example. Once we are in the specialist thing. Fantastic! Competing the world over. So we have got some which are absolute bright stars in the firmament which can compete the world over.

And if I might say so, the financial services and the City: the City earns a fantastic amount for Britain, the general, financial, insurance services. Never forget that. They earn a fantastic amount for Britain and will continue to. Indeed, if you do look at the main employment now, there are far more people employed in commerce and services than there are in manufacturing and that will go on.

Also, the other thing is we have run very orthodox financial policies. They are called “Thatcherism”. They are much more important. They are orthodox, sound, financial policies, which most other countries in the world have had to come to, and that is why people say: “All Thatcherites now!” because that is the only way. The only way to sustain a business is to run it in a financially sound way so you are still in business the next year and the year after. [end p10]

Equally, it is a question you will ask later on, but while I think about it, you can pop the question in … equally, to some extent, when you have been in power coming up to eight years, it is, I think, very much like a business, taking over a business. You have got it on a sound basis, but people do not say: “Ah! Well you have done everything now!” Not a bit of it! You have now got it on a sound basis and you keep it on a sound basis by continuing the sound financial things, by continuing to keep your employees with an interest in the business, that is to say, a stake in it, as I am doing with property—a stake in it as well—so you have got that kind of partnership there.

But also, you stay in business by—and this is where I do the analogy—by keeping the best things going and re-interpreting, having your new products for tomorrow. So you have to have a re-launch every year, as it were.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Have we done better than you hoped in 1979 or are you disappointed?

Prime Minister

In some respects, we have got further down the road. We are getting much more property distribution, which we have been helped with by privatisation, and far many more share-owners. [end p11]

Inflation, we have done better with than we thought.

The real thing that is still behind and is why I called it the reinvigoration of the spirit; the enterprise spirit is slower to come back. It is coming. To some extent, we have not been able to make inroads into the unemployment register because, if you look at the demographic figures, you will know we are going through a period where we have got, because of the baby boom of the Sixties, it is coming through in far many more school-leavers now over a period of ten years, and that means, even if there had been no difficulties, there would have to have been provided far more jobs than we had before, even to keep unemployment where it was before.

And you have got a secondary thing which also, I think, is happening more widely. Women are still quite young when their families are almost grown up and far many more of them want jobs—often part-time jobs—and there really is a total difference in the young generation of women. Women now have been educated for several generations, all of them, but far many more are wanting to keep some part of their job work going during the early years of marriage and often doing part-time work or keeping it going.

Now all of this means—we call it the “activity rate”—is higher as well. It goes to your standard of living and it is a different way of life.

Now there is a third factor. It is sometimes easier for me to go on talking as I think of it and then you will have to adjust. [end p12]

Interviewer

Right! Right!

Prime Minister

There is a third factor. I do not know quite how to put it.

Your supplementary benefits—and I do not know of any other country which has its supplementary benefits centralised, given by Central Government in the same way as we do—are the same throughout the country. The wage rates are not the same throughout the country, and there are places where what you can get in supplementary benefit if you are a married man with two children is such that the incentive to work is very low indeed.

Now, there are many people who are very proud and a job is their dignity and self-respect and that will not influence them, but undoubtedly there are other people whom it does influence, and it is one of the problems. It partly comes because we have this centralised system.

I really tend to look with great concern myself when I see that a married man with two children has to earn about £150 a week before he is better off than he would be taking supplementary benefit. Well, I mean, there are many many people who still work for a good deal less than that in those areas and that is why we are coming along with family credit, so that they are not worsted because they have the pride to work. It must influence some. [end p13]

Of course, in some places there are not the jobs to take, but many of the lower-paid jobs are stillborn.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You have tried create new climate, but what I am wondering is this …

Prime Minister

Look, had I said to you in 1983: “Look! there will be a million new jobs created by 1986!”, even though some of them are part-time, one would not have believed it was possible, but it has happened.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] When you say reinvigoration of spirit has to go lot further, are you disappointed with response of British people to your efforts? Are they rather sluggish?

Prime Minister

No. That might be the initial thing: “Oh my goodness, until we get more small businesses and more self-employed staff!” You know, we are getting more self-employed. We have got more than we have ever had before. It went down under Labour. It has come up again under us. We have got 140,000 net new small businesses, which is good. [end p14]

You know, when you had that other kind of spirit—“I have got a problem; the Government must solve it!”—for quite a long time, you really must not expect too big a turnaround in eight years, and it is coming.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] So not disappointed with British people?

Prime Minister

When I really think about it I am not disappointed. What is happening, we have to take a lot further, but what I think we have to do is … again, I think there are two subsidiary factors here which we are not on top of yet, which for example the United States has:

First, they have a much closer automatic—not automatic, but in the bloodstream—it is automatic …   . fundamental cooperation between their higher education and their industry. They both hop in and out of industry into higher education, higher education into industry. Into government. They go round. They all know about it, and part of their fundamental thesis, fundamental belief in higher education is right. We have that, so we can be the wealth-creators of the future. We are the pioneers, and the more educated we are, the more pioneering we have to be, the more wealth-creating we have to be.

It goes not only to the administrative service of my country, but to the wealth-creating service of my country. Part of education is [end p15] in the wealth-creating service of my country, and that means we have to get into industry, we have to get into commerce, and of course, that is heightened now, because quite a lot of the new industries are what I would call the science-based industries.

It is happening, but it is much slower here. I have had two seminars at Downing Street in the last year, where I brought industry and university together, and where we had a great meeting and debate and then a reception afterwards and we got £43 million from Government, almost went round the table and said “Come on, we have got to get more of this money, not without spending more, but each Department has got to give a bit!” and then industry matched that with about another £23 million. That is happening.

There is another subsidiary thing. It is very very difficult to get what I would call the free enterprise belief, not as a political thing, but how it works, and getting young people trained for that in our schools. Now that too is beginning to happen.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You have no quarrel with general aims of Welfare State …

Prime Minister

No, that is a safety net. [end p16]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] But how far Britain made lethargic and unenterprising by “the welfare state mentality”?

Prime Minister

I think what you are saying is something that I would define a little bit more closely.

The Welfare State is intended to help people who come across hard times through no fault of their own. Let me say there are two:

There is the fundamental Beveridge thing which after all Winston ChurchillWinston set up, which was—I am eternally grateful, I was in the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance for three years and so one got right to the heart of it. The fundamental Beveridge thing was: “Look! You have a basic mutual insurance system between every citizen, under which you pay a weekly premium, a weekly insurance payment—that is why it is a national insurance contribution—it is a weekly insurance premium to insure yourself against lack of earnings, loss of earnings, either because you are too old to work, so you insure yourself for a retirement pension because you are too old to work; because you are ill, so you get sickness benefit if you are ill; or because you are unemployed, because you cannot get a job.” Now that is the fundamental basic concept. You insure, while you are working, against being unable to work because you cannot get a job, because you are ill, because you are too old to work. That was the fundamental thing in which everyone is involved and that is your basic pension, [end p17] your basic unemployment, your basic sickness and also at the same time—it is Eleanor Rathbone—you actually have, but it is not on national insurance contribution, a family allowance. So that was the difference between, if you are a family man, your income. And you also had a health service to which you pay … well we were to pay on that national insurance contribution something towards the health service. That is only a tiny amount now.

Now, of course, one still has that national insurance, but over and above that, you have got a very big supplementary benefit system. It used to be called National Assistance, which is not contributory, which brings you up to a certain income. You look at your income from all sources and then it brings you up to a certain income, and it is really the adjustment of that income in relation to what people can get in work which is what is the incentive to work and which has led us after this review of social security benefit to say, as I have indicated: “Look” Sometimes, what you can get in work is so little different from what you can get out of work, that we have got an incentive gap” and therefore we were trying to say, to give the incentive, that people who are low wages have family income support, so that their children will get as much as those children on supplementary benefit.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] But has the welfare state mentality, sapped the enterprise spirit.

Prime Minister

The question is if people have that spirit. No, and I will tell you why not and I think it has been related to what I have been saying and it is happening in most countries.

Where people see a direct relationship between the work they put in and the money they get out, my goodness, they go and find jobs, they create jobs, and that is the black economy, but I must tell you that it is the very manifestation or the very evidence that the enterprise is still there if the incentive is. That is the message. They will go. They will find all sorts of jobs and do them. Why? Because they want to work for their families.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] So enterprise still there. Not killed by Welfare State mentality?

Prime Minister

No, it has not been killed by the Welfare State. I think that there are some people who say: “Well, all right, we can get this!” and you do hear examples of it. People say: “All right, I will just go on supplementary benefit!” but it is, I think, partly that governments have not got an incentive gap yet. That we still have to look at. [end p18] I always say you have got to have your systems working with the grain of human nature. In that area, we have not got it working with the grain of human nature enough.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You don't feel that Britain is a very conservative country, refuses to have enterprise re-injected - you are working against the grain of British nature?

Prime Minister

We have not, I think, yet got enough business people or people perhaps from universities—although they are changing now, it is changing, it is changing more as years go by—who come and say: “Look! What I really want to do is to build up a business of my own!” and there are some people—they are not always the people from universities, they are just people who have this spirit—but some of our biggest industries are not built up by people having university education. They are built by people who just start because they have this thing. They do want to build up a business; they want to create something for themselves, and some of them make some of the very best employers. But not enough yet from universities.

It is again happening. We are getting some of the science parks and people are thinking that if they are good scientists it is all right. We must get more science-based industries. Not quite [end p19] enough, but I mean, look at the release of Jaguar from public ownership. Look at the release of Cable & Wireless from public ownership. Look at some of the new companies that have been built up. We have not got quite enough yet, but it is happening.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] One result of change of approach is that while many admire and like you, many more dislike and even seem to hate you, judging by the vile abuse poured out.

Prime Minister

Because I think anyone who has positively to do things which have been neglected for years upsets the nice even way of people who have got used to the old regime and who really rather liked it. You see, there are people who are quite happy to be dependent on the State—there are people quite happy. It upsets the even tenor of their way and I will upset all those Labour people, yes, who got to the top of the unions and were Lefties and were running things, and I think running bad inner city arrangements, because they like people to be dependent on them. That has upset a lot of those … [end p20]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] They hate you because you threaten their control?

Prime Minister

Yes, that is right.

Interviewer

Nothing to do with you personally.

Prime Minister

I think maybe sometimes. I have had to fight so hard to keep going forward. I have had to fight so hard and continue to fight so hard, and have gone on. I suppose that they have been irritated that one has been able to go on and they try sometimes in the House of Commons. Yes, I do have to shout to make myself heard. Sometimes I say: “Well, I am just not going to shout any more like I did last time. I will just stand there until they are quiet!” because if the message goes out to abroad that there is no freedom of speech in the British Parliament, because you are not allowed to have your say, so be it, but I am not going to stand there. Sometimes you know one does one thing, sometimes the other.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Some say you have created much more divided society. Your response? [end p21]

Prime Minister

Perfectly simply. There was a totally divided society in 1979.

Interviewer

In what sense?

Prime Minister

Oh, the sense I have indicated. The unions were controlling. I very rarely look at opinion polls. I remember one though vividly. There was an opinion poll: “Who do you think has got more power in this country, Jack Jones or Jim Callaghan?” Overwhelming: Jack Jones. There was a divided society in this country. The divisions which socialism will never allow to surface, because they keep you there, so the people in unions who are total closed shop—and there still is too much closed shop—the power of the closed shop is colossal. You do what the union leader says or you have lost your job, and under socialism, if you lost your job, they made the employer sack you without compensation. This compassionate, caring Labour Party, and do you know what partly put us back in power? People who hated being kept under the heel or under the thumb of some of their trade union bosses. That was the true division they were creating.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You don't accept you have created a divided society? [end p22]

Prime Minister

Oh no. I have liberated many many people. Yes, we have not been able to get as many jobs, but you see, they have to get away from the view that the Government, in a free society, can be responsible for creating a job for everyone.

Our basic philosophy of “Trust the People!” was to genuinely put power back to the people and with it responsibility; do the things that Government has to do and be a very strong government. Let no-one ever accuse us of being a weak government. Sometimes they will stupidly say “laissez faire” and at the same time accuse you of being a very strong government, which is absurd. Very strong, very strong, to do the things which only governments can do: defence, see there are enough police, enough equipment for law and order. It has to be a partnership. Keep the currency stable, to keep the finance of the country stable. To set the framework of law, including regulation; not too much, but to set the framework in which people can operate themselves in an enterprising free society. To have the wider distribution of property, so that by the time we have been in power, say, for twenty years, and we have got the whole reinvigorated spirit and then, when great-grandma dies, you know, there will be a house to sell and some savings and the wealth will cascade and everyone will come into some inheritance, created because we believe people should be independent of government; created so that you have [end p23] a really independent society of people with their own pride, with their own independence.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] The division now is between those who put their snouts into Government trough and those willing to stand on their own feet?

Prime Minister

The division now is between a Socialism which wants to make more and more people dependent on them and a Conservative that wants to have a strong, proud country of independent people.

Let us trust the people!

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Yes. You don't feel unintentionally responsible for nastiness evident right through the country - football violence - and that someone more soothing would not have provoked such events?

Prime Minister

Certainly not! It is absolutely absurd. Crime has gone up in the post-war period. I am afraid it has gone up in all countries, and you know it has gone up roughly at about the same percentage. [end p24]

No. We were seeing ugly scenes, very ugly scenes, before we had this period. Very ugly scenes and very ugly trade union scenes, because—and it went right back to the Saltley Coke [depot], do you remember?

Interviewer

Yes, I do, very well.

Prime Minister

…   . because the trade unions said that no matter what the courts said, no matter what the Government says, we are going to rule by this way! Oh no!

Never, never, never go back to that! You have seen Socialism in action. You saw it on the picket line at Orgreave in the coal strike. Socialism in action. You see it down at Wapping. You see it in Haringey. You see it in Liverpool.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You see it on football terraces, - has that come from greater tensions in society, from your effort to change things?

Prime Minister

Can I point out that we have had the best year on the football terraces for a very long time? [end p25]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] So nothing to do with political divisions in society?

Prime Minister

Nothing whatsoever to do. Look! You are asking me. Go and read Popplewell! Have you read the early chapters of Popplewell?

Interviewer

No, I have not.

Prime Minister

The history of violence in society. You must! He goes right back to old days. Just go and see it. It is a fascinating thing. You ask me why Cain slew Abel. I cannot tell you. Is it not that there is violence within every person and the whole of the training and belief in life …   .

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Has increased in recent years?

Prime Minister

Oh it has, but you tell me a time in the post-war period when, taking several years together, it was not increasing, all over the [end p26] world. Yes, I think that is correct.

Interviewer

Other side of the coin of course - nobody questions your courage and, after Westland and BL, must have been tempting to take easy way out over Libya, and South Africa, but you did not. Where does your courage come from?

Prime Minister

No, it is not necessarily a constitutional instinct. I do not think I have ever thought: “Well, shall I take the tough way or the easy way?” We have just looked at a problem and said which do we think is the right way. I say the right way. Which do we think is the way to go, best in the longer term? I do not think I have ever said: “Look! Let us go the easy way for once!” I do not think I ever have.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Must have been tempting after great shambles of Westland and BL? [end p27]

Prime Minister

Well you say “the great shambles”. Look! They were comparatively small things, if I might say so, very small things. Westland was a small company.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] But politically huge wasn't it?

Prime Minister

No, but the press were more interested in personalities than in the thing underneath. Yes, they were difficult because …   . personalities, but at the same time, this country was growing, the economy was growing, we were having record investment, we had a record standard of living; we really are looking after the Health Service, in spite of the fact that so many people try to prove we are not. The figures prove we are. The pensions were higher. We were growing quite well, and so you have not anything really to complain about. We were getting more jobs and we hoped we would soon make inroads into unemployment so the press knew things were going the right way.

So all right, it became a matter of personalities and an artificial issue as far as British Leyland was concerned, and was very damaging to this country—very damaging indeed, because industrially we have to think globally now. [end p28]

All right, it came. The feeling got so strong on British Leyland. All right, but there was nothing we could do about it immediately in spite of the fact that Jaguar was sold off and is doing much better. In spite of the fact, if I might say so, as we are now just seeing, what we were proposing to take further—a deal with General Motors—would, I believe, have been better for jobs in this country. In spite of people were saying “Unemployment is the most important thing!”, they would not look at it rationally. And all right, you get emotional times like that. Emotions are a fact of life, but it was a small thing compared with these enormous things that we have done and are continuing to do.

And so, all right, it was just personalities on Westland. These things happen in politics.

Interviewer

But very tempting when Libyan issue arose, when South Africa …

Prime Minister

I never thought of it. I never, never thought of it the way you have just put to me. It never entered my head.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You just sought what you thought right way, however politically damaging? [end p29]

Prime Minister

Yes. We were all suffering from terrorism. I thought: what is the right thing to do in the longer term?

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Pleased by consequences of your Libyam decision?

Prime Minister

I believe it was the right decision. It was the correct decision.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] It has worked out well?

Prime Minister

Yes, because I think, you see, what you are up against is a fundamental thing in life: the bully will go on bullying so long as the person he is bullying just submits and does not fight back. You only get on top of the bully when you say: “Look! You do this to me and I will defend myself! And I am entitled to defend myself, and defending myself means hitting back to stop you doing it again!”

You usually get back to some quite simple fundamental thing and so anyone who does that has the unknown in front of them. “Gosh! I cannot just knock this person or this group of people about; they [end p30] might hit back!” and that is, of course, the fundamental law of self-defence.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased, but unclear:] You faced Gaddafi with that unknown by doing this?

Prime Minister

Yes, that is right, and that is why when people say to me: “Will you do it again?” I never fail to be surprised at how many people there are—Members of Parliament—who say: “What will you do next time?” as if any good general would say to the enemy you are fighting: “Now I will help you by telling you exactly how I shall react next time!”

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] That instinct to do right thing, has caused you to clash with many major institutions …   .

Prime Minister

When I say “the right thing”, do not think that every decision we have to take is between what is morally right and what is morally wrong, because it makes one sound so pious. [end p31]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Understood.

Prime Minister

That, I think, was a correct decision. That is why I say “the correct decision”, using “right” in the sense of “correct”.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You have clashed with most major institutions of British State.

Prime Minister

Oh have I?

Interviewer

Yes, at one time or another.

Prime Minister

Well, one moment! Well, now, tell me!

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Church of England over Falklands service. The Civil Service. The universities. [end p32]

Prime Minister

I have not quarrelled with the Church of England.

Interviewer

Well, there has been a general feeling that …

Prime Minister

They say all sorts of things about Government. What I did say in the House the other day was I find it absolutely astonishing that at one stage we are asked to give more money to stop starvation in Africa and another, to pursue a policy which would increase starvation in Africa. Am I not entitled to say that because I believe it is correct?

Interviewer

Absolutely entitled.

Prime Minister

Falkland service. Finally, the Falkland service was not determined by me.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You seemed unhappy with it. [end p33]

Prime Minister

Look! What you are saying is that everyone can have freedom of speech save a prime minister.

Interviewer

No, I am not saying that.

Prime Minister

I have not quarrelled with the Church of England.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] I did not say that.

Prime Minister

One has had to take decisions sometimes which again, one thought were the correct decision. Talking about GCHQ.

You will give Graham TurnerGraham—I have not got them with me today—the quotations that I usually carry around with me for questions between what the Civil Service said during their time of strike, what the Civil Service unions actually said: “Go on strike at some of the intelligence institutions! That will undermine NATO!” and the fact that on the intelligence institutions there was one day when 25,000 [end p34] of them, I think, were on strike. Correct the figures!

Don't you sometimes say that there are some times when they quarrel with me? It is not a question of quarrelling.

What I think somehow you are trying to indicate is that a Prime Minister cannot open her mouth or say anything at any time for fear of offending certain people. Good Lord!

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased, but somewhat unclear:] These institutions are part of basic framework of the State. Do you regard the State—some might say the will of the Prime Minister backed and licensed by people.

Prime Minister

No, but I think you are taking the opposite view: that a prime minister can never discuss anything with the institutions of State. She must accept what they say willy nilly, and some of it may be sometimes that they are not prepared to discuss certain things on which we might have a viewpoint.

I mean, they come out with all sorts of things and I do not complain, but now and then I also exercise a scintilla of freedom of speech. [end p35]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased, but a little unclear:] Harder to govern country, thinking about third term, with increasing sense of tension because of these battles?

Prime Minister

No. The GCHQ thing was a very limited exercise. I myself believe that intelligence service should have been treated as the others, you know, and that was the basis of the decision. [off the record material removed] But why do you play these things up?

You just say that everyone else can have their say, but a Prime Minister, good Lord, if you dare say anything you are quarrelling with the great institutions. Nonsense! I am not going to be gagged!

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Current topics. Commonwealth Conference coming. Commonwealth deeply divided. Might it break up over South Africa?

Prime Minister

Well look! The Commonwealth is not Britain's Commonwealth. I mean, long ago they refused to have it called the British Commonwealth, although that is its historic thing. It is the Commonwealth. It belongs to all members. We have increased the membership of it during our time as more colonies have been brought to full independence. Dare I say it, we even brought the old Rhodesia to full independence to become the present Zimbabwe, in my time. It is their Commonwealth. Not the British Commonwealth. They refused to have it called the British Commonwealth.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Might it break up over South Africa?

Prime Minister

It would be absolutely absurd for them to break up their Commonwealth. Absolutely absurd.

Interviewer

Why would it be absurd? [end p36]

Prime Minister

Well, first, because it is a grouping that girdles the world. It is their grouping that girdles the world. It is the only international conference that I ever attend which does not need any translators there and therefore the debate and the discussion you can have is much freer, much more genuine.

It is an institution which many people belong to who do not belong to anything else except the United Nations.

Some of us belong to other institutions; we belong to the EEC. Some of them belong to the Non-Aligned, but there are some of them, chiefly the Pacific, the Caribbean, that do not belong to any other institution. They come and they have a tremendous influence here.

Interviewer

But why would it be absurd for them to …

Prime Minister

Because it is their club. It is their Commonwealth. If they wish to break it up, I think it is absurd.

Why I think it is absurd is that we have been through many difficulties and what sort of relationship is it that just because you differ on some views and many of you have a different viewpoint—and many of you, what they are proposing would affect very differently indeed—that this thing that we have built up and created and which they have created and which they have kept going, is not strong enough to take a difference of opinion, even though what is being proposed [end p37] affects people differently?

Good Heavens, look what it has had to withstand to date! Do not think all countries in there are democracies in our sense of the term. Some of them have military government; some of them have states of emergency; some of them have had censorship at various times; some of them have had terrible internal massacres; some of them have put put people in opposition into jail without trial. Of course, we have withstood all this, partly because you understand that some countries do have problems and it is not for us outside necessarily to pontificate how they shall deal with them all.

They have had, some of them, problems of a kind that we have not had. Some of them have had violent minority groupings. They are having to struggle with them now, and when we have understood and …

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You think they will understand your difficulties?

Prime Minister

Understanding has to be mutual, and if you belong to this great grouping it is theirs. Do not think it is just ours. I say, they will not have it called “The British” then I think you have to understand one another's problems. Yes, speak freely. I never mind people speaking freely. I prefer them to speak freely and openly. [end p38]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Your aim at the Conference?

Prime Minister

But to break up because there is a difference of view, goodness me, Good Lord, we have differences of view in Europe. Good Heavens, we have differences of view in the United Nations, very vigorous ones. Is one suggesting that the Security Council should fall apart because of that? They undermine, I think, the very value of the thing if they do that.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Your aim at the Conference? Best and worst outcomes?

Prime Minister

I cannot say in advance exactly. I hope we stay together. Obviously they will speak their mind, but I do not mind at all and I am never offended if they do and I hope we can speak our minds courteously to one another and understand one another's problems, but what we are all trying to do is to end apartheid in South Africa and I am passionately trying to do it by negotiation and passionately trying to bring that negotiation about. I believe apartheid in South Africa will end. [end p39]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] On what time-scale?

Prime Minister

We are trying to accelerate the time-scale obviously and do not underestimate the changes which have come about in the last two or three years and do not underestimate the differences of opinion among black South Africans. I do not say that I bear witness to that. You have only got to look at the columns of our press to have evidence of that and there are many many both what I call moderate white opinion, enormous moderate black opinion, and all of our tactics are to encourage the moderate people and to give strength to their hand and moderate people on both sides, I think, want to get rid of apartheid.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] What does “the end of apartheid” mean? One man-one vote?

Prime Minister

The kind of constitutional arrangements are not for an outside entity to determine. That you will find is said in the Nassau Accord. That is what the Commonwealth said.

We want to do everything we can to bring the negotiation together. South Africa is an independent country. Once you have got the dialogue going between all the people—and there are white people, there are Cape Coloureds, there are Indian people, there are black [end p40] South Africans—and I think myself there will probably have to be two lots of negotiation, one with the black South Africans and then the other with them all. They will have to fashion their constitution.

Interviewer

But is that what you would like?

Prime Minister

It is no for us to fashion it.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] It is what you would like?

Prime Minister

It is not a colony. They had independence years ago.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Uou would like to see—a one-man/one-vote?

Prime Minister

As I said in the House the other day, that really is not the argument. Some people want one person-one vote, and they will determine the constitution within which that one person-one vote is exercised. Some people want one person-one vote in a unitary state. [end p41] It is for them to determine.

If I might say so, Africa is used to minorities, and if you look at it as a minority problem, then I think you get a very much better view of it. There are minorities, there are Shona there are Ndebele they have …   . minorities in Nigeria, minority groupings in Uganda, minority groupings in Ceylon, there are minority groupings in India—you know what happened there. There used to be a Central African Federation which we put together, Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, Nyasaland—the three countries there did not like it, so they took it apart—they took it apart, not us, and we have got to stop acting as if we can impose things upon them.

South Africa is not a member of the Commonwealth. She is an independent country. She is doing things which most of us find repugnant. What we are trying to do is to bring about the negotiation which would end that, and it will end. I have no doubt that it will end.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Do you know timeframe?

Prime Minister

No, but I do just look back. Industry has been doing a great deal to end it. There are people who have been fighting for the end of apartheid far longer than some people here—Helen Suzman has—and they are saying and taking a similar view to Chief Buthelezi [end p42] and to many of the moderates: “Look! It will come about by negotiation, but do not do anything to stop that process of negotiation starting! Do not do anything which would harm the readiness and the understanding of most people that it has to start!” and they are trying to bring it about, and some of them have been trying to bring it about for far longer than some people here—and do not harm those who are trying to go in the direction in which one wants to go.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Your view on possibility of further measures has changed? Tactical thing?

Prime Minister

I have not shifted it at all. Will you please look at the Commonwealth Accord—that if sufficient progress is not made, we will consider further measures—only “consider further measures”. Please look at the EEC. I have not got them down here, I always have them with me at Questions—EEC, and it was I who called a contingency planning on 1 July and the further measures were considered, but it is not automatic, because you have to look and take things into account.

As you know, the Eminent Persons Group did not recommend economic sanctions, as Tony Barber pointed out. I have not shifted at all.

Do not forget that both in the European Community and in the Commonwealth Accord there are measures in place. [end p43]

Interviewer

That I am clear on.

Prime Minister

There are nine measures mentioned in the last Commonwealth Accord which we reaffirmed or which we put in place. There are nine measures there.

The two that you would call true economic sanctions: one is the defence one, which has been in place since 1977, mandatory, that we do not supply South Africa with defence equipment that could be used for internal oppression. That sanction has been in place. I may say it is not wholly working. And the other one, the Krugerrands, to which we also added the proteas, because the protea was beginning to take the place …   . the protea coin …   . of the Krugerrand …   . those are economic sanctions.

Some of the others are what I call signals.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Not a shift by you? It is said you had been deserted by the Cabinet, that you had had a row with the Queen?

Prime Minister

I am amazed at some of the stories I read in the press, utterly amazed. [end p44]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] No basis?

Prime Minister

You know that I can never, and will never, say anything whatsoever. The relations between the Monarch and Prime Minister are and will remain totally confidential.

In Cabinet, the basis of Cabinet is that people express their minds freely there and of course you do to discuss.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You weren’t pushed by the Cabinet deserting you?

Prime Minister

How absurd! When do you think I was deserted by the Cabinet?

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Don't know. That is the story.

Prime Minister

Look back at the evidence. Look back at the measures we put in place in the Commonwealth Accord. Look at them! There are nine.

Look at what happened in the European Economic Community. Read [end p45] it! There has been no change since then.

They have only to look at the evidence. What is characteristic of politics these days is that you get assertions made and people know they can make some of these assertions and know, because of the fundamental confidentiality of the system, I am not in a position to argue in any way, and they want to ask me these questions to make me break that confidence. I will not do so.

I do not believe that Cabinet Government can continue to exist if there are assertions made outside about what happened inside. As you know, I thoroughly disapprove of people who write diaries about these things. I think in Cabinet you have got to be on the basis that you trust one another.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You have not been pushed by the Cabinet?

Prime Minister

You know, people really must think that I have the strongest personality that was ever born on this earth!

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] They do!

Prime Minister

That I can get my own way, regardless of what anyone else thinks [end p46] at any time. I get my way, if I get it, by convincing the other people by argument that that is the way to go, and they, having discussed it, agree that is the way to go.

Yes, I do argue a great deal. What do you think you have a Cabinet of twenty-one people for, to sit round and say nothing?

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Some would say - better to have made modest concessions earlier. Your approach has deepened divisions?

Prime Minister

Oh whatever I do they will complain! The fact is that actually by trying to analyse what people mean by economic sanctions, to analyse their effect, to say: “Do you realise what you are doing to men, women and children? Do you realise what you are going to do, for example, to the British merchant marine but whom on other occasions you never hesitate to tell me is getting smaller? Do you realise that by saying what you are going to do to the farmworkers in the Cape in a country which has no supplementary benefit and no national insurance? Do you realise what you are doing by saying put more to stop starvation in Ethiopia but do something which you believe will destroy the economy of South Africa? Do you realise what you are doing in a country where you have good jobs or good social security, [end p47] are looked after? Do you realise what you are doing and do you realise what the Labour Party did when it was in power, totally and utterly recoiled from economic sanctions for the same reasons?” Do you realise this?

Interviewer

Yes.

Prime Minister

You are telling me that it is wrong actually to face people with the day-to-day consequences of their own action, it is bad handling.

What we have done, Mr. Turner, is to knock out, I believe, general economic sancti, ons as a possible way forward, and also one has got them to realise that what is the point even of doing that if other people then pick up the business, if it goes through third countries? You stop it from going direct, so it goes through third countries, so it merely arrives in this country at a higher price, or if it works it works by starving some people, and do you realise that in some things which are absolutely vital for defence of this country the only other source for those minerals is the Soviet Union and do you realise that if you are going to put more and more power in this matter into the hands of the Soviet Union, where there are no human rights, is that your objective? And do you realise also the strategic importance of South Africa? That it can command the Indian Ocean, it can command the South Atlantic, and do you not think it would be better to get [end p48] an agreement by negotiation so that you have a sense of a freer society, hopefully of a democratic society, coming through truly in our way?

And that is called handling it badly! Poppycock!

So actually, by embarking on that course and moving it, we have actually got it back too. If that would be so damaging, how do we send signals?

All right, regardless of the effect of sanctions, some people apparently want them, and also, one has had to say: “Look! Supposing you close Beit Bridge?” Some people look astonished. They are not quite sure what Beit Bridge is or what the effect of closing it would be. And do you realise what would happen to the three million black Africans who come to South Africa for work and send remittances home? Are you going to put the whole of southern Africa into acute difficulty? Do you know where you are going?

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Yes, fine. So Commonwealth not a club whose time has passed?

Prime Minister

No, not if they really value the Commonwealth. We have faced many many difficult things, and we shall go on facing many more, and there are many countries in the Commonwealth who will not have a democracy in the term that we understand it. We do not go into a [end p49] terrific argument and say: “Do this or we leave the Commonwealth!” They are their countries.

We do try to put our views and I am as anxious as anyone else to bring an end to apartheid, but I am anxious to bring an end to apartheid with a country which has what South Africa has now—the strongest economy in the whole of Africa.

Interviewer

Yes, by a mile!

Prime Minister

And some of the best standard of living for many black Africans in the whole of Africa, and also, let us face it, to keep the possibility of democracy as we understand it in that country, and democracy as we understand it does mean include protection for minorities, and one must never forget that. Democracy is not meant to be a dictatorship of the majority. It is meant to be a democracy which for a period governs by the majority, but a majority which always has regard for the rights of minorities and has regard—as we believe they have not at the moment—for fundamental human rights, and that is what one wants to bring about.

So what we all want to get away from is go the other way and create a wasteland. [end p50]

Interviewer

Is it going to be tough to get what you want in this Commonwealth Conference?

Prime Minister

All my life has been tough, it is always tough, and it is because—if I might use the word—you care deeply about trying to get what you believe to be the best decision that you go on being tough. If you did not care two hoots about it, you would not have to be tough. You would sit back and say: “Now, if I do not do anything controversial, if I take the easy way every time, maybe I will be liked!” but I would despise myself, and in the long run you would not be liked.

Interviewer

That is right.

Prime Minister

People would then turn back, years ahead, and say: “Look! They had the first woman Prime Minister and she did not actually tackle the problems of her time!”

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] What would satisfy you in short-term? Your basic wish? [end p51]

Prime Minister

My basic wish is that there are more signs, more obvious and visible signs that they are going to get rid of apartheid, that it is their intention.

I am very much aware that they do have a big congress coming up in the middle of August which, again, is a time factor we have to bear in mind. I am very much aware that the tenth anniversary of Soweto was always bound to be a very tense situation, and I think we were, many of us, aware of that in the European Economic Community, and therefore, it is a three-month period so that those things can be overcome and we shall have more signs that they are genuinely going to get rid of apartheid.

There are signs, I think, that they genuinely want to enter into a negotiation, and I just hope. The timing is difficult, but if you add up what they have done in the last eighteen months to two years, there has been quite a fundamental change of view and I myself firmly believe what Helen Suzman said in her article in “The Times” and she said: “We shall go on getting rid of apartheid. We shall, and it will come about, but do not let it virtually come about with a wasteland and with much more resentment than would have been the other case!”

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Do you think P. W. Botha is in hands of his military and his police? [end p52]

Prime Minister

No, because again, as Chief Buthelezi said, more and more, both black people and white people in South Africa are willing to negotiate and are ready to negotiate, and it is really how to bring that about. Whether we have got the time-scale too tight or not I do not know, but I believe it will come about.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Some say if a lot of white people were being killed you would be more concerned?

Prime Minister

I have never heard that accusation. Whether it is black or white people being killed, the important thing is to get suspension of violence when the negotiation can take place.

Interviewer

So you are just as concerned?

Prime Minister

Of course. It is the deaths.

Interviewer

Whether black or white! [end p53]

Prime Minister

Whether black or white. There are 800,000 people in South Africa who are entitled to come here. I do not think many of them are black South Africans, but I have not the slightest shadow of doubt that some of them are Indian South Africans.

Interviewer

Yes, and you are just as concerned about all of them?

Prime Minister

Of course! Violence is not a respecter of colour.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased,unclesr:] Looking to the future, have actually enjoyed …

Prime Minister

Can I say on that, I find the “necklace” which black uses against black utterly repugnant and it is one of the things which, faster than anything else, turned my sympathies off any case which some of those might have been putting. I do not understand how anyone can do it to another person. [end p54]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Just as violentas the South African police killing Steve Biko.

Prime Minister

Oh, absolutely appalling, but no-one stands up for it. You actually hear people standing up for the necklace or refusing to condemn it.

Interviewer

Very fair point.

Prime Minister

Absolutely appalling what they did to Steve Biko. No-one stands up for it. Everyone condemns it and tries to bring people to justice.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Very fair. More than seven years since you became PM. Have you actually enjoyed it?

Prime Minister

I do not know whether “enjoyed” is the right word. It is the job which I wanted to do, which I want to go on doing. Using the word [end p55] “enjoyed” not in its enjoyment sense, but that it suits me and I feel natural in it.

Yes they make me fight and I will go on fighting and I think I will be fighting for some cause all my life. I suppose one is a born fighter.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Obviously exhausting at times. What actually drives you on? Love of power, because some people think that?

Prime Minister

No, I do not think sheer love of power. No, because most things I have to do in the end are persuasion. I mean, democracy is the politics of persuasion and not so much the politics of power.

Interviewer

But I mean to give up all this, for example?

Prime Minister

It is marvellous. Isn't it lovely? Isn't it beautiful to be able to come here? But what does one do if one has an evening? What would be one's greatest desire if one has an evening free? Really just to go home, and this is why, you know, I missed … when we sold our little house in Chelsea because it was not right for the future … this is the first time I have been without our own house, and it took me a [end p56] little time, during which time the price of houses rose sharply, to get another one.

No. It is absolutely marvellous to have this place as Prime Minister and we love it, but it would not bother me to give it up at all.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Not love of power that makes you hang on?

Prime Minister

It is not love of the trappings of power if you are saying that.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Could it be love of power itself? Doesn’t that eat into your soul after seven years?

Prime Minister

No, it does not eat into my soul at all. I cannot use the words “eat into my soul”. What is constantly dominant in my mind is: “Look! There is a lot more to do before we have got everything which I believe in kind of still running through the bloodstream once again of the British character!”

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Which had stopped running through. [end p57]

Prime Minister

Yes, it had stopped running through, so you have got to get back as a matter of habit. This is the way you think: that Britain is a free society, it is an enterprising society, and that you cease to be a free society when you are so dependent on the State that you have not the means to be independent against them.

Always in my life I was very impressed back in an election meeting in 1945 I went to in a village—I was sort of helping—a person at the back was actually complaining bitterly she could not get those …   . called “public assistance”. She said: “Just because we have saved up, I have got a little bit of me own, I cannot get any help!” A little bit of me own. That little bit gave them a sort of stubborn independence.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You want to re-create that in the British character?

Prime Minister

That is right.

Interviewer

Because it has got overlaid.

Prime Minister

It is getting there, but you see, there are some of the things [end p58] we had to fight for. Actually, some of the things we had to fight for are what some of the SDP now are standing up for, although when they were part of the Labour Party they fought bitterly for [sic]. Some of the things we have done with trade unions, we had to fight for, but you know the Liberal Party was in its Lib-Lab Pact in spite of the fact that people could be sacked in a closed shop without any compensation, so it is no earthly good them coming along with “me too-ism” now.

They were not in the front of the firing line fighting with us.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] How do you survive the strain?

Prime Minister

I do not know. I suppose one has got a pretty good source of adrenalin!

What do I actually feed on? There would be no point in my being here if I were not succeeding in doing some of the things which I passionately believe in and if I were not succeeding in convincing other people that is the way to go, and that is just part of me, part of what I was taught.

You know, it is very much easier, as you said, sometimes just to follow the crowd. It is very much easier for a child just to go with the crowd and never to be different. My Alfred Robertsfather taught one very much [end p59] never just go with the crowd. You have to make up your own mind which way to go and go that way and try to persuade other people to go with you. And that is still very strongly ingrained, and I think it would have been unbelievably difficult for me if we had not succeeded in doing some of those things.

The difficult thing now is to get over that in a free society there is no government which can guarantee every person a job and that if you want to have everything guaranteed to you, a government can only guarantee everything to you by taking everything away from you. If you lose the incentive, the sense of responsibility, you will see what happens. You will have a very much lower standard of living and you will have no freedom and so that is the message you still have to get across. What one says is: “Look what happens when you have a Soviet society!”

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] What sort of world do you see internationally in next ten years? Perilous? What good and bad?

Prime Minister

The world will always be a perilous one, because in spite of all the lessons of civilisation there will continue to be people born who want to seize and take power by force and keep it by force. There [end p60] always have been—Cain and Abel—and there always will be, and the lesson of history for the rest of us, which I hope we have learned since the last War, is so to keep enough in defence that we deter anyone, we make it so impossible for that person to seize power by force that he would never in fact do it. That is the fundamental thing of defence. You stop the bully by making it perfectly clear that he would get more than he gave and he would be stopped—and that is the fundamental argument for defence.

But it does not happen all over the world and it cannot happen all over the world and so what you also have to fight, the new thing of our age, is the taking of power by subversion, and that is what Communism does all over the world still—taking power by subversion and relying on the lethargy of people who believe in freedom not to do so much about their beliefs as those who are heavily organised by the Communists the world over. Always beware of taking power by subversion.

You have been talking about South Africa. There is real trouble in Mozambique. There is real trouble in Angola. No white people there. They left long ago, and what have you got?

You could have a fantastic economy in Angola. It is rich. What have you got? Fighting between several people.

What have you got in Mozambique? Fighting.

What have you got in Uganda? Fighting.

What have you got in Afghanistan, an occupied territory? [end p61]

Interviewer

Exactly the same.

Prime Minister

What did you get when Viet Nam actually united her country and the Americans left? Did you get wonderful peace? This new Communist society?. No. She attacked her neighbour, and the murder and the massacre has been terrible, so you are always going to get that and you have to defend against it.

We have not got rid of terrorism in Northern Ireland.

There are problems between Greek Cypriots, Turk Cypriots. There are problems in the Middle East. You know, the worst problems if you look at it, are not between black and white; they are between adjacent, similar peoples, whether it is in Angola, whether it is in Mozambique, whether it is the tragedy in Cyprus, whether it is in Ireland, whether it is in Viet Nam-Cambodia, whether it is in the Tamils or the Sinhalese, whether it is in the Sikhs, and you cannot solve them all.

I remember I was suddenly shocked, but one thought it was right after a moment: there are some problems that are insoluble because they are problems of human nature and you cannot solve all of those, but you can only try to persuade and try to build structures which stop the worst things happening. [end p62]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Some say you have made us pawn of the United States.

Prime Minister

Absolute nonsense!

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Not fair at all?

Prime Minister

Absolute and utter nonsense, isn't it?

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Refute in more detail?

Prime Minister

I did not follow the United States on Grenada. I did not follow the United States when we had made contracts with the Soviet Union on the gas pipeline, because we had made contracts and we had to adhere to those contracts and on Grenada, at that particular time I disagreed with them on the way forward, so one does not hesitate to disagree with them when we think that what they are doing is not right.

I am still immensely grateful to them, and let everyone remember Britain would not be free now and neither would Europe unless the [end p63] United States had come in right across the ocean to help us, and part of our job was to hang on long enough until they did. It is important to Europe's freedom and I simply cannot understand it if people ever complain. There are 330,000 American troops on the NATO front in Europe. That is more than the whole of our armed forces, and some of their families are over there. They do not have to be. That is their commitment to liberty, to the world over.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You did not support Reagan on Libya purely to keep him sweet?

Prime Minister

No, certainly not. Of course not. It is important that if you expect Ronald Reaganhim to defend freedom in our continent, that we also try to defend the freedom of his people in our continent.

We also have occasion to fight terrorism, but after all, it is better that we fight it together.

Let me also say I do believe it is a good policy to stand by friends. That is a first fundamental instinct to stand by friends and then you look at what they are asking you to do, and you both have to be satisfied.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] If they ask you to do the wrong thing, you say “No”. [end p64]

Prime Minister

That is right.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] With increasing tensions and frustrations between America and Europe, even possible break-up of NATO, ought we look for new relationship with Russia, or is that delusory, given nature of Communism, its aim of dominating the world?

Prime Minister

No. It is the way in which you may have to negotiate in life with someone with whom you have very little in common, but you have certain interests in common. You may contract to do one thing for the other, even though you are not great friends.

It is the same between ourselves and the Soviet Union. We do not like Communism. It is the negation of freedom. It results neither in the dignity of freedom, nor in the higher prosperity which we get in the western world, but that does not mean we do not have certain things in common. The differences between us almost never come to a fight, never come to a battle, never come to a conflict and hostilities, so it is in their interest and in our interest each to maintain our security at a level which both keeps us secure and which deters anyone from fighting. It is the thing which I said before: the lesson of history is that tyrants attack where the other party is [end p65] weak.

We are a defensive thing. We do not talk about attacking other people, but the fact is that the Soviet Union has attacked other people, so we have to defend against them and make it absolutely clear:

“One foot over that line and we shall fight with all the capacity at our command and you would not win or the price would be such that it is never worth your starting!”

And they too, want their security. They believe in their system and you have got to recognise, whether you like their system or not, they are a powerful country and they are entitled to their security, and so we negotiate on arms control.

Now we also go one further than that. We have the Helsinki Accord. Part of the Helsinki Accord was that there were some things that you have greater, freer movement of people, so of course we ask them how that is going, of course we say: “But you are not necessarily doing that!” and of course, we raise to them that we in the West believe in certain fundamental human rights, of course we do. But it is done that way and in trying to get more freedom of movement so that more people go in and come out and we can persuade them and influence them that way.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Saying Gorbachev is a man to do business with makes him sound like [end p66] Mitterrand or Kohl.

Prime Minister

No, it does not. It means that the business that I can do with Mikhail Gorbachevhim and ought to do with him, that I can do, because I understand his wish, the wish of the Russians and the Russian Communists to be secure behind their borders.

I still believe that most people in the Soviet Union, those people who still remember the last War, never wish to embark upon that kind of war again, but always know that something could start somewhere else which could be inflamed into one which could involve us, so I know that Russia has to have her pride and her security and her pride of negotiating as a major power with another major power.

So I know that we can do business with him in that respect. We can do business with him on arms control, but the way in which we do business with him has got to be such that each is secure and therefore you have got to have a balance of armaments and therefore each has got to be certain that the other is doing what they say they will do, and therefore you have got to have a system of verification.

I do also think that he is a person with whom one can raise other matters which give great cause for concern.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Open door when their aim is world takeover? [end p67]

Prime Minister

We defend against that too and we can tackle them about human rights. We can tackle them about subversion. We can point out to the rest of the world that it is the western countries that give aid to African countries in the form of food, education, help, that it is the Soviet Union who make poor African countries pay for armaments and weapons. All of that we do, and when they tackle us about liberation movements we tackle them about the other thing, but is it not better to tackle them in that way and perhaps bring influence to bear? Do not forget the Soviet Union is much much more aware of human rights now than it was in

Interviewer

You believe that?

Prime Minister

Well, they let Solzhenitsyn go. They let other people go, yes. It is a little bit more aware and influenced by public opinion than it was, so yes, in that way one can do business with Mikhail Gorbachevhim on arms control and one can openly discuss these things, but you must take the measure of the person you do business with. Never have rose-tinted spectacles. Communism is still going to be Communism in the same form in most of my lifetime. There will be very small changes as there are, but they are small compared with the bulk of Communism, which is the same, and it will continue to be. But even so, it is our duty first, to stop a conflict from developing by defending ourselves; [end p68] secondly, to try to influence other nations who might play with Communism to say: “Look at the standard of living in Britain, look at the freedom in Britain. Do not play too much with the Communist system. Get involved with them and you will never get rid of them!” and we do.

Incidentally, Egypt had Soviet advisers but as you know actually got them out. But get them too much in and it is very difficult. I mean there are an awful lot of Cubans in Africa now.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] So many of your aims for Britain are materialistic ones.

Prime Minister

No. But one moment! Do not forget what I said to you even in talking about the economy is the reinvigoration of the spirit and that is what it all goes back to, and you cannot have freedom unless you have a rule of law, and the reinvigoration of the spirit recognises that enterprise only flourishes by doing things for other people who are similarly doing things for you, so it is inevitably a duty to the community thing.

Do not forget that when I talk about wealth creators and building up business, some people think they have a duty to do that, so it is duty.

Really, enterprise and freedom can only flourish first by [end p69] recognising that other people have the same freedom and therefore you have to act under a rule of law, and secondly, you simply cannot be enterprising in a Diogenes tub. It has to be in connection with someone else.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] So you don't just want us to be better economic animals?

Prime Minister

No. If you go purely material for the sake of materialism, you will never do anything in life, but equally, do not make the mistake of thinking that doing well for your family in material things is bad. Most people want to do better for their family, materials things. I would love to have more money to travel the world and see how other people live. I would love to have more money than I have to help any good cause. You cannot in fact preserve churches, you cannot in fact preserve the heritage, you cannot in fact be a patron of the arts, you cannot in fact help the leukaemia cause, help the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, unless you can either do something in kind or in fact raise money to pay someone to do it, because your social workers have to be paid, your builders have to be paid. It is money for its own sake, which I have never understood.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Your aims not purely materialistic? [end p70]

Prime Minister

Not purely materialistic.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] They sometimes seem so.

Prime Minister

No, but I recognise very well that most of the good causes which I am asked to give to do assume a certain capacity to give, and you give in two ways: you give your money and you give your enthusiasm and you give your services and your services are a way also of giving money in a way in which they do not have to raise money.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] If it comes over as materialistic one has to say: “Is that sufficient for a society with increasing crime and family break-up?” If the aims seemed broader and more than purely economic, would it not improve our society?

Prime Minister

If what? [end p71]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] If your aims seemed more …

Prime Minister

I did have a whole section in one speech, but it sounded so pious and so dull that I cut it out. Really virtually saying: Look! When I said I wanted everyone to own a home and have a nice home …

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] There is morality in that, true, because you are standing on your own feet?

Prime Minister

Yes, exactly. It is not just that. It is just because I recognise …   . I do not only want you to have a nice house …   . I recognise that it is a way of standing for family and enabling you to express your responsibilities to your family.

When I say that I want you to own shares and savings, it is not just that I want you to own shares and savings. I want you to have the independence. I want you to have the means to do things for your own family, so you are not constantly going to the State and you are doing things for your own family, and some of the things you do for your family and the way in which you express generosity are often material things and there is nothing wrong with that.

Do you remember Charles Curran? [end p72]

Interviewer

I do, very well.

Prime Minister

He did an article once really because he was fed up with some people saying: “Look! All you want are for people to have a good kitchen!” I want a good kitchen. I want most people to have a good kitchen. Thank goodness some of the drudgery has been taken out. And some people were saying that that was totally wrong, it was totally materialistic, and I remember old Charles Curran doing an article “Sin sits on the Spin-Dryer”. You know, not using sin in its moral sense at all, but it is wrong to have a washing machine. It is absolutely absurd. You really just have to have a sense of proportion. When the church comes along to raise money for the roof or to clean St. Margarets, it has got to feel that people either can give their efforts literally to clean it or raise money by having the time-honoured Come, Bring and Buy, the time-honoured dinner with a speaker. I mean, what is wrong with that?

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] So money is a means to something?

Prime Minister

It is. Money as a means to something. Of course, when you have to try to raise money, whether it be for St. Pauls or the Abbey or St. [end p73] Margarets or your local church, it is money as a means for something. And you earn the money or in your savings you put it to good use to make more by investment, to help someone else who wants to start something up, but all of it usually is by doing things for yourself and other people doing things for yourself (sic), it is by doing things for one another, and that is the fundamental after all, Judaeo-Christian creed, that you do better for yourself by doing things for one another. It always has to be a mutual thing.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Future of Britain over the next ten years when oil running out?

Prime Minister

Well, we have after all invested quite a lot. Under this freer society, quite a lot of money has been invested overseas and is bringing back an income. That was one of the tragedies of the British Leyland things. First, we want more British investment over here, because it helps us to get more jobs. Secondly, we have done quite a lot of investment over there because it will bring in income and does bring in income long after North Sea oil has gone. [end p74]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] So a good future for Britain?

Prime Minister

By that time the more enterprising spirit will have turned to other things. As it is now, it can be building up quite a business in development of oil because of the experience we have gained. We have, in the end, to turn to doing other things, to sell to other people and we have to learn to compete, and if we do not, it does not matter what politician talks, then we are going to go down economically. I do passionately believe that spirit is still here.

If you look back in history, the central thing about this country was that our land was not big enough to contain the spirit of our people, so off they went in droves to discover other countries, to build up trade with other countries.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] That is the thing you want to revive?

Prime Minister

That is what one is trying to revive, but I merely do not want them these days to go and say: “We can do better for ourselves in the United States, particularly with the new low tax, so let us go there; let us take all our best brains and entrepreneurs there because we can [end p75] do better for ourselves!” I say to them: “Look! I cannot do as well for you as the United States. The United States is doing better because its people have built up the United States in the same way as I want you to stay here and build up this country!”

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] No future of endless sterling crises and trade deficits?

Prime Minister

There will always be problems once you get governments trying to take the short-term measure. It would be only too easy now to let things rip and then within about eighteen months your inflation will be right up again, but you would have temporary jobs and within three years things would be worse, and once you get politicians taking that short-term view, just turn them down flat, because it is the most brittle, cynical view I have ever seen.

I think people were beginning to rumble that you know.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Would that happen if Labour returned to power?

Prime Minister

Yes. Look at some of the promises. First, their whole doctrine is to assume that someone has created the wealth and they can [end p76] distribute the lot and not still revivify the engine that created it.

You know, really, the tree will not go on fruiting unless you till the soil beneath the tree.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You obviously want to go on for a third term—you have said you do. What do you think you have got to offer the country for the third term? I mean, in a sense, they could say they had had a very big dose of you. Why should they put you in for a third time?

Prime Minister

There are two reasons. The first is they believe in the things which I have been talking about—the greater independence of the family, the greater independence of people. Everything which we do is manifested in that, whether it is families through ownership, whether it is the independence in doing more things for yourself and being able to keep more of your own income to do it for yourself, to take responsibility. To have that vigorous independent society, and to have enough in your own money to do things; to be generous to your own children and generous to your own parents, if they need help, instead of having so much taken away from you and the Government spends it all for you and you cannot do it for yourself. So it is the whole balance, the whole feeling that the State in this country must never become so powerful that it smothers the individual spirit, the individual person. [end p77]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] That is one reason they might reelect you.

Prime Minister

That is the fundamental, the thing that matters more than anything else.

Secondly, they should vote for us if they believe in defending things. If they believe that the only way to defend yourself is not by the rightness of your cause, but by the effectiveness of your defence.

Third, if you believe in having effective defence, you have got to be a loyal and full member of the alliances.

Fourth, because you look at the opposite doctrine. You look at what the left-wing unions have done. They still want power back. You look at the intimidation. You look at the way the Bernie Grants, the Liverpools, have in fact run their societies. You look at some of the things which they are saying about the police. You look at some of the pamphlets that GLC put out about the police. You look at some of the political indoctrination in schools, and you recoil.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] That is why you will win a third time?

Prime Minister

Yes. [end p78]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] But might people not say your stance is too rigid; that the resistance to your way is too great?

Prime Minister

That is fundamentally wrong. The stance cannot be too rigid when I am saying more power to the people together with their responsibility and more choice.

But we do see the problems with education. Education is still the responsibility of the local authorities. The Government is blamed for it. We have certain education laws and the Government gives a lot of the money for it, and at the moment the Government has virtually no powers over the curriculum, which enables quite a bit of political indoctrination—we are trying to do something about this in this Bill.

Education is not free and what happens is that people are paying vast sums of money for it out of their taxpayers' pocket and their rate-payers' pocket and some of them are not getting the kind of education they want their children to have, which is not about political indoctrination. It is about all the good things this country has done. It is about knowing the basics, about knowing your English, your Maths, your Science, all the transmission of our heritage and knowing about the world in which we live, and about some of the Wonders of the World.

And let me say this: there are some local authorities which are [end p79] delivering that kind of education and doing it superbly, doing it better than a government could ever do, superbly. So we have got this problem.

I went back to my old school the other day. The education they are getting is fantastic. It is marvellous. Good buildings in good repair. Fantastic equipment. Wonderful curriculum. Excellent teachers. No wonder the parents are satisfied. Good local authority, terrific. Some are not, so one has got to get the larger choice, and that is how we get it, so if you are kind of trapped because you are in perhaps a very large tall tower block, and do not forget they are a post-war phenomenon and we still do not know what that psychology has done to people. Those tall tower blocks. I think they are responsible quite a lot. The same people living on the ground floor in streets like that. If only we had said: “Right, we will turn houses into one and do them up” and kept the societies together.

You see, when you ran along a street and the children went out to play, there was the sort of authority from the kitchen window: “Don't you do that! Now you just stop that!” There was a visible authority which ordinary families themselves would exercise. Go up into a tower block and they cannot—it has gone—and what you have done in a tower block is have whole areas without visible authority, the natural visible authority which parents exercise. How did we get into this? [end p80]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You are offering for the third time …

Prime Minister

Yes. Now, what I am saying is there are some people who are trapped in there. Yes, they are vandalised. There is a capacity to vandalise lifts that was never there along the streets.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You offer freedom from being trapped?

Prime Minister

And you then have to go to the local comprehensive school. I am trying to give them more choice. A possibility to get out and purchase a house. We have even got shared ownership going. A possibility not to have to go to that school, but to go to a different school, as we are trying to offer them more choice and what I am saying is, how can people say I am too inflexible?

What I am saying is: Look! I am trying to give you more choice in housing, more choice in schools.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] So that is the same vision continued. [end p81]

Prime Minister

The same vision made relevant to the problems of our time.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Greater freedom for the individual.

Prime Minister

That is right.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] What factors will decide you when to call election? Simply when you think you can win, as small a thing as that?

Prime Minister

That is not small, but I believe in what I am doing. If the Government believes … if the Party which it is my privilege to lead and the Government I lead believes in what we are doing—and we do—it is my duty to try to see that that is continued, and if you find repugnant some of the things we see on the other side, the Wappings, the coal-miners' strike, some of the militants who seem to be penetrating more and more, and they are not being got rid of, it is my duty to do that. [end p82]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] That is the prime factor?

Prime Minister

Yes, but there are certain things …   . if you were to say to me “Are you considering? Why don't you have an election this October? Are you considering it?” your answer is “No!!” because there is another factor. You do not want there to be changes in elections too much. People do not like it and they are quite right because that would induce an extra instability. They put governments in and they say: “It is your job to get on with it for quite a time!” Quite a time is a fairly indefinite thing, but all right, it was four years first. It may be longer this time because people do not like you suddenly to take an opportunity … they do not like you suddenly to take a dash with an opportunity somewhere in the middle or too soon—they do not, and that is a factor you have got to take into account, and they are quite right not to.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Might be the whole five years this time?

Prime Minister

Yes, it might be the whole five years. And let me say this: they think I have decided when to have the election. That is nonsense. [end p83]

Interviewer

You have not?

Prime Minister

No.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Fine! When you do resign one day, what would you like people to say of you?

Prime Minister

I do not know. I know what they will say.

Interviewer

What will they say?

Prime Minister

The most complimentary thing they will say: “Oh well, she is a strong leader and she is a fighter and you know where you stand with here!” That is quite good.

Interviewer

But what would you like them to say? [end p84]

Prime Minister

I would really like them to say: “We think she has done a lot for Britain and we think she has stood up for Britain!” What I am really trying to say is find something to say,” We think what she has done is really right for Britain. It was a bit hard to come to it at the time, but you know, I think perhaps she was right. I will not say she was right. Perhaps she was right, and you know where you stand with her and I think that really is the sort of Britain we would want to see!”

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Do you feel apprehension about Commonwealth Conference?

Prime Minister

Is “apprehension” quite the right word? Of course, one is worried about it. Of course on is worried because of some of the things that have been said, as I have indicated. A club whose members respect one another and believe they can sort things out by discussion does not fall apart just because some difficult things come up.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] What is your worry? [end p85]

Prime Minister

What is my worry? About being able to persuade them that the view we take is a reasonable and sensible one to take and one which is likely to achieve the objective we all want to achieve.

You see, the irony of it was that I worked so closely with Kenneth Kaunda in order to bring Rhodesia into dependence as Zimbabwe and the day, I assure you, I went to Lusaka for that Commonwealth Conference, well, they were saying terrible things about me, far worse than they are saying now.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] True. Why did that happen in Lusaka?

Prime Minister

Because one managed to persuade them that what we wanted to do was the right way to set about it and it was not easy, because there was Mr. Nkomo who had his base, his terrorist base, in Zambia; there was Mr. Mugabe who had had his base I think probably in Tanzania; and they were both practising terrorism in Rhodesia. There was Bishop Muzorewa in Rhodesia and there was Smith trying to do a lot of things, and it was not easy.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Same thing might happen again? [end p86]

Prime Minister

In the end, that conference gave responsibility. We could not have got through unless they had, and it was absolutely critical that they were prepared to give Britain responsibility for inviting the people to London and holding a conference there to see if we could do it by negotiation, because we were the Colonial power and therefore we could have responsibility.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Something similar could happen with South African situation?

Prime Minister

No. South Africa was given independence before the First World War with a constitutional convention and you will recall in that constitution we put the Union of South Africa together, which was at the time thought of to be an act of magnanimity between the English and the Boers. That is out.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You are fighting for something different on this occasion?

Prime Minister

It is persuading them that apartheid will end in South Africa, that our way will get it ended faster and better, because I believe we want to keep the economy. [end p87]

Interviewer

Not by putting the screws on?

Prime Minister

Not by acting in a way which will have the opposite effect to that that you intend to have.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Some think you have done a private deal with Botha to get release of Mandela during the Conference.

Prime Minister

I have done no private deals. We work for the release of Mandela. We work for the unbanning of the ANC, even though I dislike many of the things they stand for. That is a matter for them, but I know that you simply cannot have a dialogue or negotiation unless Mandela could in fact come to that conference and speak freely and the ANC could speak freely, and after all, we had to talk to, I suppose, the representatives of terrorist organisations ZANU and ZAPU when we did discussions over Rhodesia. Yes we do work for that. We do hope it will come about.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] No private deal? [end p88]

Prime Minister

No private deals.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Some say you have a private line to P. W. Botha.

Prime Minister

Private line! One sends messages through the usual channels all over the world.

Interviewer

No, no. I well understand.

Yes. So that in a sense you are hoping …

Prime Minister

One sends messages all over the world. Everyone has a private line in a sense but if you think I have a private telephone to pick up a hot line, of course not.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You hope for an approach on apartheid not that of Tutu and people, but steadier, slower, you think more effective?

Prime Minister

When Bishop Tutu asks to see me, I see him. I have seen Bishop [end p89] Tutu. He came with Terry Waite to see me once. I do not refuse to see him.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Your line is different?

Prime Minister

Go ahead by negotiation.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] They say: “Put on general sanctions. We will take the burden of it.”

Prime Minister

They are not the only people who would take the weight of it.

Interviewer

No. No.

Prime Minister

And their line is not unanimous either.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Agreed.

One last question, which is one I should have asked earlier.

After seven years as PM you must have a clear sense of limits of political power.

What can you do and what not? Is there a sense in which power of Prime Minister is illusory?

Prime Minister

Your main power is persuasion, it really is, because that is the way the system works, but to be a persuader you really have got to find the facts and argue with the facts as well. You cannot, in my way of life, possibly because one has been both in science and the law, just argue on generalities. This is the thing with sanctions. There was this new sort of star in the firmament called “sanctions”. You have got to have a look at it and take it apart and look at the components and say: “Now, this would be the effect. That would be the effect. Do you know what you are starting? Do you know really what you are doing?” It really is making it clear to people and really going through the problems and always looking at the alternative course and the alternative way, and there are some times when you cannot do things, and British Leyland was one. As it happens, on Westland, we got through and it was for Westland to decide. At British Leyland we could not, even though I believed and still [end p90] believe that the way we wanted to go with General Motors would have been best for jobs in this country.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You will return to that?

Prime Minister

I do not know, but I believed it would have been best. There would have been redundancies in any event, but I believe it would have been best for jobs in this country and the best solution. But all right, people would not take it, so it was not possible to go that way.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] When people say that the old story was that socialism did not work, but now your programme grinding to a halt …   .

Prime Minister

No, it is not grinding to a halt.

Interviewer

British Airways, water. [end p91]

Prime Minister

Now, Steady the Buffs! It is not grinding to a halt at all. British Airways legislation is through. We have not yet got the Bermuda Agreement through, but the Airways will be fine.

Grinding to a halt! We have just practically completed the denationalisation of gas legislation, so that will be coming through, and the idea that at the beginning of your time you can get a whole timetable of events and actually stick to it regardless of the other things that happen … there will eventually be privatisation of water and there are some water authorities who want it and as soon as possible because they say they can do better, and it is obviously our job, and there is quite a bit of water that is already privatised.

There will be Rolls Royce to be privatised, but you cannot flood the market with things, as you know. You have to do it in due course of time.

It has not come to a halt. There is a Nigel LawsonNigel turning out all kinds of Green Papers, different taxation of husband and wife, different schemes of profit sharing.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] You have not lost impetus?

Prime Minister

There is David Young coming up with Action for Jobs, all kinds of initiatives. [end p92]

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] So you have kept initiative and impetus?

Prime Minister

Good Lord, yes. My problem is there are too many different Bills jostling for a place in the next legislative session which will be the last complete one. Jostling!

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] When people say you are handing over monopolies or semi-monopolies to private control …

Prime Minister

It is nonsense. If you do that, as you know, you have to have a strong regulatory system and we had a strong regulatory system with telephones and I think we have done extremely well. We also helped to encourage Mercury to start up to be another thing and I think that gas will do much better.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] There really is advantage in it?

Prime Minister

There is a benefit, because they do not then have to come back [end p93] to Government and say: “We want to do this investment!” and we have to weight it against investment in schools, investment in hospitals. If they do have anything like monopoly power—and there are some public utilities which do and there are some private water companies—you always have to have a regulatory power so they cannot just put prices up—they can only put them up by so much. But a private monopoly with Government regulation is better than a State monopoly when you tend to have to use it or make them compete for money with hospitals and so on.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] Your programme is reviving Britain?

Prime Minister

That is right. Reviving the spirit of Britain.

Interviewer

[Question paraphrased:] How far have we come - halfway? Three-quarters of the way? A quarter?

Prime Minister

We have come quite a way. We are not fully there yet. You see, once you have got that … there is one thing that I really envy President Reagan for. They have got the spirit of enterprise there. They say: “We set the framework; we set the taxation system and then [end p94] you in fact use your freedom to create the wealth!” and I envy him tremendously when he can get up and say in the last years he has been in power, America has created nine million new jobs. The Government has not created them. “You the American people have created nine million new jobs. What we have done is get rid of the red tape, so it is easier for you to do it, but our job is to get rid of the red tape, get the right tax system and you, in fact, exercise your freedom under the law” and that is what life is all about. We are not yet there yet.

Never think that politicians plus civil servants can pour out of ministries one day and say: “We are going to set up ten new businesses in every town!” or say they are going to set up new businesses. If they could do it, most of them would be in business. Very few are. Thank goodness we have got some people in business who know the limitations of what politicians can do.

Interviewer

Right. Splendid. Very good fun!