Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1986 Sep 18 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Interview for Sunday Mirror

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Interview
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: John Knight, Sunday Mirror
Editorial comments: 1540-1650.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 7454
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Autobiography (marriage & children), Executive, Executive (appointments), Commonwealth (South Africa), Conservatism, Education, Employment, Industry, General Elections, Privatized & state industries, Trade, Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), Health policy, Labour Party & socialism, Leadership, Media, Terrorism, Trade union law reform, Strikes & other union action

Interviewer

The thing I was really wondering about, Prime Minister, was that, is there someone you can discuss your life and problems with other than your own family and immediate political/Government colleagues? Do you have anyone who, or any people that you …

Prime Minister

Well, your political problems you usually discuss with a few people, obviously William Whitelaw and I have been together a long time over the lifetime of this Government; I discuss them with him as Lord President and also your John WakehamChief Whip and then Norman Tebbit and I have been together a long time, so certainly you do have a close group of people with whom you discuss the political problems; anything else, it is your family and I do not know how you could take the pressure of this job in the way in which I take it, you know, always positively wanting to do things, without having a family to discuss it with because a family, you know, will say “Come on Mum, cheer up!”, you know, if by any chance you think “Oh we had such a difficult time today”, just because they are family, because they can say things to you which no-one else can, because you can tell them your innermost—not political thoughts—but you can let them see you as you are if you have had a difficult day. [end p1] You have not got to keep up any false front, you have not got to keep up any false cameraderie; you can go in and flop down.

Interviewer

There is not some sort of old school friend or anyone like that?

Prime Minister

Very rarely now, from time to time, one sees them but you see the people whom you discuss with are people who know the kind of life you lead by virtue of being a part of it now, really, because otherwise, you know, it is rather a tragedy that you tend in some respect to grow away from your old friends because they and you live a different life, I mean, obviously there is always one's family, my Muriel Robertssister and so on but that is always a case when your family's blood is thicker than water, and it is.

Interviewer

Other people who are living a different tempo …

Prime Minister

They are living at different tempos and perhaps they would not quite understand the sort of tempo that one is living at but one's family does.

Interviewer

How do you keep in touch with the sort of every day world? I read one story that you bought Mr Thatcher's bacon for his breakfast—is that some time ago or is that something you still do?

Prime Minister

Oh, I think Denis Thatcherhe just probably wanted something and I just dashed down to stock up the deep freeze or to stock up the larder which I must [end p2] do again incidentally—thank you for reminding me. You know you would normally go into a supermarket …

Interviewer

In this area or would it be …

Prime Minister

I usually go out into Sainsburys, you know, Nine Elms, is where my girls go and get it from but I simply must go myself and stock up—I have not been to Nine Elms for some time.

Interviewer

Would people be surprised to see you, would it be a shock, would you be well known and so they would not be and accept you as an old customer without giving any sort of security things away?

Prime Minister

No, I am not in there regularly, but I went for example to Peter Jones the other day; I wanted to get quite a lot of things for the house.

Interviewer

In Swan Street, in Sloane Square?

Prime Minister

Yes, but I have been going to Peter Jones for years, but I have not been quite such a regular customer recently as I used to be and I went in a morning when I thought there would not be a great number of people and then I went round pretty briskly.

Interviewer

Unannounced? [end p3]

Prime Minister

Totally unannounced. I went round pretty briskly purchasing the things which I wanted, down into the kitchen department, the bed linen department, the towels department, and so on and yes had a fantastic time.

Interviewer

So everything was relaxed?

Prime Minister

I got absolutely everything, and there was the lights department. Still, I think it is more recently, in the household goods department.

Interviewer

Rather than going and buying food for example?

Prime Minister

Yes, food as a matter of fact, thank you for reminding me, I simply must get the deep freeze and the fridge stocked up at Dulwich.

Interviewer

Is this for here?

Prime Minister

No, but for Dulwich I must get the house stocked up, so I must go and have a good purchase.

Interviewer

Is Dulwich, I was going to ask you, Prime Minister, if I may, you have always talked about “living over the shop”.—well not always, but you have mentioned that once or twice—does the purchase of the Dulwich house mean that you are not intending to live over the shop as it were any longer? [end p4]

Prime Minister

Oh no, I am intending to go on living over the shop here, this is why I am just a little bit worried, why I have not myself frequently dashed out, it is when I am out and about that I might dash into a shop, you know, on tour otherwise it is so, you know …

I did in Forres when I went into a chemist shop there, yes, but I gathered rather a lot of people around me there because I am not there so much.

Interviewer

But you do not go to a Supermarket?

Prime Minister

Not very often, but I say …

Interviewer

But you would not take a trolley buying everything but …

Prime Minister

Certainly, but no, as I say, I shall have to do that because if you just do as I do, just order things, you know what you are going to order but you do not always see the new things that come on the market. You rely on someone to bring one of those in and say “Would you like this?” But it so happens that I simply must go round either one of the supermarkets here to stock up because I want to chose the things I stock up with in Dulwich, no I will still continue to live over the shop. Do not forget we had a house in Chelsea for years until the children flew the nest and therefore I always knew that we had got our own house and then it was I wanted larger rooms—no more of them—but I really wanted rooms that went into one another so that if you did have quite a [end p5] number of people in, you had at least one large room and Chelsea did not lend itself to that and so that is why we bought Dulwich and we will no more live permanently at Dulwich than we did at Chelsea. We will still live over the shop. But then, you see, just supposing that I am desparately busy, both in the constituency and here over the weekend and there is five or six hours, we can dash down to Dulwich or we can spend a weekend there or there might be an evening when I am doing something in Kent where we can stay there. It is having one's own refuge, it is having one's own bolt hole to go to, it is having one's own home which is ours. The space that it occupies in your mind and your approach to life is far bigger than the actual amount of time you spend in it. It is the fact that it is there.

Interviewer

Yes exactly. So there is no atmosphere of retirement because of this house?

Prime Minister

Oh goodness me, no, it is merely reverting to what we had. I knew we could not be long without our own house, because you leave it long and you find that house prices rise faster than anything on any interest does on the money you set aside.

Interviewer

But particularly within the sort of central Londonish area.

Prime Minister

Particularly within central London, yes indeed.

Interviewer

So it is good to buy now isn't it? [end p6]

Prime Minister

Well that is what we did but it has given me enormous pleasure moving the furniture in and so on and altering,—I did not have time to alter the curtains but seeing the curtains were altered and seeing what had to be purchased and it is not complete yet. But I am much, much, more relieved now, because I had that kind of nine or ten months without having our own house and you do not like not having your own house. When you have always had one it is part of your bloodstream and also you do like to have somewhere to go. Denis ThatcherDenis will spend more time in it than I do because he always has had to have his own sort of refuge which he feels is his.

Interviewer

There is a golf course nearby, I read.

Prime Minister

That is right and if he wants to see someone to talk things over, business things over, it is obviously very much better to do it in his own house and to do it there.

Interviewer

Yes, I do understand.

Prime Minister

So it will be used quite a bit as Chelsea always was but I shall live over the shop.

Interviewer

Marvellous phrase as always that, wasn't it? Do you, just as an aside, find that there is a lot of abuse about you? [end p7]

There seems to be this a very shrill abuse about you personally, does this affect you at all?

Prime Minister

Everything is personalised and sometimes very, very wounding things are said and of course one is flesh and blood, of course they hurt. If, say, there is a really nasty article I am told “Do not read that”, I just do not read it. You know what happens to most politicians and sometimes I find myself saying you are just someone else, look, if you see a horrid headline or something or your wife tells you there is a nasty article, do not read it because if you do there is no way you can prevent it from hurting you and if it really hurts you, you know, it will run through your mind all morning because you have to have time to heal it.

Interviewer

And that is what it is intended to do.

Prime Minister

And you must not let that happen. That is why most of the stuff I just do not read. I get it in the house but then I turn and look at the people who are throwing it and well, you know why they throw it: they throw it to try to get you down and that is the purpose of it. It must not and so I dare not turn and think what we always said. When people turn to personal abuse, they have lost the argument, they have lost the case, they have not any policy, they have not any argument; you have won! [end p8]

Interviewer

Yes, yes, there is a lot in that isn't there?

Prime Minister

But there is no point, the speed and pace at which I have to work, in giving yourself terrible worries to think about because I say we are all flesh and blood. Look, you have known possibly, some of the toughest journalists, you wait until a nasty thing is said about them—they can dish it out to other people all right—you wait until someone returns and hits back on them and then they come along and say things to you like a wounded bird, and then you turn round and say “Well, what do you think you dish out?”

Interviewer

Very true.

Prime Minister

Not that they accuse me of hitting out at them because I do not do it, but someone else will hit out and they do come on. Even a person who seems the toughest person is perturbed. They can write the most brittle cynical stuff about someone else but they really would get very, very perturbed.

Interviewer

Yes they are very thin skinned aren't they? Yes the most effusive people are frequently very thin skinned about themselves. [end p9]

Prime Minister

Politics by personal abuse means they have lost the case, that they have lost the argument and I think they lose their standing with the public.

Interviewer

I mean this thing that they say, “That bloody woman”, which is almost something to be contemptuous about, I suppose really isn't it?

Prime Minister

I can remember when Aneurin Bevan said “Tories were lower than vermin”. What did we all do? We all went “What a terrible thing to say”, we all got vermin badges, ‘I'M VERMIN’, you know, frightfully smart little badges, and if you made ten new members you became ‘VILE VERMIN’ and if you got twenty new members you became ‘VERY VILE VERMIN’, so we all wore these things with great pride, you know, and turned it round completely. It was just, you know, the invective of those times just as the thing you said is invective of our times.

Interviewer

Exactly, exactly, Prime Minister. But how do you think this uncaring, these charges that they always make about you, that some people make about you, that you are uncaring, when in point of fact, people who know you this is completely the opposite. I mean, how does this rise? Is this part of the invective or what?

Prime Minister

Well, I did not tell you how I think it arose. When I came in, there were some very tough things which needed to be done, everyone knew [end p10] they needed to be done, everyone knew they had to be done, but if you have to do fairly tough things and have to hold on a straight course and go on in spite of all the buffeting, then you do, not also on the home front but on the international front too. One had to stand up for freedom and the rule of law and go on standing up and go on defending it and so the things which I had to do, yes, were very tough, it was certainly things which other Governments had failed and it was quite difficult to keep going straight ahead saying “This we said we will do, this we will do.” Then of course, we quite unexpectedly had Falklands and one was pretty tough over that and people were absolutely marvellous because there they understood that if you invaded, you had to go and recover the freedom of your people. Then after that, we get a coal strike, terrible scenes on television, and one had nevertheless to hold the course and go through—there was too much at stake. I will tell you what is at stake: it is whether politics are going to be run by free choice or by intimidation. There are too many people saying I do not like the result of the ballot, I shall try to get my own way by intimidation. Now if you have to withstand all that, you intend to get a tough image; the irony is that you would not hold fast unless you really cared about the future of Britain and her people. That is the irony of it. If you just give up and go and live an easy life, if you did not care, you would not, my goodness me, endure all you have to; it is because you really care passionately about the future of Britain, this country and this people. Never a day passes but I remember it was Britain who stood alone until the United States came in. Never a day passes when I think Europe would not be there and free but for us and we really are not going to sink below the horizon with some of the policies [end p11] which would have taken us totally into decline. But of course it requires a fantastic effort. It is because you care very much about the future of the country and living up to the best of everything that is in the British character that you go on. Is this worthwhile?

Interviewer

Can . . (Interruption) …   . out very successfully today do you think?

Prime Minister

The idea that in one's personal life one does not care is just as you know.

Interviewer

What do you think that the Government's achievements have been so far? I am going to ask you what you think the [illegible word] might [illegible word] as well. What do you think the achievements have been Prime Minister? You know the main ones.

Prime Minister

Now I do not want to go into a list, I think the main thing is I believe we have brought about a whole new attitude and a whole new atmosphere from when I came to power, when we came to power, when I came in here, “You cannot do that, you cannot reform the Trade Unions, easier to have inflation than to try and stop it, you cannot privatise, all kinds of things, you cannot do without price controls, income controls, exchange controls, you cannot do any of those—it is no good, you might just as well go further down the Socialist road—you cannot do it”,—and we did it. Price control did not get inflation down; it actually kept it up and we did tackle the Trade Unions but what we were tackling was the Trade Union bosses because what had happened was Trade Unions were formed to be in the interests of the people they [end p12] represented. But over the course of time, they became the plaything of some of the Trade Union bosses who refused to give the people they represent the right to a secret ballot to determine their vote. It was we, who again, believing in the British character and the people said “You give them a secret ballot”. So yes, you did take on the Trade Union bosses. You could not have done it unless the Trade Union members had been with you. We did start to privatise, we did stand up for doing a certain number of international things. The number of times when people come and say to me “Oh, you will get isolated”, now a very difficult decision was Libya. I knew exactly the sort of accusation that would have been made against one. But you know if someone does not stand against the terrorist in self-defence, and if someone does not stand up to the bully, the bully will get a bigger and bigger bully because you have not stood up to him. Now we are slow to use force and that is right but unless you stand up to a bully, whether it is the bully in the school playground, whether it is the bully in the Trade Union, whether it is the bully in Northern Ireland, whether it is the bully on an international sphere, and he wins. And so, yes, we took an awful lot of flak, an awful lot of criticism and now I think that people knew what we were doing and knew that it had to be done. I started to stand up against sanctions on South Africa, I knew they would not work, I could see nothing moral about sitting in a nice comfortable room of international conference and deciding how many black South Africans should be put out of work on our say so. What did they say to me on one television channel “But you are isolated. Does it matter? You are isolated” and I said “Well if my view is right, I am not sure it matters or not if you are isolated”, but the fact was gradually by [end p13] fearlessly putting forward the things we believed in; gradually more and more people came round to our view, whether it was in the Commonwealth, whether it was in Europe, whether it was internationally so I would say that the biggest thing that we have done is to change those attitudes. You see, broadly speaking, let me put it perhaps another way: your own standard of living will come either as a result of your own effort or as a result of joining a pressure group and lobbying Government for more. Now if you are just going to the latter, then you are not going to have a very healthy society nor a very independent society. If you go to the former, your standard of independence on your own effort, you are going to have a much healthier society; a society with initiative, a society with enterprise and then as part of that you do, in fact, have the resources to look after people in a much better way than you would if you were all just dependent upon Government.

Interviewer

Yes, if you were all just reduced to rations …

Prime Minister

So you see we have got much more of the incentive, I mean, managers say to me, “Now we can manage”, and people are much more prepared to take responsibility. It is much more in keeping with the British character. Another thing—tremendous—because it is a part of our belief that Government is not there to dictate to people but there to serve them, we really have said “Look, we want everyone to be a man or woman of property”. To be a man of property is no longer something that happens up there; it should be something that is available to everyone. So it was a fortnight ago, I gave the keys to the millionth council house person—tremendous thrill. It really [end p14] should be quite ordinary for everyone to own some shares, to have a little bit of their own money, a little bit of their own independent income. That was one of the sort of dreams when I was young; “Oh so and so—she has got a bit of her own independent income”, or older folk would say to you, who had saved—my goodness me, a lot of older folk really saved in far less prosperous times than now—“I have got a little bit of my own”. It gave them more: it gave them a little bit of independence, a little bit of pride. Now it is much more than that; more people having shares, quite a lot of people in building societies, in insurance policies of their own. They are getting their own pride, their own independence and also beginning to think, not only about their own generation and self, but what they can do for future generations through this. So we have brought about these changes; of course there are so many other things to do, but in the end you have to work through people by trying to give the framework of the picture and then leave people to paint within the framework of the rules and regulations that you make.

Interviewer

They must persue their own lives within that framework.

Prime Minister

That is right, but you see—if I might put it this way—Socialism goes further and further and further to the left and as I have travelled about I have learnt one thing that may not be very palatable to some people but is very, very true; the Socialist party in this country—the old Labour party—is a much, much more left wing party than almost any other Socialist party in Europe. The reason is, that throughout Europe, you have open Communist parties—they stand as [end p15] Communists to get elected—here they know if they stand as Communists to get elected, they will not get elected. So long ago they started to work through the old Labour party, through the Trade Unions and that is why, now this Socialist party in Britain is much, much further to the left than any other country I know in Europe.

Interviewer

And more so today than ever, of course.

Prime Minister

And more so today than ever. Socialism wants to control people's lives—that is why it does not like selling council houses, that is why it likes a nationalisation—and if you call it social ownership it is just the same—that is why it wants to get more and more people into the public sector so they can say “Look, you depend upon me for your salary, you depend upon me for your house, you depend on me for your livelihood; that is controlling people's lives. It is totally different with us. You wish really to give a basic safety net which no-one can fall so you can go about finding your own future, your own career with incentives, but there will be a safety net below which you can not fall. That safety net, in our time, we have put up; the safety net now, that is to say, the standard of living of those who have to rely on help from … (interruption)

Interviewer

… is very ample of course, isn't it, or very much better than it used to be anyway.

Prime Minister

Yes, so it has been an enormous. … (interruption) of things and so, you know, let me put one other thing to you, it is the only way I [end p16] can put it: we have withstood many, many things: coal strike, Falklands, sharp fall in the price of oil which is a great blow, but there has never been a financial crisis under the Tories—we have never had to go to the IMF or anything like that. That is always because we are being careful. It is a very good thing to be careful with money and that I think is a great plus too, it may not be something which everyone thinks about, but it is quite a good plus to have, you know that your country, things are run well.

Interviewer

The books are balanced.

Prime Minister

The books are balanced, but you only borrow as much as you can afford to borrow, you do not over borrow.

Interviewer

Tell me about, what have the failures been so far, I am thinking of one of image—people, so many people seem to think that the National Health scheme has been encroached on or wrecked even when in fact so much more money is being spent on it and so many more thousand doctors and nurses have been employed, though, yet why do so many people think that the National Health thing is not as good as it used to be … (interruption)

Prime Minister

It is a very great puzzle because as you go round hospitals, and I went round one in the north-west the other day, Barrow-in-Furness hospital, a new hospital, there has not been a major new hospital in that region for fifty years, built under the Tories and opened, and I went round it, and because of the feeling, you know, that you are just [end p17] asking about—whenever I go round hospitals I ask “Tell me, are you satisfied with the treatment?”, I scarcely need to ask it because they all say they have marvellous treatment. All right, there is the very rare case when things did not go quite right but that is very rare, they all praise the doctors and the nurses.

Interviewer

Is this a conspiracy to denigrate the Conservative building of hospitals and so forth, I mean is this some sort of subtle propaganda which the opposition have got going? I mean why is it—you must come across it as well.

Prime Minister

I think it is, that everyone wants more, obviously you find consultants finding a new treatment and then everyone wants it immediately. You will find new specialties wanted, new pieces of equipment, everyone wants it immediately, in fact the last enquiry into the financing of the Health Service, Sir Alec Nellorson who did it said “The commission had no difficulty believing that the entire national income could be spent on the Health Service”, and you see when you have got a service which you can go and demand whatever you want and will and not have to pay anything then obviously the demands go on and on and we have to get across “Look it does not matter who you are or what service you run, you will have to run within certain budgets, within a certain budget.” We have increased the budget.

Interviewer

… (interrupting inaudible) [end p18]

Prime Minister

Now there are several other things, let us say for the London region for example, I am a London member. London had far many more hospitals and services in proportion to its population than the north and the waiting lists in the direct London area, the inner London area, not always the outer London area are much shorter than they were and so, because everyone is very sensitive that people in the north perhaps did not get such good services, so we did a redistribution of the money available so in some areas it seems as if they have had to let certain monies go so there was more provision in the north. There was I visiting a beautiful new hospital in the north, sometimes you will find that hospitals do close down and you get the publicity from that, you do not always get the publicity from the new hospital that opens up and sometimes, you know, you do have to say to people “Yes, well we did close down three smaller hospitals there, there is a much bigger one opened up and don't you think that there is something to be said that if you go into hospital for one kind of operation and something unexpected happens you have got all of the services and all of the specialties there?”. And undoubtedly, when you run a state service, every consultant that does not get his own way and wants more and does not get it …

Interviewer

Is going to sign a letter or something.

Prime Minister

… Is going to sign a letter

Interviewer

Sure, no, I can see that. [end p19]

Prime Minister

Is going to sign a letter and that is what is happening but in terms of what we have done there is not—we have a better record than any other Government, but it is a failure, is to get across “Look it does not matter who you are or what you are, you will have either to run your home or your business or state services within a certain budget and when you get a Royal Commission they say “The National Health Service—we have no difficulty in believing the National Health to take up the whole of the National Income”, then you can see the problem and obviously if you are a person who is waiting for a hip operation, waiting for a cataract operation, those are two of the longest waiting lists, it is no good saying, “We have done so many more operations”, because what they say to you is, “Well, I have not had mine”. That is what they are interested in obviously, particularly because they are in pain, and when I realised how many more doctors and nurses, fully that we had taken on, I said what we are trying to do now, if we had taken on all of those extra, we ought to have done it by saying “Now look, if we take on so many extra doctors, so many extra nurses, let us do it on the basis, on the understanding that we want the waiting list down by so many a year and we want them extinguished”. Also I think that there was not a very great deal of effective management in the Health Service when we came in so sometimes you would not get your—the way in which operating theatres are run varies enormously, we now get the different figures, one operating theatre will manage to do far many more operations in a day than another. Is it that the cases were all more difficult? Some of it might be that, but we doubt it, it might just be better management so that all of the people who are required to be there at one time are [end p20] there so the operations start at the right time and they go on and if there is an extra one to be done all the staff, whether it is doctors, nurses, or people who help to get the patient down to the theatre, say “Well all right, we will stay on later until this one is done”. That is happening much more now.

Interviewer

Yes, I can see that. Have there been any disappointments during the term so far that you feel “Oh golly—this is going to be a bit of a struggle to get round”?

Prime Minister

Yes we have, we have a great difficulty with education. Now in some parts of the country people are very pleased with the education their children are receiving. In others they are not at all pleased and people blame the Government and the fact is that education is delivered through the local education authorities and this is why there is such variation in whether people are pleased or not according to the education the local authority delivers. In some schools, in some areas, it just is not good enough and it is not delivering what the parents want. What the parents want is a good sound education where the children go there to be taught basic arithmetic, basic mathematics, basic English, so they can speak it and write it easily, they want them to know basic science, of course they do. I think most parents want them to know something about the country in which they live and the rather wonderful things it has done. They want them to have a reasonable general knowledge. Now, some of this is being taught in schools, and they want them to have some idea of the arts and music and so on, and sometimes it is not. [end p21]

Interviewer

Are these in Labour controlled areas, I would have thought?

Prime Minister

Well, you do get great complaints of political indoctrination in some areas as you know. It can vary also from school to school within an area; that is not what people want—indeed they are very upset about it. They want schools to set high standards, high standards of learning so they get the best out of each child, whatever that child's talents and abilities. I also think that girls should be taught practical domestic science—I was and eternally grateful I have been for it. They still are in my old school; I went back there—fantastic school. So I think people want high standards, they want children really to be taught and the teachers to require the children to make an effort to learn. It happens in some schools, it happens in some areas; it does not happen in all schools in all areas. We are now struggling with how to get standards and should we go to what some other people have, what I would call a basic syllabus for certain things, a basic syllabus for the teacher of mathematics—a syllabus I mean, not just a curriculum, with certain books and certain methods of teaching which you could get some teachers to design in mathematics, a basic syllabus in English language, a basic syllabus in English literature, a basic syllabus in general science so you get that brief core syllabus. It would be only a small part of their education but you would know that in every single school a child learnt that, had the opportunity to do it and it would happen whether they were in Yorkshire, whether they were in Devon, whether they were in Norfolk and so that if they move from one to another, those basic things they would still be taught and we will have to consider [end p22] this now because I think quite a number of parents would want it. But I think, also, they would want to know that it was not government brainwashing anything which we are very sensitive about. It would have to be set up by a few quite brilliant teachers who have got a fantastic track record of success.

Interviewer

The things you are mentioning of course are purely academic. They are nothing to do with any particular outlook.

Prime Minister

Yes, that is right. No, they are not but you can; I have seen examination papers in mathematics set with high political content.

Interviewer

Really, really?

Prime Minister

Oh yes, they start to make the children do calculations on the number of NATO missiles and how much aid it would provide, you know, that sort of thing.

Interviewer

That sort of thing, yes, really, oh how bizarre!

Prime Minister

Yes. My generation is very, very sensitive to any suggestion that Government brainwashes children and because we have always been sensitive of that, we have never had Government setting down a syllabus. In fact, I think, you have got some political indoctrination which we are powerless to cope with at the moment. We obviously have to look at this core syllabus, which I think parents would want so long as they knew it was set up by some most excellent teachers of outstanding proven [end p23] capability and not by Government. It would be quite a revolutionary thought for us in many, many ways but I think in some ways, it is the only way to protect the learning of some children.

Interviewer

I think something very strong and determined needs to be done.

Prime Minister

So you get the standards and you have got to set down standards of attainment by the time they are nine, ten or eleven. You will find some people saying to you “Look do not let my child go on to the next class unless they have already mastered what they were supposed to have learnt here”—and that of course makes sense. They want their children to be taught standards too; not only in education but to be turned out nicely, to have standards of courtesy, which of course a lot comes from the home, you cannot expect the teacher to do what is not taught at home. In some cases they will but you cannot expect the teacher to do everything.

Interviewer

Well, they could make up for a lot things, can't they?

Prime Minister

Yes, but they should not have undue burdens put upon them.

Interviewer

Talking of, it must always come to that, the one thing of unemployment, thinking of things which have not entirely gone right, what do you think is the latest sort of situation on unemployment? Is it something that is going to be staying with us for some time or what? [end p24]

Prime Minister

Well, you know that David Young 's whole ‘Action for Jobs’ and the ‘Open Door’ which you see advertised now on television, or of the many, many programmes which we are doing to try to help people because, you see, the industrial strength of this country was built up by people starting to make things on their own and then they made it with more technology and then other people had a new idea and invented things, new designs, long before there was a Department of Industry. The number, who start up on their own is increasing after years of decreasing because enterprise comes from people having a good idea and it is our job to give them good training. It is our job to give them good training, if need be good training in design, good training in engineering, good training in accountancy, good training in budgeting. But in the end you depend upon the individual to have the invention or to have an idea or to say “Look we are going to re-design textiles, or we are going to re-design furniture”,—not everything is new technology by a very long chalk. Or we can make a better sailing boat, or we are better at writing books and in the end you depend upon enterprise and more young people are starting on their own. Starting up of more small business; whether it be in manufacturing or in services, heaven knows you are always trying to get someone to repair your electric kettle or toaster or iron or television set, or whether it is in restaurant work, hotels, leisure centres, new jobs come from new enterprise or because we are better at selling things across the world than other people and if we are not so good as they are, they get the business, they get the jobs and we do not. You just have to reckon that is where the new jobs will come from: new small business growing. We have to do everything to [end p25] encourage that, but then it comes back to education—are you educating people to have that approach, to have enough to do it, to have that sort of basic education, to know that when you go for a job you have to turn up and go on turning up looking reasonably all right for the job and on time. So your new jobs come from new enterprise, they come from new business. We do have to have a business-minded people—that is what made us great—we were a commercial country; we went out beyond our shores. Now in the meantime you have to do everything possible to help people who have not got jobs. The new technology, in the end should produce more jobs. I mean, look, before cameras were made your colleague would not have had a job, well before television, before radio—look at all the jobs that have been produced and created there. But the first consequence of a lot of new machinery in factories is to make redundancies, the second is to make things we could not make before, and in between you have got a problem so that is what we have to try to do everything we can to help. Now David Young, as you know, people have been unemployed for more than a year, everyone has been called in for a personal interview, to see if we can possibly—if they have not got a job—put them on the community programme which is a Government programme to enable people to get back into the habit and pride of work and if there is not a job for them down that programme, to try to get them re-trained and we are looking in those areas where, although there is unemployment there is still some skill shortages, too few skills so we have to train them for those skills.

Interviewer

Can you see this figure coming down in any …? [end p26]

Prime Minister

I can see it coming down, yes, because there is another factor; because of the birth rate in the 1960s, the population now of working age is going up and we are in a ten year period where the population of working age is going up. There are a million and a half more people in the population of working age when we came into power. It is just as the birth rate went. Within three, four years, that changes; there are fewer school leavers and more people retiring so the population of working age contracts again. But we are not waiting for that obviously, there are now a million more jobs than there were three years ago, but because of this other factor it has not resulted in reduced unemployment although the unemployment is not as bad as it would have been.

Interviewer

Do you think this will be a problem or a bogy or whatever one likes to call it, at an election?

Prime Minister

I think people understand that jobs come from business. I think that people understand that governments can do a certain amount and that we do that amount; we do have a community programme, that we do take young people and say “Look we must train them”. We must train them for the jobs that are available, we must train some of them how to start up on their own and they understand that we are doing that. They do understand that we have actually taken on, as I said more doctors and nurses, those are highly skilled people.

Interviewer

Yes that is interesting. [end p27]

Prime Minister

Yes, highly skilled people, but you still find employers saying “Look, I want quite a number of extra people and I could not get them”.

Interviewer

Do you think the black economy is a huge factor? I mean, I saw that Arthur Seldon was saying the other day that he thought there was only a million and a half people genuinely unemployed.

Prime Minister

You can never get any genuine figures about the black economy, as you know people can earn a certain amount, it is only a small amount when they are on supplementary benefit. Married women who go out to work have a married women's allowance so they can earn quite a bit. Often I think the black economy, as a matter of fact, I think it shows when people see a direct relationship between their work and what they earn, they are very enterprising in finding work. So the spirit of enterprise is still there.

Interviewer

The figures are probably more or less correct as far as we can see. How are you going to convince people, do you think, Prime Minister, to vote for the third time, it is rather a mixture as before, … [end p28]

Prime Minister

We will have to go further. We will have some, I hope, quite bold policies but all on the same fundamental principles. After all, if you see a business or shop that is doing well on certain fundamental principles of the way to do well, is to sell goods and services which the customer wants—you do not ask them to alter their whole strategy. They will adapt their products to the new times. They might expand into a new area but you do not just throw them over for the sake of variety. I am thinking it is the same with governments. The fact that we tackle problems of the time, which no other government have been prepared to tackle shows you that we are the government which will tackle the problems of the future in exactly the same way and will not be deflected. That will be the thrust. But the thrust will be the whole time. The people, the reward for effort that people make. Now, that does not mean you all have to be very terrifically successful guys—the political health of a nation is people who are prepared to look after that, to take responsibility for their own families, do their own work by their own effort and that is the king of success that one seeks. It is not necessarily wholly earning the most money success. It is in doing what you can to the level best of your ability and taking responsibility for your own family. But it is this initiative and enterprise the whole time. I mean, one of the characteristics of our country is the extent to which people turn round and work in the voluntary services—it is fantastic, the amount of money they …

Interviewer

Yes that is unique. [end p29]

Prime Minister

But it is immensely important that each person has some talent and ability, and that each person is prepared to use it, certainly to the benefit of himself and his family, benefitting himself and his family benefits the community as a whole.

Interviewer

There will, presumably, not be any new cabinet to present to the public?

Prime Minister

You know, we can run right up to June 1988 and it is only just passed September 1986.

Interviewer

That is almost two years, isn't it, I suppose?

Prime Minister

One would not rule out a cabinet reshuffle next September.

Interviewer

There you are, I mean, there is a phoney election fever seems to be …

Prime Minister

I think people do not like very early elections so I certainly would not rule out another cabinet reshuffle next September.

Interviewer

Exactly. Well, everyone is beavering up about it all, but there you are. [end p30]

Prime Minister

Well, it is party conference season. How can I put that personal responsibility thing? Really I think you serve your country best by being prepared to live responsible lives.