Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Apr 22 We
Margaret Thatcher

Interview for Daily Express

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Paul Potts and Nick Lloyd, Daily Express
Editorial comments:

1615-1700. The interview was embargoed until advised by No.10. It was published as a centre spread on 24 April 1987, accompanied with a large photo of MT working on her roses with the caption, "A happy Mrs Thatcher in the garden at Downing Street".

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 9412
Themes: Education, Health policy, Social security & welfare, Employment, Industry, Trade union law reform, Strikes & other union action, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Housing, Local government, Science & technology, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), General Elections, Law & order, Conservatism, Labour Party & socialism, Leadership, Religion & morality

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Gorbachev seems to have made a number of concessions, post-Reykjavik and post-Moscow. You obviously got over the sticking points with him while you were in Moscow.

He is giving up the intermediate weapons; he is talking about short-range deals; he has agreed that Britain and France can keep their weapons; chemical weapons have come up; and also Star Wars has been de-linked; and on top of that, verification and on-site inspection.

It seems marvellous. Is it as marvellous as perhaps it has been interpreted in some quarters that we made so much headway?

Prime Minister

I think, before I went, Mikhail Gorbachevhe had made one or two fundamental concessions because as you know, before I went to Moscow, I had [end p1] been to Camp David last November and discussed the Reykjavik thing very thoroughly and we had issued a statement as to what the views were between President Reagan and myself at that meeting.

Then, after that, Mr. Gorbachev indicated that he would de-couple the INF from the SDI. Now, do you remember, going right back to Geneva, there was a big communique after the first summit. There was a big communique from there and it looked as if, from that communique, he was not insisting that SDI be dropped as far as the intermediate ones were concerned, and it looked as if there was a way through then. Then afterwards it came: no, he was going to insist on SDI for everything.

And then he, before I went to Moscow, did indicate that the SDI would be uncoupled from the intermediate and we had always said - and so had President Reagan - that you cannot just negotiate on the intermediate, because they had such a preponderance of short-range ones, that you must have constraints on that. He had also indicated that the British and French would be taken quite separately because they are quite separate.

And so really the argument now revolves around the kind of constraints on shorter-range weapons and the fact that they have a colossal excess of chemical weapons and modernised, which we do not have. We destroyed ours. The United States has only got rather out-of-date ones, and you simply cannot have that kind of preponderance of chemical weapons without taking it into account, because NATO's response to chemical would be a nuclear response. So you have got to have a look at that balance as well.

And then, you will recall that we have always said - and I will continue to say - that you cannot disregard your conventional [end p2] lack of balance - they have got far more tanks and aircraft than we have - because we will never endanger Britain's or NATO's security - and he should not expect us to do.

But I think the essence is that, as you know, wherever I am I talk very freely on the basis, on the merit of the situation, and I have said and have always said to Mr. Gorbachev, whether I have seen him in Britain, whether I have seen him in Moscow - I saw him in an intermediate way in Moscow before, just as he became General Secretary soon after Mr. Chernenko's funeral - I have always said: “I will never put the defence of my country in doubt. I believe in strong defence. I know that you believe in strong defence, and therefore we have to continue, both of us, to have security, but you must understand that security depends not only on balanced disarmament; it depends upon the view you take of the other person's intentions, and from what we in the West have seen … we saw you go into Hungary - you will say that is a long time ago - but we saw you several years later go into Czechoslovakia - 1968 go into Czechoslovakia. We did not think your tanks would roll in but they did. We saw you go into Afghanistan and you are still there; and when the Americans came out of Vietnam you would have thought the Government of Vietnam would have said: “Now we are going to turn round and do what we can to raise the standard of living of the people” but it was a communist government, aided and abetted by the Soviet Union, and what did it do? It did not look after its own people. It attacked its neighbour, Cambodia. We gave up chemical, you did not. That is how we see you. You deny your people human rights on the same kind of basis that we do. You do not keep the Helsinki Accords in the same way as we interpret them. So that is [end p3] not a basis for trust and confidence and in the absence of trust and confidence you have to be absolutely certain that you are not putting anything in doubt on reductions of weapons, much as we want to reduce them.”

I can also go on, but you have to pop in another question.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

… would argue that it is not that we would worry about a Soviet attack out of the blue if we had the intermediate missiles withdrawn and various other things happen; it is that they would be able to intimidate and threaten us and that the blackmail factor would be …

Prime Minister

The blackmail factor, yes. I think it goes back to, was it Bismarck who said, Bernard InghamBernard &dubellip; will you check? I have used it before … one famous statesman … “Do I want war? No. I want victory.” That is really what you are saying. “Do I want war? No. I want to achieve my objective without war. I want victory.” And the threat is always there, bearing in mind the kind of system, externally, that communism has been. As I have said, they have gone into other people's countries and they supply heavy armaments to Third World countries, whereas we supply food dirt cheap, either with grants or for nothing, as part of our aid, and they tend to supply armaments and make them pay for them; and with that kind of country, then you have to be very sure with whom you are dealing and have to be sure that you do go down in balance and that you do not give an inch without getting something for it. [end p4]

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

But does that perhaps mean we have to have more shorter-range missiles ourselves? Do we have to spend more on defence? I mean, we spend 5.2&pcnt; of GNP at the moment &dubellip;

Prime Minister

Let us take it in order.

The amount you spend on nuclear buys you an enormous amount of deterrent, because unless you have got nuclear you could never fight a power that had.

If you were to turn round and spend that amount on conventional weapons and give up nuclear, it would not buy you very much extra deterrence and you could not fight a nuclear power. So you would have lost your capacity to defend yourself and you would lay yourself open to blackmail.

If your potential aggressor is a nuclear power, then we, having always been a nuclear power, have to continue to be a nuclear power and an effective nuclear power, and that is what Winston ChurchillWinston said - do not give up this deterrent until you have got something that works better.

The next thing is that conventional weapons alone, however strong you are, have not stopped war. We know that from the first half of this century. We had two terrible conventional wars, and if there were ever a third it would be even worse because let no-one think that conventional war is a cosy business. It is simply terrible, and another one would be even worse.

So what do you do to stop conventional war? You cannot do it with conventional weapons alone. You can only do it with [end p5] nuclear because those are so terrible that no-one can win - and it has worked.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

The French and British deterrent were, you think, given the intercontinental ballistic missiles the Americans have, given a deal on roughly the lines we have now, still deter &dubellip;

Prime Minister

That is not the whole factor. There are what are called “battlefield nuclear weapons” and we are not suggesting that those be given up, because those are really almost a fundamental part of your conventional, although they are nuclear. There are also aircraft, dual-purpose aircraft, and of course the Americans also have some submarines seconded to NATO as well, so it is not only the intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

It does seem to ride on Mr. Gorbachev, in that you have obviously got a good relationship with him …

Prime Minister

I have got a very good relationship &dubellip;

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

But can you be sure he will survive? [end p6]

Prime Minister

I hope Mikhail Gorbachevhe will survive. I believe that he has taken the kind of look at the performance of his country under Marxist Leninism and said: “It is not good enough. We are strong in a military sense, but we are not strong in an economic sense.” I think he said: “Sooner or later, our people will not take this. Sooner or later there is more and more broadcasting coming in. Eventually there will cease to be ways in which you can stop it and sooner or later they will know to a greater extent than they do now the disparities and they will not go on taking this and they will not be content with it” and nor indeed, should anyone be content with that standard of living over a period of seventy years of communism.

The difference is that I think the changes you can get under a communist system are limited, because we get our tremendous advances in technology and our changes and our very much better-stocked supermarkets and shops by having a free society, so there is a free movement of ideas. You can talk openly, you can discuss openly, you can take your own decisions in many many ways. You do it against a framework of law and you take your own decisions, and it is that freedom under a rule of law, together with opportunity … you see, our system gives people opportunity. No matter where they are, they can start from the bottom. It gives them an opportunity to come straight up to an industrial or commercial top. It is that freedom under a rule of law which gives you the opportunity to create the standard of living which we have, because as I do say to them all the time: communism gives the privileges to the people at the top and not to the main body of the people. Capitalism and a free society can only work by bringing [end p7] what used to be the privileges of the few to be the necessities of the many and, if you want to see the real evidence of that, go round one of your supermarkets in the Soviet Union, in Moscow, and do as you have been in London, in the North, ASDA, go round a big ASDA one, a Sainsburys one, in the North, and you will see them stackful of goods. Go round the Marks & Spencers, go round a British Home Stores, go round the Next, go round the Principle [sic]. You see goods which are available to our entire population.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Are you going to Washington to discuss the present situation with President Reagan before the summer?

Prime Minister

I doubt whether I will be going in the next few weeks, because I shall be seeing Ronald Reaganhim at the economic summit in Venice in June and, of course, we shall be discussing many many things because it is the 750th anniversary of Berlin as well. Already I have been in touch obviously and let him have my views, and Geoffrey Howe has been over to see George Shultz and obviously we keep closely in touch. But we shall be meeting at the Venice summit.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Prime Minister, could I just ask you how you feel the West and President Reagan should respond to Mr. Gorbachev's proposals? [end p8]

Prime Minister

We are discussing the things which are absolutely now in issue; that is, the shorter-range, their preponderance of shorter-range and how we deal with that and how it is linked also to our concern - which I raised very much and always have - about chemical weapons, which as I have told you, Mr. Gorbachev told me they were prepared to destroy, but then I say that it is also a question of verification because you know, it is not necessarily easy to verify from what you can see from a satellite on whether things have been destroyed. You have got to be able to around and inspect on a challenge inspection and this is why I was so forthright on Moscow television. I do not think their people know they have got that number of chemical weapons and we destroyed them years ago. I did not think their people knew that they had intermediate-range weapons long before we did, and we begged them to take them down.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Missiles in space I think you mentioned.

Prime Minister

Anti-satellite satellites - they have got the only one. But they are actually now down to the nitty gritty. Now, once it gets down to the detail you have got to do it at the negotiating table. Mr. Shultz, as you know, was recently over there and they went over this ground again and said: “Look, when it comes to precisely how we deal with the constraints on those others or whether we get rid of the longer short ones, not the battlefield, then I simply must consult with my partners” and we are in touch [end p9] with one another and with the United States, and so we are keeping absolutely together. The battlefield must be retained. Our French and British nuclear deterrent will be retained and, of course, there are others on aircraft and there are others available.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

You feel real progress is now being made between the two countries?

Prime Minister

Yes, I do. I feel we are down to making real progress and real progress is possible.

Verification: they are getting down to very strict verification and, of course, it is vital because, as I indicated, when you are dealing with a potential aggressor, when you are dealing with a country that has that record which I went through, you have got to be wary, very wary. That is why I say look at the small print, because one thing they all know I will never do for Britain, a Conservative Government will never never endanger our defence and security. We would like to have that defence and security lower in weaponry. Nor do I see coming right up to the end of this century and perhaps beyond, any substitute for the amount of deterrence that has been purchased by the nuclear deterrent, by the nuclear weapon. You cannot disinvent the nuclear weapon any more than you can disinvent dynamite. People know how to make it and if a conventional war started, the race would be on as to who should get it first and who maybe had stashed away a few just in case. [end p10]

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

But your feelings, having dealt very closely with it, are that the Russian Government itself, the Russian Establishment itself, also is willing to back his steps for the longer &dubellip;

Prime Minister

Yes I am. You asked me about Mr. Gorbachev and you will have to do a bit of sub-editing.

He has looked at that system and Mr. Khrushchev had the courage to look at it and as you know, Mr. Khrushchev - it was during Mr. Khrushchev's time that the arrangement over Austria was reached and the four-power occupation of Austria was ended and they pulled out of Austria and later Austria decided to become a neutral country.

Khrushchev also agreed to the publication of a certain amount of Solzhenitsyn's works, so he was on to something - a more open society. He wanted a much-increased production, but he did not succeed and, as you know, he was toppled.

Now, it is the first time since then that the Soviet Union has had anyone who has had a longer period to look at and it has not corrected itself. It is not producing a reasonable standard of living for the Russian people, and he has had the courage to say: “Look! We must do that. We must discuss much more openly!” and that is what is happening. “And secondly, we must have more initiative and more responsibility out at the factory level!” and so what they are saying to many of their factories is: “Hitherto, we have bought everything as a state. Now we are only going to buy [end p11] 50&pcnt; and the other 50&pcnt; you must find an outlet for!”

Some of them are not necessarily accepting it and saying: “Please, we would rather you purchased everything!” Others will be taking advantage of it.

But do not be under any illusion. Although that is a great advance for the Soviet Union, it is still - and will continue to be - a communist system built into the constitution with none other permitted. [end p12]

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Which brings us perhaps, if I may, to where we go from here: your dreams really - the third term, the manifesto; what sort of society you are trying to produce for the children of tomorrow. You have obviously done a lot in the last seven years to change attitudes, to actually start putting the individual first rather than the people who run the society - running the society for their own benefit rather than the benefit of the people perhaps - and you have talked about the deception of Socialism. Someone perhaps argued that this was perhaps overkill on the opposition.

Prime Minister

Well, let me deal with that one, that part straight away: the Labour party was the Labour party long before it was sold Socialism which is by Beatrice Webbthe Webbs. Gaitskell realised this and realised that the clause for the nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange was not really what he thought his idea of the Labour party was all about; he tried to get rid of it. From that time on it was always thought that the Labour party would eventually split; it was thought it would split by splitting off the Communists, the Trotskyites, splitting off the militant, the left wing - the real left-wingers so that it returned to something which it had been in days gone by, but modified because in the days when it was started, social conditions were very very different. But you would have had two parties untainted by Communism - if I might put it that way - by the Communist doctrine. So when I say “Get rid of Socialism”, I have never thought Socialism anymore than Gaitskell [end p13] did; I have never thought that that kind of Socialism is right for Britain. Look at it: nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange and it is total central control. It is almost what they know as democratic centralism. That is not right for Britain. We would have been a country that would never have been heard of if that had been our …

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

… those organisations were proscribed of course doing …

Prime Minister

They were, yes, but then they ceased to be proscribed, then they left them in. But they were there, they were working, they were not recognised, but because in this country for years it has been known that if you stood as a Communist you would never get anywhere. They worked under cover in the Labour party, totally under cover and under cover in the trade unions and then, when they were let in officially, they became more obvious but they were there working under cover. So do not think that I want only one party, that is no part of my belief. I believe in a plural society, but I do not believe that the Communist Socialist creed has anything to offer Britain at all and I think - as I believe Gaitskell thought - that they would split off, the Communist side - whatever they called themselves - from the Labour party and then you would have two fundamental parties based upon freedom under a rule of law, justice and opportunity and of course they would have different views on a certain number of things, there are two parties in the United States, they have different views on certain different priorities, but there would never be the nationalisation of the means of [end p14] production, distribution, exchange and this kind of running things by means of conferences between CBI, TUC and Government, almost cutting out Parliament; a sort of corporate state for which there is not really room for individual talent and ability to build things up on your own. That is really in that sense but I do not think I really am very different from Gaitskell in wanting that. Yes, of course you have to have a plural society - we would not be Britain if we did not - but I myself think that Socialism in the sense that Gaitskell was trying to get rid of it, is not for Britain and I think that they now know it and I think that is why they put us in in 1979.

One of the services I hope to do for my country is that not only will we have turned things round so that we are having a freer society - much more opportunity society now than we had and it is showing in the results and we are handing back some of the power from the Trade Union bosses to the people, which is to their members which is right in the heart of the old Churchillian thing: trust the people, just because some people will go wrong, you do not deprive everyone of their freedom.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

… would be one of the things that you would hold up as one of the great &dubellip;

Prime Minister

Yes it was, it was right in the heart of our thing first. You get your property and your prosperity more widely distributed; that is what freedom of free society, of capitalist society is all about. You get your property, your standard of living far more [end p15] widely distributed and we are getting it. When I say property, I mean not only houses although that is where you start, the matrimonial home, shares; if you expect people to save and build up their own security, you have a bounden duty to cut inflation to as low as you can - a bounden duty - otherwise it is dishonest and youngsters, children below the age of five, quite a lot of building society accounts, it is coming. By the end of the century, people who never had any expectations in the sense that they never thought they could be left anything will be left something almost as a matter of course because their grandparents - look at the number of pensioners who now own their own house - their grandparents built it up and it will cascade down the generations, so it is distribution of property among the people and they having more and more of the decision, hence you move it from the trade unions to the trade union members, hence we are trying on schools to take some away from the local authorities because we see how local authorities act, they carry out some of the indoctrination that we always feared and so you are moving it away but moving it not back to central Government but moving it closer to the head teachers and to the governors and to the parents so it is moving the power - dispersing power - and responsibility because freedom is also about responsibility.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Basically the point that you were making earlier on is that it is about the freedoms and the rights of individuals and that society is run for their benefit not for the benefit [words missing?] running the industries and the society. [end p16]

Prime Minister

Yes, that is right. Look, countries are not for the benefit and powers of Governments. Governments are there to enable people to live their own lives in freedom and a rule of law is what makes freedom work, and Governments are to do what only Governments can do because this Government is a strong Government. There is nothing laisser faire about what I believe in. Governments have to defend the country because no-one else can. They have to see that there are enough police and equipment to have a proper rule of law for which you must get the cooperation of people. They have to run the affairs of state prudently - run all the finances prudently and not overspend - they have to set the framework of law within which your education and your health service operate and see that they are provided with reasonable sums of money and we have, that they share in the greater prosperity, then for your industry and your commerce and your trade, you set the framework of law - again regulation - which enables it to flourish. Of course you have to have safety provisions, of course you have to have certain rules as between master and servant; that is set in the framework of law and then you have to do the international negotiations and the international relations.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

One of the great successes too, in this move towards more freedom for the individuals and more property for individuals, presumably you mean privatisation, which seems to have succeeded rather better than I perhaps thought it &dubellip; [end p17]

Prime Minister

Beyond what one had expected. Again it is part - I think - of something, that there is I believe a fundamental right to better yourself by your own effort; it is a fundamental right for companies and organisations to better their results by their own efforts and their own efforts only succeed if they sell to the people what the people want to buy. But most people, one is small businesses and people who are earning and the other is companies; they do better when there is an incentive that if you can see that by your own efforts you will improve your own standard of living and that of your family and that is what most people work for …

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

They also … tax.

Prime Minister

That was exactly what I was going to come to. Fundamental rights, you are better by your own effort and it is a very highly laudable thing to want to improve the lot of your family, its housing, where the children can go overseas, have opportunities their parents did not have before, have a higher standard of living, better housing, better things - not that life is only about material things - but if you want to go and see beautiful things, beautiful churches, beautiful buildings, beautiful nature conservations, you have got to have money to go and do it. If you want better medical services, your doctors and nurses have got to be paid more too, so that if you work for your family; to improve your family by your own effort. Now the opposition try to say that is greedy. That is absolute nonsense. There is nothing greedy about wanting to improve [end p18] the lot of your own family. There is nothing greedy about, out of your own effort, to want to be able to give your parents something they might not have, fitted carpets wall to wall, which they were not able to provide for themselves? Nothing greedy about it. “It is by my own effort, I will take responsibility for my own family and I will help my own old folk,” and the more people who did that, the more responsible and the higher standard of society we should have and the fewer people we should have who needed help. Because there were fewer, the better services we should be able to give them because they would be people who are genuinely unfortunate. So if you cannot do things by your own effort, profit yourself and your own family, that is the engine by which you get a higher standard of living and through that engine, that produces the money to get the better social services.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

And that in some ways you have done …

Prime Minister

And that is what we have done, and we will go on doing it.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

For example, the Health Service, certain parts of which have been privatised in certain places already, but I mean this is an area where you might get a more efficient Health Service.

Prime Minister

That is right, not only do you say you have a certain amount of money to spend but it is everyone's duty to see that money is [end p19] spent wisely and well, and you know about management, you have steadily to improve management, and every housewife knows that someone on the same housekeeping could manage it much better than others, and it is not only the amount you spend; you have a duty to see that it is spent wisely and well, and when it comes to the public services they are run for the benefit of the people who use them, whether it is children at school or adults who need retraining or people who need medical help. They are run for the benefit of those people. Therefore we have a bounden duty to take the money and get as much out of the money as we possibly can and in the Health Service they are treating more patients, they are doing more operations because they are learning to use their money wisely and well and when they make economies, that means that amount of money is available to do more operations, to reduce the waiting list, and it works.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Do you think in some way, Prime Minister, you have failed to get that message across on the Health Service? I thought the poll was interesting the other day, that how people thought you were spending more money on Trident than you were on the Health Service, which is clearly a massive misunderstanding.

Prime Minister

It is astonishing isn't it? Yes, I do sometimes say to them, “Look the day I walked in here, you the people out of your taxation were finding seven and three quarter billion each year for the Health Service, now we as a Government are asking you to find - and you are - eighteen and three quarter” - that is way, way above inflation - but put [end p20] it another way because those figures do not mean very much to people. You divide the country into families: every average family of four has to provide by Income Tax and Value Added Tax and Customs and Excise on average every week for the National Health Service, whether you use it or not, £26 every week is what the average family of four in Britain provides to keep the Health Service running. When I came in it was under £11. And they have to provide for education as well and they have to provide for pensions and social security.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

What about unemployment in the same area, that it obviously was a world-wide problem and still is in some areas? It is falling but obviously what would be your aim in saying next term?

Prime Minister

It is not Governments that produce jobs - I mean we can only produce extra jobs so far as we get extra wealth created by industry and commerce, then we can know that we have got 60,000 more nurses and doctors, but the real creators of jobs are business. Now manufacturing is producing far more - can produce far more with far fewer people - and therefore the service industries have grown but of course there is not really anything like such a sharp divide between them as people think. I mean tourism is a service industry, but tourism; there is a lot of construction in it for hotels, a lot of carpets, a lot of furniture, a lot of cutlery, a lot of dining equipment, a lot of aircraft to fly people overseas, it is a mistake to try to chop it up too much. Computers are a service industry but they have to be manufactured and so on, so you have this enormous [end p21] extension of service industries because if I might put it this way: leisure and pleasure become bigger and bigger business as people have more time to spare and want to spend it on - there was no such thing as nursery garden centres in my childhood.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

What would be the aim as far as - obviously industry creates the jobs - but what would be the ideal situation … unemployment, obviously there is always going to be the three or four percent or whatever it is in the population who are not employed.

Prime Minister

Well, let me say that the immediate objective is that you try to get it one month with another falling steadily. There will be blips obviously, because you get bad weather in the middle of winter, you get some seasonal - some trades that are seasonal - particularly in seaside towns, but to get it falling steadily. As you know since 1983 there are a million more jobs been produced and I said that in 1983 - people would not have believed it - but that was not alone, was not at the beginning enough to take up the increase in the working population; the working population was going up faster than the number of extra jobs. Now that will reverse in the early 1990's and the main reason it will reverse is because in the past twelve years, past ten years, there have been more people leaving school than there have been people retiring, that is just the way the birth rate went many years ago. Early 1990's and we have had that for ten years and it goes on until 1990&en;91. That year it reverses: we get far more people retiring than we have leaving school and so even now we have a shortage of skills and that is why we are doing so many training [end p22] programmes so we do not have a shortage of skills. But the situation will be very radically different early 1990's, because far more many people retiring than there are people leaving school. I hope and believe so - I will hope so because it would be very nice, having struggled and struggled to get more small businesses started, persuade more people that self-employment is the thing, it is what built Britain and we are getting that going, and then to see the population trends going with one for a change would be terrific.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

One of the Opposition arguments maybe during the election campaign: you might decide to retire to Dulwich in say two or three years time.

Prime Minister

I have no wish to retire at all for a very long time.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Have you got a successor in mind?

Prime Minister

No I have not, no I have not, and that came out quite naturally before you practically got to the end of the sentence. No I have not and I am still bursting with energy.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Did your trip to Moscow in some way reinforce your view about staying on in the sense of this continuity and stability and …? [end p23]

Prime Minister

Well, let me put it: I think that the things that we have been trying to do for the last eight years are now really showing, not only showing but people are beginning to realise that they are producing a result and they are right, right throughout the piece because if I might put it this way: the way we are going with much bigger dispersal of property than we have ever had before and more responsibilities to people, that is right for everyone, it is what gives more opportunity. With the opportunity of being able to create more of their own wealth. [end p24]

So that is really doing far more. We are much more becoming one nation than ever before because of the opportunities both at home and, I think, because we have done that at home and because overseas they have seen that one tackled this problem at home, and stuck to one's guns - if one might put it in that way - one was not put off, because sometimes it is difficult to do the right thing. Because of that and because we have always been quite fearless in our diplomacy overseas, we do not change our tune to whoever we are talking. We say: “Look! This is how we see it. This is what we are going to do!” And we have got, I think not only a confidence at home that what we are doing is right for Britain, but undoubtedly we do command a respect in every international forum and undoubtedly they do often look to Britain either for a clear lead or for fundamental support on the right way to go, so we get several people together and we say: “Look, if three or four of us can get together and go in this direction, we can take other people with us!” and we are no longer a passenger. We are right up on the bridge. We are right up on the bridge.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

The opinion poll this morning gives the Conservative Party …

Prime Minister

Yes. The opinion polls will go up and down. We go on doing what we believe to be right and I just believe that there is a [end p25] fundamental change now as people have this underlying feeling that it is right, and I think that that is showing.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

But the opinion polls and &dubellip;

Prime Minister

I am always pleased when the opinion polls are good, but when they are not so good - and they have been not so good sometimes - we have not changed our policy, because our policy is based upon our conviction of what is right and really, there are not any easy answers.

You had to have the courage to tackle the thing, to make British industry competitive.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

I accept that, but obviously, you would not want to throw that away?

Prime Minister

I do not want everything we have gained to be thrown away, because that would be terrible.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

So although you do not have to go to the country until next June or a year in June, it is rather important, the choice of an election date. We have just had to rule out June 11 by the way! [end p26]

Prime Minister

I believe that the underlying fundamental policies are showing and that they are showing to be right. Of course there will be ups and downs. There are in life. There are in any business. Of course there will be ups and down. I believe that fundamentally there is a steady improvement. There is a fundamental improvement.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

When you get into the election campaign, the manifesto and so on, how will you reinforce and emphasise the direction in which you want to take Britain and what your view of Britain in the 1990s is all about?

I mean, a lot of your policies on privatization are well known. How do you reinforce that and explain to people: “This is what we are about for the next phase!” if you like?

Prime Minister

You keep going everything you believed in. You keep going your defence; you keep going your law and order, the numbers of police will be increased; you will get more cooperation with people … crime prevention, the neighbourhood watch, because law &dubellip; you take child abuse &dubellip; you cannot wait for the step of the bobby on the beat for that! Neighbours have to get involved.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Yes, you have got to get the people really. [end p27]

Prime Minister

That is right. That is right. It is a partnership. So that goes &dubellip; and your fundamentally sound financial policy will continue. We shall do some more reforms on trade union law, because we need to clarify some things and to make them much clearer. There is a Green Paper out.

We are having a fundamental look at education, because in some cases, in some schools, in some educational authorities, it is working superbly - in others, the children are not getting the education their parents have a right to expect and that means we are having to look at things which were never looked at before. Not a full syllabus in every subject. We would recoil from that. But a core curriculum to make certain that children are taught the three basic subjects.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Do you despair of the teachers?

Prime Minister

No. The teachers are very very varied. Some are doing superbly. You know, we have quite a lot of children up here in No. 10 Downing Street coming to look at the house and I quite often go across and talk to them and their teachers. Some of them are having a superb education, superb. Teachers who are devoted to education, devoted to teaching and the children to learning, because you do not just leave children to learn when they want to - you teach them - and you have to teach them facts and knowledge as well as how to think. They have got to have both, and some are getting [end p28] a superb education, quite a lot. Others are not, and their parents do not like to complain and gradually some of the plans that we have are filtering out.

Many of the good teachers will leap at what we are proposing.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

But what of the present situation, Prime Minister?

Prime Minister

And so will the parents. And in the Health Service the management is steadily improving and we are tackling the waiting lists specifically. As you know, we have put up £25 million this year, and said: “Now look! Will you bid for it!” So we get the maximum reduction.

We also have to have a fundamental look at housing. We have got the first million council houses sold. It is not enough, and we must have a fundamental look at renovation of council houses and a number of other things that will come up later in the manifesto. A fundamental look at education.

I am also having a look at the organisation of scientific work, because it is extremely important. But you know our problem: that we have been very good at research, but even now, in spite of all the efforts we have made, we are not mobilising our excellent scientific people sufficiently to get involved in industry and although, if you look at all the tax-payers' money that goes to financing research and development it is a bigger proportion of our income, tax-payers, research and development, than of most of our industrial competitors, you would not think so, would you? And [end p29] what happens, I can tell you, is that it is allocated and when you want something else - as I wanted something else recently for something - I simply got them all together and said: “Well now, look! Are you saying that out of the billions we are spending on research and development, each and every one of you, each and every department, every single thing you are doing is more important than this?” And they all looked at me - because that is what I am going to have to say to Parliament - each and every one of you more important than this thing which I happen to think is rather important … cannot find any … they found a little bit but not enough, and so I said: “Look! This just will not do! We have got a Research Council Board and we have got an Advisory Council ACA … but what we have not yet got are scientists actually defining scientific priorities. At the moment, the things that are going out have been going out for ages and we dare not stop some of those things for others and so we have got to alter that organisation,” which I think will be welcome in some quarters. We have to do it with them, with scientists, because what we have got now is not working as well as it should be and we have to use our money, again, to say to industry: “Look! You must do more research and development!” Some are doing it excellently. Standard Telephones the other day, just on the edge of my constituency, they are beating the United States, they are beating the Japanese in some spheres.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Do you need a ministry for that? [end p30]

Prime Minister

No, we do not neet a ministry; we need an organisation.

Look! It is no good putting science into one ministry. Science should be in every ministry. It must be in your thinking. We need a different structure.

But if I might put it this way: your big companies, your big newspapers, you do not say: “Well now you have done it all! There is not anything else left to do!” Of course you do not. If you are a thriving organisation, you say: “Our fundamental philosophy continues. It was by really producing value for money that we built up our reputation. By pleasing the customer, we built up our reputation. Of course, times change and we have to adapt to the changes but our principles do not change!” And of course, there are always new things to do, “New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth, They must upward still and onwards Who would keep abreast of truth.” You climb the one peak and just when you think you are at the peak, not a bit of it; a whole new lot appears, and off you go and on you go!

We have got nicely up the foothills …

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

What are the main peaks that you see at the moment?

Prime Minister

The main peaks? Industry and commerce is coming back into a new verve and a new vigour. I saw that last night. I went to ‘Best Made in the Countryside’ to open the Design Centre. Design! Do you know, six weeks ago there I opened the Design For [end p31] Young Creators. There were fantastic good designs. I &dubellip; friends in industry and said: “Look! Please go and see those things! I would buy them if they were in production!”

Last night, ‘Best Made in the Countryside’ &dubellip; because farming is not providing as many jobs as it used to, we have got a whole new range of businesses in the countryside. They are not only traditional things, but because industry is no longer great big clanking machinery but a lot of push-button sophistication, we have got a lot of the high-tech there, so the verve and the vigour is coming back - it has come back - into industry, and they are getting their new products.

&dubellip; told me last night many of them are exporting overseas superbly, but they are having much more difficulty in selling to the home market - even public sector things overseas are purchasing from them, so we have to have a look at that.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

What about Japan?

Prime Minister

I am very anxious that as people come up towards the end of their lives most of them should have built up some capital. I mean, you look, 64 out of every 100 houses are owned by the people who live in them. We want to get a target of 75&pcnt;. We should reach it by the end of the century.

Then we have to look at more private sector to rent. There are a number of people who wish to move around, but there is not enough private sector to rent. It should not be the prerogative [end p32] only of councils … we have to change. There are lots of empty properties that could be let and we shall have proposals to make about that.

We then, as I say, are looking at the public sector services. Education, which for many of us was the gateway to opportunity. We have indicated that.

The Health Service is steadily improving. The management is getting better, and that, I think, has been the great achievement, and we are getting much more leadership now with management. There used to be no proper management. It was known as management by consensus, which meant that no-one was responsible for taking the decisions or answerable for the use of money. Now this cannot be done by central government. We can only provide the framework, but in the end, the real management and leadership has to come locally, because it is a matter of pride that those hospital services, their community, and for many of them it is.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

On education, the present situation with the teachers and the disruptions, just two aspects of it:

Do you think that the worried parents are going to blame the teachers or the government for what is going on?

Prime Minister

I think the parents are deeply upset and very surprised in the best sense of the world at the action that teachers are taking, because my generation and a number after me learned to look up to teachers because they had prestige because of the way they put [end p33] their pupils first.

We gave the nurses a pay review &dubellip; because they did not go on strike.

Teachers have had the best pay deal they have ever had, not through their own negotiating machinery, because it did not work. They could not make it work. They were all quarrelling. It failed, so we knew they had to have a new one, so in the meantime they were given the best pay to try to say to them: “Look! This is the faith we put in you! Now, restore your own prestige!” and they are not doing it - some of them are not - but a lot of them are. Never judge by some of the less good that you see.

I believe that the best will have their way.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

But to encourage excellence in teaching you have got to &dubellip;

Prime Minister

Encourage excellence. We had in fact to do several things. They were so difficult, their negotiators, they absolutely refused to negotiate their pay and conditions of service together, so you were paying but you could not agree what you were paying for. It did not make sense, so we have got that.

It is our hope that teachers will restore their own prestige by acting as you expect a profession to act. I will never forget hearing the nurses say many many times: “Yes, we may want more. Yes, we may be dissatisfied, but we certainly would never take it out of those who are in our care - the sick!” And that is what you expect of your teachers if they wish to restore their morale, their [end p34] prestige, their professional status, which we all wish them to do.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Do you feel that the children actually are hostages in this and do you think the Government has to do something to &dubellip; the disruption?

Prime Minister

I think it is appalling that anyone should take it out on the sick, which the nurses do not, or the children, because if you do not learn certain things when you are young or … and how can you get discipline in the class if you give such a bad example that you quite cheerfully walk off the job yourself? How can you teach discipline? And no-one is quicker at that than children. Children make their own assessment of teachers.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Is there anything the Government can do &dubellip;

Prime Minister

Children make their own assessment of teachers and they know whom they respect and whom they do not.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

… ground swell from the teachers themselves will …

Prime Minister

I believe that there are far more good teachers than there [end p35] are ones acting in this way, but their own negotiating machinery broke down and they would not in fact help to get … they could not agree on a new machinery which got conditions of service and pay together, and they could not agree on restructuring the profession so that the really good teacher got more and got more staying in front of the classroom to teach and not because he or she went into administration.

So I think the parents have been with us all the way and the parents are against teachers who walk out on their children in the classroom.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Prime Minister, can I just ask you, when you talk about major changes to the education system and so on, will not your opponents say that you have been Prime Minister for eight years, these areas that you identify that need resolving, that you should have done them by now?

Prime Minister

But we have never had such extreme left-wing … we have seen now a new Labour Party in power in local authorities. We have seen what they do with it. How they are behaving now is a new phenomenon, but it is a fact. Today's Labour Party in power can be seen in your ILEAs, in your Lambeths, in your Hackneys. Contrast Lambeth and Wandsworth. It is not a matter of money. We have got a new phenomenon.

The whole of the 1944 Education Act was so that children were not indoctrinated, so the curriculum was taken out of the hands of [end p36] central government and brought within the local authorities. The very thing which we had to prevent indoctrination is the very thing which is enabling indoctrination by some Labour authorities and so, seeing that, we have to act.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

So that forced your hand really?

Prime Minister

That forces one's hand, but you do not upset the things when they are going well. You do not upset the good education authorities.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

As I hinted at earlier, obviously you have also got to have some forms of measurement of performance.

Prime Minister

Of course you have and that is what we have been working at. Keith Joseph started.

You see, you used to have a measurement of performance when you had an Eleven Plus and it was a measurement of performance of all the children really. When you did not have that, you found that some children were going into secondary school from primary schools and it has not been easy for a lot of secondary school teachers, because the secondary schools are big schools. They take pupils from many primary schools. They have been taught different things, different ways, and fundamental things like the early mathematics [end p37] and the early language. This is why one is having to go for a fundamental core curriculum on your mathematics and on your language and I hope on your general science, because I really think that we have a bounden duty. It is said that the local education authority, that in a way has been responsible for education, but it is laid at the feet of Government because a lot of the money comes from the tax-payer and the law is set down by the Government and as you find new problems, so you have to find new solutions. I think we have a bounden duty to see that in eleven years of compulsory education we do our level best to see that children come out of school with the fundamentals, the numeracy, at least the arithmetic, the basic mathematics, the basic language - that is reading and writing and being able to express yourself orally and being able to write clearly. You need to do that if you are a foreman, if you are a grocer, if you are a scientist …

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

But you would not be exercising the Government's views here if you just left it … not working properly …

Prime Minister

Because we have got new problems and therefore new problems require new solutions.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

Can I ask you if you regret anything in the last eight years in terms of you wish you had moved quicker or that you had given a different priority or &dubellip; [end p38]

Prime Minister

I am sure there are quite a number of things, but please do not ask me to put my worst &dubellip;

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

… No, but perhaps with education, if you had done &dubellip;

Prime Minister

I was going on about attainment. I do wish that we had got tests of attainment faster because some of them are getting ready now, but I do wish we had got them faster. But I think one felt that it should not really be necessary, but it has been, because you see, when you get some young people coming out of eleven years compulsory education not really being numerate, not really being able to express themselves orally in any fluent way or be able to write an essay or write an account or report properly, or to have the fundamentals of science, general knowledge and so on, then I think that we are failing them and having discovered that, you have got to do everything you can to put it right and parents will be with us.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

You are obviously very optimistic now about the future?

Prime Minister

Yes, we have got a lot more to do. I can see way after the next Parliament there is so much to do. [end p39]

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

You are obviously very confident about the next election?

Prime Minister

I am never complacent and I am never over-confident. I hope and believe that we shall win and we shall work every inch of the way every hour of the day because we believe in what we are doing.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

I think the message is getting through. Thank you for your time.

Prime Minister

It is not just for any Parliament. It is right up. We are working right up to the Millenium. We are going to live at the change of a thousand years, you know, working up to that.

Nick Lloyd and Paul Potts, Daily Express

One of the great plusses may be that the Left, the sort of Marxist Party, will not become … I mean, oddly enough, the rise of the Alliance in some ways - dangerous as it is - is a good …

Prime Minister

I do not know, but I reckon we have done far more to get one nation, one opportunity, by enabling things, not by stopping things. Ours is the positive approach and will remain the positive approach.