Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Jul 30 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Interview for Ladies’ Home Journal

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Interview
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Jan Goodwin, Ladies’ Home Journal
Editorial comments: -
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 6893
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Women, Autobiography (childhood), Leadership, Terrorism, Autobiography (marriage & children), Media, Conservatism, Science & technology, Taxation, Public spending & borrowing, Parliament, Religion & morality, Voluntary sector & charity, Foreign policy (general discussions)
First question missing

Prime Minister

… polo, I mean that is not cricket is it? It just is not. We English are just not like that are we? I mean if you were thinking, we would promptly think of voting for someone else.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

For whom would you have voted?

Prime Minister

I think I would rather not say that because I can make such a lot of enemies if I do not put all my friends first.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

How does it feel to be the most influential woman in the world?

Prime Minister

I am absolutely thrilled with the result of the poll. Absolutely thrilled. [end p1]

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Why do you feel it is, though, with the exception of yourself, that in 1987 the poll of the most influential women is perhaps less influential than a poll of the most influential men would be?

Prime Minister

One moment, would you say that again? The poll of influential women.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

With the exception of yourself, many of the names on that are perhaps less influential than they would have been if a poll of the most influential men had been taken?

Prime Minister

Because there are not so many women in top positions-that is the reason why, surely.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Just as simple as that.

Prime Minister

Yes, I think so. Yes, I mean just look, there are not very many women who are Prime Ministers now, there are just a few. Mrs Gandhi in her day and Mrs Golda Meir were probably the two best known and it is one of the problems. It is not one that surprises me because most women get married, most women have children therefore there is a time when they are out of active politics. [end p2] They tend to come back later, they probably carry on with some aspect of their career. They tend to come back later and in the meantime they are picking up the threads really many many years later and by that time many other men have become quite well established. It is one of the problems after years and years of university education, after years and years of women being very powerful and influential in the country as a whole in the sense that they influence so many decisions in the home-they influence in many many ways: whether their husbands shall go to a different place to work or whether they shall stay put-we still have far too few women in public life. The same as in the United States, absolutely the same.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

This is what I was about to say to you: why do you think it is that the UK has a female Head of State but the US, which considers itself very progressive, has yet to achieve that?

Prime Minister

I do not think you can make too many generalisations about a woman Head of State or Government and a man Head of State or Government. In your case your Executive is both Head of State and Head of Government, here the Head of State is the monarch and Head of Government. I think you have got to wait for the right person. It is not whether you have got eighteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty women who are well known in Parliament; it is whether among them there is one with just those right qualities. After all there are not many men in the United States who will make a President. [end p3]

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

That's for sure, probably fewer than …

Prime Minister

There are not that number of men here who will make a Prime Minister, so it is not surprising that now and then you get someone who is a woman who will do it. But you have got to look at the personality as well as the sex.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

You are known for being tough and forceful. Do you think you had to be tougher as a woman, if you like, to work twice as hard, be twice as tough to be accepted?

Prime Minister

I do not know. It is a question I am often asked. I am a naturally hard worker. I was brought up that way. It is a sin to be idle-you know you do something, even if you relax you tend to sit down and do something when you are relaxing; you do not just lie around; that was the way we were brought up, we had to work in order to get on but basically the reason why you are here is to use whatever talents and abilities you have to the greatest extent you have and to remember that if you want to have friends you have to be a friend, and so therefore you just have a duty to do things for other people if you expect them also to take an interest in you and do things for you. Life is a kind of reciprocal business so, all my life, work has been of the essence but equally all my life we have always been interested in the community, whether it is the local [end p4] organisation, the country or the world of which we are a part. Alfred RobertsMy father had to leave school at thirteen. He was a very bright, but in those days you just could not go on and so he was very, very well read-books were the way in which he learnt. Books and experience, newspapers and seeing the world around him, and he brought us up in that way but he also brought us up in the way that we talked about the issues of the day. You see there was no television. Television stops a fantastic amount of discussion in families-terribly tragic-but it does. So always we were brought up to take an interest. I was a naturally good debater, having discussed with my father, I was a naturally good debater, I was always to be found in the middle of any argument. But this was partly because we were urged to take an interest in the issues of the day and they were fascinating. This was the time of the rise of Hitler, you know. This extraordinary nation in Germany, highly cultured, the nation was highly cultured; literature, music, this was the nation that somehow got Hitler at its head and they were extraordinary interesting times and I remember-because I was a child and as a child you have some of your most vivid impressions-and I can remember [Neville Chamberlain] going to Munich.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

You do not think that you have had to put in twice the effort as a woman than you would perhaps have had to if you had been a man?

Prime Minister

No, I do not think so. I think anyone who wants to get that job has to put in a fantastic amount of effort. [end p5]

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

People have labelled you &oq;cold’ on occassion; do you feel that you have to deliberately downplay emotion, tears? Do you think that a woman in authority can be permitted to cry in public?

Prime Minister

I think there are times when things move you so much that the tears would roll down, but I mean Winston ChurchillWinston did too. I do not think that you have to behave diffently because you are a woman, I really do not. In this job you have to be very very firm. You have to get decisions. The nature of the decisions you have to make are sometimes very tough. You see both sides of a question and you have to make a decision. Sometimes people say to me “I could not possibly do your job; you see I see both sides of a question”, I say “So do I”; the difference is I see them and have to make a decision, you just see them and talk about it. So the nature of the decisions you have to make is sometimes tough. Sometimes you are not and cannot be in the possession of all the information because a decision has to come before you can get all the information, and I think people confuse the nature of the decision with the nature of the personality, but either you are the kind of person who is prepared to look at things long term and say, “That is the best for long term” or else you are the kind of person who cannot make that kind of decision. I think the easiest way I can explain it really: if you are a really good nurse, you do not say to someone after an operation “There, there, there now, just lie back … when you are prepared to get up let me know”, you say “Now come on, you must put your feet to the floor today, come on, lean on my shoulder, just see [end p6] if you can stand, now take a couple of steps, that's right, now sit down, that's right!”

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Is that the role you see yourself playing for Britain?

Prime Minister

No, but you see! It is the difference: it is not oozing with sympathy, it is always persuading people to try to make the effort which you know is within their capability. How else would you ever coach tremendous athletes unless constantly you are trying each time to take them just a little bit beyond what they think is within their reach and then tomorrow or the next day it becomes within their reach, but, you see, what I am saying is that the person who is really the best nurse is not the person who is very soft towards the patient, the person who goes, “Come on, you can do it”.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

But talking of softness, when was the last time you cried in public, do you remember?

Prime Minister

Goodness me, no, I cannot.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Have you ever? [end p7]

Prime Minister

I remember hearing about Airey Neave, I remember Airey Neave's funeral, yes.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Sorry, whose?

Prime Minister

Airey Neave. I remember some of the tragedies after the bombing in Brighton as we knew the enormity of what we had lost and then there is some things that are just absolutely appalling which make you almost desparate, sometimes almost too desparate to cry, some of the terrible cases where there has been cruelty to children. Those really are so so terrible that tears do not come, you cannot imagine people behaving in that way and yet they do.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Has there been any long term effect on you of the IRA's attempted assassination?

Prime Minister

No.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Not at all? It is not something you think about?

Prime Minister

No. [end p8]

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

You must be a very special person. I think if that happened to me I would flinch.

Prime Minister

No, I am very fortunate. I have a great deal to do, a great deal to get on with. If you have got something to worry about, never sit down and brood about it; go out and do something: go and see a friend, read a book, take up something you have never done before but do something. Do not brood. I used to think when I had my children-I had twins-they are the only children I have so they are both quite detached, they both wanted attention together and sometimes you think “Goodness me, stop crying”. You know even if you just put them in the pram and wheel them down the street and you saw people whom you knew, life began to come into perspective again. If you have got a problem and you turn inward on yourself and brood about it, it will get worse and worse and worse. You simply must become active or among a group of friends or take up a new hobby. Keep going, keep doing something.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Has your role as a wife and mother ever clashed with your role as a politician and if you had to give up one, which would win out?

Prime Minister

No, I do not think so. Again it is a question one is often asked but whether you are man or woman there will come some days [end p9] when there is an accident or a tragedy at home. Now President Mitterrand suffered a terrible accident recently in his family. Man or woman, he went straight down to Spain where it was. I remember, I think it was President Kennedy, postponing something because his father was very ill. Man or woman, when there is something like that which involves your intimate family, everyone understands “Right postpone”-these things are precious. We all have families. They are the most precious things in life to us and there is not a single one of us who would say “Ah! but you had an engagement with me”; every single one said, “Go to your family immediately”.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

But if the day ever came where you had to give up one of these roles?

Prime Minister

It does not happen that way. Let me tell you: a crisis is a time when everyone understands, everyone muscles in to help. It is the daily routine when little things happen which is much, much more difficult because someone does not come to help you who should have done or the laundry does not come back or someone has got an outbreak of measles and someone whom you were expecting does not come and you just stay there and you cope until you can cope, but the big things; that is the time when everyone muscles in to help.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Do you think you have had to sacrifice anything to get to [end p10] where you are today and if you have had to, do you think you have any regrets?

Prime Minister

Everyone in public life has to sacrifice something. They have no privacy, they have no private life and what is more their children are in the limelight in a way which all of us deeply regret and we think it really rather unkind, rather unsympathetic on the part or those who question us about sympathy.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

You are much more prominent than your husband. Do you think you could have had such an enduring marriage if you and your husband were equally prominent in public life?

Prime Minister

Denis ThatcherHe has always, you know, been a very considerable personality, had his own business life and now has carved out his own niche and does it fantastically well: you know, anything-sports for young people, he is interested in golf, anything in raising money for sports for young people, sports aid foundations, help for the disabled, anything in connection with golf, in connection with rugby football, he is there, he is often helping also to raise money for other things, anything to help young people start up in business on their own, it is different and of course when he goes out-the other day he went out to some golf charity thing and of course was photographed with the new champion-Nick Faldo isn't it?-and of course he took the front pages. That [end p11] was absolutely terrific wasn't it? You know, the fact that I was receiving another Prime Minister, you know we were sort of on the back pages. The sports pages go in the front and we got sort of tucked away inside. Wasn't it marvellous?

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

With all the demands made on you in the course of the day, why do you still find it necessary to cook for Denis and does he cook for you?

Prime Minister

I do not cook for him. Very rarely are we in when we want a main cooked meal. Most days we have both had one meal out or one official meal and really it is only cooking something very light. Why is it necessary? It might be at eleven o'clock at night, it might be that we come in at different times-there is always something in the fridge obviously but if on one of those rare evenings when we are both in together, all right, it is something very light and I do it because I would rather do that and feel that when we go to our flat upstairs that is private. Have we an old family retainer, some have been with us all our lives? We used to have someone who was with us when the children were young but she is no longer alive. They would have been different but we would rather have our privacy than have someone living in who has not been with us most of our lives and also I reckon that if I need someone, a housekeeper or a cook, I have people come in to help me in the morning, people who will come in to cook a meal if we really want a major meal. Privacy is so rare that it means a great deal and if I had someone there, I [end p12] would probably feel guilty if I get back at 11.30 at night and would really rather like something. Look, I could not bear the thought of someone staying up for one regularly. Anyway, the House of Commons canteen is mostly open at that time of night.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

But do you ever use it?

Prime Minister

Yes, I do. [end p13]

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

How do you relieve stress and how often do you feel the need to do this?

Prime Minister

How do I relieve stress? Usually by getting on with the thing next in hand.

Of course, there are times when you read things about yourself which are cruel and horrid and awful.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Does it still bother you? [end p14]

Prime Minister

Yes, it does, but I tend if I see my name in the headlines and someone says “Do not read that!”, then I do not do it and, of course, I have learned to preserve myself from that.

You will get stress sometimes but again, you see, in my life, you have not time to sit down and brood over it.

There are two things that you have to do: there are the things which require a great deal of thought and consideration and a great deal of understanding. Now, you could not, if you were under tremendous stress or had been very much bothered personally by something, do that.

Then, there are a whole number of other different sorts of things you have to do. There are a number of routine things you have got to do. You have got a lot of signing of letters to do and checking that the things are all right. You will have quite a number of other routine things to do. You have got to get your clothes back in the right position; you have got to decide what you are going to wear tomorrow; you have got to put things away to where they ought to be; you have got to get papers back in the right piles, and so on.

So in an eighteen hour day you cannot be thinking of original things all day or be doing original things. There is in every day routine things to do in connection with your job or as background for your job-even if it is only clearing up the kitchen! So you turn and do things which have to be done as a matter of routine. It is a kind of therapy really. [end p15]

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Less routine is the fact that you have hired a US-based public relations consultant.

Prime Minister

US-based?

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Is he not US-based?

Prime Minister

I have hired Gordon Reece! Gordon Reece was with me long before he went to the States. When I became Leader of the Party, he came and worked with us-not personally to promote me, but to help us to present our policies.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Is he the same adviser, the person who suggested that you have your teeth capped or change your hair or modulate your speech?

Prime Minister

My teeth had to be capped because they had to be capped!

Certainly, I became very conscious that when you are photographed a lot, when you are appearing on television a lot, there are some things that anyone will tell you you ought not to wear, some kinds of things, and some ways in which you do not use [end p16] your voice or your hands and certainly, Gordon came from television, he knew a great deal about television and he could in fact teach one things which helped you to avoid making mistakes.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Obviously, this happens in the States all the time. Politicians get completely made over and, of course, often are accused of …

Prime Minister

I do not think we have been completely made over, but certainly when you see yourself and when I look at some of the clothes I used to wear, they were not eminently suitable.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

What sort of mistakes did you make?

Prime Minister

You wear clothes that are too light or too much pattern. I do not know … when I look back at them … one wears more and more tailored things. You cannot always get what you want, but sometimes you have to go in something, otherwise you are in the room and every woman has turned up in navy and white. You go out to a dinner party and everyone is in black. It does not look like a party, it looks like a wake! And if you are the only woman in black you look like &dubellip; thing … if you all turned up in black, [end p17] the safe little black dress looks terrible. So now and then you say: “Right! I am going to have a plain coat and a nice pretty patterned silk dress!” and of course you do it, but basically you go in my job more and more to tailored suits.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

What do you do about the evening? A man can normally get away with a dinner jacket or something …

Prime Minister

You have to have more dresses!

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Where do you find the time to get some?

Prime Minister

Well, you try to think of them in advance. You are constantly saying: “Well look! I shall need &dubellip;” I know that I have a certain number of things in the year which I will need &dubellip; I nearly said a standard number of dinners &dubellip; there is the Lord Mayor's Banquet Dinner which is the one for which I must usually have a new one … and there is the Party Conference at which we will have a number of evening things … saying: “Now, have I got enough to see me through? How many years have I worn that?” They will tell me, if I do not remember! [end p18]

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Do you personally go and buy these things yourself, or do you have &dubellip;

Prime Minister

Sometimes they are made. I have a little dressmaker who makes them or people who know what I want and will send them in.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

While we are talking about things physical, if you could change one physical aspect of yourself, what would it be?

Prime Minister

I think I would be much much naturally thinner, because it is much easier &dubellip;

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Me too!

Prime Minister

I think I would go down one size in clothes and stay there. [end p19]

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Can I just jump to the private life that you really do not have a great deal of?

Do you think a public figure's private life should be private? Should there be a criterion for &dubellip;

Prime Minister

I think that people should be able to have a private life, yes. I think it is only fair to their families and I think that there is a right to privacy.

Off the record material removed. [end p20]

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

O.K. I have a question now I think you can answer-on the record!

How would you like to be remembered? What would you like your legacy to be to your country?

Prime Minister

I have not had much time to think about my legacy to the country.

I think the person who took Britain in a different direction, the direction far more suited to her character, her talents and her ability, than that which she had previously trod. In other words, I think that the socialism we had was the abnormal part of Britain's history, not necessarily in keeping with her independence, her initiative, her talents, her hatred of being pushed around, and [end p21] that we now have got it back very much to all of those things that made us the nation which went out into the world and which gave the world in some cases, in some countries, a system of law they might never have had, and a system of sound administration.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

I keep reading in your newspapers while I have been here about the great brain drain of British brains just leaving for the States. Why do you suppose this is? What do you think is happening here?

Prime Minister

But also we have quite a number returning. If you looked at the Royal Society Report, we had some going and, of course, you are a very much richer country in the United States, a very much richer country and therefore you can offer far higher salaries and far better facilities that we can in any case for many more people.

Now, we cannot stop our young people from going to take advantage of those, nor should we. We trained them and it is for them to decide where they are going to take their greatest talents and abilities and they might do some research with you that they would not be able to do with us and therefore they might add to the knowledge of mankind.

Also, again, I said that I thought that the part of the history of this country with socialism was the abnormal part. We got up to far too high rates of personal tax and we are beginning [end p22] to get them down but we are not down as far as we should be, as far as I would like us to be, but I will not take them down until we can get expenditure in a more reasonable proportion to national income than it is now. It is coming down as a proportion of national income.

And being very orthodox and being very prudent as far as finance is concerned, when we have in this country had high spending which for one reason we have had to have or have not been able to reduce it as we would have wished, I have taken the view we have got to finance it. We are not just going in to have a big deficit. America is strong enough to do that-we would not be. We would never have kept confidence in this country unless year by year we had handled our financial affairs in a very sound way, and that is how we were able to ride the Falklands War without any financial crisis, able to take a year-long coal strike, without any financial crisis-because it has always been pretty sound and pretty prudent.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Has there ever been a time when you have been-no matter what, during Falklands or whatever-in your career, particularly in the last few years, when you wanted to throw your arms up in despair and walk away from it? Have you ever been tempted that far? Any particular incident or occasion? [end p23]

Prime Minister

I do not think so. Of course, there are times when you have a difficult day. You might say: “Good Heavens! Why do I go on doing this?” but you do not really mean it. It is more a case of letting off steam.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

What makes you lose patience quicker than anything else?

Prime Minister

I do not think I can answer that quickly actually.

You see, in my case, you so often have to keep patience almost no matter what happens because, I mean, you may have questions asked again and again, the same old questions again and again, but you still have to keep patient-and I do get them again and again in the House of Commons, and you have to recognise that sometimes you are being asked those questions as a kind of provocation to try to make you lose your wool and you know consciously that you have got to keep calm.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Would you ever use what are called “feminine wiles” to get your own way? [end p24]

Prime Minister

Not as far as I am aware. With a background of having been a scientist and a lawyer, try to marshal facts to support your case, try to use years and years of political experience, which is not always a matter of fact-it is a matter of judgment-and then you come to have some knowledge or experience which tells you not to worry too much about things you can do nothing about, but to concentrate on things you can do something about. It is not easy, because quite often you do spend quite a lot of time worrying about something you cannot do anything about and you say: “Come on, get on with the job you can do something about!” but many many people, if you are in our kind of party politics and our kind of answering questions in the House on Tuesday and Thursday, deliberately set out to knock you off balance, deliberately, and therefore you go into the House fully expecting it; you simply must keep calm.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Is there any particular trick that you use to do that?

Prime Minister

No, it is the knowledge that you must keep calm, I think, that helps you to get through, and actually it is strange, you go in and it is a very concentrated time and it is the total concentration on the matter in hand, I suppose, which makes you keep calm more than anything else. You would get angry if any of your family were attacked. That is why I say your family are entitled to [end p25] privacy. You get very angry if any of your family is attacked, but then, there is so much misinformation.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

This is what brings me to this little cutting here. There was a very interesting story-it was in the French and the US press just when I left-and it said that to keep up your strength and to fight fatigue you use male hormones in the same way that an athlete does. I thought you would like to see it. I was going to ask what your response was!

Prime Minister

Absolute nonsense! Hormones to keep up my strength?

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

That is what they said-stamina-for stamina it says, just like athletes, so I thought I would ask you what your response was.

Prime Minister

I have never heard such absolute nonsense. I take vitamin C every morning-that is it.

Life is full of misinformation, stupidities of people deliberately peddling falsehoods. It comes almost every day doesn't it? [end p26]

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

What is why I brought it along. I thought you might be interested to see it.

Prime Minister

It must have been a man who wrote it! Only a man would &dubellip; hormones!

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

It was a man.

Prime Minister

… better than a female hormone … I do not normally read these things. You see why I do not-because they are very offputting, very offputting.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Apart from that, what has been your greatest frustration in public life?

Prime Minister

I cannot give you a great frustration. If you do not at first do what you want to do, you just come at it another way and try again.

Quite often in politics you have to try several times. First, to get what you want to do discussed among the public, and [end p27] then to get them used to certain ideas.

Frustration! I think you are asking all sorts of what I would call “negative questions”. It is something the press often do.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

No, I am not; I do not think so.

Prime Minister

All sorts of negative questions: your greatest frustration, your greatest impatience, whereas we tend to be thinking on the positive things the whole time, so I am not thinking on what I could not do but what we can do.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Are you a religious or spiritual person and if so, in what way?

Prime Minister

I believe in Christianity.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Are you a regular churchgoer? [end p28]

Prime Minister

I go to church quite frequently, not every Sunday.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Is your religion something you draw on?

Prime Minister

Yes, very much so.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

You have said that in moments of really bad stress Denis, your husband, is always there.

How does he actually calm you down if you go home, go upstairs, and you are very anxious and uptight?

Prime Minister

It is the old thing isn't it? If you are anxious and uptight … it has quite often been a personality problem … well then you just have to get it back into perspective and you often do that by talking to someone else who can help you get it immediately back into perspective.

Or the other thing is, so often, you know, you do say some things in life which you do not mean and so do other people say things in life which they do not mean and I do often say to other people: “Now look! If I blow up for a moment or am sharp about something, it is over in a moment, and you do the same with me-it [end p29] is over in a moment. There will be no resentment. There are no toes to tread on!” We just recognise that that kind of thing does happen and then we get on.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Do you think you are volatile by nature?

Prime Minister

No.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

I was watching “Favourite Things” the other day. Is this the bracelet Denis gave you?

Prime Minister

Yes.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

What was the occasion that he gave it to you?

Prime Minister

Denis ThatcherHe gave it to me for a birthday-do not ask me which one!

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Is it the one that you like to wear just because it goes with everything? [end p30]

Prime Minister

Yes, it does.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Different kinds of stones?

Prime Minister

Yes, there are different kinds of semi-precious stones.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

What is the stone in the ring? Is it lapis?

Prime Minister

Amethyst.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

You are now going into your third term of office. What would you have done had you not won the last election? What would you have done with your life?

Prime Minister

I should still have been an MP, which I think I would have won.

You just go on. You just get on with it. There is always something ahead to do, always, and you just get on and find it.

I confess that by the time I have been here-I have been here eight years and hope to be here a good bit longer yet- [end p31] politics becomes so much your whole life. It becomes the structure of your life, the structure of your friendships, the structure of all your activities, that when you give it up it must be an even bigger wrench than giving up most things because for most jobs you might be doing it eight, ten, eleven hours a day, but with this one you are doing eighteen hours a day.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

If you lose an election or if you finally decide not to run again, what would you do with your life? What would you do with your day?

Prime Minister

Like many other people, so many of my friends say when they retired they were inundated with things to do, because there are so many voluntary things, you know, which you are asked to take part in. But then, one inevitably would keep up your interest in party politics in your own party, because others have helped you so you must turn round and help them.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Do you have any particular interest in any particular charities that you think later on you might take up?

Prime Minister

I am actually with the NSPCC. I have been working with the NSPCC for a very long time. But do not forget, you are never quite [end p32] out of politics once you have been in as actively as I have-you are never quite out of it.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

What about leisure time? What would you do? You probably do not have too much of that these days.

Prime Minister

I do not have very much leisure time, I am afraid.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

But when you are out of office, what do you look forward to doing?

Prime Minister

Music. One can entertain one's friends more often. One can listen to more music. One can go to the theatre more often; get on with doing some gardening, although it is a small garden.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Do you have a green thumb?

Prime Minister

Not particularly. I am much better with outdoor plants than with indoors. Indoors always sort of just curl up on me. [end p33]

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

I am the reverse.

Prime Minister

They damp off.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

I read that the man that influenced you most in your life was your father.

Is there one woman who has influenced you most at any stage in your life?

Prime Minister

I should think my first headmistress, who was a very remarkable woman-first and second headmistresses. Both of them supreme examples and really set standards for oneself to live by. The first was Miss Williams, who started the school that I went to. In fact, she built up this school and she really had set excellent traditions, and one remembers the time when she used to talk to us. Teachers are just more than teachers-they do influence the standards of life-and she was remarkable and when she left, in the middle of my school career, we had another really very remarkable person, completely different personality but again, who would set standards. They set the standards by which to live and standards of scholarship and the thing was always: “Look! Whatever you have, you must try to live up to the best that is within you!” and [end p34] you test the best. You are not too satisfied with what you have done. You try to do it better.

And also, it was very much a way in which to live.

If you were brought up in a small town, there was no difficulty in playing your part in the small town. I think in some ways you are much more isolated in a big city than you are in a small town.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Have you had any personal failure that you set out to try and do that you failed to do that was a particular blow to you or a surprise to you in that kind of achievement?

Prime Minister

I think by the time you have got here, which is the most fantastic privilege, you have forgotten the difficult things on the way to getting here. You just know that you managed somehow to overcome them.

This is what I say, that to me it seems that you are asking me all the difficult impossible things …

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

One always wants to know … because that way we can also sort of identify &dubellip; with you. [end p35]

Prime Minister

Of course, you meet a lot of disappointments. Of course, you have times when you do not do things well. So does everyone. A sportsman cannot be on top form the whole time. Writers: some books will be better than others. Musicians: some things will be masterpieces, some not. You cannot live at the peak the whole time. You have to work up to peaks just as an athlete does. You have to work up and pace yourself to peaks. Of course you are disappointed with yourself if you perform less than your peak, but then, we are going the entire time and I think it is perhaps the steady level of performance that you can give matters as much as the times when you rise to peaks.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

You are very lucky though. I think you manage to get by on less sleep than most of us. I wish I did!

Prime Minister

Yes. There are times even when oneself is tired.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

One last question: what still remains for you to do?

Prime Minister

Oh, to complete the task to which I set my hand. We are going in a different direction. People are now looking at last [end p36] once again to their own effort, to their own ability, their own talent, for their main standard of living, and looking less to Government.

There is still more to be done and also, in the international sphere there are really fascinating things happening now. Historic things happening in the Soviet Union and historic things happening in China and even in the last few weeks, the five Permanent Members of the Security Council are getting together on things in quite a new way. All of a sudden we have realised the world is much much smaller and almost-if I might put it this way-there is no such things as foreign affairs, because all foreign affairs affect home affairs, and that is quite exciting. I think it is new. It is quite exciting.

Jan Goodwin, Home Journalist

Also rather scary, I think, sometimes.

Prime Minister

Life is always scary in some respects, but it is also full of hope and in the end your hope rests upon what you are prepared to do to help things along.