Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Margaret Thatcher

Interview for Der Spiegel

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Dr Werner Funk, Dr Romain Leick and Hans Hielscher, Der Spiegel
Editorial comments:

1100-1250. The interview became available on Sunday 20 September 1987.

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 11781
Themes: Social security & welfare, Society, Women, Economic policy - theory and process, Agriculture, Employment, Industry, Energy, Foreign policy - theory and process, Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (International organizations), European Union (general), European Union Budget, Science & technology, Transport, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Civil liberties, Conservatism, Labour Party & socialism, Leadership, Religion & morality, British relations with the Federal Republic of Germany

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Prime Minister, you are one of the most experienced politicians in the Western Hemisphere, even in the world.

Is the world more secure? Are the prospects of a peaceful world better than they used to be when you moved to No. 10 Downing Street in 1979?

Prime Minister

Well, I certainly think the world is now more secure than it was 10 - 15 years ago. I think there is much more cooperation in the United Nations, for example, between the five Permanent Members of the Security Council. That augurs very well for the future. It does not mean to say that we all think the same things or we all believe in the same political systems - we do not. It means that in spite of the differences, we know that there are certain things in our interest: to reduce the possibility of conflict; to keep open freedom of navigation in international waterways, etc.

But also, I think one of the fundamental differences has happened even more recently than that. It is the realisation in the Soviet Union, under Mr. Gorbachev's leadership, and I do pay enormous tribute to his courage in defining the problem. After 70 years of the October Revolution, the Communist Revolution, the world knows - and the Soviet people know - that it is not producing the results, the prosperity, the decent life for ordinary citizens that they thought it would at the beginning of the Revolution. In fact, the enterprise system, the freedom under the rule of law in the west, produces both dignity and prosperity and their system does not.

The changes that he is trying to make there - and he has been quite open about what needs to be done - I think augur very well for all of us, not least for human rights in a wider portion of the globe.

Those two things, I think, are really significant and the fact, if I might just put it a third way, that with the new regime leadership in the Soviet Union, we are speaking to one another much more openly; with much more thoroughness; with much more frankness, than ever I remember, and I have been interested in communism since I first began to read all about it when I was about 17 at school and there were some books coming out. Jan Valtin, I remember a book “Out of the Night” …

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Do you think this development in the Soviet Union is the main factor in the disarmament process, one of the main reasons why the Russians really take it seriously and we are pretty close now to a kind of &dubellip;? [end p1]

Prime Minister

I think that they may find, because of the improvement they would like to have to the standard of living internally, that it does become more urgent to secure for the first time arms reductions and I think they know that certainly the view which I would adopt and the view which I think NATO as a whole would adopt is we are never going to let down our guard. You know, good intentions are not enough. That we will negotiate hard, dispassionately, toughly, but do not expect us ever to let down our guard because we would be letting down everything we believe in, but that may be a factor: that they want more resources to go into an increasing standard of living and they cannot do that while they are putting so much into their military hardware and into their research and development, of which they do an enormous amount, in the military scene.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

You do not see any major obstacle to an agreement on disarmament and INF?

Prime Minister

I think there are always major obstacles, because when you get down to the nitty gritty, the details, it is one of the most complicated things to negotiate about. It has all got its own jargon. You have got to negotiate not only about nuclear, but about particular kinds of nuclear, whether it is ground-based, air-based, sea-based; different, whether it is throw weight or launchers or missiles or warheads; and also the verification is very important.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

But it does seem as if there is some kind of breakthrough in Geneva does it not?

Prime Minister

I think it looks as if there has been some kind of breakthrough. They are still trying to get the details in verification, but I say to you, because I have to say it to everyone, when you are dealing with disarmament you have got to look at the whole strategic position of this great land mass of Europe and Asia over the sea to the United States, because if you look at Europe it is very small. It is almost a big peninsula on its own across a great big land mass and do not forget the Soviet Union is far larger than the United States. It goes from the south right up to the ice cap and you simply must look at the strategy. They can have enormous things going on there, which is much much more difficult for us to know about, to see, to verify, and the idea that in our little peninsula that is Europe we could have the same amount of armaments in Europe that they have got in that land mass is not on.

So you just have to look and nuclear is very very important and the important thing also is to realise that I do not think anyone is ever going to march across into the Soviet Union. Some generals have done that in the past and they always say the generals called January and February beat anyone who does that!

And no-one is every going to invade the United States, so the vulnerable part is Western Europe, and so just do not look at it as intermediate nuclear weapons. I look at it as the entire strategy. I take my maps about with me and just say to people: “Now look at what you are proposing! Will it work, because it is this bit that is vulnerable?”

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

You seem so sceptical about this INF …

Prime Minister

I am not sceptical about it. We took a decision right at the beginning when we came to having Cruise and Pershings and it was when Helmut Schmidt was in government at that time and when we negotiated, we said to the Soviet Union: “You take down your SS20s and all like things, and we will not put in Cruise and Pershing! You keep those, we will deploy ours!” So right from the [end p2] beginning there was this fundamental equation, that this was a new type of weapon; it was also, as you know, a movable mobile, and we saw it. Unless they took it down we would deploy.

They came to the negotiating table after we had deployed. We deployed our Cruises first. I remember very very vividly because it came at the time of Grenada and I said: “We have got to get our Cruise missiles deployed here!” and then Germany came with Cruise and Pershings. That was in right at the beginning and so once we were locked on to that equation, it meant that if they agreed to take the whole lot down, then we were almost, as a matter of integrity, agreeing with that, but people like me and West Germany and the United States and the whole of NATO say we must never fall for something which separates nuclear out totally from the rest, because your defence is on all your weapons and do not forget the Soviet Union has a massive number of the latest chemical weapons and our response to chemical weapons - because we have not got the latest up-to-date ones, you have only got a few very old ones in your country - was nuclear. So do not forget the fundamental equation was - and again you look at your maps - nuclear is the greatest deterrent the world has ever known and that is why you must keep some American nuclear weapons in Europe and the intermediates are the land-based and that is all you are negotiating about.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

So what do you think of the contribution of the Kohl Government in the disarmament talks and in the Pershing 1A missiles?

Prime Minister

The Pershing 1As, as you know, were not NATO. They were part of an agreement between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, so we said they are not NATO - this is a matter for those two.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Have you any reservations about the matter as expressed by Herr Kohl's Defence Minister, Wörner?

Prime Minister

With which particular reservation?

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

That Germany will be the only NATO member whose territory is under the threat of short-range missiles from the Soviet Union. He was very reluctant to let them go.

Prime Minister

Just let me point out that the United States has 330,000 soldiers in the Federal Republic of Germany, with their wives and families. We have a similar proportion in relation to our population - 60,000 if you take the air force and the army as well. 60,000 of our forces and a very important part of our armour, and their wives and families.

So why do you look at it only as territory? I look at it as people and the commitment which the United States and we have. And do not forget, every single one of our soldiers and air force are professionals, but they have got their wives and their families with them.

The whole point about nuclear, as you know, is to be a deterrent, which is why I will never give up our independent nuclear deterrent and neither will France. So we are right up front. There is quite a large proportion of our armed forces and we are there. We are on your soil because it is our frontier of freedom as well as yours and there are our people there. [end p3]

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

But you do not think that there will be two different zones of security within NATO, one Germany and one the others?

Prime Minister

Just remember what I said to you a moment ago! Look at the map! You cannot deny the map. Germany is the frontier of freedom and there is no way in which you can get round that. That is a matter of geography and the frontier of freedom goes right across Europe. She is not the only place on the frontier of freedom. There is no point in denying your geography or trying to separate it out as something different, that it is not there, because that is where the frontier of freedom is.

But do not forget we are up on that frontier of freedom because it is our frontier too although our country might not be there. When you look at the frontier of freedom on the open sky, well, an aeroplane does not recognise those frontiers except by agreement.

But Germany is on the frontier and you cannot get away from that, because that is geography, that is the geography and the politics of the whole post-war period.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Let us assume that this INF disarmament agreement is going to be negotiated and there is going to be a summit between President Reagan and Secretary-General Gorbachev. What would be the next area for negotiation?

Prime Minister

We already laid that down in the NATO communique because do not forget, as I said a moment ago, you have to look at the whole strategic thing. Defence is a whole strategy and I made it perfectly clear that I think that we must not go very much further on nuclear weapons until we have got an abolition of the chemical weapons and until we have got something like much greater parity in conventional weapons …

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Does that include chemical weapons?

Prime Minister

Both chemical and conventional. There sometimes seems to be something that irritates me no end: that people think: oh well, get rid of nuclear, you could only have a conventional war. A conventional war is what we have had twice and it would be infinitely worse, and do not forget that the missiles can carry chemical weapons, biological weapons, terrible explosive weapons, and therefore you are defending a way of life. Certainly, the nuclear deterrent is, I think, an enormous deterrent factor but at the moment there is a colossal imbalance in chemicals, as all our troops have to be wholly protected against chemical whereas I do not think the Soviet troops have to to the same extent. That, you know, hinders your free movement, your capacity to look at your maps and so make it absolutely clear that apart from the reduction of 50% in the intercontinental ballistic missiles between the Soviet Union and the United States, ours are out, because those could come down by 50% without any reduction in the deterrent factor, because as you know, those weapons have been getting more and more accurate in their targeting so that the half could get through to as many targets with as much certainty as the previous double the numbers.

Apart from that, we really have to go hard on chemical weapons. There should not be any biological weapons if international treaties are observed. We have to go hard on the chemical weapons and on parity on the conventional, and it has not been easy to get that.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

But what about eliminating the short-range missiles, nuclear missiles? [end p4]

Prime Minister

I myself think that you will be in danger then of doing what I said you must not do. You would be in danger of looking at a particular missiles. What you have to look at is your capacity to deter a potential aggressor. Your total capacity. And you must never never give them an advantage in one particular weapon or by eliminating one weapon give them a colossal military advantage in another sphere, conventional or chemical, such that you are undercutting your capacity to deter at every day of the year.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

But some politicans would think that exactly this has happened now with the new solution for INF in Geneva, eliminating one segment of weapons and so giving the Soviet Union the chance of a conventional superiority.

Prime Minister

Well maybe they do, but I do not, and I think if you look at the NATO communique it was perfectly clear that anything further should only be done in the context of what happened on chemical and on conventional, and do not forget - let me say back to you what you said to me a moment ago - if ever we weaken that total defence, it is you who are on the front line. Certainly, our troops are there with you. It is a total defence. You do not get hooked on one particular from without looking at it in relation to the total defensive capability …

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Do you think that NATO would be prepared to beef up the conventional forces if the disarmament process would just stop after the INF?

Prime Minister

Look! Let me say this to you. This is why I said get out your maps. (PM goes to maps and voice becomes faint as she recedes from microphone &dubellip; there is no way in which you could get the number of conventional weapons in that&dubellip;no way … (returns to microphone).

We have our tanks. I have been to see them, as you know. A splendid picture with Chancellor Kohl, he in his tank and I in mine going up and down! Look! We already have problems of where in the world you put all the tanks, where do they exercise, where do you put all your aircraft?

Look at your maps! Look at the strategy! Talk about the strategy and never never never reduce one part of your armaments beyond what is … so that you cease to fully safeguard the liberty which it is our duty to defend.

Go and look at the map, Germany, Norway, Belgium, France. They are small and then look at the massive size of the Soviet Union and it goes right up.

You look to see at all times is my defence secure and by unbalancing one thing am I unbalancing my capacity to defend?

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

May I put a very simple question? Would you support a candidacy of the German Minister of Defence as the General Secretary of NATO?

Prime Minister

I shall doubtless be asked whether I would support a number of people and when they are all in I will have a look. [end p5]

May I say that I have great confidence in Mr. Wörner as a defence minister. I have great great confidence in him.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

If we could come to the Gulf, some European NATO members worry that the US has dragged them into a conflict outside the agreed NATO area like now in the Gulf.

Prime Minister

Now, Steady The Buffs!

One of my first duties is to look to see how you phrased that question. What do you mean the United States dragged them in? Who is laying mines? Not the United States. Who is attacking shipping? It is not the United States.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

It is Iraq too, it is not only Iran.

Prime Minister

That is right, both of them.

But just look where did the danger come from before you start attacking the United States who is our foremost ally and without whom we could not fully defend Europe. There is danger in the Gulf.

Unless we can get oil you cannot even fight a conventional war.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

That is right, yet the tension increased when the military build-up of the United States in the Gulf &dubellip;

Prime Minister

You mean we should have sat down and said: “No matter how many mines you lay, how many tankers you knock out …”

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

There were not so many mines before.

Prime Minister

I have heard these arguments before. Now do not get me on this! I have heard these arguments before in my generation.

There were not so many mines! What would you think if you were a captain taking up your crew in a tanker and the politicians said - this politician has not - “Well there are not so many mines!” There were quite a number laid.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Should we increase our support for the US forces there with a European …

Prime Minister

I have. Others then followed.

Do you mean to say that you are going to watch a power lay mines against a fundamental raw material need?

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

I agree. [end p6]

Prime Minister

Well, I am glad you do!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Do you think the Germans should participate?

Prime Minister

I asked the Germans&dubellip;asked other people. This is purely defensive, to ensure that your raw material, your ships, with your merchant navy, have the protection to which I think they are entitled. Did you not look at it like that? I look at my merchant navy, the Queen's merchant navy and we have defences and we have minesweepers.

We hesitated for a few days until we got that terrible … because we had the Security Council Resolution, and I thought that it might just be showing a little bit of bravado … it might be just a one-off, the first thing, now just let us see, but it was not.

Let me say that many British merchant ships go up. It is vital for us that we have freedom of navigation, and it is not flouted under the British flag. Are they not entitled to ask for the protection which our navy can give them? We have had our Armilla Patrol there sometimes for their lives, so that they may bring the very raw material which enables the navy to do its work, which enables industry to flourish. I think there is a lot to be said for getting the question right?

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Is it right to focus only on Iran because, as you said, if the Americans …

Prime Minister

I am focusing on our ships. Can they get up and down?

Does Germany stand for freedom of navigation on international waters?

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Yes, but did you not change your position …

Prime Minister

She does. I am not changing my position. I have got the right one!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

You urged the United States not to over-react. You said the important thing is to keep calm and to deescalate things. Some days later, you sent your minesweepers over there. Is there any contradiction between those two positions?

Prime Minister

None at all. Just look at what happened!

Your questions amaze me! Look at the facts!

You know what happened, more mining down the Straits of Hormuz and actually outside.

Now, you know, if you are in a military position or if you are defending your ships - and they are entitled to your defence - … No, my supposition that the first laying might have been a one-off was wrong, so the answer was different, and look who else has followed:&dubellip;in the morning France in the afternoon, Italy now, and I think that some others might be thinking about it.

Do not forget there is a fundamental proposition; are your ships not entitled to the protection of your navy and minesweepers? And if they are not, you have to say why they are not.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

I did not quite get that. Would you support a German participation in this effort? [end p7]

Prime Minister

To send minesweepers?

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Yes.

Prime Minister

Of course. We expect they are considering it very carefully. This is defensive. It is not an offensive thing. It is enabling your ships to do their fundamental right, to sail the seven seas unhindered and in this case to go up an international waterway.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

It is defensive, but you can become directed in a military conflict in that area in that way.

Prime Minister

And otherwise you would just roll over and say: “All right! Send as many mines as you like! We will not defend our ships!” That is a recipe for any and every tyrant the world over.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Prime Minister, what do you think of the Soviet's role in the Gulf?

Prime Minister

Do I make myself clear?

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Yes.

Prime Minister

Good!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

You see, we are interested in your opinion about the Soviets.

Prime Minister

But you see, I am shattered. Would you not get dragged into a conflict? You mean surrender&dubellip;you are a NATO partner!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Prime Minister, what about the Soviet's role in the Gulf crisis? It seems that they acted very thoughtfully. They kept a low profile and yet at the same time strengthened their influence in the Arab world.

Prime Minister

Just remind me. It was the Soviet Union, I think, that first offered her protection to Kuwait - first! Interesting that you went to the United States first, was it not in your question? It was the Soviet Union that offered her protection to Kuwait first and then the United States, was it not, as a matter of fact?

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Yes it was, but in a way they … [end p8]

Prime Minister

And then we all got together on this Resolution which, as I indicated, was a great advance. China, the Soviet Union, the United States, France and ourselves all got together at the United Nations and Perez de Cuellar has our whole support. He goes to Tehran and also Baghdad this week because it is the reputation of the United Nations which is also at stake, the whole reputation of the United Nations, and then, we have said that if this Resolution passed in the name of the United Nations is flouted, we shall go on to the next stage, because we wanted a cease-fire and then you obviously have to negotiate a settlement from there.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Do you think that the authority and weight of the United Nations Resolution and the Security Council can end the war in the foreseeable future, let us say in the next three months?

Prime Minister

You can only go on trying and the first thing is to try to get a cease-fire, during which time you then have the negotiations taking place.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Do you think that the Soviet Union could be of help in this peace-making process?

Prime Minister

Yes, but it is a United Nations Security Council Resolution and I think it is in the interests of all nations that you have freedom of navigation up and down that waterway and it is particularly in the interests of all the adjacent territories as well. You know, this is the main source of oil. There have been no fundamental big finds of oil for the last twenty years you see, and this is your great reserve and it is in the interests of all nations - the Soviet Union as well - to &dubellip; freedom of navigation in order to &dubellip; international waters.

The Soviet Union has a good deal of oil. We have a little.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Do you think we could come back to your opening remarks about the Soviet Union and Mr. Gorbachev's role in the world power scene?

You have been sceptical about the aims and methods of Soviet policy in the past - five years ago. Now, your judgement on Soviet policy seems to have changed a little bit.

Prime Minister

No. I think Mikhail Gorbachevhe is absolutely right but very courageous to make the speeches he did, to make the analysis he did and to say: “Now! This is what is wrong. We have to try to put it right. There must be more self-reliance; there must be more initiative; there must be more enterprise; there must be more management; there must be more incentives; people have got to feel involved!”

It is not going to be easy. He knows it is not going to be easy, but he is absolutely right to try. First, I admire him for trying. Secondly, insofar as he succeeds, insofar as it will be enlargement of a little bit of human liberties there, that is good for human kind everywhere and as they get a higher standard of living so I think that that also will be in the interests of human kind, but it is going to be very difficult and I do not underestimate that at all.

And the real difficulty is going to be when it comes so that in order to achieve the objectives you need to let go of the communist control a bit, and that is going to be the acid test. [end p9]

Therefore, I support the trying of it very much so. When it comes to what they do overseas, I do not see any difference at the moment in their external policy which has been “We believe that socialism is the only system for the world!” and I have looked at it very carefully, when it comes to Afghanistan, their influence over Mozambique, their influence over Angola, Cuban troops throughout so many African countries and also East Germans helping in so many &dubellip; helped by proxy … the fantastic armaments to Nicaragua, and so on. I do not see any change. I watch everything. Not by intention, not by a marvellous new presentation. I watch by the facts on the grounds and what happens, but the courage, the admiration, which I have for this analysis and the attempt actually to tackle it is very great indeed and we must support it and also Chancellor Kohl and I are very keen and you have occasion to be living on that Berlin wall and the wall across Europe, as we are always saying: what kind of system is it that stops people from leaving that country when they want to?

The Soviet Union has an enormous way to go before it has anything very great in extra human rights, but you know it could be quite a historic moment - and it depends how it is taken up.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

It is how history will proceed.

Prime Minister

Of course it is how history proceeds. It is one person doing the leadership; it is one person getting other people working with him; it is getting the enthusiasm; it is getting other people with you and that is what is happening; … leadership. But do not underestimate the difficulty of saying that to a country which for 17 (sic! 70 years?) has been told: “Do not do anything unless you are told!” and of course they will be confused and of course your party cadres will be confused. They have got there not by merit or initiative or self-reliance but doing what they are told and seeing that other people do what they are told, and do not forget they signed the Helsinki Accords. They are not honoured. There is a little bit more freedom of information, freedom of movement of ideas.

I did 50 minutes, and I did it exactly as I am doing it with you now, on Soviet television, with three people interviewing me and it went out - fantastic!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

What consequences do you predict for the Soviet block, the eastern European countries? Is there going to be more independence for the Warsaw Pact states?

Prime Minister

You have put your finger on something very important, whether the communist systems in those countries will also say: “Well yes, we believe in the same thing! We will try to open much more on freedom of movement and ideas and of peoples and of initiative!” Hungary has a slightly different system from the rest and has opened up a little bit, but nothing like as much as one would like in the interests of human liberty and in the interests of greater prosperity, but it will be very interesting whether they who read the speech … I read every speech. I read in full detail. And of course there is some sort of ambivalence about it. “We have got to be more efficient, we have got to have more initiative, more self-reliance, more enterprise; the factories are no longer to be told what they are going to produce - there will be orders for 50% of it and then you will decide what you are going to produce but nevertheless the thing to do is to keep the Party going!” There is some sort of ambivalence, and I find it fascinating that this effort is being made, really fascinating, and I have not the slightest shadow of doubt that the whole group of intelligentsia are absolutely behind it, but after 70 years it is not easy to turn a country round. [end p10]

I had to do quite a lot in a different way of turning Britain around and I can tell you what happens, and I have already said this to other countries. So often, you see, the results do not come through for the first two years. Just supposing you are saying to people: “Look! You have met your targets for producing 200,000 components but the quality is not there and we are just not going to accept 200,000 components of those; they have all got to come up to a certain quality!” so the first thing is that your apparent satisfactory production will go down and you get all of these kinds of things and of course people, if they are going from being told to use their initiative, in some spheres your own initiative is also freedom to make a certain amount of mistakes, so it takes a time to come through and I am constantly almost guarding against people expecting too much too soon. What matters is that the effort continues in the belief that it will produce an improvement, both in human dignity and in prosperity for those people.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

What are the prospects for you and what kind of period of time does one have to envisage for this kind of programme … the economic system in the Soviet Union?

Prime Minister

I do not know. We have been eight years and the results are now showing. We have the sound financial policy, a return to enterprise and incentive and a wider distribution of ownership and harnessing change. Harness change - do not fight it. You are silly if you fight it. You have got to manage change, but you have got to harness it, and you have got to look at your good management, your design and more personal effort and so on.

For years I began to wonder: well when I have got the sound financial system which is getting your inflation down and keeping your public expenditure under control and getting your incentives; when I have got the framework of law right, that is a framework within which enterprise can flourish. So we had to change change trade union laws; you have to have your standards of safety and safety regulations and you must not have too much red tape but you must keep competition going, and then, when you have got the better management coming up&dubellip;management is enormously important, as I am sure the Soviet Union will find, and that you are not going to allow people to live in a different world of reality. They are not going to say: “I must have the right to produce yesterday's goods and be subsidized!” What you have got to do is say: “No! You produce tomorrow's goods. We might give a subsidy to help you over, but you have got … viability.

And then the research and development and design.

Having got all that right, I thought: “Goodness me! What am I going to do if I have got it all right and the enterprise, the management, and the design of those things is not there?” But it is and it is working as you know. It was just one of those things.

Do not forget we had it there. First in the Industrial Revolution when we invented so many things. We did not always get our industry organized but it is coming up and it is coming well.

Now if it took me that amount to do against the background of a &dubellip; industrial revolution, against a background of freedom, it is going to take quite a lot of time in the Soviet Union, but do not forget this: when you look and see the quality of their research and development in the military field, where they do have a good deal more freedom within that sort of wall, then you know that the talent is there. But management is terribly important. You know, you can have all of the answers and be out-managed by someone else. They can get the prosperity and we are all looking at management and do not let politicians let people retreat into believing they can produce the things of yesterday without going forward to produce the things of tomorrow. [end p11]

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

A great opportunity for western business people?

Prime Minister

Enormous. yes. This is the great thing about the United States. It is such a strong economy. Strong initiative, self-reliance, enterprise. They went there for opportunity and it is tremendously strong.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

The East Germans are now kind of reluctant that this was part of the Gorbachev revolution, meaning “glasnost” and “perestroika.”

Prime Minister

Freedom and restructuring, yes.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

This week, Mr. Honecker is visiting the Federal Republic of Germany …

Prime Minister

Yes, I have seen the photographs and pictures.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

What do you think about this visit? As the “Financial Times” today put it: that old&dubellip;question of reunification. Is that closed now? What is your feeling about this visit?

Prime Minister

Well, the visit is a fact and that is that. The visit is a fact and equally a fact at the moment is that the system in East Germany is totally different from the system in West Germany and we are trying to influence East Germans to say: “Look! If your system is so good, why do you stop people leaving?” but it seems that at the moment they are so fundamentally different, the reunification question does not arise. That is the fact of the moment and the question is how far will “perestroika” “glasnost” work and how far will they respond to Chancellor Kohl saying: “Look! Let us not have any more of shooting people as they come across! This is just inhuman! This is the negation of the first of human rights!” and you watch the people with whom you are negotiating and, as I said and have said always to the Soviet Union: “We shall look very carefully to see how you keep your agreements, including the Helsinki Accords and if those are not honoured then it obviously influences how you will keep other agreements!” but that means that when you are negotiating on the reduction of weapons you have got to build in the possibility of enforcement, which is verification - it is the same thing.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Some commentators seem to feel also in Great Britain that the temptation of unity could draw away Germany from its commitments.

Prime Minister

At the moment it just is not possible. All kinds of things happen and will change, but you can only in your fundamental philosophy and belief go in the direction you believe to be absolutely right, which as I say is this enlargement of liberty and opportunity and be very grateful when you achieve things and all the time fundamentally safeguard the system in which you believe.

The systems are totally different at the moment and I think that they will be for some time, so I do not think the question arises at the moment. Therefore, anything one says about it could not in fact be helpful at the moment. [end p12]

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

No, it is not possible but would it be desirable?

Prime Minister

I do not know, because at the moment you have got two fundamentally different systems and it does not seem to me that they make a possible whole. That is as things are at the moment.

One hopes that things will change.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

One meets some scepticism among European Common Market members about a reunited Germany with 80 million inhabitants …

Prime Minister

You are coming at me with the same question which I have already rejected. It is not possible at the moment.

Now, let us get on with what is possible!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

There is undoubtedly in Germany, and possibly in Great Britain too, some disappointment about the state of the European Community. At the last Summit in June you spoiled the meeting by opposing the proposals - of the Commission. You asked for more discipline before any financing could be agreed on, which was highly approved of in the German public.

What is your prospectus for the European Community?

From summit to summit little progress was made, the problems get more and more out of hand, especially the CAP.

Prime Minister

Your question has some internal contradictions in it.

First, you accuse me of spoiling the meeting. Hold on! First, you accuse me of spoiling the meeting, but I did not. Then you go on afterwards and say that things get more and more out of hand. Precisely!

I did not spoil the meeting. I said to them: “You promised last time we had this argument that we would have financial discipline and that was the basis on which we agreed. You have not got it and you have all flouted it. You have all flouted it. You promised me you will have financial discipline.” I am fed up to the back teeth with people and nations saying “we promise as a condition of something agreed” and then forgetting about it. I just will not have it.

I am merely saying: “You promised and have not delivered and I am going to look at your performance!” I just said I look at the Soviet Union on performance. Should I not also look at our European partners on what they promised and did not produce? I am saying: “You promised financial discipline and we had a Minute about it in the European Council that we would adhere and I said: “Put it in the Treaty!” You said “No, we will adhere to it!” and on that basis increased the budget. No, you have not adhered to it and you are now saying to me: ‘Yes, yes, Mrs. Thatcher, we will adhere to financial discipline, now increase the budget!” I have been had that way before! Not again! “This time you are going to have financial discipline and it is going to be enforceable because what has happened before is every time you have gone to the Common Agricultural Policy and it has been difficult to keep within the budget, you say: ‘Well never mind, we will go over the budget!” so that you allegedly wise people running governments have now got yourselves into a position under which over half of the entire European budget goes to storing and disposing of existing surpluses!” and if you think I spoiled that meeting. I am the one person who said: “This is a crazy way to continue and I [end p13] am not going to give you more money because we are the second biggest contributor, to go on in this silly way!” They have got to have time to adjust. So if I might say so, I made the meeting!

I simply use the same rules of judgement to any Head of Government whom I am negotiating with. “Last time, you said you would stick to financial discipline. Did you? No!” This time, and I can tell you when it comes up to December, they have got actually to have worked it out. They have not worked it out. They did not even save as much on their price fixing as the Commission wanted. Oh no, we cannot carry on in that way!

And for the first time, I am able to say: “No more unless we have an enforceable financial discipline!” because 17 billion ECU not to today's farmers, but on surpluses, on the cost of refrigerating surpluses, on the cost of selling stuff to Brazil and other countries at one-tenth of what our farmers got to produce it. It does not make sense and what is more, if you add, say, 15 billion of that 17 billion, even a less amount, to &dubellip; look at what that would do for putting the money into other products are reducing your unemployment. They are all trying to get round making the tough decisions. I have been here long enough to know and I think I have been there long enough, longer than almost anyone else &dubellip; Martens of Europe, he had just a short interregnum with Mr. Eyskens but no, you cannot run a family, a business, a country, without financial discipline. Why therefore should you say you can run a Common Market without financial discipline? You cannot!

I did not &dubellip; I was right.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

You were right. I agree totally, but how are the chances for coping with this problem?

Prime Minister

I was not going to be bullied out of it. That is what they have got to understand. The moment they start to try to bully me out of it I get firmer and firmer and firmer - and shall.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Do you expect a German-British entente - we are the two biggest contributors to the EEC budget - in order to have the EEC reformed?

Prime Minister

Germany is a very rich Common Market Country. She has something out of her membership that none of the rest of us have: all the goods come in from East Germany without levies. Germany gets more out of the Common Market than any other country in the Common Market. Admittedly, she puts in more but she gets far more out, and the extra amount which she is allowed to put in is certainly comparatively small. But also, as you know, we just cannot go on with the surpluses.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

What is your recipe?

Prime Minister

Well we are working on the same thing as you are. We are working on set-aside and we are working on some of the hill farms for example and in the rural villages where they will not make a living out of farming as such, but it does not make sense to gear the price of a commodity to the most inefficient. It may make sense to keep your farmers going &dubellip; others, but not by the price mechanism.

In tourism, for example, in many of our areas and in the conservation, the countryside and the landscape, what we wish to conserve is a farming countryside but you do not do it by tying the whole thing to what gives the smallest farm a chance to earn a living, by putting an unusually high price on [end p14] cattle, on your sheep. You would not do it in any other business, so it would pay us to keep some of the farms, but it pays us to keep them for environmental and tourist reasons, but you find a different way of paying it, not by the price mechanism. But you must do it, because farmers are very important to us.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

&dubellip; bold initiative in this area &dubellip; we cannot really …

Prime Minister

We are doing set-aside and we have need, for example, of more timber, although we have a small pilot scheme for three years - if they are growing timber they are paid a certain amount. I think it is only £150 an acre for timber, until such time as it comes in; you get the fillings and then you get the others. You have got to have something going.

What you have got to watch is that they do not do a set-aside of the land, plant the timber and then farm the rest of the land more intensively so as to get the same &dubellip;

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

It is one of the most complicated allocation of the resources, but there has not been made any progress …

Prime Minister

But did you also see - I do not know whether you had it in “Der Spiegel” - you go back and look at our “Times” this last week-end. I cannot think which day it was. There has been an audit of the way in which the surpluses were disposed and given for aid. The stuff has gone from surpluses to countries in need. Some of it has not arrived for a year. When it has arrived it has been in a terrible condition. It has not been fit to use, and it is the most awful catalogue of wastage of money. We think we are sending food immediately to Ethiopia. It may take many many months to get there. There is a disaster, you are sending food immediately - it takes many many months to get there. In one country they got the fat, the boiled down butter for oil, and it was only fit to use for soap.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

A terribly depressing story.

Prime Minister

Terribly depressing. A story of the grossest inefficiency that I have seen, but you see, if you give people money and you do not look at it carefully how they use it, they waste it.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

… with your colleagues, everybody knows that the analysis is very complicated …

Prime Minister

It is working. We had to go to milk quotas, so we are getting a reducing amount of milk and butter going to surplus. We are cutting the amount going into intervention. The things that we have, the instruments that are building for ourselves, are working, but they have got to be extended. You see, we did build one and they broke it.

One of the great problems now is the amount of wheat and barley that is going into intervention - enormous! It is going to take something like an extra 3 billion ECU. [end p15]

Now we did build a system for that which was that if in one year you got a certain amount of surplus, then for the following year you cut the price by an amount proportional to the surplus - what we now call “stabilisers” - the new jargon comes into Europe, and they refused to operate it. But that is absurd!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

So what do you &dubellip; now for the Community, let us say in ten years from now?

Prime Minister

But it is a combination of these stabilisers, the quotas and the set-aside and in a way paying your small farmers in a different way. You would not, in fact, say that the price of a car is determined not by how efficient Mercedes and Volkswagen are, but how efficient a small guy in a small town who makes a few. You just would not.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

This disappointment about the European Community is something &dubellip;

Prime Minister

May I also say this: I am amazed that your housewives will take it, the high prices.

You see, if you look at the Common Agricultural Policy, go back to the Treaty. It was to give a fair deal to the producers and a fair deal on prices for the consumers, and I am amazed, because when it came to putting a tax on oils and fats, Chancellor Kohl and I and Holland and Denmark were absolutely together.

No, what you are going to do is put an extra tax on the consumer, so you are going to put up the price of something which you have already gone into surplus. It just does not make sense and I said to M. Jarsquoues Chirac and he said: “But if you are making it hard for the farmers you must make it hard for the consumers!” so I said to him: “You mean that if in fact you are going to reduce the price of wheat because you have got to much you can only do it by putting a tax on bread?” He would not do that.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

As you have said, you behaved like a housewife.

Prime Minister

Yes. It is a pity more people do not! A very good housewife who keeps her house good and in due order and keeps within a budget. Yes, what a pity more people do not! And anyone who wants votes should have a high regard for housewives! Housewives of the world unite!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

What is your prognosis for the next summit? Will there be some progress in the major policy field of the Community in the next summit in December?

Prime Minister

I do not know. We have an agreement. They were going to change the whole method of financing, the GDP, and they have not looked at it at all and they were going to start on the Common Agricultural Policy at the very high level which we had had, although we had great expensive things in disposing of some of the surplus. I simply said: “No! If this is the way you are tackling it, you are not going to tackle it at all!” and there are some of you who really did not want to go to a system of financing, without even having debated or looked at it. This is what Heads of Government wanted to do. “Oh yes, but we have not &dubellip;” I said: “You have not even debated it! You have not looked at it! What is more, I know that two or three of you around this table do not want it!” [end p16]

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

You are sticking to this position in the next &dubellip;

Prime Minister

Yes, and I will tell you something: some of the others at some things agreed round that table, they did not agree when they got back into some of the other Councils. Not 1&dec;4% VAT but the budget shall be by a certain percentage of GDP. They never discussed it and I know they do not want it some of them! But they leave it to me to speak up. I am used to that! They leave it to me to send the minesweepers and leave it to me to speak up!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

You are one of the western leaders and &dubellip;

Prime Minister

I believe in sound policies. We have sound policies in this country; we are sound and reliable allies and I expect, you know, other people to be equally sound.

Let me tell you something: we had a system for sorting out the budget for this year and really quite a bit of it consisted of the payments that go in advance shall be in arrears - it helps us this year - and then there were some other things on VAT. The money we get for collecting things, some of that should be foregone. Well now, they all said: “Right! We agree to that!” and so long as it was just temporary for this year, I was prepared to … but my goodness me, when it got into that Budget Council some of the Heads of Government who had agreed in the larger thing, they were not agreeing in the Budget Council. Very interesting it was!

But you have got to be sound, you have got to be disciplined and do you know some people were saying: “If France and Germany agree on this, we agree!” I said: “No we do not! We look and see if it is reasonable!”

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

This sounds obviously &dubellip; to your countrymen because you were the first prime minister of this century to have won three elections in a row.

Prime Minister

The thing is that people respect you if you say what you mean and if what you are doing is fundamentally sound. Sometimes they may not like it.

I must tell you we did a great service to the Community by saying “No! The same soundness which you expect to have to run in your own budget &dubellip;” and my goodness me, Germany does… “all I am asking you to do is to apply what is second nature.” In fact, Germany leads the world in soundness in her own budgets, low inflation, expenditure under control …

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

But Germany has a problem with farmers, severe problems.

Prime Minister

I have a problem with farmers and Germany also has a problem with unemployment.

I have a problem with farmers and I say I am not asking &dubellip; whatever happens is painful &dubellip; because you went on with the system … every manufacturer would be in clover if you said: “Brother, whatever you produce we will pay you for it, regardless of whether there is a market!” [end p17]

What I am asking is that as we have started to reduce the accumulation of surpluses in milk and butter, so we start to reduce the accumulation of surpluses in grain and in beef and so we start reducing it in wine and tobacco. Do you know the guaranteed price for tobacoo? Some of the stuff that is grown no-one will smoke. We give a guaranteed price for it and it goes into store. Oh yes, ralpe seed oil now, guaranteed prices. The whole country goes yellow in Spring. So of course they have got too much.

But you see, some of this did not make sense and of course, the Mediterranean countries are saying: “You have guaranteed prices for your products; we want them!” We are going to swim in olive oil if we are not careful!

It does not make sense. What you have got to do is go at it steadily so that you get it down steadily and find a different way of looking after some of your small farmers, because I accept they have got to be looked after.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Problems are not going to be easier if Turkey is applying successfully for membership.

Prime Minister

The more you build up those surpluses, the more of your current budget goes to it … not the farmers this year &dubellip; it goes to the surpluses. More goes to the warehousemen!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Are you prepared to consider a further enlargement of the Community? We have the candidacy of Turkey and even Morocco, I think.

Prime Minister

We are agreed that we consider applications. I think it will take, as I did say to our Turkish friends, it is going to take us quite a time to absorb Spain and Portugal, a very considerable time, so it will take a time, I think, to have a look at this application.

I believe passionately in the future of the Community. I must make that clear. That is why I am so concerned to get it right, to get it on to a basis on which I know it can continue and thrive, but if you run away from problems they get worse.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

The way it happened all the past years.

Prime Minister

That is right.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Do you see any chance of a real revolutionary summit - a breakthrough and reform of that &dubellip;

Prime Minister

I do not know. We got a breakthrough at Fontainebleau. Then, the things they undertook to do on budgetary discipline they have not done and I am determined that we shall try to get it through this time. Whether it will come at Copenhagen or later I do not know, but I simply am saying: “Look! It is not enough just to agree to put it down in a Minute of the European Council.” I accepted that last time. It has got to be enforceable, and they are in fact drafting enforceable regulations, but it is no earthly good going back and saying we must merely find extra methods of financing the surpluses for oils and &dubellip; and extra protectionism. Chancellor Kohl has been absolutely marvellous at [end p18] standing together on that and he believes in financial discipline. It is your farmers; it is your farming problems, and you see, there was a fundamental change that made life very difficult for …

Whereas the farm price used to be geared to the centre of the basket, the average of the basket of currencies, in 1984 it was geared to the strongest currency, which was the deutschmark. Now, that means that the more you put your prices up the more you get produced, so it was not a very wise thing to do.

But as I say, I believe passionately in the Common Market, in the Community, so passionately that I am prepared to get all sorts of reputations of being tough. “You spoilt it, Mrs. Thatcher!” I did not. I made it work!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

… about the Channel Tunnel …

Prime Minister

I am passionate about the Channel Tunnel. It is one thing we could do, our generation, for the next generation really and President Mitterrand and I are both keen and we both worked really hard at it. When I was in Scotland the other day, I saw they have completed the first big machine for boring the service tunnel. I said: “There you are! The starting of digging the Channel Tunnel is in Glasgow, not in Kent!” It will be marvellous.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Will you still be Prime Minister when it is opened?

Prime Minister

When it is opened? 1993. Well, let us get through the next election first!

I really thought, you know, that we who have inherited so much in advanced technology. If you really look back to what we call Victorian … time of the last century &dubellip; the fantastic quantum leaps in science that were taking place and they absorbed them all and turned them to advantage. We are now getting different quantum leaps in science, in information technology, and the real quantum leaps are coming, you see, in the biotechnology and if you look at the research that is being done on agriculture, some of the research could put up the yields by 20% now. That is why we cannot run away from it very much longer.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

A question about Thatcherism, the Thatcher revolution. The “Observer” recently wrote: “It is not hyperbole to talk of a Thatcher revolution.”

What is the essence of that Thatcher revolution?

Prime Minister

The Thatcher revolution is really nothing more than a revolution in the sense that it is a return to sound finance, a belief in enterprise and effort. Advances are made by the enterprise, the effort and ideas of individual people, by a right framework of law and by common sense.

Adam Smith perhaps was the first economist or professor of moral philosophy as he was at that time, to enunciate it. It is the creation of wealth of nations.

Of course it was not new. It was merely that he was articulating it and enunciating it. Of course, it is much older than that. The wealth of nations is created by people and the role of government is to have the sound finance, the limited public expenditure, so that you leave enough resources in the private sector. It is the private sector that creates the business, the enterprise, the wealth, and we have to make jolly certain that the industrialists do not get together in some kind of [end p19] cosy cartel. That would suit quite a lot of them and some of the trade unions. You have got to keep competition going and you have got to harness change.

Now everything that I have said is a matter of common sense, but you see, people were going away to think: “Oh, it is the government that can do this, that or the other, Government money.” I spent half my time in Scotland saying: “I have not got any money as government. I have only got the money I take from your pockets and you are telling me you have not enough take-home pay!” It really is the restoration, once again the re-enlargement of liberty, the limitation of the role of government to what it should be and a much much wider distribution of property among people as a whole so that they have their own stake.

The management of property, whether it is a home, whether it is your shares or savings, building up your own security for the future, brings a sense of responsibility and that is all Thatcherism is.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Yet the difference in income distribution has grown, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened in the last ten years.

Prime Minister

No, it has not widened in the last ten years. Some of those statistics! First, you have to look and see how much of your insurance companies and your pensions companies, which are trustees for the people, you have got to count those in too … can you see, when you get those statistics they say the top 10% has 50% of the wealth, but you would expect the older part of the population to have more than someone aged 5, 10, 15 or 20, of course you would, but in fact, you look at all of those; now, 64% of people own their own homes. Yes, 64% of houses are owner-occupied. It is not enough. So, when they die their house will be left to their children. All kinds of people will have expectations who never had it before.

We now have five times as many people owning shares, so they will have some income of their own.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

More share-owners than trade union members now.

Prime Minister

More share-owners than trade union members. I should think it is about the same. Coming up to about the same.

You have got to have honest money because quite a number of people put their money into gilt-edged savings, you know, and they expect it to keep its value and everyone now has a second pension. We started that up some time ago. You have your basic State pension and then you have to have a second pension, occupational pension or a second pension.

Do you see, we are getting a different kind of world and the property is getting more widely distributed. Of course, if you are a person who spent every single cent you have got from age 18 to age 60, you will not have any wealth except I hope what you have got in your house.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

I would like to quote the “Financial Times”, a recent issue. “The increase in inequality since 1979 is beyond dispute,” they say. “This is not only a consequence of lower taxation of the rich, but also follows from the more rapid rise in the incomes of those who work as against benefits to those who depend on the State.” [end p20]

Prime Minister

But one moment! One moment! You have got a totally new concept there.

Of course if you work darned hard you should have more than a person who is dependent on the State.

What they are saying there, if I might respectfully say so, is that if you do work jolly hard and save, yes of course you finish up with more wealth than if you are dependent on the State and if you did not have that your bottom … what they also failed to say is the standard of living of those at the bottom has gone up as well, so you have got the whole thing going up, and there are some people who would far rather depress the standard of living at the top, even though it also depressed the standard of living at the bottom. We are talking about the distribution of wealth. 64% of people own their own homes. That is a wider distribution of wealth. 70% of people who are retired now have an occupational pension as well, so there we are getting the distribution of wealth wider.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

How come there are so many critics? I mean, even those Conservative papers like the “Financial Times” say that this kind of division between poor and rich and the north and south …

Prime Minister

Well, the next day they will be writing an article saying that you are now giving so much in social security to people who do not work that there is not any incentive for quite a number of people who do work. That is what they will write the next day.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

They contend that the poorest quarter of the UK population bought less last year in real terms as compared to 1979. Can that be true?

Prime Minister

Bought less what?

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Goods, stock.

Prime Minister

Well it cannot be true, because in fact your social security payments and particularly in regard to children, are more in real terms than they were in 1979.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

Is there no dispute about the number of the unemployed? There were 1&dec;1 million in 1979 and over 3 million now.

Prime Minister

That is right. Tell me how many there are in Germany!

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

2 point …

Prime Minister

Yes, I know, but it has gone up enormously. Fine. I always say to the “Financial Times”, “If your people know how to go out and start up new businesses and employ people, three cheers! Go on and do it! [end p21]

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

So how do you explain the apparent scepticism of some established British institutions to your policies?

Prime Minister

I am not responsible for them.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

The Church of England attacks your policies.

Prime Minister

They cannot. They are having a wider spread of house ownership. As I have said, 64% now. A million people who lived in municipal housing now own their homes. Five times as many shareholders now as there were when we came in, 20% of the population … with the privatisation.

Building societies: many children under five now have building society accounts. I think that something like 19 million people have building society accounts.

Everyone has a second occupational pension scheme.

So they can analyse these statistics as much as they like. We are getting a distribution. Of course, you decide whether you are going to put extra into an occupational pension or whether you are going to spend the lot. You decide whether you are going to go on and get a better house or whether you are going to spend money on overseas holidays. That is your choice. That is your liberty.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

It really does not bother you if the Church of England attacks your policy in the cities?

Prime Minister

The Church of England has known what it is like to have redundant churches. They are not unaware of the problem, but not all the Church of England does. Yes, some people do. I say to them: “Just go and look at the Parable of the Talents, 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew!” Do you know it? The Parable of the Talents:

The good Master going to a far country calls his staff to him and said: “I give you five talents. Go out and see that it prospers and see if you can make more of it!” And then another one two talents, another one one talent. He came back after so many years and the person with five talents had multiplied it many times by investing it and making more of it. The person with two talents had invested and made more. The one with one said: “Oh I was fearful. I buried it in the ground. Here it is!”

To the people who used their talents to make more: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” and to the one who did not: “I will take your talent away from you and turn it to people who can in fact use it!” It is a Parable of the Talents.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

It seems to be uncertain whether you will run for a fourth term.

Prime Minister

The essence of the Protestant word “ethic” is the Good Lord gave you talent and ability. You have a duty to use them, and when you have used them and become wealthy yourself, you also have a duty to others to try to help them and that is what we preach, but you have got to create the wealth before you can distribute it.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

That is how compassion comes into it? [end p22]

Prime Minister

But of course. Where else does it come from? Where else does a government get the money from unless you are running a Soviet system which says you shall have no money except what a government gives you and so what do they find - there is no effort - so what do they then say? The system does not work. And is it fair to say to a person who works like a Trojan for his own family that you and your family shall not profit from your efforts, but give it all to the house next door? Where do you think you will get the money from, the wealth, and where do you think the Church will go when it wants money for cleaning it and money for re-doing the stonework, money to pay their vicars more? It will go to the people.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

What is going to happen to socialism? … for socialism &dubellip;

Prime Minister

That is right. How do you define socialism?

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

State responsibility …

Prime Minister

No, no, no, that is not socialism. Socialism is nationalisation of the total means of production, distribution and exchange and the planning of that by the central government - and that is what Gorbachev is saying has not worked. Of course it is not, because it is saying you shall have no rights, only that which the government gives you. They will take away everything. Nationalisation of production, distribution and exchange planned by the government. The government decides your future, not you. That is socialism. It does not work, because there is something called human nature and it is right that people should use their talent and abilities. It is right that by virtue of their own efforts they should want to do better for their children. It is right that by virtue of their own efforts they should be able to help their own parents. It is right that by virtue of their own efforts they should go and see someone else and be able to give to the great voluntary agencies. It is right. It is fundamentally right and it is only socialism that says: “No. We the government do that and you have no say!” That is fundamentally wrong. You do not have socialism. You have social democracy which is different.

The Soviet Union is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Socialist, because everything is … go back to your Marx and Engels … you and I bear a terrible burden for that.

Interviewer, Der Spiegel

It seems to be uncertain whether you will run for a fourth term of office, but will Thatcherism survive you and by how many years, in this country?

Prime Minister

Thatcherism will survive because it is more than Thatcherism. As I have indicated, it is fundamental common sense: incentive, effort, the creation of business, extra business, prosperity and wealth. You have to create it before you can distribute it and you must not put so much into the distribution that you stultify and diminish the creation. In other words, if one is putting it in ordinary parlance, do not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. You have got to keep the goose going to go on laying the golden eggs for the future. It works and you accept your obligations as a citizen and as a country. It is far more and deeper than Thatcherism. [end p23]

Interview ends.