Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Jul 18 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

Interview for Sunday Express

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Interview
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express
Editorial comments: 1100-1215. 
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 6810
Themes: Foreign policy (USA), European Union Single Market, Race, immigration, nationality, Terrorism, Foreign policy (Middle East), Conservatism, Labour Party & socialism, Foreign policy (general discussions), Society, Religion & morality, Voluntary sector & charity, Women, Family, Autobiographical comments, Law & order, Sport, European Union (general), Transport, Economic, monetary & political union, Environment, Monetary policy, Education, Housing, Local government, Civil liberties, Industry, Social security & welfare, Taxation, Leadership, Union of UK nations, Energy

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Prime Minister, a decade on the stage, during which Britain has taken prime place in international affairs, we are about to be at a stage where there is a new President of the United States. Whoever that is, he will not be as experienced as you. Do you think it is liable that you will play a more pivotal rule in East West relations and arms talks?

Prime Minister

No-one can ever take the place of the United States, it is the most powerful nation in the free world, powerful in its ideals, powerful in its economy and therefore powerful in its influence, and whoever is President of the United States will be a very very powerful person.

I think it's been a remarkable partnership between President Reagan and myself. I knew him before he was President, he knew me before I was Prime Minister, and it has been apt, if I might use [end p1] your word, a pivotal time in history almost because towards the end of his time we are seeing these historic changes. So it really has been to the immense benefit of the whole of the free world. We have kept NATO very strong, very determined, and I hope that Britain will continue to play the role she has. But it will not substitute for anyone else, it will be I hope a very powerful addition to the United States' passion for freedom and justice which I believe they learnt from us.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Do you fear for the future of the special relationship between yourself and the next President?

Prime Minister

No I don't. One really has established a kind of relationship, it's with the American people, so I don't fear for it. I think it will outlive any changes.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

There is of course a need for a very strong stance against international terrorism. [end p2]

Prime Minister

Very strong. I totally agree. Indeed I remember at the European Summit when we started on the Single Market and freer movement of peoples. I said there must not be free movement for terrorists, drug traffickers or criminals of any sort. And nor indeed is there free movement across the countries of Europe for people who come into it from outside.

You have got to keep those checks, but I think the awful things we have seen from terrorism mean that countries are more alert to it than ever before and I think that the cooperation we get is much greater than over before.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Do you think we have done everything we can, and are doing everything we can for the hostages in Beirut, Terry WaiteMr Waite and John McCarthyMcCarthy?

Prime Minister

I am sure we can, I am sure we are. You know that we will not do deals to get hostages out because that would only put lots more in jeopardy. But the concern is there, and our Embassies do as much as they possibly can to try to find out the whole time where they are, how they are. Indeed, I think that that is their greatest concern in the Lebanon. [end p3]

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Have we seen any positive signs at all?

Prime Minister

I wish I could say we could. But let's face it, no nation, no civilised nation, takes hostages. So that shows you the kind of people you are dealing with. Some of them of course are terrorist groups acting for themselves. But let's make it clear, to take hostages is thoroughly uncivilised. But of course we want to know where they are and how they are because obviously in any nation if they arrest your people you automatically have access to them.

But it is a terrifying phenomenon but you only multiply it if you start to do profitable deals to get them out. I think the relatives here have been absolutely marvellous. Of course they are constantly asking what we are doing, so should I be. And of course we see them and it's very difficult to see them and to explain. But we are doing everything we can, of that I am certain, short of doing deals.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Do you feel that the airbus tragedy has made things easier or worse in that area? [end p4]

Prime Minister

I don't believe that it has made anything really very different as far as terrorists are concerned. It was a terrible tragedy and to happen to the United States who is, after all, so careful of human life was just very unhappy and of course for the relatives of the people who were shot down you can understand the anxiety, the misery and the sorrow.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Have we got any further insight into what conditions they are being held in?

Prime Minister

Indeed no. If we don't know where they are, we don't know what conditions. And every time you know, if there are some that come out, we do our level best from the evidence they give, to find out.

But just remember the kind of people you are dealing with. They are not respecters of human rights as we are.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

On a different and perhaps happier note, you have set out obviously to change Britain's sense of pride in itself and set out I think to try and give society a sense of self-responsibility. Do you think that that is succeeding generally, do you think that people are prouder to be British than they were say ten years ago? [end p5]

Prime Minister

Undoubtedly. One is told so many many times, by all the people who travel abroad, that there is a new attitude to Britain and there is a new pride in Britain, undoubtedly. It has become much more confident again, much stronger. People know that we have led the world in trying to reverse the tide of socialism, not merely to reverse the tide of socialism in Western countries, but now after all it's being reversed even in the Soviet Union. I think we have led the world in showing that it doesn't work. And then eventually Mr Gorbachev says “Well, it's not working in the Soviet Union either.”

So yes. And we had the courage to do it. People know that too and so yes there is a new pride in Britain and it's recognised, and we recognise it too when we go internationally. Certainly we always used absolutely to the fore, that Britain was one of the foremost nations in fighting for freedom and justice and we always had that reputation.

But you add to that the kind of economic strength we have built up and the courage we have had in dealing with things at home, then in fact you do get a very very strong combination. People take much more notice of you, in what you say about overseas matters. They know that you have been prepared to deal with things at home in a courageous way. [end p6]

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

It is reported that you have extreme irritation when you see pictures of idiot football fans fighting on the Continent and behaving in a manner which is shameful to Britain rather than carrying that particular message.

Prime Minister

Yes it is partly, but I think it is something very much deeper than that. As a country gets better off, as people get better off, the fundamental belief of conservatism is that the better you do yourself, the greater the obligations and responsibilities you bear, both to your own family and to the community, of which you are a part, and your country.

So it's two sides of a coin. The greater the prosperity, the greater duty or as you prosper yourself you try to prosper others. But the word prosperity isn't enough. If you look back, as I have so often said, our great cities were built by what I would call the city fathers. The city fathers created employment, the business, created the wealth. They didn't just stop at creating the wealth, they built a city, they built a city, of some pride to live in and they started to build the schools, they built the hospitals, they built the libraries. For some that wasn't enough, they needed a great choir, some of the great choirs of the northern cities, they needed an art gallery and they set standards of courtesy and behaviour and those kind of standards were accepted in those days and they were for the benefit of everyone. [end p7]

Somehow that kind of duty and responsibility, which was a part of the prosperity, didn't stop at making people more prosperous. It said they must have more opportunity in schools, they must have a chance to learn and they must demonstrate duty and responsibility to society.

In other words, you fulfil your obligations to society. Now what has worried me is that people seem to all know their entitlements but they do not necessarily seem to accept their obligations, but then a lot of people do.

So yes it does irritate me because for years we had the reputation of supreme integrity, Britain was always a very honest country, and I think as a matter of fact we still have that reputation. But the courtesy, oh, I can't bear it if sometimes the streets of Continental cities are cleaner than ours. I can't bear it if we have worse graffiti than some of them do. And what one is trying to get back is not merely the pride in Britain in our economic achievements, but a much deeper pride in Britain because of the other things as well, which means people rising to their responsibilities as much as they have been prepared to do more work to get the more prosperous society.

Now don't think this is unusual, it is not. I had in here the other day a reception for the fiftieth anniversary of the Women's Royal Voluntary Service and they all came in, everything that was the best in Britain. And in my little speech that I gave to them I said look, I am so pleased you have come, it's done me such a lot [end p8] of good because as I look at you I think you know if all Britain were like you we would have no worries. Because there they were, people from every part of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, every part, all carrying out duties and responsibilities, all representing, people who are prepared to do something. All believing in supreme courtesy and keeping everything clean and nice and tidy because that was the way they lived and that of course added to the whole quality of life and pride in their community.

So it is very deep and it is really partly happening but not happening quite universally enough in this country. As you prosper so your obligations grow and your obligations are in a free society not only to keep the law, that is the minimal obligation, but to teach all that is best in society, to be courteous and considerate of your neighbours because it is better for us all.

I try to find the word, but it is pride too, it is a different kind of pride but it is a pride in your town, in your village, in your country. It's part of the quality of life. It's part of what makes Britain a good place to live in and you will find this in many parts but as you know in some parts the crime, the fear and the misbehaviour of some of the young people. It is a small minority but we have to make it quite clear, as the old city fathers did, as you did in the old village society, as you did in the old small town, we do not accept this kind of behaviour and we will not have it. And that involves everyone and that's why I come to say as you prosper so your responsibilities get greater. [end p9]

And then not only to spend your money well and look after your own family, there are also other things which make all the difference to making Britain a really good place to live in and a different kind of pride, perhaps a deeper kind of pride.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

I am interested that you take as an example a Women's Voluntary organisation. Apart from your own example, there are not too many women at the top in politics nor indeed anywhere in the business side of our nation. Do you think one needs to involve women rather more at a higher level and do you think that enough has been done to encourage them to be ambitious and to take a leading role?

Prime Minister

There aren't many women at the top in politics, there aren't in the United States either. But there are a lot of women, women Justices of the Peace, there are a lot of women local councillors, there are a lot of women doing the voluntary societies, there are lots and lots of women teachers, critically important jobs, and of course lots and lots of women in nursing and in various kinds of social work. [end p10]

And the reason I think is this. Most women get married and have children and therefore the influence of women has always been far far greater than the number of women there are at the top. Because I think it is the woman that sets the tone of the home, undoubtedly. She is the centre of the home, so she has always been very very influential and is still very influential. But I think that a lot of women who, including those who are very highly educated and could otherwise be at the tops of their careers, would feel that they were missing out if they left their children mid-week to come to London to be in politics. They would feel some sense that they weren't giving enough time to their children and they were feeling that they were missing being with their children.

So you do get quite a gap, I was lucky. We lived in London. My constituency is in London, my home was in London, I was lucky. It would have been very different had my Denis Thatcherhusband had a job in Scotland, in the north-east, in the south-west, and I think that that must be the same all over Europe because you have the same thing that not enough women come into politics.

We have to try to get them in later, when they still have an immense contribution to give.

You will find the same with women who do manage to keep their careers going, because their career is in the same city as their home or in the same village, but we find it that not as many women apply to be Head Teacher as men and I think it is that they have [end p11] this responsibility of running the home, which is their responsibility, and therefore until their children are off their hands they don't necessarily want to take on the extra responsibility of their job as well.

Now I can only say that just remember the influence of women greatly exceeds the number of women who are at the top. But the number of women who are, as their children become older, becoming Justices, Councillors and coming into politics and taking bigger jobs and many many women in business doing extremely well. I suppose there always have been. In small businesses the wife has often been involved as well. Again, not obviously, very much like the farmer's wife, very much involved, like the doctor's wife, of course involved, often the Head Teacher's wife, of course involved.

So the involvement is greater than the number of people you see at the top. But I think the number of people getting to the top is increasing and will go on increasing.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

On the violence of obviously the minority, does the government have plans to strengthen the forces of law and order?

Prime Minister

Yes, but again let me say this, yes they have been strengthened enormously, not only in numbers but in morale, their pay is good, their training is good, their equipment is good, they have been strengthened enormously. We have strengthened the [end p12] sentences. We are doing great big campaigns for “Let's crack crime”, let's break crime. We are increasing the voluntary sector, the neighbourhood watch. You can't just leave crime to the police and forces of law and order any more than you just leave health to your doctor.

So this is why I say the standards for living, the standards that are taught to children, the standards that are acceptable in each town, you know you do not tolerate certain things and you teach your children that and they know it's not tolerated. The way in which you are prepared to give evidence if there is a crime, the way in which you are prepared to go and help anyone in the street who is being attacked or under difficulty, the way in which you are prepared, in a whole street, to make your home as secure and crime-proof as you can. The way in which you are prepared to make your car as crime-proof as you can.

All of these things matter and this is why I say the responsibilities of each person to keep freedom and justice are very very great indeed.

Yes we are doing everything we can as a government, the sentences are bigger, we are building more prisons, we are now having a look at whether, for some of the offences, the non-violent offences, it might be better not to have a prison sentence but a different kind of sentence. And whether it's football hooligans it would be better to say look, all right, every time there is likely [end p13] to be a football match you have got to report somewhere to do some community work so that you can't go and do these things. But in the end, when you have done all these things, beating crime consists in getting people to rise to their responsibilities. Yes and looking after the old lady next door to see that she's all right too.

But you see my Women's Voluntary Services do this and so do many, many, many people. We continue to do everything. Do you know what people say? “Oh, but neighbourhood watch schemes merely drive crime next door.” Well, what a silly attitude! What it means is that it shows you what happens when people rise to their responsibilities and do things for themselves. That's what makes it tough for the criminal and fighting the criminal is a task for everyone in society.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

I think a lot of my readers are concerned that the jury system, which is obviously an area where the community does take a very active part in fighting crime, is going through a rough patch. What is your view about the suggestion that the minimum jury age should be raised from eighteen to twenty-one?

Prime Minister

I don't think that that would necessarily have a very great effect. I think it's the attitude of the person that matters more than a specific age. Now I think many of our young people are [end p14] crying out for some kind of discipline. You hear many of them saying “Oh yes, we wish we had more discipline when we were younger”, and one of them said to me, “There aren't any rules any more.”

Young people are I think crying out for clear rules by which to live. Of course you break the rules from time to time. But they are clear, accepted, established rules by which to live.

No-one is perfect and of course the rules will be broken, but they are there and they know that life only goes on as we would wish it when the overwhelming majority live by them. I think that in young people you have quite a number, a growing number of those now.

Now what have we done about juries? Yes we have been worried about them. Peremptory challenge as you know is going under the Criminal Justice Bill, so we have abolished that, shall do when the Bill is totally through, so that you simply could not have in a multiple trial for conspiracy your barrister challenging without cause, going on and on challenging, until he got a jury that he rather liked the look of. That goes.

They can challenge with cause obviously, to say look my client knows that person, they can challenge with cause, so peremptory challenge is going. We are also raising the age for Jury Service. We have many more older people in our society. May I put it this way, the older people are younger at the older ages than they used to be and people are a lot younger at sixty-five and seventy than they used to be. [end p15]

So that helps to balance out the other thing. But I think it's the attitudes that people take and this is why I say you have got to take the responsibility, it is in everyone's interest that those who are caught and are guilty of a crime are convicted and sentenced. Now you can't do that without a jury.

So we are doing things about juries, the peremptory challenge, increasing the capacity of Jury Service up to seventy, and also you know we are having a much closer look to see if there is anyone on a jury who has been convicted of a serious crime, much more careful than we used to be.

So we are doing something about that, but again, it's part of one's duty as a citizen to do Jury Service and to take it very very seriously indeed.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

It is all part of being British.

Prime Minister

Yes it is. We have got back to the prosperity, and we can do it too and it is the new pride that I want that are the standards for which Britain used to be renowned, that we restore those, together. [end p16]

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Can I lead you to 1992 and the worrying prospect among some that the British way of life might be interfered with, even perhaps swamped by pan-Europeanism. How do you feel about that and how will we retain our character and our sovereignty?

Prime Minister

As you know, I feel very firmly in a Europe, the sovereign nations working more and more closely together in the interests of each and every one. And I don't necessarily see 1992 as you do. I see it as a great opportunity for us in Europe but don't forget of course it's an opportunity for other people here as well. So we have got to be competitive and that's a challenge but we have shown we can rise to that challenge.

In 1993 you will have a Channel Tunnel; now that gives a lot of opportunity, for the first time in our history we shall have a land border with the people who speak a different language as their main language.

I see it as an opportunity and I am not frightened of it at all. As you know, when Europeans start talking about European union and this, that, and the other, I always say, “Well, what do you mean by it?” because I really can't see, as I go to those European Councils, I can't see any of you likely to go home and say to their Parliaments, “Look, I've taken away all of your rights to do anything about what happens in this country and it's all going to Europe.” [end p17]

They are not going to do it, however much they talk. They are just not, and I wouldn't be prepared to do it in anyway. But I am prepared to have bigger opportunity for British goods and services to sell because you know there are sometimes some invisible barriers in Europe and you know what people will always say, and rightly so, we abide by the rules, we want to be jolly sure that they are too. We want to make it clear that they are abiding by the rules, because this is an old way of saying that we tend to be a very honest country and we tend to be very honest in the way in which observe the rules.

So I am not at all frightened of 1992. Britain will still be a sovereign nation but the trading barriers will come down but as I constantly say, the barriers against terrorism, against crime, against movement of things like rabies and so on and there is no right for a person who comes in from outside Europe to move freely across Europe, as there is for European people to move freely among Europe. So we have got to keep those barriers up.

So don't be afraid of it. It's a fantastic opportunity for us because many many people who want the entrance into Europe and its freedom of circulation of goods and capital, we're used to freedom of capital movement, we've got it. They are miles behind us in Europe, except Germany, so we don't have anything to fear from it. They are much more frightened than we are. [end p18]

They have still got exchange control, save Germany. They are much more frightened of it than we are, we are used to it. But because we have got free capital movement, because we have got no exchange control, and because we speak the language which is almost the lingua franca of the world, it's a fantastic opportunity to get more and more companies coming in here to start up their operations here, because they have confidence in Britain, because we speak the language, because they know that they can repatriate their earnings because they want to sell not only to Britain but they want to export from Britain to Europe.

That gives us a chance with exports we have not had before. So for us it's a fantastic plus. We needn't fear it. It's a much bigger plus for us in a way than it is for anyone else.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

As long as we remain powerful and strong.

Prime Minister

Yes powerful and strong, confident, sound in our financial policies, absolutely vital, free, a system of justice and a system of integrity. That's another reason why I am so anxious, some people call it the environment, environment is more than the litter and getting rid of the sulphur dioxide, it's the way it's being good to live in, getting on top of crime, with a partnership in everyone. It's living up to the best in our character, “to thine oneself be true”. [end p19]

And if Britain is true to herself then the opportunities are boundless.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Are you quite content at the moment with the economy?

Prime Minister

The economy, I am quite satisfied that we do take the necessary steps to keep the economy sound, that's the reputation we have built up. Inflation is a bit too high at the moment and therefore we have to take the steps to get it down and I am quite satisfied that we will take those steps.

The other thing I wanted to say was this year the legislation is really showing to everyone, we haven't quite got the message across, that Britain has done very much better, our people, all people, even the people at the bottom are coming up, but our whole thesis again, our conservative thesis, is not only do you rise to your obligations but you constantly extend opportunity to people who haven't had it.

That's why the Education Bill to extend the opportunity if you are not satisfied, then all right let's have these kind of independent State schools. So if you are not satisfied with what you are paying in tax for education, right you have a chance to take more part and run the schools in a way that will give the children [end p20] a better education and if you are in some of those housing estates, some of them excellent, some which are really run down, we are taking over some of them to really get them done up and return them, perhaps not always to Council ownership, to different sorts of ownership so you get a new pride again.

So you extend opportunity. I can't stand the kind of levelling down. I can't stand it when people won't let individuals climb as high as they can. It's to the benefit of everyone that they climb high and in climbing high they do better for us and our task is to give more and more people the opportunity so that they can all come up further.

Again you see it's living up to what is best in Britain. It is a new pride. It is making it seem that Britain is a really good place to live in.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Would you call it a one nation policy?

Prime Minister

Of course. We are all British. We all benefit from having this fundamental British character and our task is to extend the opportunity. I don't care who you are or what your background is. What matters is what you can do for your country and for that we intend to give you as much opportunity as we can. [end p21]

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Some people have said that the Conservatives could well stay in power until the next century. Do you think that's a realistic view of political life here today?

Prime Minister

I would like to think so and one works so because I would like to feel that all the foundations we are building, and we are still building, are first a sound economy and part of your pride is that you are sound, you have honest money, you live within your means and if it gets a little out of hand you are prepared to take steps to bring it back.

Also part of that is this other thing, the British character, its integrity, the quality of life built by the city fathers which we are restoring. The acceptance of certain standards and values. People call them Victorian, they are far older than that.

On that foundation we build, extending opportunity ever more widely. On that foundation we rest both our achievements and as you climb one peak and get to one peak so as you know if ever you climb a hill there is always another one to climb, so you always are doing better. It's that, is it James Russell Lowell,

“New occasions, teaching new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
they must upwards still and onwards, who would keep abreast of truth.”
But you only do it through your people. It's through them rising to their opportunity, their responsibilities. [end p22]

And each of us teaching them all that is best in Britain, all the very good things that Britain has done and that as you have benefitted from the past, so you have a duty to give to the future.

But on that basis yes I hope that we will stay in because I think that it is the right basis for Britain.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

What of the next five years in broad terms, Prime Minister?

Prime Minister

It is really an extension of what I have said. Gradually capital ownership is extending as part of one nation, but don't think capital ownership is just capital ownership. With the ownership of property comes responsibility, you are responsible for keeping your own in good order, you expect other people to respect yours and have a respect for theirs and a respect for other people.

Everything like that has a quality as well as an economic value and the qualities that it bring are just as important, so you extend that.

You extend the opportunity for people who have not had it. But I am very very anxious at the same time to bring out not only this talent and ability and inventiveness and power to do better but with the power to do better the pride of the city fathers, we are going to make our city a marvellous place to live in and we all have a part so our schools are good and the children who go there behave in a way which gives pride to the school, like those young girls [end p23] from the Worthing School the other day because they bring pride to their parents, to the school, to the city. This is our city, this our country, this is our duty, this is our pride, and only we can do it. And we can't do it without everyone.

So it is both. You extend the capital ownership. Do you know if you look, countries without property rights have no human rights. So you extend that.

But don't think it's just capital or savings. It's because you want to do things for your children, it's because you want your home to be the centre of your life. It's restoring the family to the centre of your life and if you don't do that, and you must watch that, marvellously we still have most people you know looking after their old folk and it's their pride to do so and it goes right throughout our society.

So it really is a revivifying, a regenerating a rebirth of all that is best and then it matters, it matters as much as the economy, but the capital ownership is part of the family. You are beginning to think of the home as the centre of your life, with your capital, automatically you are thinking of the future for your children, your grandchildren. You are thinking not only of the life which you live, we are proud of our city, our village, our country, but you are thinking of a pride in the future because you can affect the future. [end p24]

But you teach not only that as you are able to inherit a little bit to start your life so that gives you a responsibility to help others.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Do you see any slowing down in the change that has taken place in recent years?

Prime Minister

No I don't, the pace of change is going quite fast because of the scientific discoveries. Now it brings opportunities to new industries who have not had it before. I think the days of the clanking, dirty, noisy industry are going, it's push button. Look you have seen it in your own business. Push button - I go round one of your newspapers and it isn't dirty any more. They are in clean white overalls, it's clean and so many of your big industries and small, they are push button, they are not noisy. That's because of the new computer electronic revolution which enables you ironically enough to revivify villages.

You can get a lot of the latest electronic industries starting up there. So in order to revivify your village life and to let that have its effect. [end p25]

The other changes, you are getting fantastic medical changes and people are living longer, much longer. Now that means that they actually want to go on working longer, maybe not full time. But you know you see so many people now retiring and their great ambition is to do part-time work. We have the earnings rule which we try to lift and lift and lift because more and more pensioners want to do some work, part-time work that suits them. It may be a different kind of work.

It does two things, it gives them a better income, a bigger income although all pensioners that retire now have two pensions, it gives them some kind of, something to get out to, where they are needed as well, a social life that keeps them up with their social contacts and makes them feel yes they really are needed.

So you are not going to find the pace of change slowing. One is quite excited about some of the small industries that we can get into some of the small towns and villages but not big clanking ones which of course we are trying to deal with in the environment are the big power stations that use coal and so on and steel. There are still I am afraid some of the dirty tasks to do, but on the whole industry is changing from the big heavy clanking industry to much cleaner industry. [end p26]

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

From what you say I imagine that tax cutting has to stay essential policy?

Prime Minister

Yes, and what is strange about that? If you look back to almost all political parties a century ago, what was their ambition? That people should be able to keep a bigger share of the fruits of their own labour. What a pity all parties don't have that now. And as you produce more pounds you can get the same standard on a lower rate of taxation you can get a bigger income as people become more productive.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Do you see the possibility of even 20&pcnt;?

Prime Minister

I am a great believer in taking things by steps and by showing you have achieved one step you show you have set a new target. There is never airy fairy, it's practicable and it's achievable. You have got two things, you have got the threshold at which you start to pay tax and you have got the level at which you come into tax and obviously one is still striving to increase the gap between those who are on social security and those who are in [end p27] earnings. But we will get on the way to 20&pcnt; before we set any new targets.

You see, you have to get increased output and growth in order to get that.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

You are enthusiastic about the future. It seems relevant to ask you about your future?

Prime Minister

Well, I don't know.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

What sort of factors do you think might tell you that it might be time to retire at some point or other?

Prime Minister

I think that so much of what one's done politically, one's done first by certain standards but second by a fundamental feel that those standards which one is trying to set, hard work, much more independence, yes being responsible for your own family and building up your own security, find an echo in the hearts of most British people except those people who are so left-wing and so [end p28] intellectually arrogant that they think they have the right to plan everyone else's life as well as their own, but that we are not good enough to plan ours.

So everything that I do is done on the basis that it finds an echo way and beyond the number of people who vote for me, way beyond them, to the kind of decency, respectability, doing better for your family, looking after your old folk, looking after your neighbour, wanting certain standards, so when you operate by feel as well as by common sense, I think you will know when people say, “Well, it's time the old girl went.” You know, you'll know.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

There is a feeling in Scotland that the government is four hundred miles away and doesn't quite understand Scotland. There is a feeling among some that some form of devolution and assembly, whatever, would improve that view and there is the undoubted fact that the Conservative Party has not done as well in Scotland as perhaps we had all hoped it would. What plans do you have for Scotland?

Prime Minister

This Government is very proud of Scotland and if I might say so I am English, and if I might say so I think English people are very proud of Scotland and very proud of Scottish people. [end p29]

You will find when you go overseas that you are very proud of Scottish people. Of course I want us to do better there and as a matter of fact we go to Scotland more often I think than perhaps to any other part of the United Kingdom. Scottish people practically ran the Empire, come and run so many bits of Britain, and of course expect to continue to do that because we are all part of the United Kingdom.

I think as yet we haven't got as much ownership, as many owner occupiers in Scotland and I think that accounts for quite a lot, as we have in Britain and we must do that.

I also think that it was very unlucky that just at a time when south of the border, where unemployment was falling quite fast, it didn't start to fall in Scotland quite as fast because of something that none of us could have foreseen, that we got a sharp drop in the price of oil and the oil industry, which had been doing enormously well, suddenly started not to do so well and that counteracted the improvement that was happening.

But we understand Scottish pride, because we feel proud of Scotland. We understand it and we think, and I think perhaps they feel, although they won't always say it, that Scotland is doing now very well indeed, third best of all Britain. That's London and the South East, London first, South East second and Scotland third best. [end p30]

I think that in their hearts they know Scotland is doing well and they know it is doing well because we have had a Tory government for nine years and some of them realise that a Tory government is the only one that puts into practise the tenets of Adam Smith.

So really Scotland ought to be more Tory than other parts of Britain because it was we who picked up everything that's best in Scottish character, including Scottish economists, and put it into practice over the whole of the United Kingdom.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

There is quite a public relations job to be done up there?

Prime Minister

Yes and we are very pleased that you are helping us to do it.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

How are you going to turn opinion?

Prime Minister

Only by going on, this is what is happening in Scotland and it would never have happened without a Conservative Government, never. Neither the increased prosperity nor the increased home [end p31] ownership, nor the increased standard of living. I think the increased amount going to the arts, the increasing way in which people are sponsoring things, it would not have happened without a Conservative Government.

Now, that's the message and we are going on that way because it's good for the whole of the United Kingdom.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

What did you think about the Garden Festival in Glasgow?

Prime Minister

Fantastic. We had a marvellous reception there, fantastic. Look at Glasgow, the revivification of Glasgow, the rebirth of Glasgow, it wouldn't have happened without a Conservative Government. Look at Edinburgh, thriving. And when Aberdeen had a terrible tragedy it was not only Aberdeen's tragedy, it was the tragedy of the United Kingdom.

No, I don't think that when the crunch comes, that Scotland will wish to throw that away or risk throwing it away.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

So your view of the future is extremely encouraging? [end p32]

Prime Minister

The future is built by its people. We are giving the people the opportunity to build it and they are responding. And so is Scotland, so is Wales. Absolutely remarkable. Because we had, as Winston ChurchillWinston said, we had faith and trust in the people and they are responding. They won't want to go back, they won't want to lose the pride that is Britain. It's another first for Britain.

In my first year here someone came over from another country, I'm not going to tell you who, and sat there, a very difficult year 1981, they are watching you very carefully Mrs Thatcher. I said that is very interesting, as a matter of fact why. We are waiting to see if you can turn back socialism because if you can, other people will too. Nine years later, we have, and other people are.

Robin Esser and Tony Smith, Sunday Express

Even the Soviet Union.

Prime Minister

Yes, marvellous isn't it?