Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Aug 4 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Interview for The Age

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Sydney, New South Wales
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Creighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age
Editorial comments:

Between 1700 and 1745 local time MT gave interviews to local journalists.

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1741
Themes: Foreign policy (Australia & NZ), Northern Ireland, Labour Party & socialism, Foreign policy (USA), Autobiographical comments, Leadership, Conservatism, Society

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

Prime Minister, have you been surprised by the protests here in Australia and how should leaders handle public protests? Should they stay away so the trouble is avoided or ought they not to be deterred?

Prime Minister

No. You never give in to minorities who do not believe in the ballot, but turn to violence and intimidation. You never give in to them and if you do, democracy is finished!

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

Were you surprised? [end p1]

Prime Minister

No. I have had demonstrations in Melbourne before and we know the IRA. We know them. They bomb, they maim. There have been 2,000 people killed in the troubles in Northern Ireland. They will even go to the most sacred service that we have and the greatest national service we have, when we go to the Cenotaph. I went to one in Northern Ireland in Enniskillen - they even put a bomb there. Can you imagine how you would feel if people put a bomb on Anzac Day?

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

Following your remarks yesterday, how can Conservative parties like the Australian Liberals, who have had their policy stolen by Labour, cope with their situation?

Prime Minister

I don't believe they have had their full policy stolen by Labour. I think they might have had some aspects of it taken because there is only way to run a country - soundly, as far as financial policies are concerned - and that is the way we believe in fundamentally. We don't adopt it for pragmatic reasons, we believe in it fundamentally. [end p2]

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

Prime Minister, have you been struck by the difference in policy and performance between your Labour opponents in Britain and the Hawke Government here and how would you account for that?

Prime Minister

The Labour Government here has adopted some of the fundamental financial policies that it has to, as indeed did Mr. Healey when socialist policies which they tried first had virtually made the country bankrupt. In our case, they tried what they believed in first - it made the country bankrupt; they had to go to the IMF, the IMF insisted they followed conservative policies, so they got on much better, but they do not believe in them and they always try the wrong ones first, and always have to come to the right ones.

When they are in opposition, I think they just never take account of the different approach to finance they had to take when they were in power and they still mouth some of the policies and some of the programmes which just would never work, which would totally fail, and which Britain totally rejected.

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

What is the main purpose behind these ministerial talks that you proposed in Canberra the other day? Is it primarily trade or does it also have to do with Britain getting more involved in the Pacific? [end p3]

Prime Minister

Well, we are still involved in the Pacific as far as defence is concerned, as you know. It was that I felt quite strongly that we had not been quite close enough to Australia.

Australia is now having its bicentennial. It is a landmark in the history of Australia. It is obvious that Australia now feels her nationhood very strongly and I felt that we somehow had not got as close a relationship as we should have. On the basis of mutual respect for one another - not forgetting the past but saying we are nations and we can negotiate on the basis of mutual respect - I felt we should have a closer relationship.

We meet our European partners quite often and I would not like it to be said that when we meet Australia we do not meet in a similar, careful and deep way, and I felt it was not enough just to have Prime Ministers or Foreign Secretaries talking to one another, but it is far better for the Prime Minister to come and bring with him a few Ministers, his Defence Minister, perhaps the Minister of Foreign Affairs, perhaps his Minister of Trade, perhaps one other, maybe Environment, but these things go right across the boundaries, so that we can have lots of bilateral talks and plenary discussions and at the same time, yes, we can have a trading week and we can have a number of other things so we really kind of upgrade the whole relationship to what really it ought to have been. [end p4]

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

And you don't see the Treasurer as part of the talks, the Australian Treasurer?

Prime Minister

Oh yes, we normally do have the Treasurer.

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

What is your impression of Mr. Keating? Have you formed an impression?

Prime Minister

I think Paul Keatinghe is now following the financial policies which I very much agree with, but they are the ones I have been following the entire time! I did not have to try the wrong ones first, because I did not believe in them!

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

He didn't either!

Prime Minister, what do you think that post-Reagan America is going to be like and how much difference will it make if it is President Bush or President Dukakis? [end p5]

Prime Minister

I do not know if that is totally a matter for them. I do know that the close relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom and the personal friendship between President Reagan and myself before either of us was in this position really has, I think, helped to bring about very great changes in the world and in East-West relations and it has been very good for America, very good for Britain, very good for Europe, very good for the world and I would just hope that we can keep a close relationship.

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

Prime Minister, in Australia, we notice how quickly Prime Ministers here seem to age in office. If I may say so, without being presumptuous, you look the same as you did a decade ago! What is the secret, Prime Minister?

Prime Minister

I have no idea. I thrive on being busy. But don't you find life is better when you are very busy? Don't you find that the days that are best is when you have far too much to do and you finish up the day and you have managed to do it? The adrenalin flows and I have got very good adrenaline! [end p6]

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

Could I ask you, has your rapport with Prime Minister Hawke improved or changed over the years? How do you two get on now?

Prime Minister

We debate and discuss very freely, very vigorously and on the basis of mutual respect and friendship.

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

But you have had a couple of run-ins at Commonwealth Conferences or difficult times perhaps?

Prime Minister

Well, good Heavens! If you stand very firmly on a certain viewpoint, you will have difficult times. We shall never get a time when everyone agrees and wouldn't it be dull if we did?

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

One writer has labelled politicians - political leaders - “healers or warriors”. Which are you?

Prime Minister

A healer or a warrior? You have to be both. If you don't fight for what you believe in positively, persistently and persevere, you will not achieve anything. You have to heal [end p7] sometimes when you see that it is necessary and really have to work when you see some things that have gone wrong and people have got into their trenches on both sides. You just have to say: “Now look! This really won't do! We shall never go forward this way! Now, come on! Let's get together and go forward!”

You have both. You are never either one thing or the other. You know, there are all kinds of trends in your character just as there are many many strings to your bow. Sometimes you play on one, sometimes you play on another.

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

Do you feel that “Thatcherism” will live on beyond Thatcher as Prime Minister?

Prime Minister

“Thatcherism” will live on after me, because it started long before me. It is based on common sense and the fundamental philosophy of freedom of choice and the other side of the coin to freedom is responsibility and it is all under a rule of law and that you are primarily responsible for your own actions and your own family and, in fact, you have a duty towards the community. I very much believe in the obligations of society. No-one can have any rights unless other people have previously performed obligations. Far older than I am. I have just merely revived them and brought them back, so of course they will endure. [end p8]

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

Do you have a lot more to do still?

Prime Minister

Yes.

Crighton Burns and Michelle Grattan, The Age

What do you think historians in fifty years' time will say is your most distinctive achievement?

Prime Minister

It will depend on the historian. I have read so much history and come to the conclusion a lot of the view of history depends more on who wrote it than who in fact did it.

I hope they will say that we really restored all the great things of the British character and brought people back to achieving up to what they could achieve. You know, that most deadly phrase in politics is that politics is the art of the possible and any politician who says it lowers his sights of what is possible, so you become depressed as to what you think is possible, instead of saying: “Politics is the art of achieving the impossible! Now let us go to it!”

And so, yes, we did change the attitude. We did everything that people said we couldn't and we were not a bit perturbed. We said: “We will try and we will go on trying and we will not sacrifice long-term gain for short-term comfortable expediency!” It worked! [end p9]

Bernard Ingham

Prime Minister, I think your interviewers have achieved the impossible!