Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Aug 5 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for BBC (Brisbane EXPO 88)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Radio Interview
Venue: Media House EXPO 88, Brisbane, Queensland
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Paul Reynolds, BBC
Editorial comments: Between 1500 and 1615 MT gave a press conference and interviews.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1105
Themes: Foreign policy (Australia & NZ), Northern Ireland, Terrorism, Law & order, Monetary policy, Foreign policy (Africa), Commonwealth (South Africa)

Paul Reynolds, BBC

Prime Minister, can I ask you first of all about your visit to Australia, did you achieve your objectives in coming here?

Prime Minister

I think I achieved them. It's a long time since a British Prime Minister has been on an official visit here. I hadn't realised that no-one had been officially since Harold Macmillan came many many years ago and they felt a bit miffed about that. But you know, with the Bicentennial I really think Australia has reached a new peak. She is enormously conscious of the importance of being Australian, of the importance and significance as a nation and that means that we can embark upon a new chapter, with a new approach, a basis yes of a common history and a common heritage. But as mutual respect between nations, continuing forward on the grounds of our mutual interest and warm regards. [end p1]

Paul Reynolds, BBC

Did the melee in Melbourne upset you?

Prime Minister

No, I hope it didn't upset them.

Paul Reynolds, BBC

There was a lot of criticism of the Melbourne police, that you were exposed to such a risk and those of us who were there certainly took that view. What was your view of it?

Prime Minister

I have no criticism of the police. Don't forget, I am used to those kind of Irish demonstrations, I know what havoc a few IRA people can wreak upon those who are not used to it and not anticipating it. So I wasn't in any way put out. I know what it's like. I just hope that the many many people who were trying to see me and to some extent were also trying to break through the cordon around me, I am sorry that they were some of them disappointed, but I did manage to see quite a lot.

Paul Reynolds, BBC

The IRA has indicated that its bombing campaign in Britain will go on and there have been a number of serious incidents recently. Historically Britain has never overcome the IRA, why do you think that you can do it? [end p2]

Prime Minister

We shall go on. Do you mean to suggest that the BBC thinks we should give into terrorism and violence? That would be the end of democracy in Northern Ireland. Of course we must go on and defeat terrorism and violence and I just hope that you don't in future give as much publicity to it and then I think we might not get as much.

Paul Reynolds, BBC

Why therefore do you allow the IRA to have a legal political party if you are against publicity? These people are interviewed and give public statements under the law.

Prime Minister

The IRA is a proscribed, that is forbidden, organisation in Britain and anyone who interviews them I would expect to be committing an offence.

Paul Reynolds, BBC

But Sinn Fein, which fully supports the IRA, is a legal political party. If you are so much against the publicity, the logic is surely to ban Sinn Fein. [end p3]

Prime Minister

No, do you in fact give interviews to IRA people? IRA is a proscribed, forbidden, organisation. Sinn Fein is a political wing. Yes I understand the problems of Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein does say it supports violence, but IRA perpetrates violence.

Paul Reynolds, BBC

Will you reconsider introducing internment in Northern Ireland?

Prime Minister

We have not reconsidered it yet. I think it would be a very very serious step to take and we should think long before doing so.

Paul Reynolds, BBC

But is it not a very very serious situation?

Prime Minister

Yes indeed. Of course there is a serious situation, but I don't think necessarily that internment would help that situation.

Paul Reynolds, BBC

Prime Minister you have been banging the British economic drum on your visit to Australia and to the Far East and yet at home inflation is rising and mortgages are crippling many people. When will inflation and interest rates start coming down? [end p4]

Prime Minister

I cannot tell you precisely when inflation will start coming down. I can only point out that it's a lot lower in Britain than it is at present in Australia and I can only point out that we have taken the necessary steps to bring it down. As I indicated previously, we happen to have mortgage interest in our retail price index and one of the ways to bring inflation down and not to put interest rates up and mortgage interest, and the irony is that to get the fundamental rate of inflation down, you have in fact to appear to put it up if you count it by the RPI.

We have taken the necessary steps, they will take a little time to work through, but they will work through.

Paul Reynolds, BBC

Is the economy overheating and how could you bring it down by other than raising interest rates even further?

Prime Minister

I think it's going a little too fast, as Nigel Lawsonthe Chancellor has indicated many times, which is why one has had to put up interest rates. No-one likes putting up interest rates, but when you are faced with the choice, do we put up interest rates or do we risk a return of inflation, there is not the slightest shadow of doubt which path you have to take. [end p5]

A return of inflation will be much more devastating to people's savings and to industry and to commerce and people's standard of living than a rise in interest rates. If you look, this has happened before. We had a very high interest rate in 1986 after a previous rise in inflation and we brought inflation down and it came down to a much lower level than it had been previously, so it works.

Paul Reynolds, BBC

One final question Prime Minister. You said here that South Africa should not be isolated. Would you consider going there yourself and under what circumstances?

Prime Minister

I have no plans to go to South Africa. But I do sometimes think that had the nations of the world not isolated her quite so much, she might have come towards our view of getting rid of apartheid more quickly. It has always seemed to me to be very ironic that we have been very anxious to keep a dialogue going with the Soviet Union at a time when it was under very very different management, if I might put it that way, from what it is now.

But at the same time, we isolated South Africa and did not give her the benefit of seeing how our countries are run, which I think would have helped and, therefore, she has not been accustomed [end p6] to talking about things with other Heads of Government in the outside world. I must say at present I have no plans to go.