Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Nov 17 Th
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for BBC2 Newsnight (visiting Washington)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Sheraton-Carlton Hotel, Washington DC
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Nick Clark, BBC
Editorial comments:

Between 1330 and 1345 MT gave interviews to the British media.

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 864
Themes: Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states)

Nick Clark, BBC

Prime Minister, this has been an excellent week to consider the special relationship between Britain and the United States. Is it not true these days that there are many other countries - Japan and Germany - for economic and strategic reasons, that are more important in the United States?

Prime Minister

No. The United States has the leadership of the Free World. A very strong enterprise economy; people, fiercely independent; strongly and fiercely self-reliant. What happens in the United States has more impact on the rest of the world than almost any other country.

Nick Clark, BBC

Are we as important here as, say, the Japanese and the Germans, for these economic and strategic reasons? [end p1]

Prime Minister

I think we are important for different reasons. We, because of our history, tend to have a world view of affairs. We are not blinkered in any way. We think not only of the United Kingdom, but we think of the United Kingdom as part of the wider world, so when there are things in the Far East to discuss, things in the Middle East, East-West relations things, Africa, we automatically have experience which we can bring into play and we are not small-minded - we are a big minded people, because of our experience - and that matters.

Nick Clark, BBC

Do you see yourself as a channel between the new President and Mr. Gorbachev?

Prime Minister

No, I do not see myself as a channel to anyone. I see myself as in an extremely important job of being Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, with something to say and perhaps a little bit of insistence that one may be heard.

Nick Clark, BBC

How important is it, do you think, that there should be an early NATO Summit so that Europe and the new American Administration present a united front to Mr. Gorbachev? [end p2]

Prime Minister

I am absolutely certain that the habit which President Reagan developed not only of consulting with the Allies but being seen to consult with the Allies, will be one that is put into practice by George Bush as the new President.

I think, you know, when you take on the Presidency of the United States, you cannot do everything immediately. He is being a little bit pressured at the moment and I think we had better leave him to work out his priorities. I am sure that he will do those things in good time.

Nick Clark, BBC

Mr. Gorbachev is moving very swiftly isn't he? He is coming to New York shortly; he is going to visit you as well. You surely have to get some sort of view ready, don't you?

Prime Minister

Listen! Mr. Gorbachev has been there quite a time. We do not have to have a new view ready. George Bush has been Vice-President in President Reagan's Administration. His views are very similar. They will be carried forward. We do not need a new set of views. [end p3]

We support the bold reforms that Mr. Gorbachev is undertaking. We would like them to succeed. We support the Arms Control Talks for which the strategy was laid out at a meeting I had at Camp David in about November 1986, so we do not at the moment need a new set of East-West policies. We need to continue to carry them out and, of course, when you have a personality who is different going into the Presidency, you renew your contacts - a very good idea.

Nick Clark, BBC

Yesterday, when you and President Reagan were speaking in public, you seemed to be suggesting that between you, you had changed the world in the last eight years. This seems a fairly startling claim, is it not?

Prime Minister

Would you just look at the facts!

East-West relations are enormously different. I doubt very much whether in 1980 you could have predicted that in 1988 we would have the first Arms Control Agreement to reduce nuclear weapons. I doubt whether you could have predicted that the Russians would be withdrawing from Afghanistan. I doubt whether you could have predicted that there would be prospects of settling the Angola [end p4] problem. I doubt whether you could have predicted that the world economy would be steadily growing and there would be a standard of living unknown in previous generations and that America would have a new-found economic strength. I doubt whether you could have predicted that many countries in the world, having played with a Socialist-Communist doctrine, would be admitting that that did not work - it gave their people neither dignity nor prosperity - and that they would be hankering after something much closer to what the Free World has.

Nick Clark, BBC

And you think Britain's role in that has been very important? You seemed to be saying yesterday that it was.

Prime Minister

I most certainly do. They are all the things for which we have stood and if you look back right to our manifesto, you will see we have been staunch in defence as a basis for negotiation, staunch in our economic policies and those are the economic policies which the world has.