Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for BBC (visiting Washington)

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

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

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 712
Themes: Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Middle East), Civil liberties

David McNeil, BBC

And with me now in Washington is the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister, let us look first at the Reagan Presidency.

The Iran Contra affair led to great criticism of the President; the budget deficit has grown in huge proportions under his term; and it could be argued that the improvement in East-West relations owed more to Mr. Gorbachev coming to power than anything else. Why then, do you say that Mr. Reagan's Presidency has been one of the greatest in America's history?

Prime Minister:

Because it has led to enormous changes in East-West relations. It has led to the first actual reduction in nuclear weapons. All of this has been due to his staunch belief that you have a strong defence - that enables you to negotiate with those who hold different views. Ronald ReaganHe has held to his belief on human rights, [end p1]

the fact that a free society gives you a more prosperous world as well as more dignity and so now you find that other countries are coming towards our way of life and wanting to adopt it.

We have managed to get changes in the Afghanistan position, because he and the rest of us stood firm. Due to an excellent piece of diplomacy, we have just recently obtained an agreement of withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola.

All of these things, plus the reassurance and strength of the American economy you have left out of account. The budget deficit is about 3 percent of GDP. That, of course, would be small in European terms. It is because the savings ratio is not very high in the United States and yes, they will have to deal with it because it has gone on for quite a long time because they have not been able to get down their public spending as far as they would have wished - but they will deal with it.

David McNeil, BBC

You have had your first meeting with Mr. Bush since he won election. What were your impressions?

[end p2]


Well, I have known George Bush for a very long time. He is immensely competent. His knowledge is very wide. He does his briefing. His experience is very wide. He knows half the world, because he has been there and been very active in diplomacy. So you have never had an incoming President with quite the same amount of experience as this for many years, so he is able to concentrate on the actual policy changes that will be needed and already I think the way in which the transitional government - or the transitional arrangements - are working gives one hope for the future.

David McNeil, BBC

Do you and Mr. Bush share any concern that Mr. Gorbachev might gain further ground in winning over public opinion in Western Europe?

Prime Minister:

Mr. Gorbachev is a very very able international politician. I think we are very fortunate that Mr. Gorbachev is there in the Soviet Union - I believe the Soviet people are as well. But he is a man of vision; he is a man of resolve and, of course, he uses his very considerable personality and talents to put his policies over, but if I might say so too, so did President Reagan. We also put our policies over and do not forget, it is our policies that other countries are wanting to adopt, including the Soviet Union.

[end p3]

David McNeil, BBC

Finally, Prime Minister, is there still a special relationship between Britain and the United States or does it depend to a large extent on the good relations of the two leaders?

Prime Minister:

No. I think it is deeper than that.

History does link us very closely and not only that, but when people went to the United States they took with them a parliamentary constitution and above all, a rule of law. It is a rule of law and a fundamental belief in human rights that gives a nation its particular character. Your human rights do not come from government and governments should not be able to displace them in any way. That is the difference, really, between the Western way of life and those who live under a system that is not free.

So there will always be that special relationship and we must do everything we can not only to see that it exists, but to see that it is in good order.