Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Nov 17 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for IRN (visiting Washington)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Sheraton-Carlton Hotel, Washington DC
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Nick Peters, IRN
Editorial comments: Between 1330 and 1345 MT gave interviews to the British media.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 900
Themes: Monetary policy, Foreign policy (USA), Leadership

Nick Peters, IRN

Prime Minister, quite an occasion for you by any standards of hospitality and ceremony?

Prime Minister

I agree. It has been very memorable. I always knew it would be. This was the last official visit which President Reagan is having to Washington. I was his first official visitor, and it is moving when you see all of the American Armed Forces lined up in salute and remember our history and you think of all that President Reagan has achieved and the personal relationship—I will just not forget it.

Nick Peters, IRN

What is it about the personal relationship you had? It really was something rather significant, wasn't it, in world politics? [end p1]

Prime Minister

Yes, it was. It was because we have been both believing in the same things and working therefore for the same practical policies stemming from those beliefs for many years.

I used to notice what he was doing when he was Governor of California; that he was getting things efficient; he was cutting out waste; he was cutting down public spending; he was giving incentives. His great whole thesis was that government should concentrate on doing the things that only government can do and should have enough faith in the people to hand over to them on things like business and things which they can do better.

I had the same belief. I noticed the speeches he was making—he noticed the ones that I was making—so we knew one another, really, from going round the world circuit of speeches long before either he was President or I was Prime Minister.

The interesting thing was not only did we share the same views, but we both happened to have a similar resolve, for there were some things on which we would not compromise and it is those things on which we would not compromise but which were difficult to do, that we both did—and it is those that won through to get the results we now see. [end p2]

Nick Peters, IRN

Mr. Bush is the President-elect, he takes over in January. You have known him an awful long time, for as long as he has been Vice-President of course to Mr. Reagan these last eight years. What do you admire about him and how do you think he will differ in style from Mr. Reagan?

Prime Minister

George BushHe has enormous integrity, enormous loyalty to certain principles and values, a marvellous family and he does really care about the future of the things he believes in. He really believes and knows that the United States is the leader of the Free World and he cares about discharging that responsibility to other peoples who are not free.

Of course, this finds an echo in everything I believe, but we are very lucky, you know. We have not had someone come to the Presidency for quite a long time who knows as much, has experienced as much as George Bush and therefore we have more prospect of a continuity of the policies of success than we have had for many a long year.

He is calm, he is measured, he is sensible. I think that is a pretty good write-up for any person. [end p3]

Nick Peters, IRN

What about the one major problem he has already been beaten over the head with here in Washington even before he is President, which is the budget deficit and they say when America sneezes everybody else gets a cold. Do you think the budget deficit in America and anything he might do to try and bring it down is going to cause problems for us?

Prime Minister

America has had a budget deficit for quite a time. It is a deficit of an amount, if you take it as a percentage of their national income, which would be comparatively small in European terms and it is 3 percent of GDP.

Let me say that during the lifetime of the Labour Government, our deficit went right up to 9 percent of GDP and that really was a crisis. We had to go to the IMF. But 3 percent is a very very different order.

The reason why it is significant in America is because the amount of savings they have are very low. Yes, it will have to be dealt with and it will be dealt with, but do not forget, the American economy is a strong economy. It is a free-enterprise economy, built up by people who came to America—and their families came to America—to find opportunity and self-reliance, so you have got that whole background. I am sure that George Bush and his advisers will deal with it in due time, when they have been able to discuss matters with all the people who could have an effect upon it and been able to consider the reaction of Congress. [end p4]

Nick Peters, IRN

Final question, Mrs. Thatcher.

The Reagan years, it is an end of a chapter, as you said. You have been identified so closely with Mr. Reagan these last eight years. You are not in any danger perhaps of the impression getting out that the Thatcher Years are numbered?

Prime Minister

Well I hope not. Doubtless, one day they will end. I mean, that is just in the ordinary way of nature isn't it? But I was very fortunate to be elected for a third term. I am very sensible of the honour and of the trust and we try to carry out that trust, because it is a trust, and we hope that it will have even more success in the future than it has in the past, because they are the right policies for a free people.