Collins (Christopher)

Editorial policy of site: Preface to Complete Public Statements of Margaret Thatcher, 1945-90 on CD-ROM (Oxford University Press, 1998)

Document type: Press
Venue: Oxford
Source: Preface to Complete Public Statements of Margaret Thatcher, 1945-90 on CD-ROM (Oxford University Press, 1999)
Editorial comments: An updated version of the disk was published in 2000.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count:

The following document sets out the editorial conventions guiding this site, which puts online much of the content of the CD-ROM.

Editor's preface to Complete Public Statements of Margaret Thatcher 1945-90 on CD-ROM (Oxford University Press, 1998/2000)

  • Summary
  • Rationale of the disc
  • Criteria for inclusion
  • Degree of completeness achieved
    1. excluded and modified items
    2. untraced items
    3. quality of texts
  • Individuation of statements
  • Editorial conventions
    1. Unique Document Numbers (UDNs)
    2. Date
    3. Category
    4. Title
    5. Place/venue
    6. Source
    7. Journalist
    8. Editorial notes
    9. Themes
    10. Word count
    11. Importance
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Themes


    • The disc comprises a complete edition of Margaret Thatcher's public statements between June 1945 and November 1990, with a selection of material from the period since her departure from office.
    • The term "public statement" is used throughout the disc to denote any and every form of statement intended for the public domain - speeches, interviews, press conferences, articles, broadcasts and thirteen other categories of material.
    • At the heart of the disc is a list of just over 7500 separate statements made during the years 1945-90. The list was compiled largely from documents in the Thatcher MSS at Churchill College, Cambridge, to which the general editor has had unrestricted access and in which the whole edition is rooted. The list is fully searchable.
    • The editors have had access to many other collections, including the archives of the Central Office of Information, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the House of Commons, as well as the Conservative Party Archive in Oxford and the archives of Britain's major broadcasters.
    • Around 400 of the listed statements appear to have been lost or went unreported at the time, but over 7100 transcripts, press releases, speaking texts and newspaper reports have been traced and are present on the disc. (All statements, whether traced or untraced, are listed.) [The total word count is around 12m.]
    • Statements can be searched (using Boolean operators) by date or period, by subject/theme, by category, by the incidence of particular names or words, and by a classification of importance devised by the editors.
    • Searching by subject or theme is an important feature of the disc. The editors have indexed the entire body of material under 90 theme headings, making it straightforward to search for subjects not readily or uniquely identified by any word (or words in combination) naturally occurring in the text itself. No machine generated index of the kind CD-ROMs usually rely upon could achieve this result, however sophisticated or complex the search.
    • A conventional index of all words occurring in the text has been generated automatically and can be searched in the ordinary way.
    • A separate index of names has been verified by the editors and in most cases individuals referred to in the text only by title or office (e.g., "the Chancellor of the Exchequer") have been identified by the editors and can be found by searching for the relevant name.
    • The editors have also grouped the material into four classes of importance which can be used to eliminate trivial and minor statements from searches or to concentrate attention on major or seminal texts.
    • Search parameters can be applied individually or in combination and saved for later use.
    • Selected statements can be printed or copied to floppy disk.
    • A brief chronology is available, separately or in combination with lists of statements.
    • This project was the outcome of a collaboration between the Thatcher Foundation and Oxford University Press. The general editor was seconded from the Foundation and an editorial board appointed by Oxford University Press oversaw the editing. Its members were Professor Brian Harrison, Professor David Marquand, Professor Colin Matthew, Professor Kenneth Morgan and Dr John Ramsden.

    Rationale of the disc

    The principal aim of the disc is to make available to scholars a vast body of material which has been placed in the public domain, but which in practice is virtually unobtainable for purpose of research. No more than a handful of Margaret Thatcher's broadcast interviews or press conferences - however significant - has ever been published in full. In common with those of most British Prime Ministers, her principal speeches have been published in book form over the years. But the genre is beginning to have an anachronistic quality: collections of speech filter out televised material and eliminate from the canon almost every statement delivered extempore or in dialogue. In some measure all are works of partisanship, and even the larger collections represent only a tiny fraction of the whole, so that for most purposes scholars researching Thatcher statements have been forced to rely on newspaper reports, which are highly selective, at best, and at their worst introduce distortions into the record.

    The inaccessibility of broadcast statements is particularly significant. Broadcasting had already established itself as the most powerful medium when Margaret Thatcher reached the front rank of British politics in 1970. But for the purpose of academic study, transcripts of television and radio programmes are almost always difficult - and frequently impossible - to obtain. They are never obtained cheaply. What is said on television and radio is in danger of dropping out of the historical record, as day by day, broadcast output passes from omnipresence to virtual oblivion. This disc is the first attempt to present in easily accessible form a large selection of broadcast transcripts on British political topics and so to redress a long-standing weakness in the source material for the study of the late twentieth century.

    At the time this disc was conceived and edited CD-ROMs are not able to store large amounts of video or audio material. Everything on this disc is presented in the form of written text on screen. However, existing CD-ROMs have powerful compression and search functions and the editors have tried to rethink the standard conventions of book editing in order to make the best use of this technology. To that end market research was undertaken among interested academics and discussions took place in the editorial board appointed by Oxford University Press.

    It was concluded that editorial resources should be concentrated on making the disc as near complete as could be hoped for and on providing search mechanisms beyond those generated automatically by the software, particularly to enable searching by subject or theme. Editing would have to have a lighter touch than was customary in book form, given the scale of the edition and the time available (between four and five man-years). The standard apparatus of explanatory footnotes and commentary would be dispensed with, though each document would be prefaced by descriptive notes briefly listing venue, source, interviewer/journalist (where appropriate) and any editorial comment relating to the reliability of the text, additional sources and so on.

    From these discussions flowed the decision to attempt to collect the complete Thatcher 1945-90. This might seem a curious decision. Selection is the basis of all historical understanding and for many people the word is synonymous with editing. There is much trivial and minor material on this disc. Why aim at completeness?

    In a paper edition the editors would have excluded a good deal of what is present here. Physical bulk alone would have militated against a complete edition, as well as cost.

    But one of the appealing features of CD-ROMs is that bulk creates no problem whatever and the structure of costs is entirely different. A single disc provides more than sufficient capacity for a complete edition in written form and extra units of data have a very low marginal cost. And, crucially, the technology provides readers with powerful tools to select for themselves. Indexing by theme, selection by date or period, and classification of the material into four grades of importance make it possible for readers to quarry from this disc their own selection in whatever shape their needs or interests dictate. Minor and trivial items need never obtrude. The editorial policy in compiling this disc has been one of facilitating selection by readers rather than second-guessing their interests by doing it for them.

    There were two further reasons for attempting a complete edition. Firstly, it is hoped that completeness will function as a guarantee of impartiality. Market research showed some suspicion that a selected edition would reflect editorial bias of one kind or another.

    Secondly, the nature of politics under the influence of broadcasting is a powerful argument in favour of as complete an edition as possible. Many of the trivial items on this disc are the verbal residues of photo opportunities. In the absence of technology to present them as they were meant to be seen, transcripts or press reports must serve. Such records show where and in what light Margaret Thatcher and her advisors wished her to be seen, and often how she was received. To omit them would have been to introduce a distortion in favour of the set-piece - the scripted speech, the studio interview - at the expense of the walkabout, the impromptu question and answer, as well as the softening touches which sometimes seemed almost as carefully contrived as the set-pieces themselves.

    An incidental outcome of the project - a retrospective rationale - is that it should have halted the decay of Thatcher material in some of the archives from which the source material is drawn. The recent past is a thing of indifference to many people and recordings made on reusable media like video and audio tape are particularly vulnerable to destruction. It is notable how many seminal statements have disappeared. Most of the Conservative Party's press conferences during the 1979 General Election have vanished and the 1987 manifesto launch no longer survives in full form. In almost all cases broadcasters have stored only excerpts from statements that were filmed in full, unused material ("rushes") rarely surviving. Thousands of hours of Prime Ministerial audio tapes appear to have been lost or destroyed by the Central Office of Information. (Little Prime Ministerial material survives on tape in government archives before 1987, although transcripts are preserved in the Thatcher MSS.) The accessibility of radio archives is declining. Left another ten or twenty years a disc of this kind would have been much more expensive to produce and significantly less complete.

    The decision to close the edition in 1990 was simply a consequence of limited resources. Speeches and articles released to the press during the years 1990-98 are appended in the form that they were published by Lady Thatcher's Office.

    No commentary is offered on the statements, whether in this preface or in the editorial notes attached to each one. The disc is intended to provide a foundation for research in recent British politics, rather than to make a substantial contribution to it. It should function as one source among many; the editors do not assume that Margaret Thatcher's words can stand alone or that they are of some transcendental significance.

    The disc may be the first of a series: Oxford University Press is reviewing the possibility of further discs collecting the statements of other leading British politicians, depending largely on the response to this project.

    Criteria for inclusion

    In claiming to have produced a complete edition of statements by a national figure as prolific and politically long-lived as Margaret Thatcher one invites disbelief. Terms need to be defined.

    By "public statements" the editors mean statements made for public consumption - that is, statements intended for publication and directed at a general audience. The term "on the record" might serve equally well.

    In a very few cases material released through briefing appears on the disc. Thus speeches to the 1922 Committee are included; journalists were not present at delivery, but were briefed immediately afterwards by a party official under Margaret Thatcher's direct control. Quotation of key phrases and sentences from 1922 speeches was common and of necessity what was reported was directly attributed. Such statements have been treated as if they had been made on the record in the ordinary way. Briefings through the No.10 Press Office, on the other hand, are excluded from this disc, even when they reported Prime Ministerial opinions and attitudes in a fairly direct fashion. These were definitively off the record.

    It is not a condition for inclusion on this disc that a statement should already have been published in the press, whether in full or edited form, because the press certainly did not make use of all that it was offered. It would defeat part of the purpose of the disc to give the press any special authority in determining what should be included in this edition and what not.

    Among the statements excluded by this definition of the term "public" are many which in no sense could be said to be not for the public domain, but which have an essentially private character. For example, the Thatcher MSS contain hundreds of goodwill messages sent to local Conservative Associations. These have been excluded from the disc. Doubtless some were published in local papers or circulated through constituency newsletters. Messages to business and interest group conferences, conference handbooks and so on fall into a similar category.

    Prime Ministerial correspondence has been treated in a similar way. As Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher signed tens of thousands of letters to individual correspondents on every conceivable political and personal topic. A full set of those letters is retained in the Thatcher MSS. Some are marked "confidential" or "personal", for example, but most contain no injunction against publication. Some were published. But it is clear that in general these letters were not written with the expectation that they would be published. Accordingly where published correspondence appears on this disc it is because the editors have judged that it was intended for publication. Usually it has been identified from the fact of publication, although wherever possible original texts from the Thatcher MSS have been used rather than press versions.

    Written parliamentary answers have also been excluded. The decisive reason for leaving them out is that few written answers ever went before Margaret Thatcher for approval. A degree of genuine Thatcher input is a quality of almost every statement on this disc. Exclusion was made easier by the consideration that written answers are readily available in university and public libraries. Editorial resources have been concentrated on relatively inaccessible material.

    Degree of completeness achieved

    Granted that completeness (in the sense just defined) is the aim of this disc, how far can it be said to have been achieved? In one obvious respect the edition must fall short of it: around 400 statements have been listed for which no text or press report survives.

    Error (editorial and otherwise) must also be allowed for in an edition as large as this, possibly as a significant influence. Might some statements not have been traced at all, their very existence passing the editors by? And where statements have been traced and texts found, how complete and accurate are those texts as records of them?

    (1) excluded and modified items

    Eighteen statements have had to be excluded from the disc for copyright reasons, representing 0.23 per cent of the total number of statements. The excluded statements are included in the main list of statements on the disc, but no text is present. They are listed below:

    a. Sixteen interviews with ABC television in the US. Transcripts of the excluded interviews can be obtained from ABC in New York and copies exist in the Thatcher MSS. Fortunately it was possible to negotiate terms for the inclusion of the best and longest ABC interviews (those with Barbara Walters ).

    b. An interview with the US magazine, People Weekly.

    c. An interview with the Toronto Globe and Mail.

    Also on legal grounds, five interviews with Newsweek magazine and a single short interview with Magyar TV have been modified by the editors to remove the interviewers' spoken words, with very brief summaries supplied in their place.

    (2) untraced items

    At the core of the disc is a list of Thatcher statements compiled from dozens of relevant archives, many of them currently inaccessible for academic research. The general editor began by listing statement texts already existing within the Thatcher MSS, analysing appointment diaries (1962-90) and No.10 Press Office files (also in the Thatcher MSS), and working through some seventy boxes of Thatcher press cuttings (1949-80) originally compiled by Conservative Central Office and loaned to Oxford University Press during the course of work on the disc. The list was then cross-checked against the massive indexes of material held by the BBC and ITN and the much slighter indexes compiled by regional broadcasters, as well as published newspaper indexes.

    Many "missing items" revealed themselves in this process - statements listed as having been delivered or issued but for which no text had been found. For the years of Margaret Thatcher's leadership of the Conservative Party, 1975-90, broadcasting indexes were probably the most significant source of missing items, revealing hundreds of interviews and comments to journalists for which no record existed in the Thatcher MSS. Many of these have been traced and transcribed from the original broadcast film and tape. In the case of some minor and trivial items broadcast index entries give a sufficiently full account of the content for the entry itself to be reproduced in place of a transcript.

    The list was pruned over time. Many items in early drafts of the list were placed there speculatively, especially in the period before 1975 for which indexes and archives are much weaker and appointment diaries played the largest part in tracing missing items. One would find an appointment diary entry strongly suggestive of an engagement to speak - say, an afternoon and evening visit to Leicester. Local papers would be checked in the British Newspaper Library at Colindale and a view formed as to whether there had been a speech or not. One had to bear in mind that not all engagements had a public component (even Party engagements), and also that not all engagements actually took place. In theory appointment diaries covering the premiership were revised after the event, so that cancelled engagements should not have been listed during those years. But there is reason to think that this may not always have been done and it was not even attempted before 1979.

    Only where there is clear evidence of a statement having been made has it been allowed to appear in the final version of the list.

    Here a circularity can be said to have crept in. In many cases statements have been identified as having taken place because texts have been traced in local papers. Where no text could be found and no other evidence of a statement survives beyond a diary engagement to visit such and such a place, no statement has been listed. Accordingly the proportion of statements found to statements listed (95 per cent) flatters the editors: to an unknowable degree it must be higher than would have been the case had a perfect list of statements survived.

    The difficulty is greatest in the period to 1970. Hundreds of engagements across the country were checked through local papers, but comparatively few press reports were found. Among these engagements there must have been many speeches to local Conservatives falling within the definition of a public statement but which went unreported because they were simply not newsworthy, even at local level. But it is reasonable to hope that what has survived is a fair sample of what has been lost.

    In television archives Margaret Thatcher scarcely figures at all before 1970. Again the list itself is probably incomplete, arising in this case from the way in which archives were indexed: there is the general problem that appearances by obscure figures are certain to have been less well indexed than those by big names and also a particular difficulty with ITN (which did not index Margaret Thatcher as an individual until 1975) - namely that ITN file cards for the Conservative Party up to 1975 (in which she would have been listed) are far from complete. That said, it is hard to believe that Margaret Thatcher had had much television exposure before she became a cabinet minister in June 1970.

    For the 1960s BBC radio archives are fuller - there is a helpful index of contributors - and one finds a steady record of appearances on BBC discussion programmes like Any Questions?.

    After 1970 the problem of compiling a reliable list begins to fall away as the mesh of cross-references grows finer, and after 1975 very little ought to have been missed. It would be a surprise if any significant statements escaped listing in the years 1975-90.

    Foreign visits sometimes raise similar difficulties to those encountered with early British material. While coverage is good for the years 1979-90 - both in terms of information for listing and the survival of texts - the Thatcher MSS are much less helpful for foreign trips before 1979. In some cases foreign newspapers have been checked, but the local newsworthiness of most of these visits was usually slight and more exhaustive searches of the foreign press are likely to have yielded little more. Some foreign broadcast archives must contain Thatcher material unknown to the editors, but with a couple of exceptions no effort has been made to tap them. Detailed itineraries survive in the Thatcher MSS for most visits after 1970, so that scheduled statements should have been listed and, of course, British press coverage has been examined.

    (3) quality of texts

    The aim with respect to every item on this disc has been to find the words actually put on the record by Margaret Thatcher rather than the version broadcast or reported by the press. The ideal text for a spoken item is a transcript, a word used on this disc to mean a written record prepared from tape. Where transcripts survive they have been preferred to all competing versions - press releases or printed texts of speeches, interviews in the form in they were published or broadcast, however valuable the interviewer's analysis or observations, however skilful or helpful the selection of material.

    Where transcripts have been found they have been reproduced in full and unedited form. Most of the material in the transcripts on this disc has never been published before.

    In the case of full scale interviews the actual dialogue often exceeded the published version in length by a factor of ten or more. Interviews at No.10 usually lasted between forty five minutes and an hour, producing sometimes as much as 15-20,000 words of transcript text. Although skilful journalists made good use of the most newsworthy elements (at least as they saw them at the time), cuts were necessarily severe. Similarly the printed press and broadcasters usually subjected speeches and press conferences to deep cuts and fragmented treatment. A ten minute television interview in which five questions were asked would often be broadcast in the form of a two minute extract covering a single question and answer. Press Conferences tended to receive even more summary treatment.

    Occasionally interview transcripts contain off the record sections, which have been removed; editorial notes indicate the place of removal but not the content or the length of the passage removed. Comparatively few interviews have had to be subjected to this kind of treatment; generally Margaret Thatcher did not speak off the record when the tape was running and was cautious in chatting with interviewers when the cameras were off or the notebooks put away. (She rarely gave wholly off the record interviews and the number fell progressively as time went on. None, of course, are included on this disc.) In a handful of cases transcripts of interviews have been laid aside in favour of the published version either because the interviewers themselves spoke in an off the record style throughout, or on other grounds (for example, the involvement of officials). In several cases the published version of an interview has been preferred to a transcript on grounds of quality and comprehension.

    The ultimate source for much of the transcribed material on this disc is the Central Office of Information (COI), which provided a recording service to No.10 when the Prime Minister was on official business and which prepared transcripts, at varying intervals after the event, of the more important speeches, press conferences and interviews. (Some tapes were left untranscribed; where these have survived OUP has prepared its own transcripts.) The number of statements increased over the years as media demands and numbers of journalists increased. More impromptu material began to be included in the COI's remit, matching pace with the use of handheld tape recorders by journalists and the construction of ever lighter and more manoeuvrable television cameras.

    Some COI transcripts have been checked against tape where particular problems arose or were suspected, but most tapes surviving in the COI archive have not been checked against their transcripts. Generally COI transcripts appear to have been of high quality, although flaws have been found. Names were often mistranscribed and have been corrected by the editors where possible. More seriously, in one item checked against a tape from Scottish Television the transcript itself was found to be incomplete, sentences being omitted without ellipsis in the main body of the text (Remarks visiting Forres Academy, 8 September 1989). But this appears to have been a rare lapse. Punctuation has been silently corrected and in some cases paragraphing modified by the editors.

    Material from broadcast archives was usually supplied in tape form and has been transcribed by OUP, the editors checking all transcripts against tape. This has helped to make them aware how difficult transcription can be. Left to themselves no two transcribers would be likely to produce an identical transcript of a speech or interview, especially when the sound quality is poor, as often was the case on COI tapes. Where necessary there are editorial and transcribers' notes on poor sound quality in the texts themselves.

    Where OUP has prepared the transcripts the editors have used editorial notes to convey audience reaction, interruptions, and any other relevant non-verbal aspects of the original. Generally COI and other transcripts do not contain this kind of information.

    Finding transcripts for statements made on party business, particularly during the 1979, 1983 and 1987 General Elections, posed one of the largest problems for the editors. Despite powerful prudential motives to make recordings, the party machine frequently failed to tape even the most important statements by the leader. Tapes of set-piece election speeches in 1979 have survived, but only one of the press conferences (privately made). Nothing survives in the Thatcher MSS or party archives from walkabouts and speeches on the stump for any of these elections and gaps have had to be filled from fragments found in broadcast archives and newspaper coverage. Some difficulties in later elections have been resolved by video recordings loaned to the editors by Harvey Thomas . Fortunately all the press conferences in 1983 and all but two in 1987 were professionally recorded.

    Where transcripts have not been found press releases have been the editors' second preference. Margaret Thatcher personally approved most press releases of her own speeches and stood by them even when she altered them or set them aside entirely on delivery (as she very occasionally did). Existing published editions of Thatcher speeches usually rely on texts released to the press. Of course, most press releases were made available before the event, subject to the injunction "check against delivery". In practice few journalists bothered to check against delivery and no consistent effort was made by party or government officials to do so either. Where it is known that a press release (or other form of text) was checked against delivery it is indicated in the editorial notes. It would appear that some texts were checked in the early years of the premiership and also during 1987-90.

    Few if any press releases will have been delivered as they stood, without addition or amendment in some form. Even after the press release was issued Margaret Thatcher would continue working on a speech to improve delivery, although generally she would stay within the structure of the press release and introduce nothing of real substance, still less cut anything out. For example, a tape in the Thatcher MSS shows that her speech to the Scottish Party Conference in 1985 was subject to extensive revision to improve the flow and to introduce a few lighter touches and personal references. Scarcely a sentence of the press release was left unchanged.

    Some press releases of major speeches were checked against delivery and reissued in amended form after the speech. Where it is clear that this was done the editors have noted it. "Check against delivery" instructions also feature in editorial notes. But there is a large middle category of press releases whose status is unclear. They should be assumed to be pre-releases.

    The editors have checked sections of speeches against delivery where they have come across transcribed extracts, often in the form of brief but important excerpts broadcast on BBC Radio 4 news bulletins. Editorial notes in the text of the speeches show which passages have been checked. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the occasion the fewer the amendments on delivery. The use of a teleprompt machine for major speeches from 1983 onwards powerfully reinforced this rule because it more or less eliminated the scope for last minute amendment - the text had to be ready longer in advance, usually the night before.

    Speaking texts also feature in large numbers on the disc, by which is meant a copy of the actual text from which the speech was delivered, or a text in the format currently favoured for delivery - typically set out with broad spacing and run-over lines at the bottom of each page. Texts actually used on the podium often survive in the Thatcher MSS. Final drafts were invariably amended in person and by hand.

    Speaking notes have also been used, meaning anything from brief speaking texts which must have required significant elaboration when delivered, to texts in the form of headings and notes, often in holograph. Most 1922 speeches, for example, are in the latter form, many lighter speeches at lunches and dinners in the former.

    There are two other principal sources for this disc whose quality requires comment. The editors have searched all Thatcher items broadcast by BBC Radio 4 News up to November 1990. Many missing items were found from this source. It has been used in depth because it exists in transcribed form and because it includes many extracts from statements transcribed directly from tape. The commentary supplied is also of a reasonably balanced kind and there is great continuity of editorial policy over the years. The editors' use of Radio 4 News extracts to check speaking texts and press releases against delivery - indicated by editorial notes in the text - should provide an incidental means of judging what was treated as newsworthy in a particular statement.

    Newspapers have also been widely used where no fuller sources have survived. For the years before 1970 almost everything on this disc derives from the printed press. For the years 1949-80 the principal source of newspaper coverage has been the very extensive Central Office press cuttings collection already mentioned, supplemented by extensive research in Colindale through the files of hundreds of regional and local papers. Additionally, Dartford papers have been thoroughly searched for the period 1949-52 and Finchley papers 1958-90. For the period 1980-90 The Times has been searched systematically and other papers have been used where required.

    The quality of press coverage in most cases is something the reader can be left to decide. But as a general point the editors have come to mistrust direct quotations from newspaper sources, especially in the years before handheld tape recorders became widely used in the mid-1980s. Comparing one press report with another, or with transcripts, this point becomes inescapable. Shorthand and jotted notes were fallible and, understandably, journalists were better at conveying the flavour of a statement than the precise wording.

    It is no surprise then that where press releases were available newspapers tended to use them even when the text significantly departed from on delivery. Sometimes they made no effort even to verify that the speech had taken place: the editors have found reports of speeches that were cancelled after the press release had been issued.

    Throughout the period covered by this disc British newspapers were reliant to a large degree on the Press Association in reporting domestic politics. Unfortunately the Press Association has kept no archive of its output. It might have been a principal source for this disc, had it survived.

    Every reasonable effort has been made to provide accurate copies of the original documents on which the disc is based. The editors worked from the originals, which were then "double" or "treble-keyed" - that is, typed two or three times, by two or three different individuals - and the results compared to reveal inconsistencies, which could be presumed to be typing errors. Further checks have been carried out on the completed work, including extensive sampling by the editors. But readers in doubt as to the accuracy of the version of a particular passage offered on this disc are invited to contact the general editor, c/o Electronic Publishing at Oxford University Press. The original documents are very diverse in character and far from flawless; obvious errors in the originals have been corrected or made the subject of editorial notes, but many likely errors and blemishes have been allowed to stand. The editors have determinedly avoided the imposition of a house style.

    Individuation of statements

    Most statements on this disc individuate themselves. A speech is a speech is a speech. Generally the same can be said for press conferences and interviews, articles and TV broadcasts. But there are other items which defy easy classification and which have had to be divided into distinct entities by editorial fiat. Most are classified as "Remarks", a category embracing everything from comments during a walkabout to improvised press conferences. The instruction to the press to rejoice at the recapture of South Georgia appears on the disc under this category (Remarks on the recapture of South Georgia ("Rejoice"), 25 April 1982). Typically, "Remarks" were unscheduled and unscripted. One eighth of the statements on the disc fall into the category.

    The rule applied in slicing up statements of the kind that do not come ready-sliced has been to do it in the most practical, intuitive and useful way for the convenience of the reader. Generally that has meant compressing what might have been several statements into single items. It takes time to open a statement on disc, so that all things being equal a shorter list of statements is easier to handle than a longer one. But care has been taken not to amalgamate statements that could stand alone into surrounding remarks. If Margaret Thatcher visited Nottingham, chatted to shoppers and journalists during a walkabout, spoke at a party lunch, then made a school visit, the speech will have been separated out even if the other material is grouped as a single item under a title like "Remarks visiting Nottingham".

    The editors have been reluctant to group together statements made over a widely-distributed geographical area, even where they were made within a relatively short space of time. Election tours are an instance: generally each stop has been listed separately. But occasionally grouping across areas within a region has taken place where there seemed no better alternative.

    Visits to Finchley have been grouped as a single item however many separate engagements were involved, unless there are separable components (for example, a speech to Finchley Conservatives).

    Hansard raises its own problems, especially proceedings in Committee. Generally the rule has been to treat amendments on which Margaret Thatcher spoke as separate items and to reprint the whole amendment, for the sake of comprehension. Where she spoke on sequences (or near-sequences) of amendments the whole sitting of a Committee may be included on the disc. In the case of Standing Committees, the records of which are available to the public only in the copyright libraries, the editors have included more material rather than less. Thus the whole of the Standing Committee proceedings on Margaret Thatcher's private member's Bill in 1960 are included on this disc. The rule throughout has been to treat things in the most helpful way rather than to apply a rigid scheme.

    In the case of interventions in Parliamentary debate, the entire speech in which the intervention occurs has been included, for the sake of comprehension.

    Some discrete items have been amalgamated where they properly belong together. For example, there are several newspaper correspondences in the Dartford press 1949-51, blows being struck week on week. These have been treated as single items, dated from the earliest of Margaret Thatcher's letters.

    Editorial conventions

    Each statement listed - whether missing or present on the disc - is preceded by editorial commentary divided into fields in the following sequence.

    (1) Unique Document Numbers (UDNs)

    Each statement has a unique document number, in the form of the last two digits of the year, an underscore and a number corresponding to its sequence among the statements that year.

    It is suggested that short citations from the disc use this number.

    (2) Date

    Dates are given in the order: year, month, day of the month, day of the week. The editors have found this sequence much the easiest to assimilate when reading and analysing long lists of dates.

    All statements have precise dates. In most cases a precise date is readily enough determined and perfectly appropriate. But where no precise date is known, nevertheless a date has had to be specified because the software demands it. Where this has happened editorial notes explain the fact and give grounds for the dating.

    The general rule is that statements are dated according to when they took place - speeches and the like by date of delivery, interviews by the date on which they were given and not the date of publication, unless the former is unknown in which case publication date is used and an editorial note made.

    (3) Categories

    Statements have been divided into eighteen categories, which can be searched individually or in combination. Generally the title of a statement begins with the same term as the category into which it falls, but there are exceptions. For example, the handful of prefaces and forewords on the disc are categorised as "articles".

    Press Conference
    Written Statement
    House of Commons Speech
    House of Commons Statement
    House of Commons Parliamentary Questions
    House of Commons Intervention
    House of Commons Committee
    House of Lords
    All statements in the House of Lords
    Written press only
    TV Interview
    Radio Interview
    TV Broadcast
    Radio Broadcast

    (4) Title

    Titles have been written with the aim of revealing as much as possible about the content of the statement in question. In the case of minor and trivial statements, and generally in the case of "Remarks" (which frequently though not always fall into those categories), the title often contains a summary of the contents in brackets, or the whole title may constitute a summary. Thus readers will finds items like the following: "Remarks visiting Finchley (Britain 'has gone up in the eyes of the world') (24 October 1980) and, more famously, "Remarks on becoming a grandmother" (3 March 1989). The purpose is to help readers decide at a glance whether they need to open a particular statement.

    More substantial and wider-ranging items have been given more conventional titles, designating the occasion or the organisation addressed - for example, "Press Conference after Fontainebleau European Council" or "Speech to the Conservative Party Conference".

    (5) Place/venue

    The rule has been to give as much information as is available to the editors. In many cases one can be precise about venues. The appointment diaries are the principal source for information in this field.

    (6) Sources

    Sources have been listed without detailed references. In the case of the Thatcher MSS, no detailed references yet exist. Broadcast archives have each their own system of reference, but the information provided by the date and other fields should be sufficient to identify the item if any reader needs to view an original.

    (7) Journalist

    This field is usually empty. A name is supplied where the statement is an interview, in the form " John Simpson , BBC".

    Where the document on disc is a report by a journalist on some other kind of statement (e.g., a speech of which the only account is from a BBC TV News report) then the field will contain the name of the reporting journalist in the form: "John Simpson, BBC, reporting".

    Where the identity of the journalist is unknown this field is left blank. Before the 1980s many local newspapers published their articles without attribution.

    (8) Editorial notes

    Editorial notes begin with a precise timing given on a 24 hour clock, where appropriate, usually derived from the appointment diaries. Speeches are less easily timed than most other statements because they usually took place as part of a longer engagement - typically, a lunch or dinner - and the diaries generally record only the beginning and ending of the engagement, not events within it. Where available, embargoes on press releases have been used to give precise times for speeches.

    A number of the functions of editorial notes have already been mentioned. Most need no explanation. But there is one unusual feature: over 500 of these notes contain Thatcher material - in the form of direct or indirect speech - of the kind ordinarily found in the texts themselves.

    There are two circumstances in which this occurs. Firstly, where the text is so trivial that all the information it contains can be included in the editorial note, it has often been placed there. Such items appear on the list in grey, as if they were statements for which no text or report had been found. Accordingly if one is interested in a particular statement it will always pay to open it in order to check whether the editorial notes contain material.

    Secondly, in cases where no transcript has been found and the editors have relied on newspapers, the newspaper reports usually overlap to such a degree that each report would add no more than a sentence or two to the last. Rather than reprint multiple reports the most substantial have been included on the disc and any additional sentences from lesser reports have been placed in the editorial notes. For the late 1970s especially, large numbers of editorial notes contain material of this kind, drawing on the Central Office press cutting collection which includes reports from every national paper and some regional ones.

    Searches by word or by subject/theme will find material in the editorial notes as well as in the statements themselves.

    (9) Themes

    All material by Margaret Thatcher on the disc has been indexed by the editors under 90 subject headings or themes. The words of others appearing on the disc - for example, interviewers - are not indexed by subject/theme.

    A list of all the themes in each statement, in the order in which they occur, is available in a drop-down list at the top of each statement and the reader can also choose to view the themes where they occur in the text. Longer statements may have dozens of themes, and often the same theme will recur at different points.

    A comment has been indexed only where it has some substantial content. A reference in passing - say, a reference to terrorism in the midst of a long list of threats facing British democracy - would not have attracted an index entry. On the same principle, most trivial statements have not been indexed by subject.

    To serve its purpose the structure and content of the list had to be shaped by Margaret Thatcher's beliefs and style of thought. It does not reflect editorial judgments or values per se.

    A list of the themes employed can be found at the end of this preface.

    (10) Word count

    Word counts have been calculated as a guide to the length of statements.

    Page numbers derived from the original documents are marked in the text (columns for Hansard) as a basis for citation within a statement.

    (11) Importance

    So great is the volume of material on this disc that the policy underlying the idea of a complete edition - that readers should select, rather than the editors - could only be realised if the editors made some kind of assessment of the importance of each statement.

    There are four grades of importance. The software allows one to concentrate searches on the most important or to range progressively more widely across the whole body of statements. For many purposes minor and trivial material merely obstructs the view. A single keystroke clears it away.

    In the first grade are seminal statements, of the kind that one might expect to find in a paper edition - if such an edition included interviews, press conferences, and so on, as well as speeches. (None of the existing printed collections in fact does.) These statements would fill several volumes.

    Seminal statements have been selected for their biographical interest as well as on the basis of their contribution to the thought or politics of the day. Thus all of Margaret Thatcher's speeches to the Conservative Party Conference are included, a few of her speeches as Conservative candidate for Dartford (1949-51) and some of her earliest television appearances. The whole sequence of her speeches at the Lord Mayor's Banquet and - in the Commons - Confidence Motions and Debates on the Address are included in the seminal class, ensuring some breadth and continuity of coverage over her term as party leader. And, of course, one will find here also material indisputably in the first rank of Thatcher statements: the Chelsea speech (July 1975), the Bruges speech (September 1988), the Press Conference after the Dublin European Council (November 1979), the interview with Brian Walden after Lawson's resignation (October 1989), the final interviews during the leadership campaign of November 1990. Around 3 per cent of statements fall into this category (220 of 7500).

    In the second grade are major statements, significant in their day, often leading the news. This grade includes all significant set-piece speeches (for example, those to the Scottish Conservative Party Conference) and most lengthier interviews (including many full scale television interviews). Press conferences and interviews after international summits (including European Councils) will generally be found in the second grade. It contains a great deal of substantial political content. Fractionally over 50 per cent of all statements on the disc fall into this category (3830).

    In the third grade are minor statements. Almost all have been indexed by theme, so that they contain material of some substance. Many remarks on the stump fall into this category, as well as impromptu comments on the news of the day, often given on the doorstep to waiting journalists; in this grade one finds significantly less that is set-piece or fully scripted. Many of these items figured in news broadcasts; BBC Radio News Reports are an important source for this grade of material.

    Little of it attracted great political interest at the time, although that cannot be said to be universally true: some statements the editors have judged to be of ephemeral interest and have marked them down accordingly. Anyone studying a particular episode in depth - the Falklands, or a General Election campaign, for example - will want to review this material for the relevant period. This is the second largest grade, constituting 38 per cent of the whole (2850).

    In the fourth grade are trivial statements, included on the disc for the sake of completeness. Few have any measurable political content and consequently few have been indexed by theme. Most engagements of the kind that generated these statements did not attract press coverage outside the immediate area, and those that did generally featured only as photographs, or brief items on national or (more frequently) regional broadcast news. Regional and local papers are the principal sources for this class of material, in which Finchley figures disproportionately. A large number of these items have been summarized in editorial notes, but there are many fuller accounts which give a good flavour of the event. As a class they should be sampled, perhaps, by any biographer. Trivial items constitute 9 per cent of the total number of statements (666), but a significantly smaller proportion of the total number of words on the disc.

    The software allows readers to create their own classification of statements, using bookmarks.


    Hundreds of people have contributed to the production of this disc. Only a fraction can be acknowledged here by name, but thanks are due to all. Additional acknowledgments can be found in some of the editorial notes attached to particular statements.

    • The staff of the Bodleian Library, particularly Dr Martin Maw, formerly Conservative Party Archivist, Dr Helen Langley of the Department of Western MSS, Colin Harris and the staff of Room 132.
    • The staff of Cambridge University Library (West Room).
    • Dr Piers Brendon and the staff of the Modern Archives Centre at Churchill College, particularly the Thatcher archivist, Judith Etherton.
    • Gill Staerck of the Institute of Contemporary British History who did the greater part of research at the British Newspaper Library in Colindale, where Stuart Gillies and Terry Dillingham facilitated access.
    • Tessa Phillips, who carried out most of the research on Finchley, and Edward Agius, who loaned a video tape of Finchley party events 1989-90.
    • Charmaine Pestana, who did the greater part of the photocopying.
    • Doug Broom at the Central Office of Information, who gave access to tapes in the care of the COI.
    • Alistair B. Cooke OBE, for the Conservative Party.
    • Harvey Thomas CBE, who loaned video and audio tape material from his private archive.
    • John Whittingdale MP, who also loaned tapes.
    • Dr Andrew Adonis , Dr Mark Almond, Dr David Butler, Dr John Campbell, Dr Tim Hames, Professor Peter Hennessy, Professor Lord Norton.
    • Judith Dunn of Newspaper International.
    • Sir Bernard Ingham.
    • Dame Sue Tinson and the staff of ITN and IRN, particularly Beatrice Okoro and Nick Wheeler. Ray Reed recorded material in the IRN archive.
    • Barbara Walters.
    • William F. Buckley, Jr.
    • Charles Moore.
    • Sir John Birt , Director-General of the BBC, and the staff of the various BBC archives (Written Archive, Sound Archive and Television Archive), particularly Sally Hine.
    • Debbie Fletcher, Mark Worthington, and others in Lady Thatcher's office.
    • Emma Williams, Roger Tritton and Maura Moran, successively senior editors responsible for the project in OUP, and Margaret Leonard, who provided additional managerial help. Ingrid Winternitz gave legal advice.
    • Professor Brian Harrison, the late Professor Colin Matthew , Professor Kenneth Morgan, and Dr John Ramsden, who gave advice and encouragement as members of the editorial board.
    • Dr Alex May, second deputy editor 1996-97.
    • Dr Jason Tomes, first deputy editor 1996-98.
    • Julian Seymour (of Lady Thatcher's Office) and Andrew Rosenheim (of OUP), who provided strong support and encouragement throughout, as did Lady Thatcher herself.

    Christopher Collins (October 1998) (revised December 2001)


    List of themes used on CD-ROM and site

    Themes are grouped for ease of presentation on screen; no significance or function attaches to the grouping in itself.


    includes culture, fashion, design, leisure, entertainment
    includes freedom of speech issues; see also CIVIL LIBERTIES


    Autobiography - Grantham
    Autobiography - marriage & children


    Commonwealth - Rhodesia
    Commonwealth - South Africa


    includes NATO
    Defence - arms control
    Defence - Falklands
    Security Services
    see also Northern Ireland


    includes electoral system
    Elections - by-elections
    Elections - European
    Elections - General Elections
    Elections - Local

    ECONOMY, etc

    includes food and fisheries; see also EUROPEAN UNION: BUDGET
    includes very general discussions of economic issues, especially economic growth
    Economy - employment
    includes training; see also EDUCATION
    Economy - industry
    includes regional policy, manufacturing versus service, North/South divide, etc
    Economy - monetary policy
    includes inflation, exchange rates, financial institutions; see also EUROPEAN UNION: ERM and EMU
    Economy - nationalised industries
    includes privatisation and deregulation, supply side measures
    Economy - pay
    includes incomes policy
    Economy - public spending
    includes public borrowing
    Economy - taxation
    Economy - trade
    Trade unions
    Trade unions - law reform
    Trade unions - strikes, etc
    includes comment on particular strikes


    Education - private
    Education - primary
    includes pre-school
    Education - secondary
    includes arguments about selection
    Education - higher
    includes further education
    Health - private sector
    Health - reforms 1987-90
    includes reflections on society, role of class
    Social security & welfare
    Voluntary sector & charity
    see also CONSERVATISM


    Science & technology


    European Union
    European Union - Budget
    European Union - EMS/ERM, EMU & political union
    European Union - Single Market


    Foreign Policy
    includes general discussion of policy formation, role of summitry, etc
    Foreign - Africa
    Foreign - Americas [excluding USA]
    Foreign - Asia
    Asia and Pacific excluding USSR, Middle East and Australasia
    Foreign - Australasia
    Foreign - Central & Eastern Europe
    Foreign - Middle East
    includes all Arab states
    Foreign - USA
    Foreign - USSR [& successor states]
    Foreign - Western Europe [non-EU matters]
    Foreign - Development, aid, etc
    Foreign - International organisations
    excludes EU, COMMONWEALTH & NATO


    Local government
    Local government - finance
    Local government - Community Charge


    Northern Ireland
    see also TERRORISM


    includes discussions of doctrine (and grounding of policies in belief); substantial defences of Conservative record
    Conservatism - party organisation
    includes Shadow Cabinet and personnel
    Conservatism - party history
    Labour Party and Socialism
    policies, ideology, personnel
    includes reflections on, discussion of MT's future as leader, etc
    Leadership - Conservative leadership elections
    Liberal and Social Democratic Parties
    policies, ideology, personnel
    includes MT's personal religion and morality; see also AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL


    Famous statements
    widely quoted statements by MT
    Famous statements - discussions of
    subsequent defence, explanation, justification of famous statements