An interview with Mrs Thatcher
This is an extract from an interview that Mrs Thatcher gave to the London Broadcasting Company (LBC). Mrs Thatcher had said that she was a great admirer of Victorian values. The interviewer asks her why this is so.
T Well, there`s no � there`s no great mystery about those. Erm, I was brought up by a Victorian grandmother. We were taught to work jolly hard: you were taught to improve yourself; you were taught self-reliance; you were taught to live within your income; you were taught that cleanliness was next to godliness; erm … you were taught self-respect; you were taught always to give a hand to your neighbour; er, you were … taught tremendous pride in your country; you were taught to be a good member of your community. All of these things are Victorian values.
I The Victorian values also seemed to encompass �
T � But they are also perennial values, as well.
I But they encompassed as well workhouses and – and shocking conditions in industry, all sorts of deplorable things that are also part of the Victorian scene.
T There`s � there`s some values which are eternal, and in fact you found a tremendous improvement in conditions during Victorian times, because people were brought up with a sense of duty. I was brought up with a very strong sense of duty, and part of the sense of duty was that if you were getting on better, so you turned yourself to help others, that as you did better yourself, so you had a duty to your community to turn to help others. And so, as you got an increasing prosperity during Victorian times, and as you got an immense national pride during Victorian times, so as you got greater prosperity, so you had a duty, voluntarily, to help others. And many of the very good things, improvements, that were made, er were made voluntarily in those times er � for example erm � people built hospitals, voluntary hospitals erm � many of the church schools were built during that time, many people say we simply must do better with the prisons, a better prison system, prison reform. But it came from this tremendous sense of reliance and duty. Erm … you don`t hear so much about those things these days. But they were good values, and they led to tremendous improvements in the standard of living.
I So that`s what you`re trying to get back to, that`s what you`d like to see happen, a society where we had those sorts of values, where perhaps the state steps back again then, and individuals get far more involved?
T What I am saying is that I think there are some values which are eternal, and I think the ones that I`ve indicated are.
I Yes, but what kind of society does that result in if people adopt those values, then we have �
T � Well, if I might say so, a very good society. If people are self-reliant, self-respecting, if they always lend a hand to others, if they wish always to improve themselves and work very hard to do it, if they reckon they`ve got to be very good members of the community, not because anyone tells them to, but because that`s the way we live, and if they live within their income, and save, and that saving there is therefore for investment, if they`re prepared to take responsibility for their own actions and responsibility for their own families, er … and to respect erm other people`s rights, it seems to me that you have the basis of an excellent society.
You asked me how I see life quite apart from those things. I am very keen that every person should have the opportunity to be what I would call a man or woman of property…
I … own their own house…
T Therefore … you start by owning your own house. We`re nearly up to sixty per cent, it is tremendous, because people � er, a man of property isn`t someone else, it`s oneself. And so therefore if you have a chance to own your own house then it gives you an interest in the future, it gives you respect for your own property, it gives you ability to improve your own standard of living and housing, and (unclear) to respect other people`s property, and you`ll have something to hand on to your children and grandchildren in years to come. This is the kind of independence, this is the kind of personal initiative and personal choice, which I believe is the kind of independence which used to belong to a few people, which I want to extend to the many.
I Right. You`d like everybody to have the freedom of choice to buy their own property, probably to � to choose the kind of education their children have, to choose the kind of medicine in which � er � their family partakes, whether private or National Health, but surely those kinds of advantages, to return to what we said earlier, are only offered to those with, offered to the �haves�, not to the �have-nots�, not to people without jobs. They`re for people with money.
T But with all due respect, we unfortunately have just over three million unemployed in this country, and we have betw- twenty-two to twenty-three million people who are working. Nearly sixty per cent of the houses in this country are now owner-occupied, er … many, many more people are applying to buy their own homes. I`m trying to make certain that people who save � the value of their savings, is kept. Wouldn`t life have been very much different for many of our old folk if the money they`d put aside out of very much lower wages in Victorian values, years ago, had in fact kept its value because we`d had governments which tried to keep inflation down? We`d have a very, very much better society, and we wouldn`t have cheated those old people of the value of their savings.
The things that matter
Now that I`ve nearly done my days,
And grown too stiff to sweep or sew,
I sit and think, till I`m amaze,
About what lots of things I know:
Things as I`ve found out one by one-
And when I`m fast down in the clay,
My knowing things and how they`re done
Will all be lost and thrown away.
There`s things, I know, as won`t be lost,
Things as folks write and talk about:
The way to keep your roots from frost,
And how to get your ink spots out.
What medicine`s good for sores and sprains,
What way to salt your butter down,
What charms will cure your different pains,
And what will bright your faded gown.
But more important things than these,
They can`t be written in a book:
How fast to boil your greens and peas,
And how good bacon ought to look;
The feel of real good wearing stuff,
The kind of apple as will keep,
The look of bread that`s rose enough,
And how to get a child asleep.
Whether the jam is fit to pot,
Whether the milk is going to turn,
Whether a hen will lay or not,
Is things as some folks never learn.
I know the weather by the sky,
I know what herbs grow in what lane;
And if sick men are going to die,
Or if they`ll get about again.
Young wives come in, a-smiling, grave,
With secrets that they itch to tell:
I know what sort of times they`ll have,
And if they`ll have a boy or gell.
And if a lad is ill to bind,
Or some young maid is hard to lead,
I know when you should speak `em kind,
And when it`s scolding as they need.
I used to know where birds ud set,
And likely spots for trout or hare,
And God may want me to forget
The way to set a line or snare;
But not the way to truss a chick,
To fry a fish, or baste a roast,
Nor how to tell, when folks are sick,
What kind of herb will ease them most!
Forgetting seems such silly waste!
I know so many little things,
And now the Angels will make haste
To dust it all away with wings!
O God, you made me like to know,
You kept the things straight in my head,
Please God, if you can make it so,
Let me know something when I`m dead.