Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1975 Feb 11 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

Press Conference after winning Conservative leadership (Conservative Central Office)

Document type:speeches
Document kind:Press Conference
Venue:Conservative Central Office, Smith Square, Westminster
Source:BBC Sound Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist:-
Editorial comments:Around 1745. MT seems also to have spoken briefly to journalists on her way into Central Office, but no record has been traced.
Importance ranking:Key
Word count:3001
Themes:Autobiographical comments, Autobiography (marriage and children), Conservatism, Conservative Party (organisation), Conservative Party (history), Economy (general discussions), Energy, European Union (general), Labour Party and Socialism, Conservative Party (leadership elections), Media, Women, Famous statements by MT
Photocall precedes press conference, MT obediently swivelling slowly twice through 180 degrees for the sake of the cameramen who shout instructions. She then repeats the written statement she had just delivered at the Grand Committee Room (where no cameras were present), urging those journalists who had been there to allow others to take the lead in questioning.

MT

[Reading written statement.] To me it's like a dream that the next name in the line Harold Macmillan , Alec Douglas-Home and Edward Heath is Margaret Thatcher. Each has brought his own style of leadership and stamp of greatness to the task. I shall take on the work with humility and dedication. I'd like to say"Thank you" for the trust and confidence my supporters have placed in me, and a special thank you to Airey Neave and Bill Shelton and our splendid helpers for their all-out effort on my behalf.

It is important to me that this prize has been won in open electoral contest with four other potential leaders. I know that they'll be disappointed, but I hope that we shall soon be back working together as colleagues for the things in which we believe.

There is much to do and I hope you will allow me time to do it thoughtfully and well.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to the Chief Whip and his staff, and to Robert Carr for carrying on so magnificently during this period of uncertainty. [End of written statement.]

Ladies and Gentlemen, your questions.

English Male Questioner

Mrs. Thatcher, do you envisage any substantial changes in your Shadow Cabinet?

MT

No, there will be some changes I expect, but it will be a blend of continuity and change.

American Male Questioner

Mrs. Thatcher what would you like to say to people who are still sceptical about the idea of a lady leader?

MT

Give me a chance! [Laughter.][fo 1]

English Male Questioner

Are you surprised, Mrs. Thatcher, that the male-dominated Parliamentary Party have elected you?

MT

No, they seem to like ladies. [Laughter.]

Female Questioner

Mrs. Thatcher, have you spoken to your husband?

MT

Yes, you always ask me that! [Laughter.] You always ask me the personal questions.

Same Questioner

What did you tell him and what did he say?

MT

As I told the chaps in the Grand Committee Room, the tape seems to get there faster than the British Post Office telephone calls. He knew already, he was absolutely thrilled. He'll be up shortly.

Same Questioner

He'll be home shortly?

MT

Yes.

Same Questioner

And what do you plan for … tonight?

MT

Well, I just have to carry on working.

Same Questioner

What about him?

MT

Well, he'll have work to do too.

American Male Questioner

How do you feel Mrs. Thatcher about facing Harold Wilson ?

MT

Ah, about the same as he will facing me. [Much laughter.] Next one, come on.

American Male Questioner

Mrs. Thatcher you said that sex was not the issue and so did the other candidates. What was the issue you think that put you over the top of a Tory …?

MT

I would like to think it was merit?

Same Questioner

Could you expand on that?

MT

No, it doesn't need expansion. You chaps don't like short answers. Or direct answers. Men like long rambly, waffly answers.[fo 2]

?Far Eastern Male Questioner

Mrs. Thatcher, do you intend to put any other women in your Shadow Cabinet?

MT

Er, I have not yet made any decisions about the Shadow Cabinet yet, with two exceptions. I am pledged to offer Mr. Heath a place if he wishes to have it, and also I hope that former, that … er, the people who contested in the second round who are members of Shadow Cabinet will continue to be members of Shadow Cabinet.

Foreign Male Questioner

Mrs. Thatcher do you view your victory today as a victory for Margaret Thatcher alone or do you view it as well as a victory for women in Britain?

MT

Neither. No one can win alone. Ever. You can only win by having a lot of people thinking and working the way you do. It's not a victory for Margaret Thatcher, it's not a victory for women. It is a victory for someone in politics.

American Female Questioner

Mrs Thatcher, how would you unite your party with …? [final words of question inaudible.]

MT

Well, one has a wonderful opportunity. After all the vote for me was greater than the votes for all other candidates put together, and the consultations with the constituency last weekend were very favourable. That's a marvellous basis on which to go forward. Next question.

Female American Questioner

Mrs Thatcher have you had any message from the Queen?

MT

Oh indeed no, no, one would not … [laughter] … expect that. One would not expect that, one doesn't. This is a party, this is a party political thing.

Male Questioner

Mrs Thatcher … [words inaudible] … that you would be going to the Palace?

MT

No, no, one is, er, not until one's prime minister. I hope that will happen one day.

American Male Questioner

Mrs Thatcher [words inaudible] real changes of direction in Tory economic policy under your leadership?

MT

Uh, well, one will obviously consult with those in the Shadow Cabinet who will be responsible for economic policy. And if you're going to ask me who those will be—I don't know. [Sighs.]

Male Questioner

Mrs Thatcher, … an unidentified … [words inaudible]

MT

An unidentified?[fo 3]

Same Questioner

… Labour Minister …

MT

Well who? You can't quote him if you don't know who he is—or she.

Same Questioner

… suggested …

MT

" Someone said" which means perhaps"no one said," but it's a convenient way of asking a question.

Same Questioner

… one said your election would ensure that the Conservatives are in Opposition for another ten years.

MT

I think they are wrong. [Shouts of"Hear, Hear" ] It seems to me that Mrs. Gandhi 's election in India ensured the election of her party for a very long period in office.

American Male Questioner

Mrs. Thatcher do you regard yourself as a, as a Mrs. Gandhi …

MT

No. I regard myself as Margaret Thatcher

Male Questioner [ Michael Cockerell , BBC]

Mrs. Thatcher, what is your opinion of Mr. Whitelaw ?

MT

A very good chap. [Pauses.] I've had a very nice message of support from him since the ballot.

Female Questioner

You were carrying a bouquet of flowers when you came into Tory Central Office, … can you tell us who gave them …

MT

My constituency came down and brought them.

Female Questioner

Thank you.

MT

They're not far away as you know, and they raced …

Male Questioner

[Words inaudible.]

MT

They were, they were what you call potted plants, a mixture of potted plants, they last longer than cut flowers.

English Male Questioner

What quality would you most like the Tory Party displaying under your leadership?[fo 4]

MT

Win … the winning quality.

Same Questioner

What sort of philosophical quality?

MT

A Conservative philosophical quality. A distinctive Conservative philosophy. Oh, you don't win but just being against things, you only win by being for things and making your message perfectly clear.

Same Questioner

For what?

MT

For a free society with power well distributed amongst the citizens and not concentrated in the hands of the state. And the power supported by a wide distribution of private property amongst citizens and subjects and not in the hands of the state.

Same Questioner

How long do you think it will be before you fight an election on this …

MT

I have no idea. That—the calling of an election—is a matter for the Prime Minister of the day and not for the Leader of the Opposition and he'll call it naturally at a time most suitable to him.

Questioner

… The Government's majority is very small …

MT

No, it's very large really, over … over, um, it's very large over the Conservative Party.

Same Questioner

[words inaudible] May I ask you … [words inaudible] Would you seek a coalition, or would you seek an election or would you seek … [words inaudible]

MT

I believe there's a classic answer to that, er—we'll just wait and see. I think that's shorter than saying"that's a hypothetical question" .

American Female Questioner

Mrs Thatcher do you [words inaudible] … if you will be able to attract finance to the Conservative Party, which I understand is short of money?

MT

We're always short of money. We need a lot more. Do you think we should take a collection at the door? Do you think we should take a collection at the door? [laughter]

Same Questioner

[words inaudible]

MT

I think so, that's the answer.

German Male Questioner

Mrs Thatcher, can you see yourself on the same platform as Harold Wilson during the referendum campaign?[fo 5]

MT

I think so. [Pauses.] Provided …

English Male Questioner

What do you see as the future role of the Centre for Policy Studies?

MT

Well you know, I'm sorry …

Same Questioner

… to the Tory Central Office Office Research Department?

MT

No no. Not at all. It will of course continue to have a role, but it is doing mainly the economic things, on a fairly—er—in depth, using a number of people from academic circles, or involving a number of people from academic circles. I'm just a little bit concerned about the … as far as Mr Wilson and I are concerned, I shall be campaigning for Europe. I hope he will be too.

American Male Questioner

[words inaudible]

MT

We need more women to come forward to stand for election. I hope they will. I think it is somewhat of a disappointment that after years and years of higher education for women we haven't got more coming forward for Parliamentary candidature. A lot of them, of course, are candidates and local councillors.

English Male Questioner

By the same platform, do you mean the same sort of platform …

MT

I beg your pardon, the same what?

Same Questioner

When you say you can … [words inaudible] … on the same platform as Mr Wilson …

MT

No, I think platform is a slightly misleading word which is why I went back. I shall be campaigning to keep the party in Europe. That's my … correct, yes. I hope Mr Wilson will be too.

Same Questioner

I meant the same physical platform.

MT

Well, let's see about that. I meant the same in the sense of that we are the party which took us into Europe and hope to keep us in.

American Male Questioner

Mrs Thatcher do you have anything in particular to working class Tory … [words inaudible]

MT

Yes. Vote Conservative next time.[fo 6]

Female Questioner

Mrs Thatcher, how do you … [words inaudible] … your lovely …

MT

Lovely Chelsea home?

Same Questioner

… yes … [words inaudible]

MT

Well, um, it's a very very ordinary Chelsea home. But you know—you've been there.

Same Questioner

… the prospect of leaving your lovely Chelsea home … 10 Downing Street … [words inaudible]

MT

Well, that would be very much grander than anything I'm used to.

Same Questioner

[words inaudible]

MT

It's a very lovely house, yes. Any more questions?

English Male Questioner

You said that the Labour Government has a very large majority in practice. Does this mean that you don't expect to be able to get a decisive Parliamentary defeat on the Labour Party?

MT

No, no no. It's just a question of fact, it's not a question of opinion. They have a considerable majority over the Conservative Party. It is only if all the Opposition parties combine that they have a very narrow majority, but for most purposes they have quite a good majority.

Same Questioner

And you don't think the chances of … [words inaudible] … the total anti-government to come into the lobbies … [words inaudible] … is particularly great in the forseeable future?

MT

Well, it just depends what the occasion is and what the issue is. We had run reasonably close, I think we ran … the closest we ran was about eleven. I think we did that on the Finance Bill. Er, I'm sorry, of course we won over the earning rule. Yes, that can happen. It is an issue that goes across political boundaries, and some people are prepared to cross-vote.

American Female Questioner

Is it your view that … [words inaudible] … Mr Powell … [words inaudible] … might be good for the Conservative Party?

MT

I have already said that Mr Powell would not be included in my team.

English Male Questioner

Mrs Thatcher, you mentioned today's … [words inaudible] … would you … [words inaudible][fo 7]

MT

I hope so.

Same Questioner

[words inaudible]

MT

We had, I think, we expected about 137, plus anything up to a dozen more which we didn't know whether we should get them or not. And of course you never know whether your initial canvassing remains sound. Now, I think you're having to force the questions now.

Questioner

[words inaudible]

MT

No. I … as I said, we expected 137, and anything up to a dozen me. But we were very thrilled when our expectations were reached and surpassed.

Questioner

… celebrate …?

MT

Well, I just have a lot of work to do and the celebrations will have to wait.

Questioner

Mrs Thatcher, …

MT

No, we have no champagne.

Questioner

[words inaudible]

MT

I find it very hot.

Questioner

Mrs Thatcher, do you have any view on Government involvement in off-shore petroleum searching? … [words inaudible]

MT

I … the party view, that is we don't think it is necessary to take shareholdings and semi-nationalisation.

Questioner

Mrs Thatcher …

MT

No, press only Jean, press only.

Questioner

One more …

MT

Yes.[fo 8]

Questioner

[words inaudible]

MT

I'm sorry, I can't see you or hear you.

Questioner

Given the dreadful state of the British economy, do you have any … [words inaudible]

MT

No. At the moment we are not responsible for the state of the British economy. That is a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My views are made very clear in budget statements and on second reading of Finance Bill and in extenso on the several clauses in the Finance Bill and I think it is better to read those than try to summarise them.

Questioner

Mrs Thatcher …

MT

Last question.

Questioner

[words inaudible]

MT

That was set out in the debate last week, a two-day debate that we had last week. Right, thank you. Thank you very much. I think there are one or two interviews to be done …