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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 5, 2015 4:00am-6:01am EST

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serving our country. they gave their lives so we could live ours in freedom and it's right to pause and reflect every year on ar mists day. mr. speaker, this morning i had meetings with ministerial clegg colleague and others and i should have further meetings later on today. >> craig tracy. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i would like to associate myself with the prime minister's comments. i look forward to joining the parade in any constituency which has been in existence since 1921. speaking to constituents, the government commitment of 2% gdp spending spending was welcome. given the volatile states of the world, it's more important than ever that we maintain the commitment and give our brave troops the support and resources, equipment available. >> i think my honorable friend
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is right. we live in a dangerous uncertain world. and the key commitments that we've made, the 2% on defense spending, the aid spending which helps our security as well as making sure we are a generous and moral nation and also crucially having the ultimate insurance policy of a replacement for our submarines. >> jeremy corbyn. >> thank you. thank you, mr. speaker. i concur with the prime minister's -- i concur with the prime minister's remarks concerning remembrance sunday and remembrance weekend. we mourn all of those that are died in all wars and surely realso resolve to try to build a peaceful future where the next generation doesn't suffer from the wars of past generations. last week i asked the prime minister the same question six times, mr. speaker and he couldn't answer.
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he's now had a week to think about it. i want to ask him one more time, can he guarantee that next april nobody is going to be worse off as a result of cuts to working tax credits? >> let me be absolutely clear with the honorable gentleman. what i can guarantee next april is there will be an 11,000 personal allowance so you can earn 11,000 pounds before you pay tax. what i can guarantee is there will be a national living wage at 7 pounds 20 giving the lowest paid in our country a 20 pound a week pay rise compared with election next year. on the issue of tax credits, we suffered the defeat in the house of lords. we've taken the proposals away. we're looking a at them. we'll come forward with new proposals. and at that point in exactly three weeks time i'll be able to answer his question. now, if we wants to spend the next five questions asking it
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all over again, i'm sure he'll find that it is very entertaining and interesting. how it fits with the new politics, i'm not quite sure. but over to you. mr. speaker, this isn't about entertainment. this is about -- this -- this is not funny for people who are desperately worried about what's going to happen next april. if the prime minister won't listen to the questions i put, won't listen to the questions that are put by the public, then perhaps the prime minister will listen to a question that was raised by his honorable friend who last week concerning tax credit changes said, and i quote, that changes cannot go ahead next april and that any mitigation should be full
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mitigation. what's the prim's answprime minister's answer to his friend? >> it's very much the same answer that i gave to him. in three weeks time we will announce our proposals and he will be able to see what we'll do to deliver the high pay low tax lower welfare economy we want to see. that's what we need in our country. we're cutting people's taxes, we're increasing people's pay but we also believe it's right to reform welfare. he'll have his answer in three weeks' time. but in the meantime he has to think about this. if we don't reform welfare, how are we going to fund the police service that we're talking about today? how are we going to fund the health service that we're talking about today? how are we going to pay for the defense forces that we're talking about today? the honorable gentleman has been completely consistent. he's opposed every single reform
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to welfare that has ever come forward. if we listen to him, you'd still have families in london getting 100,000 pounds a year in housing benefit. the answer to the question is you'll find out in three weeks' time. carry on. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the reality is that the prime minister makes choices and he's made a choice concerning working tax credits which hasn't worked very well so far. but he must be aware -- i'll give you an example. a serving soldier, a private in the army with two children and a partner would lose over 2,000 pounds next april. i ask a question -- >> the questions will be heard and the answers will be heard. simple as that. mr. jeremy corbyn
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>> thank you, mr. speaker. surely that is the whole point of our parliament, that we're able to put questions to those in authority. and so i have a question from -- i have a question from karen, a veteran of the first gulf war. his family is set to lose out and he writes, it's a worry to the family, this fear and trepidation about whether we're going to be able to get by. and he asks, is this how the government treats veterans of the armed services. >> first of all, let me take the case of the ser ving soldier. first of all many soldiers, indeed all soldier wills benefit from the 11,000 pound personal allowance that comes in next year. that means they'll be able to earn more money before they start paying taxes. serving soldiers with children
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will benefit from the 30 hours of childcare. and serving soldiers and other wills be able to see the proposals in tax credits in exactly three weeks' time. but what i would say to sterveing soldier is he's dealing with an opposition party the leader of which said he couldn't see any need for uq forces anywhere in the world at any time. that serving soldier wouldn't have a job if the honorable gentleman ever got anywhere near power. jeremy corbyn! >> thank you, mr. speaker. can i invite the prime minister to cast his mind to another area of public service that's causing acute concern at the present time. i note he's trying to dig himself out of a hole with the offer this morning, which we await the detail of. but there is a question i want to put to him, and i quote mr. cliff man, the president of the
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royal college of emergency medicine who said, this winter will be worse than last winter. and last winter was the worst winter we've ever had in the nhs. can the prime minister guarantee there will be no winter crisis in the nhs this year? >> first of all, when it comes to the royal college of emergency medicine, they actually support what we're saying about a seven-day nhs and the junior doctor's contract. he says wait for the detail. i would urge everyone in the house and all junior doctors who with watching this to go on the department of health website and look at the pay calculator. because you'll be able to see that tl that no one working legal hours will lose out in any way at all. this is an 11% basic pay rise and what it will deliver is a stronger and safer nhs. as for the state of our nhs more generally, it is benefitting
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from 10 billion pounds that we put in, money that the labor party at the last election said they did not support. so i believe the nhs has the resources that it needs and that's why we're seeing it treat more patients with more treatments, more drugs being delivered, more tests being carried out. it's a much stronger nhs and the reason is simple. because we have a strong economy supporting our nhs. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i note that the prime minister has not offered any comment whatsoever about the winter crisis of last year or what will happen this year. now, there is -- there is -- mr.
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speaker. >> order. order. the leader of the opposition is entitled to ask questions without a barrage of noise and the prime minister is entitled to answer questions without a barrage of noise. that is what the public is entitled to expect. mr. jeremy corbyn. >> mr. speaker. if the prime minister won't answer questions that i put, then i quote to him the renowned king's fund which has enormous expertise in nhs funding and nhs administration and i quote, the national health service cannot continue to maintain standards of care and balance the books. a rapid and serious decline in patient care is inevitable unless something is done. could i ask the prime minister which is rising faster, nhs waiting lists or nhs deficits? >> well, first of all, let me deal directly with the king's
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fund. what we've done on this side of the house is appoint a new chief executive to the nhs, mr. simon stephens who work under the last labor government and did a very good job for them. he produced the stephens plan that required 8 billion pounds of goff funding and we're putting in 10 billion pounds behind that plan. and the results you can see is that we've got 1.3 million more operation, 7.8 million more outpatient outlets. what is going up is the nhs is the number of treatments, the number of successful outcomes. if he wants to know who is heading for a winter crisis, i would predict that it's the labor party that is heading for a winter crisis. look at his appointments. look at his appointments. his adviser is a stalinist. and his economic adviser is a communist. if he's trying to move the labor
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party to the left, i'd give him full marks. >> mr. speaker, the issue that i raise with the prime minister was the national health service, in case he had forgotten. i'd just like to remind him that since he took office in 2010 the english waiting list is up by a third, there are now 3.5 -- 3.5 million people, 3.5 million people waiting for treatment in the nhs. if his party can't match its actions by its words, then i put this to him. will he just get real? the nhs is in a problem. it niece a problem of deficits in many hospitals. it's in a problem of waiting lists. it's in a problem of the financial crisis it's been faced
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with. can he now address that issue and ensure that everyone in this country can rely on the nhs which is surely the jewel in all of our crowns? >> your talks about the health service since i became prime minister. let me tell him what has happened in the nhs since i became prime minister. the number of doctors up by 10.5 thousand, the number of nurses up by 5,800. fewer patients waiting 52 weeks to start treem. we've introduced the cancer fund. we've seen rates of mrsa and hospital acquired infection come plummeting down. that's what's happened. but it's happened for a reason. because we've had a strong economy. because we've got some of the strongest growth anywhere in the world. because we've got unemployment coming down. because we've got inflation on the floor, we're able to fund an nhs. whereas the countries he admires all over the world with their
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crazy socialist plans cut the health service and hurt the people that need the help the most. >> thank you. thank you, mr. speaker. the uk's internet economy is by far the largest of the g 20 nations, 12.4% of the gdp. but as the consumers move online, so do criminals. does the prime minister agree that the investigative power bill must give tus security mesh power that they need to keep us safe while ensuring that proper control exist on how we use those powers. >> i think it's one of the most important bills that this house will discuss. it's obviously going through prelegislative scrutiny first. the home second tritoday will set out very clearly what the bill is about, why it's necessary. let me make one simple point. communications data, the who
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called who and when of telecommunications is absolutely vital in catching rapists and child abductors and solving other crimes. the question before us is do we need that data when people are using social media to commit those crimes. my answer is yes, we must help the police and security and intelligence services to help keep us safe. >> thank you very much, mr. speaker. at this week's remembrance events we remember all of the sacrifices from past and present conflicts. we also show your respect to veterans and to service families. does the prime minister agree that everything, everything must be done to deliver on the military covenant, both the spirit and the letter? >> i certainly agree with both parts of his question. these remembrance services are very important, right up and down our country. and the military covenant i think is one of the most
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important things that we have where we make a promise to our military that because of the sacrifices they make on our behalf they should not have less good treatment than other good people in our country. and indeed where we can, we should provide extra support. this is the first government to put the covenant properly into law and to deliver almost every year big improvements in the military agreement, whether it's free transport, cancel tax discount and so many other things and we report on it every year. >> robertson. >> however is the prime minister aware that many, many service widows continue to be deprived of their force's pensions if there is a change in their personal circumstances? does he agree that this is a clear breach in the spirit of the military covenant and what will he do to rectify this wrong? >> well we made a big change, i think it was last year at around the time of arm cyst day to make
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sure that many people who had remarried were able to get their pensions. and that was a very big step forward welcomed by the british legion. if there are further steps we need to take or look at, i'm happy to look at them and see what could be done. i also remember in the last budget, i think it was we looked to the case f police widow open we tried to put right their situation as well. >> dr. james davis. >> thank you, mr. speaker. will the prime minister join me in congratulating the town in my constituency which is a finalist in the great british high streets awards? and will he confirm whether the uk government will be holding discussions with the welsh assembly government about the def lugs of business rates to councils in wales so that others have a better opportunity to regenerate? >> i certainly join him in congratulating him. i don't know whether he's in the
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same category for this prize as my town which has also been nominated. i might have some conflicts of interest. but what i would say to him is obviously in wales, it is open to the welsh government if they're wanting to make the approach we're taking so that local councils have a better connection between the money that they raise and the decisions that they make to attract businesses to sar area. >> both schools which invest heavily in intel lent teaching, dance, arts drama, yet while he has been prime minister, the schools which educate 93% of our pupils have cut teachers in those subjects. will his legacy be that britain stopped being a world leader in
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creative industries? >> i don't accept that. actually if you look at what's happened with school funding, it's actually been protected under this government and we want to continue protecting school funding. what i would make no apology for is the very clear focus we have on getting the basics right in our schools. i think it's essential that we get more children learning the basic subjects, getting the basic qualifications and then on top of that, it's then more possible, i would argue, to put in place, the arts, the dance and drama that i want my children to have as they go to their schools. >> damien collins. >> the port of dover is major piece of national infrastructure. but then there are disruption to service it creates chaos. will the prime minister give special consideration to need for an urgent and long term fix
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to operation tack? >> when it becomes necessary to put in place operation stack. we've implemented short term measures including the availability of the manton airfield. i know he met this morning and we're happy to build on this work. i understand the pressures and we'll do everything we can to relieve them. >> thank you very much, mr. speaker. can i associate myself with the comments the prime minister made about what will happen. weekend and the comments he made of the s&p. can i agree with me about the issue the fact that thousands 0 people who served our nation would serve before 1987 not entitled to full compensation. this means that people wo have been exposed and have contracted
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the disease compared to civilian life. to the extent that someone exposed to the industry could get the 150,000 pound compensation. and it's probable that a service person could get only 31,000 pound. it's a clear breach. >> well i'm grateful to the honorable gentleman for raising this issue. i understand the defense secretary is looking at it. since putting in place the military covenant into law we've tried every year to try to make progress whether on the issue of widows, whether on the issue of particular groups that have been disadvantaged in some way and i'm happy to go away and look at the points that he's made. >> thank you, mr. speaker. at the royal society have identified the need for 1 million scientists, engineers and tech professionals by 2020. one way to bridge this skill gap is a high quality
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apprenticeship. however, for every one place available, 20 people apply. will my friend double his efforts to meet the commitment for 3 million apprenticeships. >> the three million figure is essential. one of the ways we will achieve it is by making sure that more of our young people have the qualifications necessary to apply for an apprenticeship. lots of people apply pu when you knock out the people who haven't got a qualification in english and math, the number comes down. i'm delighted to announce today to try to make sure that we really work with businesses to get this 3 million. the honorable member is going to take the place of the member of wattford who has moved on to other things. and he's going to help me, the member of stratford, to make sure we get businesses to move
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on this agenda. >> does the prime minister realize my constituents face a double whammy on police cuts from the spending view but al. so i ask him with a cross party letter, one from my neighborhood watch group, one from the police commissioner and six others, mostly tourists and our chief constable all saying that this process is flawed. how many blue lights must he have before we hit meltdown. >> first of all, the reform to the police funding formula is a consultation on which no decisions have been taken. can i congratulate this police because crime is down by 5% over the parliament. funding for lancaster police is 180 million pounds which is the same in cash terms as 2003. and i record to him that her imagine industry's inspection
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found that it's exceptionally well-prepared to face its future financial requirements. that's the view of hmic. and in a country where crime, however you measure it, has fallen significantly since this government took office. >> thank you, mr. speaker. my constituent, dr. sara pate, one of the uk's leading burn specialists went out on monday to help the romanian medical teams dealing with the nightclub fire snafr. there are 150 patients in needs of critical burn care. sara pate asked if the prime minister will consider offering medical assistance to these burn vooims by allowing the use of the burn facilities for their treatment. >> first of all, i think my honorable friend is absolutely right to raise this tragic event that took place in bucharest last friday. i'm pleased to hear about dr.
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pate's visit and her help. i'll take that away and see what can be done. >> the prime minister will understand the heartbreak of the death of a child. for parents they're not to know what happened to the ashes of that child. as is the case with families up andown the country. will the prime minister agree to meet and discuss while we need national and a local inquiry as to what happened in that case around baby ashes? >> well, of course i completely understand how her constituents feel. this must have been a tragic eve event. i'm happy to arrange that meeting. i'm not aware of this case. i haven't heard of it before. let me look at it carefully and see what i can do. >> i was delighted that the cans
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lore chose our county city of york to launch the new infrastructure commission. can the prime minister confirm this is a start of a new era for important investment decisions, roads and railways between the great cities of the north will help bring growth and prosperity to our region? >> my honorable friend is right to raise this. people have long felt that there hasn't been a fair enough deal in terms of transport funding on roads and rail and i think people can now see that there are 13 billion pounds being spent on transport in the north as part of our plan to rebalance brit fan's economy. we're continuing to invest in improving the a 64 which is absolutely vital for the people of york. and we'll go on looking at what more we can do to make sure this vital economy has the transport links it needs. >> john nicholson. >> thank you, mr. speaker. on the 9th of september the
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secretary of state for culture, media and sports said to the committee, and i quote, there are no plans to sell channel 4. can the prime minister confirm that remains the government's position, that no discussions are underway to privatize and thus imperil this much loved and important public institution? >> well, first of all, let me -- i'm a huge fan of channel 4 and channel 4 was a great conservative innovation. i think it was a combination of willie white law and margaret thatcher that helped bring channel 4 to our screens. i'm a huge fan. i want to make sure that channel 4 has a strong secure future. i think it's right to look at all of the options including to see whether private investment into channel 4 could safeguard it for the future. let's have a look at the options. let's not close our minds like some on the opposition front bench who think that, you know,
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private is bad and public is good. let's have a proper look at how we can make sure this great channel goes on being great for many years to come. >> thank you, mr. speaker. everybody who has had any contact with the adoption process will be familiar with the frustration that unnecessary delays cause to prospective parents. will the prime minister take action to speed up the adoption process so that more children can be put with the right families much more quickly? >> my old friend is absolutely right to raise this. we've seen a 72% increase in the number of children adopt. the average waiting time has come down something like five months. but if you look across the 150 different councils responsible for adoption, you can see that around 68 of them don't have any mechanisms for what we call early placement where you
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actually run fostering an adoption alongside each other. if we can introduce that at least through the regional adoption agencies, we'll see many more children get the warm and loving home that we want them to have. >> will he spare a thought on arm cysts day for 633 of our bravest and bests who died as a result of two political mistakes? 179 in per suit of nonexistent weapons of mass instruction in iraq and 454 who died in the incursion that promised that no shot would be fired. will he rethink his own plan to order more of our brave soldier to put their lives on the line in the chaos and confusion of a four-sided civil war in syria? >> i have great respect for the
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honorable gentleman. but with respect i would suggest that on this day we should put aside political questions about conflicts and decisions that were made and we should simply remember the men and women who put on a uniform, go and serve and risk their lives on our behalf. let's make this day about that and not about other questions. >> thank you, mr. speaker. >> mr. speaker, the last week has been scrapping of the airport development fee, which was an additional tax on passengers and a barrier to growth. the announcement of new air links that link to mainland europe and the gap link with the support of the cso. will the prime minister join me in congratulating the team at the airport for their excellent work in supporting the cornish
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economy? >> i'm a huge fan. and we made promise to make sure that the vital connectivity between corn wall and the rest of europe is there. >> can i thank the prime minister for his welcome to this -- >> order. i want to hear this question. mr. lamb? >> thank you, mr. speaker. can i thank the prime minister for his welcome for the campaign launched this week where over 200 leaders from across society joined the right honorable gentleman cofield and me in calling for equality for those who suffer for mental health. those who suffer from mental ill health do not have the same access treatment as others who enjoy in our nhs. the moral and economic case for
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ending this injustice is overwhelming. will the prime minister deliver the investment in mental health to deliver genuine equality? >> well, let me say to the honorable gentleman who did a lot of work on this in the last parliament. i very much welcome the campaign that has been launched and what they want to achieve. we set out in the nhs constitution parity between mental and physical health, and we've taken steps toward that by introducing waiting times and proper targets for talking therapies, and i think there are now twice as many people undergoing those talking therapies as there were five years ago. but i completely accept it has more to do in healing this divide between mental and physical health and this government has committed to do that. >> thank you, mr. speaker. further to the question from the gentleman from norfolk north. may i thank the prime minister for his support and say that this is an all-party campaign.
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does he agree with me now that there's an opportunity now to build on the work of the coalition over the last five years and with widespread support over all parts of society and historic injustice between the treatment between mental health and the physical illness? >> well, i think my honorable friend is absolutely right. let me tell him what we're actually doing. we're spending $11.4 billion this year. and we have asked every group to ensure real increases in their investment services so. it can't be treated as a cinderella service that has sometimes been the case in the past. i think if we do that and also deal with some of the other issues, such as mental health patients being held in police cells we have a far better system for mental health in our country. >> with the announcement yesterday ever the loss of 860
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manufacturing jobs at the mit michelin plant, will you address the short term and long-term issues and people who are currently in work in northern ireland who are woryed about cutting tax credits. will the prime minister reverse the thrust of that policy? and remove the burden and threat against working families in northern ireland across the country? >> well, first of all, on the issue of industries, if a company qualifies as part of the energy-intensive industries it will see a reduction in its bill because of the action i announced from this dispatch box last week. the second thing is we have
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passed legislation to allow ireland to set its own tax. the sooner northern ireland will be able to take action to try and build a stronger private sector in northern ireland which is exactly what i want to see. on the issue of tax credits, i give him the same answer. he'll know in three weeks time, but he also knows that people work in that business or in other businesses will be able to earn 11,000 pounds before they start paying taxes. let's build an economy where you earn more, pay less taxes and keep welfare costs under control so we can build great public services. >> order! i have learned that you request do anything to you want to. they used to ask me if i thought the first lady ought to be paid. if you get paid then i have to do what first lady's supposed to do. but you can do anything you want
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to, and it's such a great soapbox. i mean, it's just such a great opportunity. so i would advise any first lady to do what she wanted to do. if she doesn't want -- and another thing i learned is you're going to be criticized about it no matter what you do. i could have stayed at the white house, poured tea, had receptions and i would have been criticized as much as i was criticized outside for what i did. and i lot a lot of criticism. but you learn to live with it. as i said earlier. you just live with it. expect it and you live with it. and never let it influence me. >> she was her husband's political partner from their first campaign. as first lady, she attended president jimmy carter's cabinet meetings. even testifying before congress. their partnership on health and peacekeeping issues has spanned four decades since leaving the white house. rosalynn carter, this sunday
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night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's original series, first ladies of the influence and image, examining the public and private lives of the women who fulfilled the role of first lady. from martha washington to michelle obama. sunday at 8:00 eastern on c-span 3. the heritage foundation and the angelo sphere society co-hosted an event honoring the career of the late prime minister margaret thatcher. october 13th would have marked her 90th birthday. panelists discussed her relationship with president reagan. their approach when it came to dealing with the soviet union and her views on the u.k.'s membership in the european union. their is just over an hour. >> good afternoon. thank you for joining us here at the heritage foundation in our douglas and sara allison auditorium. we, of course, welcome those who
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join us on our heritage.org website on all of these occasions, those who will be joining us on c-span. we remind our internet viewers that questions or comments can always be sent simply e-mailing speaker@heritage.org. and we have all, of course, posted today's program on our home page for everyone's future reference as well. we're pleased today that our program is cohosted by the anglosphere society. it was formed in 2012. it is an independent educational nonprofit tax-exempt membership organization and focuses on promoting the special relationship between the united states and the united kingdom, free market economies, and cultural events for english-speaking peoples. in pursuing its mission, the anglosphere society holds cultural events for sharing ideas based on the historic values of the english-speaking peoples, encourages the anglosphere alliance through the arts, literature, music and historic travel, acts as a forum
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to promote and publicize ideas grounded in the values of freedom and democracy, and fosters networks and personal bonds to stimulate discussions on key issues. we are pleased that opening our program today, the founder of the anglosphere society, amanda bowman, will lead us. she previously served as the new york director of the center for security policy for eight years, focusing there on policing terrorism and the home-grown threat posed by radical islam. this allowed her to work collaboratively with policy organizations and law enforcement on both sides of the pond. ms. bowman has over 20 years experience in corporate, philanthropic and consumer public relations on both sides of the atlantic. she also serves as a board member of the intrepid fallen heroes fund. please join me in welcoming amanda bowman. amanda?
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>> thank you so much, john, and my deepest gratitude to the heritage organization for cohosting this event and their generosity in making it all possible. today we are celebrating the life of margaret thatcher who would have been 90 years old today. the -- in april of 2013, the senate passed a resolution to recognize the life legacy and example of british prime minister barroness margaret thatcher. and i'd like to quote from the -- those -- that resolution because i think it sets the stage for this discussion tonight. resolved that the senate hobers the legacy of barroness margaret thatcher for her lifelong commitment to advancing freedom,
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liberty and democracy throughout the world. recognizes that margaret thatcher, working with president ronald reagan, helped bring a peaceful end to the cold war. reiterates its continued support for the close tie and the special relationship between the united states and the united kingdom. and expresses admiration for barroness margaret thatcher and her legacy as an inspirational and transformative leader in the united kingdom and the world. needless to say, i couldn't say it better. today, we have nile gardiner moderating our conversation today, and nile brings, like the other speakers today, a unique perspective on the life of margaret thatcher.
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as you know, he is the director of the margaret thatcher center for freedom at heritage and has worked at the heart of the washington policy world for over a decade. and he's a leading expert on the u.s./uk special relationship and u.s. policy towards europe. but before joining heritage, nile served as an aide to margaret thatcher and advised her on a number of international policy issues. working in her private office, nile assisted lady thatcher with her final book, "state craft: strategies for a changing world." and nile also received his doctorate and two master's degrees in history from yale university and has a bachelor's and master's degree in modern history from oxford university. oxford university is an important part of our conversation today because we have dr. alice precassca, principal of oxford of which margaret thatcher is a distinguished alumni. dr. prohaska started her career
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as a curator and subsequently as an archivist in the public record office. she then became the director of special collections at the british library. in august of 2001, dr. prokaska took up the position of university librarian at yale university, and she remained there until she was elected principal of somerville in the summer of 2009 and took up the position in september 2010. so dr. prohaska has an expertise on the influences the academic influences on margaret thatcher's life. we also are honored to have attorney general edward meese, now ronald reagan distinguished fellow emeritus at the center for legal and judicial studies at heritage. ed meese is a prominent conservative leader and thinker and elder statesman and continues a quarter century formal association with the heritage foundation.
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and we are delighted to have him speak to the special relationship in margaret thatcher's life as minister, and particularly her special relationship with ronald reagan. and we have also with us john o'sullivan who's special adviser and speechwriter to prime minister thatcher and author of "the president, the pope and the prime minister." john o'sullivan is both an author and a journalist and a senior fellow at the national review institute and also editor in large of "national review" where he served as editor in chief for almost a decade. in 1987 and '98 and 1988, he served as special adviser to margaret thatcher, covering health and social security, defense procurement and the arts. and during this period and after he left downing street, he served informally as a regular speechwriter for the prime minister. he was the principal author of
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the 1987 conservative election manifesto, a lady is one of the small team that assisted lady thatcher in the writing of her two volumes of memoirs. we're particularly lucky to have the opportunity today to have a look at lady thatcher's life steadily and whole as t.s. elliott would say. and it's a unique opportunity. and i'm absolutely thrilled and delighted to have this opportunity to introduce everybody. thank you. >> thank you very much, amanda, for the very kind introductions, and a very warm welcome to our three distinguished guests with us today and also warm welcome to every joining us here this afternoon at the heritage foundation. i'd like to start off, if i may, with the first question for dr. alice prohaska, the principal of somerville thatcher and of
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course margaret thatcher was a student at somerville. she studied chemistry there. she started, i believe, in 1943 on her 18th birthday. and oxford was instrumental in shaping lady thatcher's later career. and i'd like to ask an opening question with regard to the margaret thatcher scholarship trust, with regard to the thatcher scholarships, could you give us an insight into what somerville oxford are trying to achieve with regard to the scholarships, and perhaps some details about the launch of the scholarship trusts and what you're trying to achieve here with this tremendous project? >> well, thank you, nile. the idea is fundamentally to create a permanent living legacy to margaret thatcher by creating scholarships that will bring people to study at oxford from all over the world who probably would not otherwise get the benefit of that education.
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so we're following the narrative of margaret thatcher's life. a woman from very modest circumstances. but tremendous promise and great academic attainment who made her way to oxford where the college of which i have the owner to be principal which is the same thing as president gave her her start. somerville identified margaret thatcher, then margaret roberts, as somebody who was struggling financially and wouldn't be able to get the best from her oxford education without further financial assistance. and she was rewarded with funds and also with an academic scholarship. and she was taught by some of the most excellent tutors in the world. we may speak more about this and her main tutor, dorothy hodgkin was the one british woman ever
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to have won a nobel prize in science. so the college was a very special place. it nurtured and looked after its students, and it taught them at the highest possible level. and we want to continue that tradition in the name of margaret thatcher and bring people from all over the world to honor her legacy. people who are going to succeed in life with the same sort of determination that she displayed. >> and with regard to the thatcher scholarships, inevitably, they will draw comparisons with the rhodes scholarships, arguably the most famous scholarships in the world at this time. and scholarships established by the great empire builder cecil rhodes, a graduate of royal college. how do you see the thatcher scholarships differing from the rhodes scholarships, or are there indeed some similarities between the two? >> there are similarities in that we want to create an
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international community of alumni of these scholarships. there are similarities in that we are looking for excellence. that is of paramount importance. we're looking for academic excellence, first and foremost. what rhodes scholarships do that our scholarships will not pay so much emphasis on is to look for well-rounded people who excelled with athletic prowess. cecil rhodes was very keen on athletic prowess. we are actually looking for people with very, very strong academic potential and capability. and we then give them the opportunity to develop the sort of character and future and profile that we think will actually honor margaret thatcher.
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she herself, i think, would not have been a rhodes scholar when she arrived at ox forward. oxford. there are some other differences. that is that these will be scholarships for undergraduates as well as postgraduates, and the rhodes scholarships are for people who have already graduated from another university either from this country or in parts of africa, germany, india, and the former commonwealth countries. we are looking to provide scholarships for people from any part of the world, including this country. but they may come from any part of the world. and one distinguishing characteristic which is not specified in the rhodes program is that it will give particular preference to people who can demonstrate that they've overcome adversity. margaret thatcher overcame the adversity of coming from a very modest background with no university tradition in her family at all. and that's one form of
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adversity. we will be looking for people who can show already in their lives that they've managed to overcome. >> excellent. and it's striking that margaret thatcher had to learn latin, i believe, in the space of about five months in order to enter into oxford university at the time. as you mentioned, came from a very, very modest background, the daughter of a green grocer in grantham. and she epitomized, i suppose, the can-do attitude of her generation. it certainly is a tremendous example to young, aspiring scholars who wish to study at oxford today. and one more question with regard to the scholarships. ha denied an honorary doctorate by oxford university when she was prime minister. can you explain how, in spite of
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that, the relationship with somerville college remained very warm for lady thatcher, and she always kept a special place at somerville in her heart despite her somewhat shoddy treatment perhaps by the senior officials of oxford university. >> well, she certainly was shabbily treated by the university, and that was a terrible mistake which i think it was great pity that that happened. somerville college was where she had her roots in the university. and some of you may have picked up nile's allusion to the fact that cecil rhodes came from oriole college which just gives you a flavor of the way the college loyalties show through amongst oxford graduates. so most oxford graduates, i think, feel a particularly loyalty to their own college.
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somerville was margaret thatcher's college. it was a very special place. it had high traditions with a large number of female firsts behind it. at that time it was an all womens college. and it really gave her the confidence and the support that she needed. and it was her intellectual and while she was at oxford her emotional home. i think that was very important to her. furthermore, somerville did not disown her. the college made her an honorary fellow as soon as she became a cabinet minister in the conservative government and retained very close ties with her. the principal of somerville, my predecessor, who was principal at the time that margaret thatcher was prime minister was an extraordinary woman in her own right named daphne park, the biography that's just coming out
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of her is daphne park, queen of spies when she became principal of somerville, she was the highest ranking woman in the security services. although the college didn't know that at the time. and she became a close friend of margaret thatcher. a huge admirer. and she was absolutely devastated when the university voted against giving the prime minister an honorary degree. and margaret thatcher wrote very consolingly and very magnanimously to the long lines of sort of don't worry, daphne. it's all right. i love somerville. i was there. it was such a privilege to be there. it will always have a place in my heart. and you've got leaflets, i think, we've distributed amongst the audience quoting some of the letters that she wrote. so it was quite different. the college was quite different from the university, although, of course, the university really did dole out a really
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unforgivable insult. >> well, thank you very much. i'd now like to bring in edwin meese iii, my colleague here at heritage, attorney general under ronald reagan. and mr. meese, you had an opportunity to meet with margaret thatcher on a number of occasions. and you were instrumental as well in setting up the first white house meeting between president reagan and prime minister margaret thatcher in 1981. although the first meeting between reagan and thatcher took place in england in 1975. several years before. and my understanding is that ronald reagan had only planned a few minutes to speak with margaret thatcher at the time, the leader of the opposition. but that that short discussion was expanded into a two-hour discussion. and immediately, the two figures
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got on incredibly well. what were the qualities that margaret thatcher possessed that so attracted reagan, and why did reagan admire margaret thatcher's leadership and qualities so deeply? >> well, i think it started out as a matter of philosophy. and in that first meeting, they discussed various issues. i think she showed then-governor reagan, or he had just recently left the governorship, actually, at the time. and that a lot of their ideas about free markets, about government limitations on government and the like were very similar. but also, i think it was her -- i would call it the aggressive or fighting spirit, if you will. the fact that she was willing to stand up for her beliefs, demonstrating that as leader of the opposition at the time. and i think that intrigued him also because he was trying to do the same thing when he was governor. he took over a very difficult situation in terms of the state
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which was very heavily in debt at the time. he also believed in terms of his views of the federal government, and also as they talked about dealing with communism, there was a certain similarity of views there which were very important to him. so it was both, i think, a combination of the philosophy and the ideas she expressed but also her style was one that was very attractive to him. >> and you were, of course, instrumental in that first white house meeting. could you talk a bit about margaret thatcher's visit in 1981 and how that actually transpired? what was the impact of that visit upon the angloamerican special relationship? >> well, of course, the fact that she was the first head of government to visit ronald reagan in the white house was in itself quite impressive. and the fact that they talked and shared a lot of views, they had talked, of course, in
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england on a very informal basis. now here you had two leaders of two very important countries. and the fact that she was the first one received at the white house in itself kind of focused upon the special relationship between our countries and the very warm conversations, the fact that the two leaders were obviously got along well with each other, liked each other as what you might say an indication of symbol of the two countries being very close at the time. and, of course, this led, in turn, to a closeness that was implemented in many ways such as in the faulklands war as well as in their dealings with the soviet union. i think it was both a symbol of the friendship between the two countries but also an indication that these two leaders could work together very effectively. i was with the two of them
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following that first meeting in the white house in canada at the first meeting of the industrialized countries. what we now call i guess the big eight or big seven, some big something. it wasn't called big at that time. it was called industrialized nations, and there were seven of them. and it was ronald reagan and margaret thatcher were the only right-of-center government leaders there. everybody else was a socialist or from a socialist form of government in their countries. and it was very interesting. and also, most of the time when this group had met, they would take primarily about economics. and it was both president reagan and margaret thatcher that brought up the subject that we can talk about economics, but how do we deal with the major threat to our countries which was soviet communism? so i would say that that first meeting in the white house was kind of a precursor, if you will, to the very important work that they started with other countries as a team which began in june or july at that industrialized summit just a few months later.
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>> and that, of course, was the first of many, many meetings between the two world leaders. margaret thatcher's leadership was instrumental in taking britain off its knees and restoring britain as a great economic and international power. what was the influence of margaret thatcher's policies upon the reagan revolution? how influential was margaret thatcher's ideas in terms of shaping u.s. politics in the 1980s? >> i think that they were very influential. and he think it was very comforting to president reagan to see that she had been successful in what was happening over in england. because when he took over, he faced the same thing, the same problem here in the united states. we were in deep trouble economically. it was the worst economic crisis since the great depression in the 1930s. we were in deep trouble in terms
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of our military forces. they had deteriorated in the aftermath in the vietnam war. as many people said, we were no longer a credible deterrent to our enemies or a reliable ally to our friends. and so ronald reagan was determined to change all this. he had campaigned on that. but it was reassuring to him to see how successful margaret thatcher was and that she was doing the same things faced with, again, a serious situation that she took over. and so i think that her example was very helpful to ronald reagan. and also, it was a lesson he could point to to the people of this country, look, another leader has done it. we can do it here. >> now, i'd like to bring in john o'sullivan who spent many years as a senior speechwriter to margaret thatcher. i had the privilege of working with john on a number of occasions and worked in lady thatcher's private office in london. and john, on the theme of the special relationship, what drove
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margaret thatcher's tremendous admiration for the united states? and the special relations certainly reached its pinnacle, i think, under the reagan/thatcher era. but what was it that really drove thatcher's thinking with regard to relations with america? >> well, you must remember that mrs. thatcher was a child of the war. i mean, she was quite a young woman about, what, 15 when the war starts. and, of course, for any intelligent english man or woman, an entry of the united states was a sign that we had won the war. any number of people will tell you when they heard the news of pearl harbor, they thought oh, well, now we've won after all. so it was a huge element in her background and thinking. secondly, as a young member of parliament, she had been taken -- brought to america under the state department distinguished visitor's program. she spent about six or eight
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weeks here. and she went all over the united states. she was tremendously impressed by the technical efficiency of american industry and its advances in technology and by the general dynamism of american society. and she felt very at home in that. and she wanted britain which after all had been a dynamic society and a leader in technology and in every other aspect only in a matter of decades before. she wanted britain to recover that status and reputation in america. and then finally, as ed has already said, when she met ronald reagan, she discovered somebody who shared all her essential views. and if he were to become president, as he did, then she would be working with someone -- even when they disagreed, they would be able to solve those differences fairly easily. but most things they didn't disagree. for her, america, from the war, from her experience here in the visitors program and from
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working with ronald reagan was a place that was a country and a people whom she sympathized with and who could be great allies of her own country. >> john, as someone who knew margaret thatcher very well, how would you define thatcherism? and how does thatcherism differ from the brand of conservatism that we currently have in britain today with david cameron and the whole of the conservative party? >> well, in the first instance, and there are many different definitions of thatcherism which is a word, by the way, invented by the left in british politics. and they defined it. andrew gamble may have coined the phrase as the combination of a free economy and a strong state. a strong, meaning authoritative state, not a big state. and that's not a bad definition,
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as a matter of fact. the other definition, which i would prefer, is that advanced by the american scholar, shelly robin letwin who describes thatcherism as the encouragement of the vigorous virtues in society. you have some virtues which are softer ones, compassion. but you have the virtues of enterprise and of sobriety, of self-reliance, of determination. and she felt that britain had been an exemplar of these virtues in the victorian age but they had been lost under the kind of suffocating effect of socialism. and it was her duty to revive them again. that was shelly letwin's view. she was a friend of mrs. thatcher. i think it's the correct one. i think that with had you look -- you have to look at all the economic policies, all the foreign policies, and you can see that they're the application of these ideas to particular problems. but the real idea is let's revive britain. by reviving the vigorous virtues. >> and would you say, john, that
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thatcherism is still alive and well across the atlantic? it was striking that the number of cabinet ministers referenced margaret thatcher, quoted her, and among the contenders for the leadership of the conservative party with david cameron expected to step down in 2019 or 2020, there are a number of thatcherite contenders to replace mr. cameron. what's your view of the current state of conservatism in britain? >> well, it's a complicated state, i'd have to say. the fact that is that the conservative government has just won an election. but it won on a relatively small share of the vote. so it isn't quite as bold and confident in its approach as it seems to be. secondly, there is no doubt that we're living in a different world with different problems to the ones that mrs. thatcher faced in 1979. so it would be not sensible to expect a thatcherism to be exactly the same kind of thing.
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i mean, after all, you're not dealing with overmighty unions now. you're not dealing with rampant inflation. they were the problems she had to solve that are no longer the soviet union. there are different problems. but if you're going to have a society that works economically and which is robust internationally, you're going to have to have the vigorous virtues. and i would say that the present conservative party is a little too much concerned with demonstrating that it's warm-hearted and that it cares for everybody. i mean, it's desirable that these things be done. but not to the point where we forget that what -- there's a lot wrong with britain today. it needs to be put right. and it can only be put right in a sense by the kind of vigorous virtues that she wanted. >> john, you worked closely with lady thatcher on some of her biggest speeches. and she was one of the greatest
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public speakers of our time. what would you identify as her most important speech? and also, could you talk a little bit about how as she prepared for her speeches, the process that was involved in her actually delivering, you know, a magnificent speech? >> well, i think mrs. thatcher was a very effective public speaker in getting across her message. she wasn't an eloquent speaker in the theatrical sense. she was effective. and that was because she thought hard and long about the message she wanted to put across. and she tried to find a clear and simple way of saying it. so there are one or two phrases which are now out there and which people remember. i think the best one is the problem with socialists is they always run out of other people's money. and the reason that's a good phrase is because it's a great truth that she's drawing attention to. most people, i think, would probably say that her most
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important speech was the famous speech at bruge in which she outlined her attitude toward the european union. a slightly less strong attitude than she later developed. but that was a very effective speech. it was a kind of compromise between her own instincts and the caution of the foreign office. but she made it plain, as she said. she hadn't rolled back the frontiers of socialism in britain to see them reimposed again by brussels. that, i think, most people would say was her best speech. that's not my view. in my view, it's an extremely good speech. i prefer the speech she made after she left office. and she made one or two very effective speeches then because she was freer. she didn't have all the ministries, you know, every time she sent a speech out, every ministry would come back saying, could you please remove this? could you please add that? she hated that, but, of course, to be an effective prime
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minister, she had to do that kind of thing. so i would say the best speech she made after she left office was one she made in the hague where she outlines her views on the european union and the reforms that are needed with great freedom than she had previously, which reads well today, i think. >> that's the 1992 speech? >> yes. >> yes. and you referenced a line by margaret thatcher on socialist governments running out of other people's money which is recycled in one of the presidential debates, and it's a line that's frequently used by presidential contenders. >> another line, if i can give you one, she was trying to describe her attitude to wealth creation and redistribution. and she said the labour party believes in turning workers against owners. we believe in turning workers into owners which, of course,
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she did with salem counsel houses. >> that's a tremendous line. i'd like to focus now upon reagan and thatcher's leadership on the world stage. and going back to mr. meese, reagan and thatcher were known for their tremendous robust international leadership and the willing to stand up to the enemies of the free world. with the rising threat today from isis and islamist terrorism across the globe, how do you think that reagan and thatcher would have responded to this threat in today's environment? >> well, i think that they would -- first of all, i think they would probably be united in their approach. and i think they would do as they both did in dealing with the soviet communism. there are differences but there's also some similarities as well. and i think they would have tried to develop a pattern of
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bringing other countries together and also of determining a strategy. you know, you mentioned margaret thatcher's most important speech. i think probably the most important speech that ronald reagan gave, he actually gave in england when in june of 1982 he delivered his speech at westminster in which he laid out a blueprint of how to deal with the soviet union. and it was this blueprint, then, that he and margaret thatcher were able to talk with the other leaders about and how that became kind of a strategic exposition. and i think that this is something that has been lacking, of course, unfortunately at the present time in dealing with isis and dealing with the problems in the middle east. and i think the first thing would have been to agree on a strategic approach of how you do this. secondly would be to develop a true coalition of like-minded countries.
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and that would include a number of the countries in the middle east, many of which are looking for some sort of leadership. and then thirdly would be to develop the resources that would implement the strategy. and right now i think that one of our problems that we're suffering from a lack of strategy, a lack of a coalition, and a lack of having resources readily available because the leaders of the countries see a goal and see a strategy of achieving that goal. >> and the london speech was the first mention, i think, of the evil empire. and then it was a precursor to a larger speech on the evil empire given the following year. >> yeah, and he actually used the words evil empire. that was in 1983 in this country. but he made it very clear that the problem in the world was the soviet union. and what he said there was that
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the three countries would eclipse communism, or eclipse the oppression of the other countries, that sort of thing. and so that -- it was very clear that he was drawing the battle lines of the good guys and the bad guys, so to speak. and that was a part of all of his speeches from that point on. it's interesting, he had this ability to be negotiating later on in the second half of his presidency. and negotiating with gorbachev on the one hand and at the same time maintaining his clear position of the wrongness of communism on the other. and that in itself was something that margaret thatcher echoed in her speeches so that the two, again, made a formidable team in pursuing the common goals the two countries had. >> and a follow-up question for both yourself, mr. meese, and john o'sullivan with regard to reagan and thatcher's determination to stand up to the evil empire and to ultimately defeat the ideology of communism, what are the lessons
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that should be learned today by contemporary leaders, president obama, david cameron, for example, from the thatcher, reagan in terms of standing up to the likes of vladimir putin today? i'll start with you, mr. meese, and then john. >> well, i think one of the things that both of these leaders would have done is never put themselves in the kind of a position that, say, obama is at the present time. and that is by being forthright in their views, by being leaders, by having plans, by having strategies and by providing leadership for the other countries, they put themselves in a position where the other leaders and other countries followed. when you have weakness, leading from behind has never been a very good idea, in my opinion, because it means that, in effect, you are behind your
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opposition. and that -- and so i think it's the fact that unfortunately in this country, there's been a failure of leadership which has allowed putin, then, to exercise his own ideas and to have a world stage, if you will, in which he's dominant. i don't think there is any time during the 1980s where either ronald reagan or margaret thatcher were not the dominant figures on the stage. now, there were other leaders. breznev was a leader. he was followed by others there very short times and gorbachev was a leader. but there was no question as far as the free world was concerned that they had -- that that world had good leaders who were self-confident without being arrogant, but at the same time, having a plan where they thought the world should be going. >> and i'd like to ask the same question of john o'sullivan as well.
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>> well, i agree with edwin just said. if you look at what mrs. thatcher did on coming into power and the same is true for ronald reagan, it is quite a good kind of guidebook for what the next president should do in this country for a start. you have to get your economy right. because if you don't have that right, you're not much of a threat to anybody else, and they're going to have to take you into account. secondly, you have allies. you have to work with them, stiffen their spines where they're weak and give them assistance when you can. a good example of this was that the first -- one of the first things mrs. thatcher had to do in '79, '80 and '81 was to ensure that this installation of u.s. missiles took place. this meant going to the leaders of other countries and encouraging them to take the
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missiles. on one occasion, helmet schmitt, the pro-american, very strong cold warrior came to see her. he pointed out his own social democratic party was proving to be resistant. didn't want to take the missiles. she offered to take some of the missiles originally destined for germany. in all these things, you have to be clear about where you are and what you are doing to your enemies as well as to your friends. from the word go, the soviets knew they had a formidable opponent in her. it doesn't mean being aggressive. it means preparing in a sensible way so that your enemy or adversary cannot really risk taking action against you. the things that happened, the countries agreed to raise the spending on defense to 3%.
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once that is taken, it doesn't take effect right away. you have to have two or three or four years. the military build-up takes place. so, in a sense, don't do anything rash. don't be unsettled. prepare and let your enemies know that they can't get away with the murder they have been getting away with. >> i think one of their aspects is that both of these leaders, once they said they were going to do something, they went ahead and did it despite the opposition and the resistance. when you mentioned the missiles in england, there were tremendous marches there. that was a powerful exhibition of leadership.
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as you point out, the soviet leaders realized they had formidable leaders on the other side. ronald reagan is the same way, whether it was the air traffic controllers when they struck. he was firm in holding the line on that. that was another example of living up to the quality of leadership in terms of doing what is necessary and what the job requires. the british had to be taken seriously. it was act similar to the successful act, similar to reagan's with the air traffic controllers. >> that was an interesting time. there were forces even within the united states that thought we ought to have a hands-off
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policy, even in high-diplomatic circles. ronald reagan was absolutely positive we were going to support england and margaret thatcher. we did provide some assistance that was fairly instrumental. >> it was very instrumental. >> john, an important issue facing the west today, the issue on the refugees from syria, middle east, africa, into western europe. you've written a lot on immigration matters. you take a deep interest in this particular issue. what lesson could be learned from margaret thatcher's handling of this? >> it is an important issue in the united states as well. it is also an important issue
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for different reasons in australia. i think we have to look at this from the standpoint that people dislike uncertainly. they dislike the feeling that things are out of control, that the government is not able to protect them against risks. you can feel quite differently with immigration when the government is able to control it than when it seems to be out of control as it does at the moment. mrs. thatcher dealt with this issue in 1978 before she even came in, because she was being interviewed on television. she said, and at this time, i should tell you people were worried about the rise of the national front, unruly part of the right and growing. i never took this seriously. she went on television and she was asked a series of questions.
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to one, she replied. people are worried about the rise of immigration. they have a fear of being swamped. this caused an outrage and alarmed some members of her own party. she stood by it. she didn't retreat. support went right down. at the time, she wasn't proposing to make massive cuts in immigration or to expand it. because they knew the government was in control, it ceased to be a major issue. particularly in recent weeks. storming through europe and walking over frontiers and
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moving into countries and having to be looked at by governments that invited them in and they are simply there and running areas which the migrants are going through. i would say the key lesson mrs. thatcher teaches us about this topic is that governments must be able to reassure their citizens immigration is something they can control, are controlling and can rise or lower depending on the economic and social needs of their own society. john howard is a good example in australia.
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there's been little hostility or opposition to this. he also said, we will decide here in australia, who comes to this country and under what terms. once he said that, the steam went out to the issue. he meant it. >> we had the privilege of hosting john howard a few years ago for the margaret thatcher freedom lecture. he delivered a very, very robust message. another question for you with regard to europe and the center of europe, an issue that was in margaret thatcher's heart for many years. could you talk about the evolution of her views on europe and also address the suggestions by those that support britain
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staying inside the european union. margaret thatcher would have campaigned for britain to stay inside e.u. that is not what i gained from my conversations with lady thatcher. britain is holding a referendum. by the end of 2017 on this membership of the european union made by prime minister, david cameron. this issue is likely to dominate british politics for the next couple of years. could you talk about margaret thatcher's views on europe and set the record straight. >> excuse me. i'm suffering slightly from jet lag and a cold. we should always accept that when we are talking about how someone who is no longer around would react to a question, we are doing something that is somewhat questionable. we don't know with certainty.
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we have to acknowledge that. different people that were close to lady thatcher would give different answers to the question you have asked me. i suspect that charles powell would probably give a slightly different answer to this than i will. there is no doubt that mrs. thatcher became increasingly skeptical about europe the longer she stayed in office and after she left office. in 1975 when she became leader of the conservative policy, she wasn't particularly well-informed on foreign policy but set out to change that. when she was in office, she found europe a constant problem
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for her in financial terms and political ones. she was increasingly annoyed with it. it was an issue. it was her obvious resistance to further integration in europe that one of the factors in her losing office because that resistance wasn't shared by many in the conservative party as it was later and perhaps today. what would she do today? >> i would say the evidence was that she moved further and further. my conversations with her certainly suggested that. you mentioned the books.g$)x she comes right up to the edge and looks over the abyss and then ends the conversation. things that have happened since then persuade me, that's the way
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she would urge people to vote. it is a legitimate exercise. we can't be certain. others will take a different view. my view is that she would want britain to recover its full independence and freedom of action. she also took the view that the movement of europe towards a common defense policy was a threat to nato. moving towards being a federal state would inevitably mean a breach with the united states. as for her, as for churchill, of course, remaining friends and allies with the americans was at least the second and probably the first principle of foreign policy.
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>> next, john, i would like now to bring that back into discussion in terms of margaret thatcher's time at oxford. i might ask you the question. how important do you think lady thatcher's views were in shaping her later views in life? why is it that oxford university has been so incredibly successful in terms of producing british prime ministers, i believe, 26 have been educated at oxford. far more impressive than cambridge. what was it about her oxford time that fashioned one of the truly great leaders of our time? >> well, one thing i would say just to supplement what i have just heard from john sullivan and ed meese is that part of the quality of margaret thatcher's
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leadership, probably in both countries was courage and although we do know from her biographers, including the splendid biography by charles more, she did change her mind frequently. she thought very carefully and could change her position according to the evidence. she never made that clear in public. in public, she came across with absolute clarity. so you didn't get any sense of vaccilation. it is so important in a quality. that, of course, was a personality trait of margaret
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thatcher's. i think it would be wrong to claim her oxford education was solely responsible for it. she was trained in chemistry. her tutor, dorothy crayfield hodgkins, the nobel prize winner, would have taught her and the tutorial system gives you very close and sustained exposure to dialogue with somebody very high up in their profession already. you are one of only one or two people talking to that person. she learned a lot from her tutor. dorothy crayford hodgkins was investigating the structure of penicillin, vitamin b 1 and insill lynn and coming up with one answer that was going to be the provably right answer. from that, i think margaret thatcher came up with that there must be one right answer. that would support her in the clarity i have just spoken about. that is part of it. you asked why so many political
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leaders in britain come from oxford. well, of course, we go back a long time. so we have a bit of an advantage. okay oxford has always been interested in politics. but i think also, it's this, what i've just mentioned in connection with margaret thatcher is this exposure to the tutorial system of teaching you which you and i have been
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through. you and i both know, niles, that it can be pretty terrifying. if you come through the other end, you have been through the fiery furnace of being challenged and asked to explain why you have arrived at the conclusions you have arrived at. it is you and the tutor or you and one other student of the tutor in the room for a whole hour being critiqued on the work you have done in the first week on a particular subject. in the end, i think that produces the capacity to stand up for yourself in argument and a certain confidence, which is very different from arrogance. self-confidence is a terribly important quality in politics as in so many other aspects of life. i think the nature of the oxford education, whether it is in philosophy, politics, economics or history or chemistry, which was margaret thatcher's subject, gives you that edge. but then there is the tradition and the networks, all those things, obviously, work as well.
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>> thank you you very much for that tremendous insight. before i ask our three guests to give some concluding remarks, i would like to invite a couple of questions from the audience, brief and to the point. if you can identify yourself as well. first question from this gentleman with the scottish tie. >> stuart reuters. i have seen some writings that indicate as well as reagan and thatcher, the pope and the polish industrialist, woleski, were this quadratic group that ended the cold war. could you comment? >> john is the expert on that. he wrote a book on the sub. john, you first and then mr. meese. >> yes, i did write a book on
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that reagan, thatcher and the pope, when you combine them were an enormous influence. we have been talking about raymond thatcher. the moment he was selected as pope, the alarm bells went off all over the communist party headquarters in russia and central europe. his visit to poland in 1979, one month after mrs. thatcher was elected was an enormous event. a third of the polish people attended his masses and sermons. anybody that went was marking themselves as a dissident. if they turned to the right, they saw a person rejecting them by being there and the same if they turned to the left. this exposed, this huge attendance and emotional surge of support exposed the pretense of the communist party to be the
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government of poland. it was a facade. it didn't represent these people, and everybody knew it. that was transmitted by newspapers and this was an enormous event. just to conclude, i did a lot of talking about that in my book when it came out. invariably, i was asked the same question at the end of the talk. they said you have this trio that shouldn't be a quartet. in poland, everybody nominated him as you said. there is justification for that. more than any other of the popular leaders of central europe, he had a really significant
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impact on events. everywhere else, however, particularly in the west, people said, gorbachev, shouldn't he be there? the answer was that gorbachev certainly deserves credit for helping to wind up the end of the soviet union peacefully. we should never deny that. we must accept that gorbachev was more effect than cause. if the soviet union wasn't in such severe crisis, he wouldn't have had to make the decisions he did. he was given difficult choices. i think he in general made the right choice. they were painful choices, no good future than keeping the system going. margaret thatcher was one of the first people to realize the role he could play. she passed him on to ronald reagan. after the installation of missiles, they worked together to bring about the peaceful end. everyone deserves credit here. but the credit goes principally
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in my view to my three heroes. two heroes, one heroine. >> both margaret thatcher and ronald reagan realized this wasn't just a military or diplomatic issue as far as communism. they felt there was a moral dimension and the pope being a part accelerated the concept of the morality, if you will, of freedom versus communism. i think his participation for that reason was very important. how subtle was it? it was proper from the position that he held. he wasn't doing things that tried to be a secular leader, if you will. he properly represented the
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theological view of things and the moral view of things in a very important but at the same time proper way. so that was -- the fact that he handled it extremely well, he was -- he understood psychology very well and so i think it was a very important part of the whole thing and that he did it in a very careful way. >> i was told that after the first meeting, between the pope and president reagan as president, the pope came out of the meeting and said to the two cardinals, that reagan is a man of peace.
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