tv To Be Announced CSPAN December 31, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm EST
>> former prime minister margaret thatcher was a guest on book notes in 1993 to talk about her memoirs. mrs. thatcher's book chronicles her tenure as prime minister from 1979 to 1990. she also talked about the war, her relationship with world leaders like mccotter or richard f. and ronald reagan and pivotal decisions that she may well in office. this is about an hour. .. >> mrs. thatcher, can you tell us how you wrote this book? >> yes. i had to decide first whether i wanted to do it in one volume or two. i had already thought that the first thing i must do is to tell the story of the years when i was in number 10 downing street. they were exciting years, purposeful years. we changed the entire economy.
we had a war to fight. we had the libyan raid, the end of the cold war, we had the gulf. how should i do it? and so, i thought, instead of telling it in enormous detail, as some people do almost a diary of every day, i would take the main themes and follow them through and try to but them in a tiny frame of the three elections which i fought. the first thing i had to do was to get the whole structure of the chapters right. then i sat down and wrote as much as i could remember about each without, in fact, referring to documents, major leaguing a note of what i needed to look up. and then for accuracy, there are masses and masses which must be consulted, every meeting i had with the foreign states, internal ministers, was documented and what was said in the interview and what was concluded. also, we had to look up some of the reporting in the
newspapers, the times when we had exciting question times in the house, the times when we had exciting debates. so, there was a volume of paperwork and that was enormous. and i gradually came down to writing each and every chapter, partly dictated, partly written, and then assembled and rewritten and rewritten and rewritten to get it to follow. i was lucky with some things because after the end of the falklands, it had been such a deep, agonizing experience that the following christmas i sat down and wrote it up while all the memories were very fresh in my mind. that is perhaps particularly vivid. as i went, i wrote up some other special occasions. if we had a particularly difficult one in negotiating finance with europe. i had a particular problem when
someone resigned. all these were written up. apart from that, i was on official records. the sort of thing that a biographer would have. but i knew as i went through them, i looked at owl of these rather clinically beautifully phrased and drafted minutes and conclusions, and no biographer could have gotten really any flavor from that. there was a sense of battle we had in some of the meetings, a sense of debate, a sense of argument. so i became an instant convert of the person themselves who had gone through all the experiences of writing a book. it's only one volume so it can be read without too much difficulty. it'll be a little bit much to read in bed, a little heavy, perhaps, but otherwise it can be read as one volume. >> one of the first things that caught my eye is you can exist
on four hours' sleep a night. how do you do that? >> one day a week you have a night where you can have longer if you wish, but, you know, it becomes so much a habit you find you can't sleep very much longer. >> you talk about your trip to the states, one of the trips, when you addressed the congress. >> yes. >> and that you were up until 4:00 in the morning working with you call it a cue and we call it a teleprompter, working on your speech. then you got up at -- >> 5:00, yes. >> how did you do that and stay clear-headed? >> i did it because it had to be done. whatever has to be done, you somehow find the energy to do. to address congress was the biggest thing that had happened to me. and i knew that ronald reagan, when he did it, was absolutely superb, a real professional, and he used the teleprompter. and it's so much better to use.
otherwise you're looking down at your notes. and if there's a teleprompter, you're looking up and you may go from one teleprompter to another, but your eyes never leave the audience. i wasn't as skilled at it as he was so i had to practice. and we borrowed his auto cue ch but i arrived quite early at the embassy and they had set it up. when you read through a speech for speaking as distinctive from drafting, you frequently find you have to change it, the drafting, the reading. you have the sentence too long, the speaking there must be shorter, and you actually change the final version quite a bit while you're doing rehearsal with auto cue. it was very, very late and i got one or two very complicated sentences which had to be just honed down. and we did it. i had about an hour and a
half's sleep because it was more important to have my hair down than to have an extra hour's sleep. and it went quite well so i was pleased. >> we've seen you many times because we carry the house here. when you used to do that, was that scripted? >> scripted. no, it couldn't possibly be because you didn't know what the questions were going to be. the original question of a prime minister would have gone something like this -- prime minister, give the house details of official engagements today, one after the other. that developed the question to ask of the prime minister. and then, it couldn't give you any clue to the supplementary question, which is the real sting. we find today to visit this hospital, to deal with this complaint, deal with some particular international incident. and it only lasted under 20 minutes, but i would take about four hours' preparation trying to spot what the questions would be because they like to
catch me up with the latest topical questions. and then immediately, you had to think of a response. question, immediate response. so, it really is what we would call being quick on your feet and have your quick response time. >> in the preparation of this book, did your publisher ever say anything to you, like, you have to put personal things in there or this book won't sell? >> he did say try to put personal recollections because that makes it human. and anyway, you don't need urging to do that because so many of the things occur because you either get on very well with someone or you've had a breakthrough in negotiations or a difficulty or a problem. this is the very stuff of politics. it's the very stuff of negotiations. >> this isn't politics. but let me read to you something that is in the book. "being prime minister is a lonely job. in a sense, it ought to be. you cannot lead from a crowd. but with dennis there, i was never alone. what a man. what a husband.
what a friend." >> all of that is true. it is lonely. and there are times when you're down in the dumps, times when things don't go right, particularly in politics, and you've just got to have your husband there, whose loyalty were just unquestioned and also can give you quite good advice. don't get things out of proportion, which is very, very important. sometimes a small thing can get completely out of proportion. at the end of the day, i might have returned from the house of commons at about 11:00 and he would be up in the flat. it's a small flat, not a grand flat at all, nothing like the white house. small in the rafters. we had no housekeeper or cook. we just had daily help in in the mornings. so, in the evening i would get supper ready, a light supper
and we'd just sit down and talk for an hour or so to let one's hair down. and perhaps to get an outside view. he was an industry himself. he was very well-known. he was in the oil and chemical industry, in contact with all industries. frequently he was called poven to either give advice to others or to speak at the industrial dinners. and he always kept on politics and spoke about what he knew about. he never had an interview. he wouldn't. he never had a political secretary. he wrote himself about between 30 and 50 replies every week to letters he'd have from the public. and after the "dear bill" letters which appeared in private eye from dennis to bill, though dennis hadn't written them -- that's the way the newspaper played it -- he seemed to be the nation's
favorite correspondent. so, really, i was terribly lucky. he was always there. >> how long have you been married? >> we married in 1951. 42, 43 years. >> has he given an interview since you stepped down from being prime minister? >> no. >> think he ever will? >> i doubt it. >> i've got a lot of little things i wrote down. i want to read them to you an get your response. mrs. gandhi is not just meant to see this as a female trait, immensely practical. are only women immensely practical? >> i think that we tend to be much more practical because, in addition to doing the job as prime minister, there's usually a house to run, a lot of decisions to be made, and you have to make the practical decisions quickly, keep everything tight and keep everything within a pretty tight timetable. and i notice exactly the same
things with mrs. gandhi. she would get up and do a lot of things herself, fetch and carry things an so on. if she wanted something, she would go and get it. she also, i think, was very lonely. she hadn't the husband. she had two sons, an one was killed, as you know, in an air accident, and then her other son, who hadn't been so interested in politics, really had the man tell of politics falling on him. mrs. gandhi was assassinated one terrible morning. i'd had a letter for her three weeks before her assassination. and there had been an attempt on me and my cabinet. she wrote such a charming letter saying it's absolutely terrible these things would happen in democracy. three weeks later, she herself had been assassinated. then, of course, her son came
and i knew him well. he was assassinated in an election campaign. i just feel a special bond with that family. they did wonderful things for india. and mrs. gandhi really cared about every single thing she did. she was such a charming woman. she was also a very effective prime minister. >> you mentioned brighton, 1984, and the bomb. what happened? >> what happened was that thursday night i'm always up very late because my main speech, the end of the conference, the big rally speech is on a friday. you can't turn up with a speech without being carefully drafted before you arrive. but the thing changes, the atmosphere changes. some of the issues perhaps take a different turn. and you always have a very long evening on the thursday. first, you had to go out to a
special meeting for the agents who look after the political affairs for the constituency. you get back about 11:30 and do a final run on the speech. it was a particularly difficult one that year. it was about 2:45 when i had finished. the people helping were just dispering from my room. and my secretary came in and said, "i'm sorry to bother you but it's a decision i simply must have by 8:00 tomorrow morning." i looked at the papers. i knew what it was about. i gave him the decision he needed. that was 2:45. at 2:50, the bomb went off, just as he was leaving and taking it back to his room. i thought at first it was a bomb in a car outside. dennis had already gone to bed
and i dashed into the bedroom. he's already up and wondering what had happened. then it sounded as if there was a second one, which you can quite often get. as i knew later, that wasn't so. what had happened was it wasn't a car bomb outside. it was a bomb in the bathroom directly above our suite, three or four floors above, which, in fact, had taken out a whole section of the hotel above us, which had gone right up into the air. and the second apparent bomb, the whole thing collapsed and came down with enormous force on top of the existing building. fortunately, the lights in my suite stayed on, although the windows came in, and one or two other things happened. i went across the corridor where my girls had been doing the fin esched typing on my speech to see if they were all right. one had gotten a shock from an electric typewriter. the other one said, "i've got
the speech, mrs. thatcher. it's all right. i've got the speech. i'm just typing it." inassistant reaction, you know. the thing is tomorrow's speech. gradually the people who had been in my room earlier came down again to my room and we began to find some people missing. we were told to stay where we were by my detectives and then told that we could try to find a way out. and we tried one way and very soon came across a staircase and we couldn't get out that way and were told to go back to where we come from, which we did again, waited, and then we were told we could try another way, and we did, which took us out through the main hall. then for the first time we saw the enormity of the damage, the whole of the front part of the wall was filled with rubble just where the main entrance
was. and we were naturally worried then immediately as to whether we had lost some lives. an we began to look for people whom we knew and hoping that they had already gotten out of the building and gone to the police station. the air was full of cement dust. you could taste it. and it just was a kind of fog hanging in the air. and i was still in evening dress. i hadn't changed. dennis had put a suit quickly over his pajamas, an we were driven at break-neck speed on the back of the hotel to the police station and gradually we began to assemble there. and then we saw the sum that were missing. and i went out to say something to television, and inquire whether we could still carry on
the conference the next morning. and we didn't know then whether the main conference section had been affected or not. by about 5:00, they were urging me to get back to london, thinking the better if i were out of the place. and i said no, i am staying. i want to carry on the next morning if we can. we went over to a college which had a conference there which fortunately had ened so there were several rooms where we could have about an hour and a half's sleep. then i got up. we hadn't any night clothes or anything. as i got up the next morning, someone turned on the television, and we saw norman tibeth being lifted out of the rubble and then we knew how many people there were missing. and of course there were five people killed and many severely injured. margaret, norman's wife, is
still paralyzed to this day. i found the police and said, was there any hope of starting the conference. they said yes, the conference hall is all right. i said we must go immediately back to brighton. we were about seven, eight miles out -- back to brighton. i simply must walk on that platform at 9:30, which is the time the conference starts. in the hotel next door, that was also being cleared because they thought there might be another bomb there. and people had been in their night clothes. i was lucky i was still in day clothes or evening clothes and i had seized a suit before we left the hotel. and so, our very able treasurer had a very bright idea. at 7:00, he ran up the local -- rang up the local mechanic of marks & spencer's and said,
look, you know what's happened. people haven't got any respectable clothes to go to the conference. could you open up the store? all the officials and the voluntary side of the party went and all turned up on the platform beautifully turned out in marks and spencer's outfits. and i walked from one side of the platform and they at the other and at 9:30 the conference restarted, everyone determined we weren't going to be put off by terrorist bombs. democracy will prevail. and it did. >> i ask you two little things. in the middle of your discussion in the book about that, you say you and your aide craufee -- and i want to ask you about her -- knelt down and prayed. and the reason i want to ask you about that is did you think other bombs were coming? >> we knew we had a lot of people missing. we didn't know the other bombs coming in the hall or -- we
knew there were a lot of people missing. that's why we prayed. what else can one do under those circumstances? >> who's craufee? >> she's been with me for a very long time. she's more than a personal assistant. she's just so indispensable. she also works for lord wolfson, who came to work for me when i was at downey street. and craw fee works also for e me and for him. she's a great friend of the family. she is just absolutely indispensable. she knows exactly what to do under all circumstances, always cheerful, always encouraged, always keeping a due sense of proportion, always welcome wherever in the world she goes. >> you write often in the book about checkers. what's checkers? >> checkers is the name of the prime minister's country house.
it was given to the nation by a gentleman called lord lee. he had an american wife. and they had this beautiful home. he was in the cabinet of the world war i cabinet. and when lloyd george was made our prime minister, during world war i, lord and lady lee realized it was a different kind of primings for the first time. and they thought a prime minister should have a country home. they had no children. so, they actually refurnished the house with nice antiques. there were some beautiful things there, but they had extra things moved in and nice pictures. then they themselves moved out and gave it to the nation as a place of rest and recreation for prime ministers forever. it's a lovely country house and beautiful grounds. you do a lot of entertaining of
other statesmen there. george and barbara bush stayed one weekend with us. and it tends to be sought after by other prime ministers and chancellors. they like to come to checkers. it was there, of course, i first brought mr. gorbachev and arranged for them to meet him. it was the atmosphere of this country house and winter, big-log fires and just lovely. >> how far is it from london? >> about an hour and a quarter driving time. >> let me read you something. "our advice at this time was that mrs. gorbachev was a committed, hardline marxist. her interest which she took from the shelf in the library might possibly confirm that." did you notice her picking? >> my husband was up in the library with her while i was talking to mr. gorbachev. she's a great philosopher herself. she read philosophy and i think dennis took her around and
showed her treasures of the library. she did seem at that time she was a hardline communist, more so than mr. gorbachev. as i wrote in the book, it was much later that i learned that she had reason not to be a hardline communist because her grandfather was a farmer, which is known as a coolack, not enormous farmers, but they'd board other farms and were farming very well. and he had quite a good-sized farm. and starling came, as he went -- his officials went to other people would lend to dispossess them of it at gunpoint. and mrs. gorbachev's grandfather refused. he said no, i have a wife and four children. i employ many people on this farm. we've farmed this farm well.
and i'm going to continue to do that. and in accordance with stalin's communism, he was therefore shot. so, mrs. gorbachev's mother was one of the poor children, so she knew the awfulness of communism. >> either one of them speak english? >> mrs. gorbachev understood some english. mr. gorbachev didn't. but i didn't speak russian, so we spoke through interpreters. >> you remembered two proverbs, two russian proverbs that came out of the mouth of mr. gorbachev. i want to read two of them." once a year, even an unloaded gun can go off." >> in connection with nuclear weapons, yes. >> how did you remember that? did you write it down after you heard it from him? >> it was not a thing you would forget. but don't forget, i was through interpretters there, and the interpreter wrote everything down. it's the report of the conversations because they were
official conversations, it was about armaments, official conversations, so it was an official count. >> another -- "mountain folk cannot live without guests any more than they can live without air but if the guests stay longer than necessary, they choke." >> i remember that one because he had stayed much longer than he had intended, which was a great joy to us. we were getting along very well. you've seen him on television. he's effervescent. he loves debating. he's an active person. it was just a delight he was quite different from any other communist we've ever met. >> are you different in a setting like checkers where you're there with a mr. gorbachev or ronald reagan than you are when we see you in public? and if so, how? >> i think you're more relaxed. you're at home and you're in a country house, an you welcome guests to the country house.
and there's something very special about that. it's much less formal than 10 downing street, just as the way as camp david, a different kind of country house, is much less formal than the white house. i've been to camp david many times. they have several beautiful log cabins, but checkers is a traditional country house built in the 17th century. >> you do, though, point out in your book that at the first g-7 meeting, i think ottawa, where president reagan was so amicable that he used everyone's first name. >> yes. mm-hmm. >> but they called for informal dress and you didn't like that. >> no. we were at a big log cabin hotel not far from ottawa. it was lovely. they had done everything possible to make it very nice for us. and it was.
but i think that when you're going to a summit with the heads of state and government, your own people expect you to be formally dressed, and so although we were asked to be informal, i much myself preferred to be wearing a suit just as i would normally. >> quote, "his style of work and decisionmaking was apparently detached and broad brush, very different from my own." ronald ray depan. those are your words. what's the difference in the style of working between you and ronald reagan? >> ronald reagan knew exactly the broad general direction which he wished to go. so did i. but i had to do things in much more detail, first, because i was concerned to see the policies stood up not only in the general terms, would stand up in the particular detail -- they can often fail in the detail, so i went through a lot of cross-examination of our ministers about that. second, unlike the president of the united states, i was answering questions in the house of commons twice a week,
and i would be asked about detail. so, i had to know it. the person in congress doesn't go down to be asked questions not if full open session. he goes down to address the house. he doesn't then have an opposition et getting up and criticizing or anything like that. so, it was a very different system and it was necessary i knew more detail in order to carry on the job. >> you refer to a hotline between you and the white house in the book. is there a telephone or is it a teletype? how do you communicate in times of crisis? >> there are two. there are two. there is a telephone and if you want a document in written detail, there is a written hotline. >> do you use it very often? >> no. i don't think these things are to be used very often. but i sometimes received a difficult call at -- a thoughtful call at difficult times. >> did you ever have a strong
disagreement with ronald reagan behind the scenes? >> no, i don't think so. though at times he wanted me to do something and i said certainly not. there was never any tension between us. what was it about the relationship that created that atmosphere? the fact that i knew and he knew that we were working for the same purposes an the same ends and often by the same meththods, and that's just a great thing to know, that the greatest nation in the world has the same view of the philosophy of life, of liberty, justice, and democracy as you do. >> you say looking back, it is clear to me that ronald reagan's original decision on s.d.i. was the single most important of his presidency. why? >> because that was the one which made the russians understand that they could never keep up with the technology of the united states. they just hadn't the computer capability, and they knew full well that we then were going into a level of technology
which they couldn't emulate. so, there's no point in them trying to pursue their ends by being the strongest superpower in the world and threatening others with their powers. that was the end of that particular dream. >> when did you get a sense that the wall was going to come down and that the russians were going to back off the communism and the whole thing would fall apart? >> 1989 the wall came down. i don't think one had the sense it would come down until you saw those remarkable people crumbling it down with their hands and hammers. it was just fantastic. you know, in most kind of revolutions, all of a sudden there is a wave of something and the people do it, and there's nothing that can stop that flood or that tide of feeling. it was just fantastic. i had been to see the wall some years before. i was rather horrified. you got up and looked across
and there were dogs patrolling part of it. you went to see the river where many people tried to swim across to safety and some were shot. it was everything that one has come to associate with the tyranny maintained by force which had no respect for human life, dignity, or liberty. and that wall was full of marks, messages, and everything. when it was actually clawed down, it was just marvelous. we really wanted to stop it from going up in the early 1960's, when it did, but it wasn't done. it was the people who brought it down, and that's the wonderful thing about it. >> what do you think of the future? >> for the future of what? >> the future of the world. in other words, based on all the stuff that we went through and experiences of the last 40,
50 years since world war ii, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future? >> that depends how we approach it. after every war -- and this was a cold war which sometimes was hot, as you know, in korea and in vietnam, where the final battles were cold, not open military battles -- but after every war, whether it's a hot war or cold war, there tends to be a euphoria. we've learned the lesson that it must never happen again and, therefore, it will never happen again. and we let down our guard and tend to diggs arm. -- disarm. but dictators have been born throughout the ages and they won't stop being born and they won't stop trying to get powers for themselves and their own sake. for example, milosevic has invaded bosnia and has not been stopped. the euphoria makes you say
let's disarm. after world war i, we disarmed too quickly. the americans left europe. had they stayed in europe, there would never have been world war ii. we mustn't make that mistake this time. there's a war in bosnia. the gulf war came after the end of the cold war. on the other hand, the end of the cold war has facilitated some peace processes like the one in the middle east between the palestinian people and the jewish people. but in the whole of my life in politics, the unexpected happened. whether it was the invasion of the balkans or kuwait or the libyan raid we suddenly had to do it. thank goodness we had the wise foresight to see we had all the right weaponry, in the navy, army, and air force, the right aircraft, the right ships, the right missiles, the right and latest technology. it's that which helped to bring the cold war to an end without a shot being fired. that and s.d.i.
so, we must not go into a euphoric phase now. at the end of the collapse of great empires, new dangers arise. about 15 countries that form the former soviet union. there are civil wars in some of them, as in georgia, as in armenia. aser buy january. we must not let our defenses go down too far. there will be new threats, and we must know that whatever your prime minister or president decides to do, the requisite weaponry is there to do it. otherwise, we will once again be in retreat and find it difficult to recover the full liberties and democracy that we have known. >> what's the difference in the way you're treated when you come to the united states than you're treated in your own country these days? >> now i've been out of power
for nearly three years. i think i'm treated the same way in both. i'm always hailed as a heroine as people look back and see what we did, how purposeful and exciting it was. and a fantastic number of young people come to buy the book. they didn't always like what i did, but they knew it had purpose and direction. and i find it -- i found that as i went around in a tour the united kingdom, of course there are some people against you, socialist workers, parties will demonstrate against you, but by and large, the appreciation is enormous. and i think the thing they say to me most often in britain is thank you for what you did for our country, and that matters to me a great deal. >> i don't know if you saw it. when you first started your trip to the united states, there was an editorial in "the
wall street journal" called "living large." >> i did see it. it was a lovely leader. >> and they talk about thatchermania. that the young people today view you as a celebrity and the people that saw you in power viewed you a lot differently. but they liken you to a charles de gaulle and a winston churchill. did you see that? >> great responsibility. both of them could marshal words as if they were soldiers, but both had a sense of purpose and direction and they never faltered. that is the similarity. >> they were saying you were going to be speaking or interviewing 70 different times in 13 days in the united states and they know by the time this runs you will have gone on. why are you going through all this? what's driving you to sit still for all these interviews?
>> i believe there's a message in that book. there's a message that if you chart your course and know the compass of values which will lead you through the future, then you will get through. you will be true to the very best of your country. you'll be true to the challenges and the strenuous life of liberty, to its responsibilities, to justice, and to democracy. and it's all so positive. it's not just let things alone. it is liberty -- liberty is a marvelous thing, particularly if you have not had it. some vice president known it. it's not just sitting back. it's using your god-given talents, having a sense of obligation to your family and your neighbor. it's building the kind of society that most people would like to live in if they had the chance. and in the end, what you're
trying to do in government is to have a framework of law in the background which encourages all that is best in people and which is tough on all that is evil and worse. and that is for the sake of a better future. >> is there any way to describe what question is most often asked of you as you make this round? >> "when are you coming back?" >> and when are you coming back? >> no. life doesn't happen like that. you don't go back. not after you've been in 11 1/2 years. winston did because he'd never won an election, and it must have been terrible for him when having won the war he was rejected. he came back in another election, was gladly accepted and embraced by the people again. i'd been there three elections and never lost. and if john major decides eventually to leave office, there will be many others who want to be prime minister. just as i was young and had the chance, so they must have that
chance. >> in the book you talk a fellow by the name of gordon reese, an american, from the 1983 campaign, who was advising you on television. >> yes. he was english but came and had a career in america. gordon was not only -- had worked in television, he did advisement on television and stopped people from making quite a lot of mistakes. but gordon had something else. when things were very bad, gordon came in and looked on the bright side and was always optimistic, and that's a terrific quality. >> the thing that i picked up, and i wrote this down, "british prime ministers have never accepted challenges to election debates of this kind." did you ever debate during a campaign? >> on a television program with my opposite number, no. i will tell you why. i believed passionately in what i was doing. i wasn't going to put the whole thing in issue through two or three television programs who some would regard more as a
matter of entertainment than of illumination. so, i said to the interviewer, no, you're not going to judge the whole of my record and my future on how people perform in a particular debate. and if you want to -- but you want to know, you just ask me for an interview. i will give you an interview for two hours or four hours continuously. you can ask anything and everything. do the same with my opponent. that's when they sort out who can do it and who can't. >> do you think future prime ministers will eventually have to debate? >> i don't think they'll need to. in my case, i was debating twice a week in the house of commons at question time, so people knew precisely i could stand up to the leader of the opposition. >> "my experience is that a number of the men i have delts with in politics demonstrate precisely those characteristics which they attribute to women -- vanity and an inability to make tough decisions." why did you want to write that?
>> because it was true. i often found them much more vain. i was very practical and so were my women colleagues. it wasn't things that mattered with my reputation. it was what i could do which mattered to our country. so, i thought though they say to women, you're vain, i don't think we were. we were much less vain. and they often attribute to women incapability of making tough decisions. it was they, i found, who weren't able to make the tough decisions, and often they couldn't bear it when i made it. >> in the book you talked about one of the early meetings you had with president reagan, and you said it was a little more awkward on this occasion "for i had brought jeffrey and michael with me for the meeting which made for a much more stilted and less satisfactory conversation than other occasions. i did not bring them again." what happens in a meeting when you bring others with you?
what changes? >> it was artificial. each of them wanted their own say. each of them wanted to make their own mark, and i felt that there was -- the atmosphere was sort of verbal min you wet about it. you didn't get to the issues. ronald reagan and i usually could get to grips with them. >> how many times with foreign leaders did you meet one-on-one with no one in the room? >> quite often, particularly if i wanted to get something really thrashed out. quite often meeting with mitterrand or often with ronald reagan, i don't think so often with chancellor kohl. >> what happens when you have an interpreter? and did the chancellor speak english? >> no. but he understood some. his wife was a fluent english speaker. >> what changes when you have
an interpreter? do you miss something when you're trying to -- >> one i had who used to come with me on all tours to russia, he would listen very carefully not only to what i was saying but to the intonation of my voice, so he would follow in his voice the precise intonation i had used. that was marvelous. and so mr. gorbachev would not get just the meaning of the words but the emphasis which i placed upon them. otherwise, if they just do it, a dead-pan interpretation, you miss the emphasis. you miss the real importance of what the russian counterpart is saying. >> go back to your book for a minute and how you wrote it. when did you start it? >> i started it about a fortnight before christmas. not last christmas, the christmas before. >> did you have a staff that worked with you? >> yes, i did.
i needed a historian. i needed an archivist. i had to look up a great number of the papers myself. i had to dictate a great many of my impressions, an also, i had quite a number of papers myself and i wrote a lot down. >> and then how did you put it together? did you spend all your time on one chapter and go to another, or how did it all come together? >> first, you've got to get a lot down. once you've got it down and in the right order, you go on refining and refining and refining. then in the end you have about three lots, the one, the latest bit, the second you're advising, and the third one you're going back a final or revise. it's quite exhausting and exacting. >> this book is 914 pages long, i believe. >> mm-hmm. >> were there things you wanted in there that you couldn't get in because of space? >> no. most of the main things i got in. there are several detailed things i haven't got in, but
most of the main things are in. >> what's the second book going to be about and when is it coming out? >> the second book will be out my early life, how i came to have the views that i held and how i first became interested in politics and my early political days. i was in parliament from 1959. that book starts from 1979. so, there's quite a big story to tell there. >> is there anybody in your past that made a big difference and was responsible for getting you in this? >> yes. keith joseph, who was a colleague of mine, a parliamentary colleague. he was very, very active in redrawing up the whole philosophy as a conservative party after we lost three elections under ted. very active, indeed. and if keith had decided to stand for the leadership, i should have loyally supported him and have not stood myself. as it was, keith came to me one day and said, "look, i really
don't think i can stand -- i couldn't take some of the things that are said about a leader, so i'm just going to go back to a bench member of parliament," which he proceeded to be. i said, "keith, if you're not going to stand, i'm going to. someone who holds our political view, someone who wants to go in the direction we want to go has got to stand against the incumbent leader of the party," who was ted heath. that's how i came to stand. >> in the book you came to talk about seminars at checkers, all day sometimes. how did you put those together and why? >> if i wanted a seminar -- perhaps the most interesting one was after 1983 i wanted a seminar on what we could possibly do to make much more -- have much more contact with the soviet union and also much more contact with countries like poland and hungary.
and we worked out a plan of action, which was to try to look for people, the underpeople in the soviet union, who would be a bit fed up with communism because it wasn't working, and we found mr. gorbachev. and that was absolutely fascinating. then i also visited hungary because i wanted to get to know some of the younger people, again, who were running that -- businesses in that country. >> you wrote this in your book. "i am accused of not listening. my experience is a group of men sitting around a table like little better than their own voices and that nothing is more distasteful than the possibility that a conclusion can be reached without all of the men having a chance to read from their briefs." >> yes. i couldn't stand just the
reading from the briefs at all. you can always tell it. you can always tell when they have their own particular views. and often they would come to a meeting, open their folders, and so often the civil servants were rather different than the politicians, and that shows how the minister deals with it. the good one is one who won't read from his brief but who will give you his own view. he might then say, i'm advised to do differently, though. >> the end of your prime ministership you talk about in the book how each of the ministers came to you. you saw them at what point? where were you and where did they come to see you? >> that was on the evening of the day after -- the evening of the day i had returned from paris. i had a series of meetings. this was after the first ballot.
and although we got a majority of the party, it was not a big enough majority by two votes only. and they'd all lost their nerve. i'd been away in paris and didn't come back till the next day. in paris i was signing some of the disarmament agreements we had reached with russia. there were 34 heads of state in government there. i got back and this had fallen apart. i realized we must have a much more active campaign. i decided i would see each and every one of my members of cabinet alone in succession. so, i called them in, and the results you'll see in the book. it was all just so artificial and so hurtful. there were one or two who were distraught that others had lost their nerve. but mostly, even from my really great friends, with one or two exceptions, it went like this -- now, look, you know that i'm a friend of yours but i feel it's my duty to tell you as a friend that, although i support
your stand for a second ballot, i don't think you can win, and, therefore, i think it will be better if you stood down and let someone else in the cabinet stand against the michael haseltine, who was also running at that time. one after another this happened. and i don't think they knew what they were doing because they clearly had a caucus meeting and decided what to say. i knew if i could win and went out there, get a couple more votes, my guns were blazing, but my guns wouldn't blaze. i just rocked backwards and thought this weak lot. i don't think i can count on them. >> when you left, did you think at that time you would go to the house of lords? >> i didn't think at that time what i was going to do, but i had been in the house of commons for 33 years.
31 of those 33 years i'd been on the front bench. i had been in government, in power, or when we were in opposition, i'd be a lead member on the opposition team and, therefore, always in a lead position to criticize the existing government. so, in other words, i'd always been what we call on the front bench, a full minister or shadowing a minister, mocking a minister. afterwards, after i resigned and had that famous debate in the house, which was very exciting, the last one i did from the front bench, i then had to go back into the house for the first time for 31 years, walk onto the back benches. i didn't like it. it wasn't for me. because when i got up to make a contribution from the back benches, as an ordinary member of par lem, everyone would murmur and there would be roars as i got up.
it was a highly charged atmosphere. and i found it difficult for a time not to make the decisions. i'd been used to making decisions, and it took me a time to get into the understanding that i was not making the decisions. and i could influence them, but i couldn't make them. and so, i didn't want to carry on in the house of commons. it would have been easy to do that. and then people said, well, you must because you can come backg i said no. life doesn't happen that way. i've been here 11 1/2 years. i have to go sometime. i think the prime minister will find it easier if i'm not in the house of commons and in a pox to return. -- position to return. so, i will accept the offer to go up to the house of lords. but it's so much more gentlemanly and you don't get the quick lash or the quick wit and the give-and-take of debate
which you get in the house of commons. >> you say in your book, "if you don't understand the house of commons, you don't understand british politics." what did you mean by that? >> just exactly what one says. i think when many people come to look at the house of commons, they come there. it's a very dignified body, does things in a very dignified way. and certainly, we wouldn't throw things or get up and fight. but the verbal attacks are very vicious. it's very, very fast-moving debate. you're often interrupted. you've got to have a ready reply to anyone who challenges you. >> do you think that the american-british special relationship will continue? >> i most honestly hope so. we're the two nations that have more in common than any other two. the pilgrim fathers went through the whole background of english and biblical ethics.
they knew and took with them our system of justice, a very famous one. when jefferson came to write that remarkable constitution, which is the best expression in the english language, the best expression of liberty, he wrote like a genius, which i suppose he was. it was quite clear from that constitution that it's the first constitution in the world and possibly still the only one, that it is the people who give the powers to the government for a limited time to govern them, not the government giving powers to the people. it's very different. >> how could the british system benefit from taking something from us and vice versa? in other words, what kind of -- what did you have as prime minister that the president of the united states doesn't have? and what would you like to have as prime minister that we have here? >> what i had was regular meetings in the house of
commons and regularly taking part in the house of commons and in question time. what i also had was i was prime minister because i had a majority in the house of commons. so, we had a good chance of getting through any legislation we put up, and we had a good chance of getting the budget through because i wouldn't have been there without a majority. so, we don't have the conflict of interest that sometimes arises with your president, when he can't get a measure lu the house. very, very different atmosphere, completely. >> you refer in the book -- we just have a minute or so left -- to the hyperactive washington media world. is washington more hyperactive in the media than it is in london? >> i think so. i think that automatically everything here is considered what's the presentation going to be? almost before you consider the
other aspect of it. i regard in my job to get the policies right. when we got the policies right, we would think about the presentation, but not the other way around. >> do you think we ought to worry about that? >> yes. >> why? >> because you could listen to a speech and sometimes you'll say, that's a rhetoric speech, just talking, there's nothing really well-known underneath it. the person hasn't got to the heart of the matter. or you can listen to a speech that might be a bit duller but a person's got to rock-bottom solid and knows the heart of the matter and is trying to deal with it. they're very different kinds of oratory. >> lady thatcher, author of "the dowowowowow
>> well there's a new book out called "courtwatchers." eyewitness accounts in supreme court history. clare cushman is the author and john roberts, chief justice chief justice of the u.s. supreme court wrote the forward. clare cushman who are the "courtwatchers"? >> the "courtwatchers" are the justices themselves, their wives, children, oral advocates who argue, court staff, reporters that cover the cords and even some just random bystanders who happened to be in the courtroom and witnessed something exciting and then went back and reported it. so most of what this book is, is me digging up all that stuff over the last 220 years that the court has been in existence and finding all the insider stories written by people that were affiliated with the courts. >> what is one of your favorite
insider stories? >> i have so many. there are some that are funny and some that are poignant and some better educational. but i guess the ones that i like the most are the ones written by the supreme court spouses because you really get a sense of what it was like at home so my favorite is written by elizabeth black who was the wife of hugo black and he had a hard time sleeping at night when he was cogitating on a difficult case and the like to wake up at about 3:00 a.m. and the jury and say i have got to talk this over with you. i am really struggling with this and her remedy was always a glass of urban because that that isn't that what he really wanted but he felt he could never help himself. he needed her to suggest a first. i love that story. >> why didn't -- did chief justice roberts write the forward? >> because i asked him and he was kind enough to do it. it actually took six months to get the forward from him because he read every word and he wanted to make sure it was all accurate and well done before he agreed
so we are very grateful grateful jim. >> clare cushman what is your day job? >> my day job? i write books about the history of the court. >> what got you interested in the court in the first place? >> well actually i was a "national geographic" magazine writer and warren burger called me up one day and said, we are looking for somebody who is young, chief and good to edit a book about the supreme court and i said oh, okay. i think it was later that i found out that the order of those adjectives was wrong and it was probably chief but it worked out for me. >> here is clare cushman's new book, "courtwatchers," eyewitness accounts in the supreme court history, rowman & littlefield are the publishers. >> up next on booktv henry louis gates jr. presents a history of african-americans in the united