A piece on this morning’s edition of the UK Today programme reminded us of the groundbreaking 1987 interview that Margaret Thatcher gave on Soviet television. Now largely forgotten, this interview was a unique and important event at the time, watched by millions of Soviet citizens, who genuinely had never seen anything like it before. Facing three Russian journalists, who asked her tough questions, the Iron Lady was tough herself in reply, and as unbending as ever in putting her views across. But here, she was arguably working in the service of something far better and higher than normally, when she was back in Britain implementing her harsh domestic policies.
Steve Rosenberg’s excellent broadcast piece was only able to include a few excerpts of the 1987 programme. But for those of you who would like to see more of it, the full recording is available online and I’ve embedded a copy below, along with, at the end, an English-language transcript.
As you watch, it is worth considering how, 26 years on, such candid interviews – whether by foreign leaders or anyone else – are still rare events on Russian television, as rare now in fact as they were before glasnost. This is because the full, amazing freedom that Mrs T. believed capitalism would bring to the peoples of the USSR has not materialised, at least not in most cases. No doubt that fact indicates a weakness inside Russia itself. But doesn’t it also show, just as fundamentally, the amorality of capitalism too? That ideology’s ability to serve good ends or ill without so much as batting an eyelid? One of those crucial facts, I think, that Thatcher never really understood.
Addendum: A few have asked if I can find an English transcript of the interview so non-Russian speakers can follow it while they watch. Here you go: http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/106604