Shirley Williams Conversations


Shirley Williams

Sean Curran talks to former senior Liberal Democrat Baroness Shirley Williams about her life and political career.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to Conversations.

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Today, my guest is a woman whose

career has spanned not just

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party and class divides

but political eras, too.

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She started in the Labour movement,

co-founded a successful new party,

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the SDP, and eventually became

a leading light in

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the Liberal Democrats.

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All along, this woman -

once tipped to be Britain's first

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woman Prime Minister -

has enjoyed almost universal

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personal popularity from all sides

of the political spectrum.

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She was born into a family

which challenged the political

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status quo and sparkled

with a strong spirit of campaigning

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- a spirit she's carried

with her ever since.

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Her former SDP colleague,

Bill Rogers, once said,

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even if you're walking up a hill

with her, she wants

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to be ahead of you.

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So let's try and catch up

with Shirley Williams.

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Welcome.

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Thank you very much.

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Let's start at the beginning.

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You had, I suppose, what many people

would consider quite a privileged

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childhood in what was then Bohemian

Chelsea.

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Did that affect your view

of the world and your

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politics, do you think?

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Well I had a combination

because my father had been

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a Roman Catholic convert -

largely converted, I think,

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probably by listening to a great

deal of what was said by...

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One or two of the great

Catholics of the period,

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and he took me to church

regularly every Sunday.

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What was true about him

was that he knew a huge

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amount about it all.

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He went back through centuries

with huge knowledge.

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That was surprising because he was

a very strong Labour man.

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He stood for Parliament two or three

times, never got elected.

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But was very keen to

get into Parliament.

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He wouldn't have been

very good at it.

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It wasn't his sort of thing.

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So why do you think he wouldn't

have been good at it?

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Because he was very

much an intellectual.

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I don't mean clever.

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I mean, lots of people can

intellectuals and can be clever.

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But what he was was somebody

who loved the more mysterious

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aspects of theology.

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He was quite sympathetic

towards Anglicans because his own

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father had been an Anglican vicar.

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So he was really quite well

immolated in discussions

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on religion and so forth.

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My mother, of course,

came from an Anglican background

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but had been extremely critical

of the role of the Anglican Church

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during the First World War,

when things were constantly

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presented as being for

the sake of the country.

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You must put all other

thoughts behind you.

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She, of course, out of that

experience, first became

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a war nurse, a VAD -

Voluntary Aid Detachment -

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nurse, at first mostly

in France, in the war.

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She actually served a lot

of the First World War on the front,

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not on the back, which was unusual

for a woman.

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So between the two of them,

although it could be called

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a privileged background in some

ways, they were both

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hugely hard working.

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My mother had a very disciplined

approach to writing.

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She loved writing

but was very strict.

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You started writing at 9.30am,

after you'd had breakfast,

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and you worked all the way

through until about 7pm at night,

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when you had one drink.

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A cocktail, as they always

called them in those days,

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followed by a bit of family life.

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But there's no doubt about it,

she did a good 10 hours a day

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of writing, and she was absolutely

devoted to it.

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Now, your mother was Vera Brittain

and, of course, she was wrote

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a memorial to her fiancee

and her brother in

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Testament of Youth.

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So by the time you were growing up,

she was a very famous

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author, wasn't she?

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She was a best-selling author, yes.

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And in 1936, when Victor

Gollancz, one of the...

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The book was rejected by about half

a dozen well-known publishers,

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who sort of couldn't believe that

a woman could write

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a book about war, anyway.

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It was a very odd idea to them.

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And the fact that she probably

wrote, I would argue,

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one of the best single books

about the First World War,

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along with people who became very

famous also, like Siegfried Sassoon

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and so forth.

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But she was in that group,

that kind of outstanding authors

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of the war who actually

served in it.

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Robert Graves was another.

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All of that meant that she she

couldn't see herself in the very

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conventional terms her own parents

had seen her in, which she was

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an attractive young woman

who would marry a fairly well-placed

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businessman in Derbyshire,

where they came from.

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And therefore, for them,

it was a huge jerk.

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Really difficult to actually accept

not only that their daughter

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was a military nurse

but that she was going to serve

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in another country.

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and towards the end of the war,

in the last year, her father

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saw that his wife -

her mother, in other words -

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was beginning to find it too hard

to cope without the servants,

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of all things.

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There were not many

servants to be had.

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They were back in the

munitions factories.

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And so she was told,

she was ordered to come home

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and look after her mother.

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And, of course, my mother

was a person with very strong views

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and very strong opinions.

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She was outraged by the idea

that she would leave hundreds

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of men, most of them dying

in the middle of France, and come

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back to look after her mother,

who had nothing wrong with her.

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because her mother had

to cope without servants.

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The Edwardian era, in many ways,

was very, very class structured.

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Very much the case of the middle

classes living with servants,

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with people making fires

and all that kind of thing.

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So the whole of the change

that we saw in the Second World War,

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in the way the country became much

more social democratic, didn't

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happen in the First World War.

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There was a sort of slow fading out,

but it was a long, long process.

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So when you were growing up,

were your parents very hands

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on or did they have help

and servants as well?

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My parents, because my mother worked

full-time, my parents had one house

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keeper who was about 20,

a young woman from Battersea,

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across the river.

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And they also had occasional members

of her family who came in and helped

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planning parties and so on.

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We were very close to them.

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They were my other parents, really.

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They were probably more hands-on

than my mother and father were.

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Particularly my mother, because my

father was fond of children.

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But he have the view of his time,

which is that you didn't have

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much to do with them

in any physical sense.

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You wouldn't have dreamt of changing

a nappy or even dressing them.

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But what you would do is have

serious conversations with them.

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As they grew up you would actually

talk to them about politics, life,

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religion, whatever it might be.

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But not much before

you were about 10 or 11.

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So how often did you see your

parents during the day?

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If they were both working.

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Hardly at all.

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It was a very sort

of arranged routine.

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If I got back from school in time,

I would have tea with them.

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That was a another sacred

occasion lasting half

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an hour at 4pm or 4.30pm.

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With crumpets in the winter

and scones in the summer.

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But that was the sort of high

moment of childish eating,

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and then I would not

stay for dinner.

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Dinner was something

that grown-ups had.

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We had a high tea at 5pm and then

we were in bed by 7pm.

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And the idea of going

to bed at 10pm, 11pm,

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which is what my own grandchildren

do, would be unthinkable

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in that way.

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Also, maybe because it's

worth adding, it's quite

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interesting to add it...

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The other great feature

of my childhood was that

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I was extremely adventurous

and during the war, when my parents'

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house was was bombed, it split.

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It was a Georgian

house in Cheyne Walk.

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Reflecting my mother's

success, I suppose -

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it can't have been a cheap

house to buy.

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But Cheyne Walk with right

along the river, sitting

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in the heart of London,

and it was bombed quite a lot.

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And I remember this

particular occasion.

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The house, it didn't

fall down but it split,

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it cracked down the middle.

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The other thing we did,

I used to climb all over the house,

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picking up shrapnel.

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I loved doing that!

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When my parents weren't watching.

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the house was a Georgian

house, four stories high.

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And it had a lot of little terraces

- not terraces, little flat roofs.

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And you'd have to go and collect

the shrapnel from the flat roofs,

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otherwise it would begin

to burn its way through.

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I loved doing that.

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I spent quite a lot of time sitting

on the roof as well, of this house,

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looking at the Thames below.

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Eventually I learnt how to climb

under the bridges across the Thames.

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I used to watch the Blitz from those

metal, I suppose supports,

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you'd call them, under

Chelsea Bridge and the

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Royal Albert Bridge,

which was already shaking a bit,

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because it was a very

delicate bridge.

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And I loved doing that.

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Did your parents know

you were doing that?

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Of course not.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the war.

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That's an awful thing to say.

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I'm talking about being nine or 10.

But I did thoroughly enjoy it,

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I did find it very exciting

and I quite often would escape,

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long after my parents were asleep,

and walk around and walk over

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to the bridges and sit

underneath them and then come back.

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Then life got more exciting

after all that because my parents

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There is reason social Democrat

because I refused to go to private

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school. I was six or seven. I was a

little school called Mrs Spencer's

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school. One of those places like

private school, a nice school with

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middle-class parents and clean

uniforms. Which I could not stand!

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What did you not like? I was

already, I learned from parents to

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hate class. I hated class. Around

the corner from where we lived,

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there was a big council estate which

is still there, at the end of

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Chelsea. That council estate became

the students of a very old Victorian

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state school. Church of England

school. It was called... Saint

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Peter's church school. Anglican

school. I went there because my

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mother's housekeeper, aged 19 or 20,

her parents had sent their children

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there. It was a school that appealed

to me so I went there, Alan told my

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mother I did not wish her to

introduce herself to them. That was

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fine. I always went down the stairs

to the basement. Some of my fellow

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students, pupils, primary school,

they always thought I was Amy's.

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Because that is where she lived and

I always thought that way so we

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didn't have problems about being the

daughter of a famous author. Not

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that that ever came up!

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Then life got more exciting

after all that because my parents

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had a sort of long light of agony.

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In which they had learnt

that they were probably

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on the Gestapo black list.

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I think I'm right in saying

that my parents, both

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of them were Christians.

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I think they were the only

Christian married couple,

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because there were many Jewish

married couples on the

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on Gestapo black list.

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And I've got the page

which they were on.

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The reason I know about

that is because my parents,

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my mother's name was Brittain

and my father's name

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was Catlin and so inevitably

they were in the same

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group as Churchill.

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And that meant that all the popular

newspapers had to have that picture

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of Churchill's name in that list.

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But fortunately, it included

both my parents as well.

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And what was key about that was that

my mother was a conscientious

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objector after the First World War.

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She became a pacifist.

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She'd lost every young man

in her family, including her brother

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and her fiancee, and she became

absolutely determined

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and my mother was determined,

she was very determined,

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She was right, she wouldn't move.

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And so they decided, my parents

decided after a long conversation,

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they very high minded people

I should say, that although they

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wouldn't leave themselves,

because they would immediately -

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my mother in particular -

be accused of fleeing.

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The author of Mrs Miniver,

Jan Struther, also fled.

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Although hers was also a book

all about the British

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in the Second World War.

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But my mother was made of sterner

stuff so she wasn't going to flee.

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And having decided not to,

my father having decided not to,

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either, they decided that it was not

fair of them to keep my brother

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and me in Britain to face

the probable killing

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of their parents.

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People forget now that in 1940,

up until about the summer before

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the Battle of Britain,

there was a general belief

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that this was going to be...

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There was going to be an invasion

and that we might well

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have lost that invasion.

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They sent you and your brother

to America, didn't they?

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They sent us to America.

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So it wasn't just an evacuation

out into the country?

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No, no, no.

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On the other side of the world?

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Well, we got a telegram,

I remember, which said,

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send us your children.

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To, of all places, Minnesota.

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And the great thing

about that was that most

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all of the other children that

were evacuated to America

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were evacuated to either work

colleagues or friends,

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who were also very much

sort of New England,

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very European-minded and so forth

and so on.

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Minnesota was something else again.

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I remember when I first got there,

a state which has a very substantial

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number of Scandinavian

and German migrants,

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I was seen as rather dangerous,

I mean, what was I doing?

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Almost like a spy or a reverse spy.

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Minnesota was certainly

not very keen.

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Were they isolationist?

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I mean, it's obviously before

America was in the war.

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No.

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Minnesota under Hubert Humphrey,

who was the governor of Minnesota,

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who was a distinctly liberal-minded

and internationally-minded young

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man, famous throughout America.

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He was the most distinguished

Democrat around.

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They weren't isolationist,

what they were, they were sort

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of left wing but keeping out of it.

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They didn't really want to join

the war, they weren't keen on it.

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But they weren't, in any sense,

what one might call Trump-ites.

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They weren't right wing Americans.

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And how did their attitude change

towards you after Pearl Harbor?

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Dramatically.

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Well, they were always

very sweet to me.

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By this time I was 10.

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And so I was known as the little

English girl or the little

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evacuee or whatever it was.

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I was treated in a sort

of idealised way.

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Which was very sweet of them.

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I went to a nice school and had

lots of friends and we went climbing

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along the Mississippi and so forth.

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Had a lovely time, actually.

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And it was a great place to be.

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And I was always treated very well.

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But after Pearl Harbor I became

a heroine and therefore I was asked

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to actually present a sheaf

of flowers to Lady Halifax.

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Lord Halifax, who had been

a well-known appeaser

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before the war, had become

ambassador to America.

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It's a very distinguished

position to hold.

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And his wife, in the best English

style, walked around the country

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dishing out flowers to people

and shaking their hands and putting

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up the flag and things like that.

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She behaved very properly.

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And I was therefore specially chosen

to present him with flowers,

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which I deeply resented,

because I knew that the Halifaxes

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were conservative.

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By this time I was very

far gone in politics.

0:16:010:16:03

But I was polite.

0:16:030:16:04

At least I was polite,

I wasn't particularly friendly,

0:16:040:16:07

so I stayed in America...

0:16:070:16:08

But that wasn't your only starring

role, potentially, was it?

0:16:080:16:10

Because you also were almost

the star of National Velvet.

0:16:100:16:13

Yes, that's correct.

0:16:130:16:18

The film critics of America in each

region were asked to put forward

0:16:180:16:21

the names of people that might have

been the hero in National Velvet.

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And I remember they

had to be blonde.

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They had to be good at riding.

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They had to be around the age of 12.

0:16:300:16:32

They had to know how to jump fences.

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They had to be sort of a perfect

little model of what one might think

0:16:360:16:39

National Velvet is all about.

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And I was put forward

by the middle west states.

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It was Elizabeth Taylor

who pipped you to the post?

0:16:460:16:51

Elizabeth Taylor was

very famous already.

0:16:510:16:54

Her mother was in California

with her so she had the exceptional

0:16:540:16:57

advantage of having a mother

who is very familiar with the whole

0:16:570:17:01

of the Hollywood scene,

and got her daughter to come,

0:17:010:17:04

and she was a very pretty,

handsome little girl and a good

0:17:040:17:08

rider and all the other things.

0:17:080:17:13

So she did pip me to the post.

0:17:130:17:14

Did you meet her

during the auditions?

0:17:140:17:16

I did meet her but only that.

0:17:160:17:18

I shook her hands.

0:17:180:17:19

She was already a very good looking

girl, but still a girl,

0:17:190:17:22

a child, not yet a grown up.

0:17:220:17:23

But a good actress and very

carefully thinking through

0:17:230:17:26

all the things she did.

0:17:260:17:27

And I had to say, for the rest

of my life, one of the great

0:17:270:17:30

pleasures of my life,

I think, thank God I didn't

0:17:300:17:33

actually get that role.

0:17:330:17:34

So we then got into...

0:17:340:17:35

My parents tried to bring me home.

0:17:350:17:37

Now, we must talk...

0:17:370:17:43

On the way back, there

was an incident, wasn't

0:17:430:17:45

there, you were attacked

by a group of sailors?

0:17:450:17:47

Yes, that's right.

0:17:470:17:48

It was a a Portuguese ship.

0:17:480:17:49

Portugal was neutral.

0:17:490:17:50

So it was one of the very few

countries whose ships could carry

0:17:500:17:54

people from the aggressor nations,

as they were thought of being,

0:17:540:17:56

whether it was Germany on the one

side or UK and France on the other.

0:17:560:18:00

And that meant that there

was a very, very limited choice.

0:18:000:18:03

You couldn't go back

in a military convoy,

0:18:030:18:07

that was limited to people

who were actually capable

0:18:070:18:09

of being combat soldiers

or sailors when they got back.

0:18:090:18:12

My brother went back in a military

convoy and then joined the RAF.

0:18:120:18:15

He was older than I was.

0:18:150:18:16

But I couldn't have gone

on the military convoy,

0:18:160:18:18

they wouldn't have let me go.

0:18:180:18:21

So my parents found this ship,

I think through Thomas Cook's,

0:18:210:18:24

which went to Lisbon,

it didn't go to Britain.

0:18:240:18:26

And we then found a great friend

called Rosemary who's been my friend

0:18:260:18:30

from then almost till now.

0:18:300:18:33

But she died before me, I'm afraid.

0:18:330:18:37

And we then had, we were

surrounded by sailors.

0:18:370:18:41

After the Azores, where

we stopped, also by soldiers,

0:18:410:18:46

because it was turned

into a troopship, for the last part.

0:18:460:18:48

We had a cyclone, which

practically killed us.

0:18:480:18:51

At one point, the captain

almost decided to give up,

0:18:510:18:54

because the cyclone

was very strong indeed.

0:18:540:18:58

And then we had this group

of sailors, I don't know

0:18:580:19:03

whether they were military sailors

or not, but anyway, they had decided

0:19:030:19:05

to attack us in our cabin.

0:19:050:19:07

And we fought like,

we fought like cats to get

0:19:070:19:09

out, my friend and I.

0:19:090:19:11

We weren't terribly frightened,

just frighteningly angry.

0:19:110:19:14

Anyway, we got out,

and then we were running

0:19:140:19:17

down the corridors,

and genius struck us both,

0:19:170:19:22

my friend Rosemary and me,

and we decided that the one thing

0:19:220:19:27

that the Portuguese would not dare

to find us in was a Gents.

0:19:270:19:31

So we rushed into a Gents,

locked the door, stayed

0:19:310:19:32

there for a very long time,

and then finally, you know,

0:19:320:19:36

several hours, and finally left,

and after that we decided

0:19:360:19:38

we were too obvious.

0:19:380:19:40

Too obvious potential victims.

0:19:400:19:44

So what we did was we then kitted

out one of the lifeboats

0:19:440:19:48

on the top deck with,

you know, a mixture of tarpaulin

0:19:480:19:51

and everything we could find.

0:19:510:19:53

And that's where we stayed

for the next three days,

0:19:530:19:57

every night, as soon as it got

dark, after dinner.

0:19:570:20:01

We climbed up to the top shelf,

got into this lifeboat,

0:20:010:20:07

covered it with tarpaulins,

couldn't be seen to be

0:20:070:20:09

where we were, kept reasonably warm.

0:20:090:20:14

An awful lot of sea decided

to beat us on the top,

0:20:140:20:17

but that's where we stayed.

0:20:170:20:18

And so we escaped further attention.

0:20:180:20:20

That sounds like it was a very

frightening incident.

0:20:200:20:23

I mean, that's the attempted sexual

assault of a child, isn't it?

0:20:230:20:26

That's what we're talking about.

0:20:260:20:27

Of course, we weren't

even teenagers yet.

0:20:270:20:31

I guess, I think I was nine.

0:20:310:20:36

But no, forgive me.

0:20:360:20:38

Well, 12 or 13.

0:20:380:20:40

Yes, 12, more like 12,

but still, a young 12.

0:20:400:20:45

We were blondes, which I suppose

made us rather irresistible.

0:20:450:20:47

Did you tell anybody about it?

0:20:470:20:49

No, absolutely not.

0:20:490:20:50

Why not?

0:20:500:20:51

Omerta.

0:20:510:20:54

You know, the central

understanding of a child

0:20:540:20:59

who is growing into a teenager,

in those days, particularly,

0:20:590:21:02

was that you fought for yourself.

0:21:020:21:03

We'd been for three

years on our own.

0:21:030:21:07

Well, I don't know about Rosemary,

I had anyway, except for my brother,

0:21:070:21:10

and then once he went back

to Britain, I was

0:21:100:21:12

entirely on my own.

0:21:120:21:14

I was just used to

fighting for myself.

0:21:140:21:21

Looking after myself, ever since the

shrapnel days conveyed had been the

0:21:210:21:24

same story. When we got back to

Britain, even that was a long story

0:21:240:21:28

that I will make it very brief. We

got landed in Lisbon to catch the

0:21:280:21:33

plane that was actually the plane

that was shot down with Lesley

0:21:330:21:35

Howard on board, and all planes were

stopped, because they were wide open

0:21:350:21:40

to being shot at. And that meant

that we, and by we I mean the other

0:21:400:21:46

children who were now on the boat,

as well as myself, we all decided,

0:21:460:21:52

well, we got bored stiff, rosemary

and I, we were both a sort of

0:21:520:21:57

adventurous pair, so we actually ran

away to Lisbon. And what was funny

0:21:570:22:01

about Lisbon, we stayed in what I

suppose you would call the baggage

0:22:010:22:06

room, and we jumped off when we got

to Lisbon, from being not seen, and

0:22:060:22:11

fled into the city, and that turned

out to be full of spies. There were

0:22:110:22:16

lots and lots of people. Do remember

there was a famous actor called

0:22:160:22:21

Conrad fight, it will always -- who

always wore a monocle, and every

0:22:210:22:31

film's idea of what a spider looks

like. When we got to Lisbon, it was

0:22:310:22:38

full of Conrads. There was British

ones, German ones, most were

0:22:380:22:44

probably German, and we finally got

dumped by the students we had met up

0:22:440:22:48

to in Lisbon who had shown a

surround the city, because they got

0:22:480:22:51

scared, because there was a very

strong secret police group. So we

0:22:510:22:59

knew that sooner or later, our

friends who were very sweet and

0:22:590:23:02

bought us food and things, would

probably be in terrible trouble, and

0:23:020:23:07

then radio programmes in Portuguese

much we didn't understand, which

0:23:070:23:11

said a couple of British have

disappeared, and we don't know what

0:23:110:23:14

to do with them. So they explain to

us rather tearfully they would have

0:23:140:23:18

to give us up, and then left us on

the front porch of the rather

0:23:180:23:25

surprisingly the editor of the voice

of Lisbon newspaper, who turned out

0:23:250:23:30

innovatively to be a friend of my

father's, but I didn't know anything

0:23:300:23:34

about that, he hasn't told me, and

he had no idea I was in Lisbon

0:23:340:23:39

anyway, were supposed to be in

detention in Estoril, the famous

0:23:390:23:43

royal capital. Anyway, we got back

from Portugal, to England, and found

0:23:430:23:48

it rather exciting, if a little bit

dreary. And within resumed a

0:23:480:23:53

different kind of life. I then got

inevitably back to Saint Paul's, and

0:23:530:24:00

yielded to my parents finally that I

couldn't go back to the local

0:24:000:24:03

elementary school. By this time it

was secondary anyway. So I went to

0:24:030:24:07

St Paul's, and then stayed there for

the next few years, very good

0:24:070:24:10

school, wonderful academic

challenge. Lots of very nice girls,

0:24:100:24:16

lots of brilliant Jewish girls, who

were the children of people who had

0:24:160:24:19

been various refugees from Germany.

St Paul's appealed to them because

0:24:190:24:25

it had a very strong musical

tradition, including just a holster

0:24:250:24:29

and his daughter --

0:24:290:24:36

and his daughter -- to Fuller. We

whizzed through school, nothing very

0:24:410:24:44

special about that, I decided I

didn't want to do the equivalent

0:24:440:24:48

available is.

0:24:480:24:52

So I left school when I was 17,

I never took A-levels.

0:24:520:25:00

and got it so when I got invited

to go to Oxford.

0:25:010:25:04

Towards the end of the study

of students there I was outraged.

0:25:040:25:06

I came to the conclusion

that this was my mother's

0:25:060:25:09

influence so suddenly,

0:25:090:25:11

I was called in to see

the principal Dame Janet,

0:25:110:25:13

who was a wonderful very far left

wing scientific lady,

0:25:130:25:16

and I remember going up and saying.

0:25:160:25:17

and I remember going up and saying,

0:25:170:25:25

the first thing I said

was I don't want your

0:25:250:25:28

bloody scholarship,

now

0:25:280:25:30

nine out of ten would have said

that I don't want you.

0:25:300:25:33

But she did.

0:25:330:25:35

She said, Come now tell me

why I was so angry.

0:25:350:25:38

So I said I am angry

because I cannot bear this use

0:25:380:25:41

of an influence or words to it.

0:25:410:25:43

You know my politics don't you.

0:25:430:25:44

What makes you think I would accept

salary as the reason

0:25:440:25:47

of their parents being well now.

0:25:470:25:49

So that silenced me. We became great

friends. So I became and had what

0:25:490:25:57

they now call a gap year. I worked

as a waitress in Whitley Bay in

0:25:570:26:01

Northumberland, because I wanted to

know the North, and I wanted to get

0:26:010:26:05

to know what it was like to have no

advantages at all. It was like back

0:26:050:26:10

to Christchurch school, really. So I

worked for a while at first there,

0:26:100:26:14

and then I worked on a farm. At that

time I did find out a lot about the

0:26:140:26:21

north-east of England, I got to know

it well. I remember, because I was

0:26:210:26:24

always hungry, there was a very nice

railway marshalling officer who

0:26:240:26:28

always gave me sponge cakes to eat,

which was nice. And in Whitley Bay,

0:26:280:26:32

all we ever had to eat was chips.

Chips and T.

And have you decided on

0:26:320:26:39

a political career at that stage?

Delie I was already long engaged in

0:26:390:26:43

it. I joined the Labour Party on my

16th birthday, which is as young as

0:26:430:26:50

you are supposed to

joint.

View

became an MP relatively young,

0:26:500:26:56

elected in your 30s, 1964. What is

it like being a young woman MP in

0:26:560:27:02

the 1960s House of Commons?

Well,

part of it was lovely,

0:27:020:27:10

part of it was lovely, because

Labour was going strong, and I was

0:27:110:27:13

so excited by the National Health

Service and all the things that came

0:27:130:27:16

with it.

0:27:160:27:24

It was a wonderful, wonderful

time to be in politics

0:27:240:27:27

because whether we did

or leave it there.

0:27:270:27:29

I did.

0:27:290:27:30

You saw this new society

being built before your eyes.

0:27:300:27:32

You were part of it.

0:27:320:27:33

It was wonderfully exciting.

0:27:330:27:34

Were you ambitious when you

were in the Commons,

0:27:340:27:37

were you one of those employees that

arrived thinking as soon

0:27:370:27:39

as the opportunity comes.

0:27:390:27:45

Not really I don't think, partly

because I had a seat in Hitchin

0:27:450:27:49

which had always been Conservative

and I'd spent an awful lot of time

0:27:490:27:52

on it, and one of the great things

about that too was that I spent

0:27:520:27:57

an awful lot of time in the new town

of Stevenage, which was one

0:27:570:28:00

of the biggest parts

of the new constituency

0:28:000:28:02

a very big constituency.

0:28:020:28:03

And I had the great pleasure

of growing up alongside my town.

0:28:030:28:07

So as Stevenage grew

into being a grown-up town, having

0:28:070:28:09

been really a very small town

to begin with and then

0:28:090:28:16

developed hugely for a quarter

of a million people,

0:28:160:28:20

I also had a lot to do with I more

than most employees do

0:28:200:28:23

because I was always being involved

in legal changes or structural

0:28:230:28:26

changes or whatever that meant.

0:28:260:28:27

When I gave my first speech

0:28:270:28:29

in the House of Commons

it was actually about international

0:28:290:28:36

finance, because I was blowed

if I was to be identified

0:28:370:28:40

as a young woman politician.

0:28:400:28:41

I got a lot of...

0:28:410:28:42

A sort of a mixture

of surprise and patronage

0:28:420:28:44

from the Conservatives.

0:28:440:28:45

And a bit of mixed feelings

from the trade union members

0:28:450:28:50

of the Labour Party,

who saw me as odd, I suppose.

0:28:500:28:52

But the difficult one is mostly

to do with elderly Tories

0:28:520:28:55

who thought it was odd

to have a young woman anyway.

0:28:550:28:57

And I always remember a famous case

and the bells ringing in the house

0:28:570:29:01

from when I was running back and,

you know, they were ringing

0:29:010:29:06

for a vote and I had no idea

what the vote was about, just

0:29:060:29:09

doing a meeting.

0:29:090:29:11

So I seized my pair.

0:29:110:29:13

You always have somebody of another

party that you pair with a sweet man

0:29:130:29:16

And I said to him,

what's the vote about?

0:29:160:29:18

Don't bother yourself a bit, I said.

0:29:180:29:20

Look, I've got a vote.

0:29:200:29:21

Tell me.

0:29:210:29:27

So he finally said very reluctantly,

he actually patted me on the head

0:29:270:29:30

and said, my dear,

don't bother your pretty

0:29:300:29:32

little head about it.

0:29:320:29:33

It was the first bill

for legalizing homosexual

0:29:330:29:35

relations between adults.

0:29:350:29:42

He found the very idea of telling me

appalling! Very sweet man.

0:29:420:29:53

appalling! Very sweet man.

You were

talking about things that they would

0:29:530:29:55

not expect a young female MP to talk

about. You caught the eye of Harold

0:29:550:30:00

Wilson and the leadership of the

Labour Party. Andy Roddick Cabinet

0:30:000:30:04

Minister but then a relatively short

space of time. Secretary of State

0:30:040:30:09

for prices? Are not quite sure, what

would that we in the equivalent

0:30:090:30:15

government?

0:30:150:30:20

government?

Harold Wilson is

underestimated.

0:30:220:30:27

I've never seen any other politician

of seniority who is completely

0:30:270:30:35

unaffected by color,

race, gender, religion.

0:30:350:30:36

He was a true academic who chose

people we thought were good.

0:30:360:30:39

But he didn't.

0:30:390:30:40

He wasn't the least bit influenced

by factors other prime ministers

0:30:400:30:43

are clearly affected

by and he was casteless.

0:30:430:30:48

He is a wonderful man in many ways

but he is quite difficult

0:30:480:30:52

to get close to, he kept himself

rather privately and here

0:30:520:31:00

If you look at his record you'll see

that time and again...

0:31:000:31:05

He was very open-minded for his

time. Going back quickly to prices.

0:31:050:31:14

Basically the whole economic

structure at that time was based

0:31:140:31:18

upon prices and incomes policy and

the government position, which

0:31:180:31:22

largely because it did not want to

have unemployment... Its

0:31:220:31:26

unemployment is the most dangerous

thing it could be associated with

0:31:260:31:29

and there was very little

unemployment in those years, rather

0:31:290:31:33

like now. It was associated very

much indeed with inflation.

0:31:330:31:37

Inflation was running at 18%. As we

came out of the Heath government.

0:31:370:31:43

Very high levels. The choice was for

the government 's... Either letting

0:31:430:31:50

inflation rise and using

unemployment to stop it or, as

0:31:500:31:58

Harold Wilson and Roy Jenkins did,

to actually watch inflation and

0:31:580:32:03

control that by prices. I was the

person, the mug who had to make sure

0:32:030:32:09

prices were acceptable to the trade

unions. That is to say, prices would

0:32:090:32:13

not exceed a level of inflation,

would stay the same as the overall

0:32:130:32:18

level. And you would then have to

use every measure you could. The

0:32:180:32:20

main measure was called fair prices.

Everything Mark White with prices,

0:32:200:32:27

we had signs made in the centres of

cities, what is cheapest place to

0:32:270:32:31

buy something... A huge amount of

information to go with price

0:32:310:32:35

control. Alongside me was Michael

Foot, in charge of wages. As you can

0:32:350:32:42

imagine, this curious hair. In

charge of this whole system of

0:32:420:32:46

trying to control the market. So

that it could not just eat up

0:32:460:32:52

unemployment as the only thing that

could slow down.

It worked quite

0:32:520:32:55

well, actually. He also served with

James Callaghan. You were Erik

0:32:550:33:02

Compton entry about Harold Wilson.

Portraying him as a much more

0:33:020:33:06

radical figure. And people consider

right now. How did those prime

0:33:060:33:11

ministers compare?

Jim was a great

traditional Labour Party figure and

0:33:110:33:17

he was close to the unions because

they were essentially part of what

0:33:170:33:21

it was to be Labour. Very nice thing

about Jim, he was a very good man,

0:33:210:33:27

very loving and I remember one of

the things that he did that

0:33:270:33:32

impressed me was he always left open

the door of his carriage...

0:33:320:33:39

as he went down to his

constituency in south Wales.

0:33:430:33:45

So people would come and talk to him

and he would never close it.

0:33:450:33:49

And so he would come sit

there waiting and a steady

0:33:490:33:51

trail of Welsh voters

would walk up this train,

0:33:510:33:53

knowing that they would get

a welcome when they got

0:33:530:33:56

to the other end.

0:33:560:34:00

He was everybody's grandfather, he

was a good man and I was very fond

0:34:000:34:06

of him. I was closer to him than

Harold, I admired Harold but I like

0:34:060:34:10

Jim. And he was a man who was really

concerned about families and what

0:34:100:34:16

they could contribute in life. Once

he said to me, he said, the day that

0:34:160:34:23

he was elected as Prime Minister, I

think Ted Bryn Hughes was the

0:34:230:34:28

chairman of the Parliamentary party

and he came in to tell him what had

0:34:280:34:32

happened in the election. Of the

Parliamentary party. Very unlike

0:34:320:34:37

now. I will add a footnote, very

important, both Harold and Jim, they

0:34:370:34:46

were people who deeply believed in

Parliament. They can be critical of

0:34:460:34:50

it but there were Labour

parliamentarians. They never took

0:34:500:34:52

the view that Parliament must have

the enemy of the Labour Party. It

0:34:520:34:59

was undermining the elites. That is

a new view which they did not share

0:34:590:35:02

in any way. On the day that Jim was

told he had been elected by a

0:35:020:35:10

substantial majority, the first

thing he said was, and I never went

0:35:100:35:13

to university... And he never did.

Left school at 15. Never went to any

0:35:130:35:21

other form of higher education. But

he so loved the idea that when he

0:35:210:35:26

was Prime Minister, before that he

was Chancellor of the Exchequer,

0:35:260:35:29

every week or every couple of weeks

he would go up to Nuffield College

0:35:290:35:33

and have a seminar there with the

dons who would talk to him about how

0:35:330:35:39

to be the Chancellor of the

Exchequer! He loved it. He got his

0:35:390:35:44

education when he was already a

senior minister.

0:35:440:35:48

Did you consider yourself

to be his successor?

0:35:480:35:50

No.

0:35:500:35:51

Were you ever thinking,

I might be the leader?

0:35:510:35:53

No, no not really.

0:35:530:35:56

A lot of other people talked

about you as a potential

0:35:560:35:58

leader, didn't they?

0:35:580:35:59

Oh yes.

0:35:590:36:01

Later on, after I'd been

in the Cabinet seven years they did,

0:36:010:36:04

that's quite true

and I stood against

0:36:040:36:05

Michael Foot but I lost

0:36:050:36:07

by about 20 plus.

0:36:070:36:11

I didn't lose by a lot

but I did lose.

0:36:110:36:14

I didn't think I was

quite good enough.

0:36:140:36:16

Quite simply.

0:36:160:36:17

And that's something

that's changed with women.

0:36:170:36:20

Maybe I think, looking back now,

I wasn't as bad as I thought I was.

0:36:200:36:25

But my parents had brought me up

to have huge respect

0:36:250:36:27

for the leaders of the Labour Party.

0:36:270:36:29

They knew a lot of them

and admired them.

0:36:290:36:31

They thought that

they were great men.

0:36:310:36:34

All men, except for Ellen Wilkinson.

0:36:340:36:38

Therefore, although I

was never brought up

0:36:380:36:41

that way by my parents,

of all people.

0:36:410:36:45

I came to believe in politics that

I just wasn't good enough.

0:36:450:36:49

Now if you'd say

who was among women?

0:36:490:36:51

I would have said Barbara Castle.

0:36:510:36:54

She was probably too left

wing to become easily

0:36:540:36:57

the leader of the party

but the extraordinary courage

0:36:570:37:04

that she showed in places of strife,

which was would have ended a lot

0:37:040:37:07

of the unnecessary strikes

and so forth that happened

0:37:070:37:09

in that period of time,

is a very brave thing

0:37:090:37:11

for a woman of the left to do.

0:37:110:37:17

And she did it, she fought

for it, she stuck with it.

0:37:170:37:19

But at the end of the day

even people like Jim

0:37:190:37:22

abandoned her because it

0:37:220:37:23

went down very badly

with the trade unions.

0:37:230:37:25

Do you regret looking back

that you felt perhaps

0:37:250:37:27

you weren't good enough?

0:37:270:37:29

Probably.

0:37:290:37:29

Not very deeply.

0:37:290:37:31

It doesn't upset me.

0:37:310:37:36

I managed to build up... I remember

Denis Healey talking about the

0:37:360:37:43

hinterland, I build that up,

including politically, because I

0:37:430:37:47

have spent a lot of time nowadays

working in other countries. Project

0:37:470:37:56

Liberty, about bringing Eastern

Europe into the European Union,

0:37:560:38:01

which I have always been a

passionate supporter. Looking

0:38:010:38:04

around, I spent time in Russia and

in Europe, almost all those working

0:38:040:38:10

on the process of trying to get

these countries within Europe as

0:38:100:38:14

democratic countries and I found it

very exciting and challenging. Even

0:38:140:38:20

went as far as Moscow, I worked with

Gorbachev's plans for a new

0:38:200:38:27

constitution for Russia. I had a

great... Also India and other

0:38:270:38:32

places. It became more

international.

0:38:320:38:35

1979, you lost your seat.

0:38:350:38:37

Yes.

0:38:370:38:38

And that must be

a very difficult time

0:38:380:38:40

for you because you suddenly found

yourself outside of parliament.

0:38:400:38:42

You'd been a really big figure

in British politics, you've been

0:38:420:38:45

a Cabinet Minister and you've

been at the heart of

0:38:450:38:47

the Labour government.

0:38:470:38:50

And then within 18 months,

two years you were out

0:38:500:38:52

of the Labour Party

altogether.

0:38:520:38:55

Was Europe one of the big

things that pushed you?

0:38:550:38:59

People don't realise...

0:38:590:39:00

There's a play running at

0:39:000:39:01

the moment called Limehouse.

0:39:010:39:03

In the Donmar theatre.

0:39:030:39:08

And what's quite striking

is that almost nobody...

0:39:080:39:11

Most people put it down to me

fighting the hard left.

0:39:110:39:14

Well, I did fight the hard

left but that wasn't

0:39:140:39:17

the reason because the battle

was still going on and it was this

0:39:170:39:20

battle about whether

we were fundamentally

0:39:200:39:22

a parliamentary party,

whether we wanted to include people

0:39:220:39:26

into the Labour Party or among other

things on cross-party positions

0:39:260:39:29

like Europe and so forth,

and I was already by this time

0:39:290:39:32

a very passionate European.

0:39:320:39:40

What I saw in 1979 was first of all

that there would be a hard struggle

0:39:420:39:48

and it was because Mrs Thatcher and

Mr Heath were very different people,

0:39:480:39:53

I knew Mr Heath very well and we

shared a certain European passion

0:39:530:39:57

that Mrs Thatcher did not know she

had moments.

She wanted the single

0:39:570:40:01

market. That famous shot of her in

matchup with all of those flags.

The

0:40:010:40:07

key thing was, she was a passionate,

the begetter of the single market.

0:40:070:40:14

She said to the Secretary-General of

the European Community that the one

0:40:140:40:19

thing she would accept as a step

forward towards greater integrity

0:40:190:40:24

and integration, excuse me, was

precisely that it was going to be

0:40:240:40:30

part of the single market. She

always saw things in economic and

0:40:300:40:33

commercial terms but having seen

them that way, she became an

0:40:330:40:38

enthusiastic champion of the single

market and of course, she had at

0:40:380:40:43

your right hand, the great maker,

Lord Coe field, a civil servant, but

0:40:430:40:50

one who Mrs Thatcher admired and

often followed and he went out to

0:40:500:40:56

build that single market and before

the 70s, before the 1980s right, it

0:40:560:41:02

was. I do find it extraordinary that

we are thinking of leaving the stop

0:41:020:41:06

it has been extremely useful to us.

0:41:060:41:12

So you found the SDP.

0:41:120:41:13

We have the Limehouse Declaration,

the Gang of Four.

0:41:130:41:16

September 1981.

0:41:160:41:18

There's a byelection in Crosby

in Merseyside and you become

0:41:180:41:21

the first Member of Parliament to be

elected for the SDP and we've got

0:41:210:41:26

a little clip of that moment here.

0:41:260:41:30

This is not for us a party,

but a crusade and an attempt to find

0:41:300:41:35

a democratic alternative

to what we believe to be the growing

0:41:350:41:38

extremism of politics in Britain.

0:41:380:41:44

The move in the Labour Party

towards the rejection

0:41:440:41:47

of parliamentary democracy.

0:41:470:41:50

A move in the Conservative Party

to a level of unemployment that

0:41:500:41:54

threatens the very social fabric

of our society.

0:41:540:42:00

And we want to thank, finally,

the electors of the Crosby division,

0:42:000:42:03

for giving us this opportunity

to again put forward in this country

0:42:030:42:10

a new democratic initiative.

0:42:100:42:15

That's a moment

of political history.

0:42:150:42:18

Of course what a lot of people

who perhaps don't know a lot

0:42:180:42:21

about Merseyside may appreciate

is that Crosby in the 1980s wasn't

0:42:210:42:24

just a Conservative seat,

it was a rock solid

0:42:240:42:26

Conservative seat.

0:42:260:42:29

There's was a 19,000 majority,

I think, Graham Page had,

0:42:290:42:33

the MP who died and whose death

triggered the by-election.

0:42:330:42:37

Did it seem to you that it was going

to be this impossible task?

0:42:370:42:40

But you just had to go

for it because you're

0:42:400:42:43

at the beginning of a new party?

0:42:430:42:45

Or were you confident

you were going to overturn that?

0:42:450:42:49

If you're a new party,

you build yourself up,

0:42:490:42:51

by-election by by-election.

0:42:510:42:53

The thing you have to be

absolutely clear about is that

0:42:530:42:56

if you are a leader of that party,

one of the leaders,

0:42:560:43:00

then it's your turn.

0:43:000:43:01

The next one that comes up is yours.

0:43:010:43:04

As it happened, I was rather lucky

because my father's father had been

0:43:040:43:07

a clergyman in Liverpool itself.

0:43:070:43:10

Therefore my father was born

in Liverpool and I had a collection,

0:43:100:43:13

rather unexpectedly.

0:43:130:43:15

But I thought it was so exciting

because it was a strange mixture

0:43:150:43:18

of very left wing in Waterloo

and parts of old Liverpool

0:43:180:43:22

and unspeakably posh golf playing

in the areas that were close

0:43:220:43:29

to Birkdale and Southport.

0:43:290:43:33

The constituency was made up of

these two totally different things.

0:43:330:43:36

The two subjects that

were really intense,

0:43:360:43:38

One was the subject of...

0:43:380:43:41

Here we go again,

the grammar schools.

0:43:410:43:44

Merchant Taylor was

a famous private school.

0:43:440:43:47

I was already identified very much

because I'd been Secretary of State

0:43:470:43:51

for Education for four years

from 1975 to 1979.

0:43:510:43:59

And I was a passionate

pro-comprehensive.

0:43:590:44:02

So this became a hugely...

0:44:020:44:04

As you might imagine.

0:44:040:44:06

Yes, because by that time Crosby,

unusually perhaps, had a number

0:44:060:44:09

of fee-paying schools,

some of which had been grammar

0:44:090:44:13

schools or direct grant schools.

0:44:130:44:15

So there was kind of a resentment

towards you, wasn't there?

0:44:150:44:18

Because people felt they had

lost their grammar schools.

0:44:180:44:24

Because of the head

teachers and so on.

0:44:240:44:25

I didn't get rid of the grammar.

0:44:250:44:27

Well, I did get rid of the grammar

school but actually it took quite

0:44:270:44:30

a long time to get there,

but I was identified and always have

0:44:300:44:34

been with the comprehensive school

and I was passionate believer in it.

0:44:340:44:36

I remember getting invited

to the really very posh private

0:44:360:44:39

schools of Crosby to sort of stand

up to a fairly sharp

0:44:390:44:42

set of questions.

0:44:420:44:44

But Liverpool and Merseyside at that

time was very clearly back to class

0:44:440:44:47

structures because it had very posh

parts of Merseyside

0:44:470:44:49

and very poor parts.

0:44:490:44:57

With a large gap between the two.

0:44:580:45:00

That was what I knew about it.

0:45:000:45:02

We fought some other things,

we haven't got time to go into it.

0:45:020:45:06

But one thing in particular

in Crosby at that time

0:45:060:45:09

that was central was corporal

punishment and capital punishment.

0:45:090:45:17

And so I also had huge battles

about capital punishment,

0:45:180:45:21

which was still allowed.

0:45:210:45:22

And corporal punishment,

mostly seen in schools.

0:45:220:45:24

And therefore there were other

issues, not just the issue

0:45:240:45:26

of comprehensive schools.

0:45:260:45:27

But it was a wonderfully

friendly place.

0:45:270:45:30

People might argue with you and pull

your leg, they might call

0:45:300:45:33

you all sorts of things.

0:45:330:45:34

But it was a place that's

great fun to be in.

0:45:340:45:37

Great fun to work in.

0:45:370:45:38

And at that point did you think

the SDP was going to become a party

0:45:380:45:42

of government and this

was the beginning of a new party

0:45:420:45:44

that wasn't just going to influence

politics but you were actually

0:45:440:45:47

going to be taking charge?

0:45:470:45:51

Probably at some of the time, yes.

0:45:510:45:53

Some of the time?

0:45:530:45:56

And as we then ran into the sharp

altercations about whether we merged

0:45:560:45:58

with the Liberal Party.

0:45:580:46:03

And, of course, those

of us, like Bill and I,

0:46:030:46:06

who were conscious of the fact

that there was not room for several

0:46:060:46:09

parties in the centre left,

and of course that meant that we had

0:46:090:46:12

to decide whether we would

or wouldn't join the Liberals.

0:46:120:46:14

We both felt the same way.

0:46:140:46:16

I dont think David Owen ever did.

0:46:160:46:18

But Bill and I did.

0:46:180:46:19

We felt as if there's going to be

a serious contention

0:46:190:46:23

by parties at the centre left,

then there had to be only one

0:46:230:46:26

party and that's why

we merged with the Liberals,

0:46:260:46:29

who at that time under David Steel

were very much in the same

0:46:290:46:32

part of the country,

so to speak, as one

0:46:320:46:34

another as we were.

0:46:340:46:36

What about the people

who were still in the Labour Party

0:46:360:46:40

who thought of themselves

as being part of that social

0:46:400:46:42

democratic centre left tradition?

0:46:420:46:43

Well, a lot of them joined.

0:46:430:46:47

We actually had a kind of amazing,

huge flow in, rather

0:46:470:46:49

like the Labour Party did

when Jeremy Corbyn was elected.

0:46:490:46:54

But the difference was that the Gang

of Four were all clearly centre left

0:46:540:46:57

and all clearly Parliamentary.

0:46:570:47:00

They had all been Members

of Parliament or Cabinet

0:47:000:47:02

Ministers or whatever.

0:47:020:47:04

So we didn't see ourselves

as sort of an elite group.

0:47:040:47:06

We saw ourselves as coming out

of a long tradition,

0:47:060:47:13

but with this particular factor,

which I mentioned in that little

0:47:130:47:15

bit that you had shown,

of having to be Parliamentary

0:47:150:47:18

and we always rejected

the idea of having an elite.

0:47:180:47:26

And now it is rather strange to me

to see the Unite union backing a

0:47:270:47:31

leader to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn,

because, you know, that's not where

0:47:310:47:36

it should be, and we would say no,

the leader has been elected and if

0:47:360:47:42

Jeremy Corbyn goes, it is because

the party has decided to elect

0:47:420:47:45

somebody else. But what will not do

is to have it organised by one of

0:47:450:47:50

the big organisations that support

the Labour Party, I would say the

0:47:500:47:52

same about the Conservative Party.

Do you have a feeling of, this is

0:47:520:47:57

where I came in, this is where I was

years ago?

It is a bit like that,

0:47:570:48:03

the intensity of political feeling

in the country, the level of things

0:48:030:48:06

that have to be either held onto,

like Compper heads of schools in my

0:48:060:48:10

view, or they have to be advanced,

like the NHS, are very great.

0:48:100:48:16

I think that this was a lovely

country, when it was a social

0:48:160:48:24

democratic country, and I think

for a long time, I will say

0:48:270:48:30

this in respect of both

John Major and Ted Heath,

0:48:300:48:32

that they were both very clearly

moderate Conservatives.

0:48:320:48:34

Well, here's what John

Major says today.

0:48:340:48:36

And he speaks out in

the most powerful terms,

0:48:360:48:38

not least about Europe.

0:48:380:48:39

So the funny thing about today's

Conservative Party is it's as split

0:48:390:48:42

as Labour's party was back in 1981,

between different groups

0:48:420:48:44

within the party, all of whom would

see themselves as loyal to that

0:48:440:48:48

party, but they can't be,

because it cannot possibly

0:48:480:48:50

comprehend such a huge range

of views and call them

0:48:500:48:52

all members of the same party.

0:48:520:48:54

We've had an interesting

time, to say the least,

0:48:540:48:56

this last 20 years.

0:48:560:48:59

We've had the New Labour years,

we've had coalition

0:48:590:49:01

under David Cameron.

0:49:010:49:03

Now we're back to a Conservative

government, though in very

0:49:030:49:05

different circumstances.

0:49:050:49:08

Where does that leave

social democracy?

0:49:080:49:12

I mean, you look at what's happened

and you look at what's happened

0:49:120:49:15

with the vote to leave

the European Union, the election

0:49:150:49:17

of Donald Trump in America,

the rise of populism.

0:49:170:49:24

Do social democrats have the answers

to the questions that

0:49:240:49:26

people have been asking?

0:49:260:49:28

They have.

0:49:280:49:28

It takes time for it

to sink through.

0:49:280:49:30

Let's take two examples.

0:49:300:49:34

Donald Trump's already in so much

trouble, not least...

0:49:340:49:39

I mean, what's going to be key about

that is what Congress discovers

0:49:390:49:44

about the relationships with Russia.

0:49:440:49:45

If they're as close as it looks

as though it may be,

0:49:450:49:48

then I frankly cannot see

what future Trump has.

0:49:480:49:50

It's an extraordinary situation

for the leader of the second biggest

0:49:500:49:53

democracy in the world to find

himself arguing for a much closer

0:49:530:49:58

relationship with one of the past

enemies of that country,

0:49:580:50:02

and no decent relationship

at all with the other - China -

0:50:020:50:06

where he made it clear

that he doesn't accept the idea

0:50:060:50:09

of a One China policy.

0:50:090:50:15

So he's clearly a man who is,

I think, very much at a loss.

0:50:150:50:19

And then he looks to the social

media to rescue him.

0:50:190:50:23

And of course you can't

have the social media

0:50:230:50:25

rescue elected leaders

0:50:250:50:26

of great democracies

for a straightforward reason.

0:50:260:50:29

Social media are the most easily

hammered, mistreated system

0:50:290:50:31

of communication that exists.

0:50:310:50:37

So his dependence on Trump's

triumphs, so to speak,

0:50:370:50:43

in the area of social media really

raise the whole question of

0:50:430:50:46

whether social media and democracy

are a convulation together.

0:50:460:50:48

I think we have to make them so.

0:50:480:50:50

I think we have to take steps to do

something about that.

0:50:500:50:53

But I think the only people likely

to make such steps are people who do

0:50:530:50:56

believe basically in equality,

basically in equality

0:50:560:50:58

of opportunity.

0:50:580:51:00

And, in the end, something

which is much fairer in economic

0:51:000:51:03

terms than what we have in Britain

today, which is becoming

0:51:030:51:06

increasingly and quite rapidly

more and more unequal.

0:51:060:51:13

The other big cause you're

talking about the whole way

0:51:130:51:16

through is Europe and we had

the European referendum

0:51:160:51:18

and people voted to leave.

0:51:180:51:24

They also got fed the most amazing

diet of misrepresentation.

0:51:240:51:26

I taught for 10 years in Harvard

the story of the European Union.

0:51:260:51:30

All right, it's mixed.

0:51:300:51:31

I mean, I will readily

say it's mixed.

0:51:310:51:33

I don't think Mr Juncker is so easy

to understand in Britain.

0:51:330:51:37

I also think that there's a really

serious need for greater democracy.

0:51:370:51:40

It's easy to bring about, by the by.

0:51:400:51:42

You only have to say that every

commissioner should be

0:51:420:51:44

elected, but we don't.

0:51:440:51:45

We've never tried to

do that in Britain.

0:51:450:51:47

We're to blame, to some

extent, for not having

0:51:470:51:49

democratised the union.

0:51:490:51:50

It's now possible to do that.

0:51:500:51:53

And I think we could change it

really quickly because I think

0:51:530:51:56

there's a lot of support in Holland

and Scandinavia and so on for it.

0:51:560:51:59

Let me just add one other thing.

0:51:590:52:01

Most of my life, I've been involved

in international affairs,

0:52:010:52:04

whether it's Russia or India

or whatever it is,

0:52:040:52:06

all over the world.

0:52:060:52:07

I'm deeply scared now

about what might happen.

0:52:070:52:09

I hope I've proved to you I'm

not a scary person.

0:52:090:52:15

But when I see, for example,

the fear in the Baltics of a gradual

0:52:150:52:23

Russian intrusion, ending up with it

trying to, in effect,

0:52:230:52:25

half-colonise them.

0:52:250:52:26

When I see in the Balkans,

the situation of Greece,

0:52:260:52:34

because I don't think

that we thought through the European

0:52:340:52:36

zone sensibly enough.

0:52:360:52:37

And when, finally, I look at what's

happening in, for example,

0:52:370:52:41

Japan's fear about what North Korea

might do if it begins to come

0:52:410:52:44

within its own sphere.

0:52:440:52:46

We talk so much in Europe,

but we don't talk enough

0:52:460:52:49

about the rest of the world,

and we are now looking at some

0:52:490:52:52

extremely frightening situations.

0:52:520:52:54

And I weep for the fact

that the United Kingdom,

0:52:540:52:58

which I believe is a country

which has had a remarkable past

0:52:580:53:01

as a global country,

with a remarkable sense

0:53:010:53:04

of where we're all going,

should now have done what it's done.

0:53:040:53:11

And to do that in the teeth

of the attitude of almost

0:53:110:53:19

not all, but the great majority

of people under the age of 35,

0:53:190:53:22

having been effectively sold down

the galley by elderly people

0:53:220:53:24

like me, in their sort

of 60s and 70s and 80s.

0:53:240:53:27

Then I have to say that I think,

as my grandson said to me very

0:53:270:53:30

forcefully, he said,

Grandma, your generation

0:53:300:53:32

has betrayed mine,

and I completely agree with him.

0:53:320:53:37

Young people cannot understand

what Europe was all about and would

0:53:370:53:40

like to see it more democratic,

would like to see it more open.

0:53:400:53:43

But they haven't been listened

to and we have therefore taken

0:53:430:53:46

a decision which 48% of people

voted in favour.

0:53:460:53:48

52% against.

0:53:480:53:51

But if you break it down into age

groups, overwhelmingly most

0:53:510:53:54

of the young voted to stay in Europe

and mostly older to get out.

0:53:540:53:58

That says an awful lot

about what's wrong with us.

0:53:580:54:00

But doesn't it all combine

to create a crisis for social

0:54:000:54:03

democrats like you?

0:54:030:54:04

It's a crisis for everybody.

0:54:040:54:07

It's a crisis for the people

of Britain because what has stopped

0:54:070:54:13

looking as though it's

an international country is not me.

0:54:130:54:16

Or David Owen or whatever.

0:54:160:54:18

It's effectively, we have

let ourselves be led,

0:54:180:54:24

partly by a heavily biased

study and campaign.

0:54:240:54:27

We've let ourselves be

led by the interests and purposes

0:54:270:54:33

of older people, and interests

is a key word here.

0:54:330:54:37

And we've taken very little notice

of the thousands of young people

0:54:370:54:40

for whom the future is the future

we've created, we the older

0:54:400:54:43

have created for them.

0:54:430:54:44

And that most of them,

evidently from the vote,

0:54:440:54:46

don't like and don't

want to be part of.

0:54:460:54:50

You've talked throughout our

conversation about education

0:54:500:54:51

in one form or another.

0:54:510:54:53

Is that the legacy you're most

proud of, do you think?

0:54:530:54:58

Your time as Education Secretary

and your championing

0:54:580:55:00

of comprehensive education?

0:55:000:55:03

I'm proud of comprehensive schools,

and although people

0:55:030:55:05

who watch won't all agree with this.

0:55:050:55:07

Almost all the speeches I make

throughout the country

0:55:070:55:09

are followed by people who went

to comprehensive schools

0:55:090:55:12

and come up to me and say,

I just want to let you know that

0:55:120:55:18

I am the chairman of this business

company, or I am one of the people

0:55:180:55:22

who have directed a theatre

or whatever it may be.

0:55:220:55:24

There's a lot of feeling among

people who went to comprehensive

0:55:240:55:27

schools that they got

the break they needed.

0:55:270:55:29

People forget all the time that

when we had grammar schools,

0:55:290:55:31

I'm not saying they weren't good,

they were in their way.

0:55:310:55:34

But they only served about 10%

of the population and the rest

0:55:340:55:37

were sent to secondary modern

schools, where they couldn't even

0:55:370:55:39

get a sixth form education.

0:55:390:55:40

Luckily now they are coming through.

0:55:400:55:42

But if we go back to grammar

schools, the schools may be good

0:55:420:55:45

but there would be very

few of them all.

0:55:450:55:48

And I think the final

point I want to make

0:55:480:55:50

about education is that you have

to educate your population

0:55:500:55:52

for the world that's coming.

0:55:520:55:54

The world that's coming will be one

that will demand high

0:55:540:55:56

technology understanding,

high understanding of a numerate

0:55:560:55:58

country and all the rest of it.

0:55:580:56:01

That's why you have

to have an education that serves

0:56:010:56:05

almost all the people,

not even the very carefully

0:56:050:56:07

chosen small minority,

which is never going to be enough

0:56:070:56:09

for a modern country.

0:56:090:56:13

If we could get the young

Shirley Williams, who's just been

0:56:130:56:17

for an audition to National Velvet,

and bring her into the studio,

0:56:170:56:20

what piece of advice

would you give her?

0:56:200:56:22

It all takes longer than you think.

0:56:220:56:26

It requires you to learn to not

only speak to people

0:56:260:56:29

but to listen to them.

0:56:290:56:30

Leadership is participation now.

0:56:300:56:31

It used to be command.

0:56:310:56:32

No longer so.

0:56:320:56:35

And that whether you like it or not,

you live in a global world.

0:56:350:56:39

And so what happens in India

or Kenya matters as much

0:56:390:56:42

to you and your friends and,

above all, your children

0:56:420:56:44

and grandchildren as what you know

about Bournemouth or what you now

0:56:440:56:47

about Newcastle.

0:56:470:56:49

Shirley Williams,

thank you very much.

0:56:490:56:57

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