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EDITIONS
Breakfast with Frost
Theresa May
Theresa May
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST
HOSTED BY SUE MACGREGOR
INTERVIEW:
THERESA MAY MP
SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2002
Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

SUE MACGREGOR:
After almost a year at the helm of the Tory Party for Iain Duncan Smith this summer one might have expected a period of quiet consolidation for him and for the party, but the Chairman David Davies was sacked while he was on holiday in Florida and a replacement installed to a background of rather public squabbling between different senior Tory figures. Theresa May has been in the job for a month as chairman and she's with us now, good morning.

THERESA MAY:
Good morning Sue.

SUE MACGREGOR:
August is often a time when the Conservative Party can lay into Labour and score quite a few points, that hasn't happened the focus has been on Tory squabbles?

THERESA MAY:
Well I think frankly if you look at the stories you're referring to, I mean you've answered the point in your own question when you referred to the fact they came out in August. I mean frankly it was a sort of summer season of highly exaggerated stories which bore little relevance to the truth.

SUE MACGREGOR:
But you can't call sacking the Chairman and then replacing him with you, you know, a bit of summer froth?

THERESA MAY:
Well first of all the former chairman wasn't sacked, he has a very significant role in opposing John Prescott which he has been doing already with great vigour. But frankly Sue I think for most people out there, for the viewers today what they're interested in is not who is actually doing what in the Conservative Party but what we're actually saying and the policies that we're developing and the issues that we're focusing on and we have a clear focus under Iain Duncan Smith on public services and we're now starting, as we have done today on education, to roll out the policies that we believe are needed to solve the crisis that frankly is there┐ The poor schools, the problems in our hospitals.

SUE MACGREGOR:
Let's focus on one subject, Iain Duncan Smith has written about in today's Sunday Times which is Iraq which we've just been discussing, it seems very clear that he feels there is sufficient evidence to back President Bush to the hilt and go in unilaterally if necessary, is that it?

THERESA MAY:
Yes military action must be an option and what Iain has set out in his article today is this is not an issue about the extent to which we're supporting the Americans, the question in relation to action against Iraq is what is actually in Britain's interests and the key questions that need to be posed are does Saddam Hussein have the means, the mentality and the motive to strike against the United Kingdom┐

SUE MACGREGOR:
But has Iain Duncan Smith actually seen evidence that he has the means?

THERESA MAY:
Well I think if you look at Iain's record actually for several years now he has been raising the problem that Saddam Hussein and a state like that with access to weapons of mass destruction can pose. There is absolutely clear evidence, it seems, if you look for example at Richard Butler the former United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq, he says that it was clear that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction while the United Nations inspectors were actually in the country┐

SUE MACGREGOR:
Has he seen┐

THERESA MAY:
Well there is, Sue, I think if anybody who suggests that there isn't evidence that he is developing these weapons of mass destruction is frankly flying in the face of what people know and if you look at Saddam Hussein, does he have the mentality, he's got the means, does he have the mentality. We've seen him use chemical weapons against his own people and I think also frankly that he would have motive against the United Kingdom, he played a key role in the coalition in the Gulf War and of course we're in action in Iraq in enforcing the no fly zone.

SUE MACGREGOR:
So Tony Blair can, could expect full support from Iain Duncan Smith should he go in and support Bush against the wishes of perhaps the majority of the rest of Europe?

THERESA MAY:
If the Prime Minister believes that it is necessary to take action against Iraq to enforce the UN Resolutions and to eliminate weapons of mass destruction then we will give him that backing. But we also believe that the Prime Minister should be making the case to the British people, the debate has been allowed to slip, there's been prevarication over the summer, we think the time has come for the Prime Minister to clearly set out the case. We believe and we believe he knows that Iraq actually poses a clear and growing danger to Britain and it is that case that should be set out to the British people.

SUE MACGREGOR:
Well now talking of debate being allowed to slip, can I go back to the state of the Tory Party in the polls, a couple of points up and down here and there but generally Tony Blair, whatever he does, he doesn't seem to be able to allow you to make any real progress in your opposition as the Conservative Party. Now people are still saying where are your policies, all we read about is squabbles, what actually are your policies on tax, what actually are your policies on social services, where are we going to read about them?

THERESA MAY:
What we've been doing Sue over the last, nearly a year now since Iain became, became leader, is actually doing some very real work and proper analysis on the issues that matter to the British people and on the policies that we want to develop to meet people's needs. And I think it's absolutely right for us as a party, not to jump in, not to say oh we've got a whizzo idea here that's been thought up by somebody in Westminster, but actually to talk to people, to listen to people, to do one of the things that, that parties have rarely done which is actually go abroad, look at evidence elsewhere, see how other people are doing, why do Germany and France have better outcomes in their Health Service than we do. Actually take evidence from elsewhere and learn lessons from other people, be prepared to have an open mind. Now we've been going through that process, we're now in a position to start being able to talk about the direction we want to go in and the policies we want to develop and a very good example today is we've been talking about the clear need to give schools the authority to exercise discipline in the classrooms. Too many teachers are now leaving because of problems of behaviour in classrooms.

SUE MACGREGOR:
So this would be, there's a report in the Sunday Telegraph this morning, that unless the parents gave a guarantee of good behaviour of their children the children would not be allowed into the class?

THERESA MAY:
There are two things we're proposing, the first is that schools should have the, the opportunity, if they wish to do so, to enforce a home-school contract. So parents will be asked to sign up an agreement with the school about their children's behaviour and the school will be able, if the parent didn't want to sign that then the school would be able to review the place at the school for that children and of course they'd be able to use that contract in terms of monitoring the child's behaviour.

SUE MACGREGOR:
That's pretty unfair on some parents though isn't it, I mean they might say I can't possibly, I mean I'm out at work, I do my best for my child, I can't possibly guarantee that my child will not misbehave at any point during the next term?

THERESA MAY:
We're talking Sue about children who are disrupting the education of others, we're seeing too many examples, the education of the many is being disrupted by the bad behaviour of the few and what this government has done is constantly taken power away from the schools to deal with those children in the school and in the classroom. We think we should give power back to the schools, back to the head teachers to be able to ensure the discipline in the classroom, the behaviour in their classroom that will enable the majority of the children to get on with the job of learning which is what obviously school is all about.

SUE MACGREGOR:
Let me go back to something that the leadership of the party and yourself keep referring to which is we must have a Conservative Party that is inclusive, that embraces everybody. Now David Davies who you say wasn't sacked referred to a lot of suspicion, in-fighting and unpleasantness between various branches of the party. Lord Tebbit referred to squabbling children and Nicholas Soames to a party obsessed with gays, blacks and women so when you do try to be inclusive, particularly on the matter of women, which you have tried to be, you will get none large faction of the party saying this is not something relevant?

THERESA MAY:
No I think Sue what is important for us as a party, there's two things that we need to be doing as a party, the first is we are an open, decent and tolerant party and we do all┐

SUE MACGREGOR:
Lord Tebbit might not fit into that category with those remarks?

THERESA MAY:
We do want to be inclusive and we want to ensure that people from a wide variety of backgrounds, different sorts of people are able to feel that the Conservative Party is the party for them, the Conservative Party that is talking about the issues that matter to them, our focus on public services is part of that but also that we are welcoming and as you say I have had a long-standing interest particularly in getting more women into Parliament.

SUE MACGREGOR:
You wanted to have a 50-50 list of candidates for only one seat, 50 per cent women, we don't hear about that any more, have they sat on you at Tory Central Office?

THERESA MAY:
No they haven't, that was an idea that I put forward during the last year during the leadership election campaign┐

SUE MACGREGOR:
Why don't we hear about it anymore?

THERESA MAY:
Well you don't hear about it because what has happened is that other ideas came forward and we're actually pursuing other ways of actually working with our Conservative Associations at local level to talk to them about the sort of people they should be selecting and indeed we've seen and we've been making very good progress, we've actually got more women selected at this stage than we have had before.

SUE MACGREGOR:
Theresa┐

THERESA MAY:
The progress has been there.

SUE MACGREGOR:
We must end it there, thanks very much indeed.

[BREAK FOR NEWS]

SUE MACGREGOR:
That brings us to the end of this programme, my thanks to all my guests, thanks for watching. David Frost will be back in this chair, for me this Sunday good morning.

END
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