Mrs D. Gordon
They say that politicians don't tell the truth, but I think the biggest lie that I have heard so far in this campaign has been the one that inflation is only at 8%;. Anyone who goes out shopping, and who has to cater for their family, knows jolly well that inflation must be much nearer 20%; I'm sure, the way that prices are going up all the time. And it is very very worrying because we can't budget anymore.
This is Mrs. Gordon, a housewife. We interviewed her yesterday, she has worries, and they're worth listening to.
Of course one of the most important things to any family is housing. I don't think the Labour Party wants people to own their own houses, I think they're against people owning their own houses. I think they want to extend council estates all the time, because they've got more control over people that way. We all want to feel secure in our own homes. Lately it has become increasingly difficult for families to buy their own home, with the increasing inflation it's more and more difficult to save up the deposit, and even when you've saved up the deposit, and if you're lucky enough to get a mortgage you've still got the interest rates going up all the time so that you can never budget. And what should be a secure position in your own home becomes very worrying. I feel very apprehensive because I see changes taking place in our country. In the past, whenever we have been threatened by danger of any sort we have been united, danger has seemed to unite us, but at the moment we seem to be torn apart. I feel that the Labour Party particularly seems to have discarded a whole section of the population and said, “Well, you can look after yourselves, we're only for one part of the nation,” and I think this is dreadful, I find it very frightening for myself and for my children, and I wonder what is happening to us all.
I understand, as I'm sure you do, why Mrs. Gordon is worried. I want to talk to you tonight as a future Chancellor of the Exchequer and tell you bluntly about the facts of our present situation as I see them. The first fact is that we are facing the gravest economic crisis for 40 years, there's no getting away from that. It's serious for two reasons. The way oil prices have shot up in the last year has put us badly into debt. And then there's runaway inflation. This year 20p in every £ just wiped out, no matter what Mr. Healey pretends. If we don't get it under control, a [end p35] lot of people are going to lose their jobs, and those that don't will see their standards of living fall and fall. There's a very tough time ahead for all of us. A lot of things we'd like to do, we shan't be able to do. What we have to do is decide what we put first. We've got to use the money we have got where it matters. Now Labour seem to think that nationalisation matters, they're prepared to spend a great deal of government money on it, despite the fact that most people don't want any more nationalisation. But governments don't have money, except your money. So how do you think a government should spend your money? I believe that no matter how difficult things may be, there are three things we must look after. First, and above all, housing, then pensions, and food production. We shall put more money into all of these areas straight away. But I want to make clear that we shall save that money elsewhere. And if that can't be done quickly enough we shall have, for the time being, to raise taxes, that is the only responsible way. These are our priorities, so you must decide. Do you want more nationalisation say? Or more help with homes? Because that's what it comes down to. Do you realise, for instance, that the interest alone on the money Labour are proposing to spend on nationalising North Sea oil, would pay the cost of keeping your mortgage down to 9½%;? Wouldn't you rather we spent your money on homes, on bringing mortgages down, on bringing rates down, on helping people buy their first home? We believe you would. And I promise you this, whatever we have to do to cope with the crisis, wherever else we have to make savings, we shall find the money to meet these needs. Because I believe they matter most to every family in this country.
And the job of providing those houses will be Margaret Thatcher's. Here she talks to Marcus Fox.
At every election that I can remember, housing has been in the top ten. Now suddenly in this one it's been projected right to the forefront, why is this?
Well, I think that's where a lot of the problems undoubtedly are. Some people haven't got a home and want one. Others are very worried about the 11%; mortgage which is brought on by inflation, and others again would like to buy, and will never get the deposit together. And so we've tried to fashion policies to try to meet these problems, because they are very real problems.
On the car radio, on the way down this morning from Yorkshire, I heard that you said earlier this morning, 9½%; that figure, and you said that is unshakeable. Can you be as firm as that?
The 9½%; is an absolute guarantee and that's the maximum to which a mortgage payment would be allowed to rise. And people have said to me, “Are you really serious about this?” I am, I'm unshakeable that we're going to introduce 9½%; mortgages by Christmas. Of course if the mortgage falls below 9½%;, all well and good. But at least from now on young couples will know how much they've got to budget, just as Mrs Gordon said in the film, and will know what their maximum commitment is if they set out to buy a house. [end p36]
Right, but where will you get that money from?
Money is already being spent on housing, and quite rightly so because every government has a duty to house the nation in good houses. At the moment a lot of money is being spent on councils buying up private houses. We're also building a lot of extra council houses over and above what were being built previously. Now various people have done the calculations, but they're roughly this. For the amount of money it takes to put one family in a new council house or buy a house from a private owner, you can in fact help three people to become home owners. It's not difficult to see why, because if the council buys the house they've got to provide all the money, if people are buying their own, then the government only comes in where tax relief is concerned. So we're going to switch a lot of the money from the direction in which it's going now, municipalisation, etc., into helping people to own their own homes, instead of councils to buy them up.
But it could be said, could it not, that you are helping here just one section, you're being selective. After all, only just over 50%; of people own their own homes. What are you doing for the other people?
Well, we're really trying to help the other people to buy their homes if they want to. Because the largest proportion of the other 50%; are council tenants, about 30%; in all. A lot of them have wanted to buy their homes for a long time, but they've been stopped by the local councils, and I don't see why they should be deprived of the chance to buy. After all, it's fundamentally in our history that you have the right to own your home and the land on which it stands. And you really can't have a whole section of our people—thirty per cent—being told, “No, you're different, you can't have that.” We say they should and we shall give it to them. [Words missing] right.
But what about the people who can't even get a start to buy their own home?
People who can't get a start we have a very special scheme for. If they are prepared to save regularly for two years, then for every two pounds they save we'll give them a £1 grant towards the deposit. There will have to be a maximum of course, so we've said the maximum would be £5 a week for two years of savings, which would give what about £520 and then the grant will be about £250
Mrs. Thatcher … this is all going to cost money. Are you convinced that this is good value from the nation's point of view?
Oh, it's excellent value from the nation's viewpoint. Much better than the direction in which the subsidies are going now. I'm convinced it's money well spent, and by the end of the year we shall have made a start.
The only way you'll get real help with that first mortgage … The only way you'll get a 9½%; mortgage … The only way you'll be able to buy your council house, is to vote Conservative.