Government's fight to contain inflation
Combating inflation was the theme of a speech by Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Secretary of State for Education and Finchley's MP, when she was welcomed by Ald. W. H. Tangye to the annual meeting of Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservative Association North branch in Friern Barnet Town Hall on Friday.
The Government's main fight was still that of trying to contain inflation, said Mrs. Thatcher, and a further testing time was approaching with the railwaymen's claim for higher wages yet to be resolved. The Government were, of course, fighting this battle as trustees for the people since it was they and particularly the weaker sections such as pensioners and those living on income from savings who were quick to feel the subsequent effects of inflation in higher prices.
The public were realising that however sympathetic they might be to “special cases,” they were the ones who would have to pay. This was very apparent when a nationalised industry, which was in deficit, granted a pay rise and immediately had to increase their prices.
Before the miners' strike the Government's slowing down process had successes, being helped by the reductions in purchase tax and SET. It was vital for this to continue because if the effect of too high wage settlements started to get through to our export prices, the balance of payments would suffer.
Loss of jobs was another casualty of inflation because when employers were under pressure from increasing costs and perhaps poor markets, overseas savings could often be made by reducing staff. Mrs. Thatcher said it was unfortunate that when wage negotiations were publicised, people were often misled about the real earnings in the industry. The unions were adept at quickly getting across a low “basic” or “take home” figure and this promptly captured public sympathy. It was only realised later that the average earnings which gave a truer picture, were much higher.
An aspect of this whole pattern of getting back to a more stable cost of living was that it often appeared to be a straight battle between the strong and the weak. The strong being powerful organised labour with perhaps suspect political motives on the one hand and the less well organised sections of the community on the other.
This confrontation between the unreasonable and the reasonable could also often be observed in television discussion programmes where moderate opinion tended to let their opponents have their say but were then denied their turn by being shouted down by the other side.
This determination by a vociferous minority to have their way at whatever cost, was touched upon by Mrs. Thatcher when she spoke about Northern Ireland. It was a pity she said, that other countries were not shown more clearly that the great majority there wished to stay with this country.
After her speech Mrs Thatcher answered many questions.
Presenting the report of the executive committee, the chairman, Mr. Leonard Juniper, welcomed subscribers and the new committee members who had joined the association from Whetstone Ward.
With the borough election the only one fought during the year the committee's main effort had been to maintain and increase the subscribing membership. This was something which had to be done constantly as the wastage which inevitably occurred was becoming more difficult to replace. “We are finding that while there is no radical change in the political views of our area, as our long established subscribers move away, the people replacing them do not so readily join the Party,” he said.
In this endeavour to get new members, evenings were set aside and helpers organised so that every house in any one road could be called on. Over 500 houses were canvassed and a worthwhile addition to their membership resulted.
One thing was certain. That was that the women's committee would have put in a year of effort and achievement resulting in a record contribution to association funds. The committee consisting of Mesdames Juniper (chairman). Joyce Creek. Hart and Holdrup had worked as hard as ever organising an attractive programme of enjoyable social events. The success of these efforts was crowned when these ladies handed over a record donation of £200 to branch funds.
The chairman thanked all helpers and officers, the auditor. Mr. Rashleigh, and the Young Conservative representatives for their welcome attendances at committee meetings.
In their turn the committee recorded their appreciation of their chairman. They knew the extent of his work organising the duties which had to be carried out and that he always organised himself into doing more than his fair share of every activity.
All the officers and committee members were re-elected.