Public opinion will decide inflation battle, says MP
The Government's prices and incomes policy will only succeed if it is backed by public opinion, declared Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Finchley's MP, at the annual meeting of Friern Barnet North Ward Conservative Association, on Friday. “There are militants in the unions who want to wreck our policy and with out dependence on technology in industry a comparatively small number of these men could be successful,” she said.
However, to be hopeful of success these militants would want to feel that their action had the backing of a substantial number of workers in other and allied industries and also people at large.
If the majority of people want to continue working then the militants are unlikely to succeed.
A recent opinion poll showed substantial support for the Government's policy which she said, was the country's best hope for beating ruinous inflation.
She added that the public are now much better informed of the true earnings of some of the people who threaten to go on strike. There was a time when the media revealed only the basic earnings in an industry and so elicited unwarranted sympathy for strikers.
People have now learned to distrust these figures as in many cases it was subsequently revealed that the wages actually paid were much higher than the basic rate.
Mrs. Thatcher said the Government had been criticised for changing course over prices and incomes. She claimed their actions were “absolutely necessary” when it became apparent that large and unjustified wage awards which must inevitably push prices higher, could no longer be tolerated.
Unemployment was also running at an unacceptable level. Higher and higher wages meant that fewer and fewer people could share the amount of money available.
The Government stimulated employment by the expansion of credit. But the only way inflation could be contained was by bringing in a prices and incomes policy.
Dealing with Anglo-American relations now that Britain is a member of the Common Market, Mrs. Thatcher said that America is still heavily involved in the defence of Europe, and European countries are still vitally affected by her business decisions and prosperity.
She said that the Common Market could be accused of being inward-looking but Britain could be instrumental in encouraging more outward-looking policies.
Finally, Mrs. Thatcher appealed for the strong and united support of all Conservative party members. She said no government could hope to win a battle for public opinion without the full and vocal support of its own party members.