Housing challenge and a mortgage promise
Both tory candidate Mrs. Margaret Thatcher and Labour candidate Cr. Martin O'Connor unloaded some campaigning ammunition on housing in General Election speeches on Tuesday evening.
Each kept strictly, to party policy although Cr. O'Connor played one card which could cause some slight vibrations over the next fortnight.
Speaking to a packed audience in St. Philip's Hall, Church End Finchley, he said he would take Mrs. Thatcher on a tour of empty properties in the district.
“I challenge her to spend just one hour with me in this constituency while I show her the sort of conditions in which a good number of people she represents live.” he said.
Cr. O'Connor promised he would be available any time in the next weeks to conduct the tour.
He stressed: “I do not believe that Mrs. Thatcher, despite her new-found passion for housing matters as a Shadow Cabinet Minister, has any idea what the effect of the Conservative policies have been here in her own constituency.”
Cr. O'Connor said that there were thousands of people in the district who have abandoned hope of being reasonably housed or have remained on the housing waiting list while surviving in desperate conditions.
Earlier in his speech Cr. O'Connor spoke of “the most spectacular Tory achievement—the coronation of the property speculator and the creation of a climate in which he flourished.”
He stressed: “The speculator in land and property had the easiest pickings imaginable. The people, the homeless, the youngsters had the anguish.”
He was critical of Mrs. Thatcher's recent speech on the promise of lower mortgage rates: it was like handing out lollipops. “What will be cut to pay for this bribe? asked Cr. O'Connor. In her speech, under the arc lights of a television crew in East Finchley library, Mrs. Thatcher explained to a crowded audience her mortgage package.
She stressed that the Tories' scheme to reduce the mortgage rate would be a “dramatic breakthrough in the housing field. “
Conservatives wish to help people towards independence and self reliance,” she said “To run their own lives in their own homes in their own way.
“Labour believes in making people dependent on Government,” she said. “We believe in helping them to be independent from Government.”
In her speech the Shadow Environment Minister said that the Tories scheme would end the fear of ever-increasing mortgage repayments on existing loans.
“Families will be able to budget with certainty a long way ahead knowing that their monthly payments will be protected,” she said.
“Under our proposals all who have or wish to have the independence of their own home will benefit,” said Mrs. Thatcher.
In her adoption speech in St. Mary's Hall, Church End Finchley, on Monday evening Mrs. Thatcher spoke more widely about current situations and laid the plans in her campaign platform.
Said Mrs. Thatcher: “The central issue is do we continue the free society with its emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility or do we become the most State controlled society in the world outside the Iron Curtain.
“Some people who have recently resigned from the Labour Party have shown there is now no such thing as a moderate socialist,” she stressed. “The moderates are leaving.”
Mrs. Thatcher continued: “The extreme left is well in command. Every programme they put before the electorate contains more proposals for nationalisation.
“They hope that the Socialist society will become total and irreversible,” she added.
In the meantime, Liberal candidate Laurence Brass opened his public meetings in the council chamber at Friern Barnet Town Hall on Tuesday evening.
He said in one word that the major issue in the election was survival. “Desperate though the situation may be it can be salvaged by a Government recognised as really representing the people.”
Mr. Brass said that in the current economic situation he is a Jeremiah who has seen the country embark on a positive Rake's Progress of borrowing.
“Our children's North Sea oil inheritance has been deposited in the pawnshops of the Middle East.”
He stressed: “The nation of shopkeepers has become a nation of debtors.”
Mr. Brass warned that the next Government would have to introduce an incomes policy before the New Year and end the current “shilly-shallying” over the situation.
He spoke of a social contract: a Liberal contract. “Not the social contract which the Labour Party have produced out of their pre-election hat. That is a huge-con-trick.
“No. The Liberals social contract would be between the Government and the people,” he stressed. “The medicine to cure inflation is inevitably unpalatable.”
He, too, spoke of the housing situation and condemned Mrs. Thatcher's mortgage policy which he described as “cynical electioneering.”
Mr. Brass asked why the mortgage rate had not been reduced when the Tories were in power. “Who is to pay for the subsidy? The taxpayer?”