Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1974 Oct 9 We
Margaret Thatcher

General Election Press Conference

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Press Conference
Venue: Conservative Central Office, Smith Square, Westminster
Source: Conservative Party Archive: transcript
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1030 onwards. MT appeared with Edward Heath, Lord Carrington and Sir Geoffrey Howe at the final eve-of-poll Press Conference. Although it is by far the fullest available account the Conservative Party transcript is a highly fallible document: there are dozens of mistranscriptions. Obvious errors have been corrected, but in most cases the correct reading is unclear. In the original text the questions were separately transcribed - probably from shorthand or scribbed notes - and it is not even possible to match question to answer with complete certainty. The identity of speakers is also a matter of inference. MT made an opening statement and a brief intervention towards the end, but naturally the Press Conference was dominated by the Party leader.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 6251
Themes: General Elections, Housing, Local government finance

Edward HeathEH

Goodmorning. I have got Margaret and Geoffrey here for today's press conference and naturally I would like to thank all of you for coming to these conferences but before I do that [gap in text] towards the end of this conference then I will do that.

Can you not hear outside?

Why not come in then?

Right, lets start. We are now on the day before polling day and throughout this campaign the Conservative Party is the only party which has told the country the truth about the situation and the real crisis which we are facing. Once more now on this final day of campaigning we see new facts breaking out which show the truth which the Labour Party has tried to cover up. Yesterday we had the truth that living standards are falling and falling fast. That investment for future jobs is falling and falling fast and that bankruptcies are at a record for this country. Today it's proved that even the most efficient well organised firms in the country like Marks and Spencers are having to cut back their investments and look at the future with despondency. As a result of the interference and mis-management of the minority Labour Government. Today also we have the news from the retail trade that prices are in fact rising at a rate of about 20%; a year despite all that Mr. Healey has said to us. The Conservative Party is the only party which can face the days after polling day in the knowledge that what we have said will be shown to be all too true in every respect about the crisis which we as a country are facing. No other party will have the moral or the political authority to call on Britain for the kind of sacrifices which are going to be needed. It is not going to be economic peace in our time, peace and quiet as the Labour leader likes to tell you. On the contrary Britain faces a difficult and dangerous war against both inflation and unemployment and there is no certainty of winning unless we take the right action and take it in time. If we were to get a Labour majority government for five years we shall not see a Britain united to deal with this situation. On the contrary we shall see all those extreme measures being brought forward which were kept under wraps—we forced them to keep them under wraps in the last Parliament with a minority Labour Government. [end p1]

The nationalisation of great industries and great firms, many of them household names, concessions on picketing which will undermine the law and the police, concessions to the big unions which go far beyond negotiations and conciliation and which can become appeasing.

The Conservative Party is the only party which has said quite clearly that a period of austerity and sacrifice lies ahead. If we are to master this crisis, we believe that the British people will be prepared to accept this austerity and sacrifice, but they will only be prepared to accept this if they are told the truth and only if they are successful in securing a Government of National Unity, perhaps a coalition, and if this exists to make sure that we share the austerity and sacrifice clearly.

The Conservative Party is the only party with practical proposals for creating such a broadly based administration, proposals for a course of action, which can be set in train by Saturday if we have a Conservative majority in the House of Commons. Of course sacrifices are already being made, but they are involuntary sacrifices, and they are unfair sacrifices, living standards are already falling for a majority of people in this country, but they are improving for some, though not all, of the members of the strongest union, this is a recipe for developing divisions in our society, divisions to the point where they will seriously damage Britain.

What we have to do is to hammer out with the unions and the employers and with the rest, a fair agreement to protect the lower paid in particular, as well as to give some degree of protection to all workers. Involuntary sacrifice has already taken place in the balance of payments, not our voluntary sacrifice, because we continue to consume far more than we pay for [gap in text where tape changed] [end p2] …is that of the next generation who will have to pay of the debts that we are incurring. We must consume less, we must import less, we must economise particularly on oil if we are not to go down as a generation which saddled our children with impossible debts and the interest on them. Unemployment in voluntary service is already taking place, involuntary sacrifice is already taking place. Hundreds of jobs and hundreds of companies have already gone. Before an investment shows that these redundancies and these bankruptcies will become a cascade through this winter and next year. Action has got to be taken now to get cash back into industry and to save jobs. The choice then is between the unfair and involuntary hardships which Labour free for all on unemployment and on pay has led. Or between fair sacrifices explained in advance and shared by united people led by a government of national unity which we in the Conservative Party seek to form. That is the choice. The Labour Party's way was so deep with divisions in society between the minority that they represent and the rest of us in the community. A dangerous political crisis will be added to the economic crisis we already face. Our way gives a promise of a new unity developed out of the united effort to solve our problems and master the crisis. It is that which can give the British people new hope.

I think there is a hand out from Margaret.

No, I won't go through it you have got it in front of you. [end p3]

MT

We have got to be frank with you, we have re-affirmed the nine pledges, the five pledges, I am sorry, five pledges on housing and rates, first the 9½%; mortgage by Christmas; second, help with the deposit; thirdly, the sale of Council houses for two-thirds of the market value. The other two are on rates—the transfer to the Exchequor of teacher's salaries next year, to have immediate release both for the domestic and commercial rate payer, and the fifth, which is the rating one, is the proposed abolition of the rating system gradually over a period of five years. I am running out of adjectives in which to describe them—I have done—firm, unshakable, categorical, … If you can think of anymore in the same vein, I shall be very, very grateful, they must mean the same thing…   .firm, unshakeable, categoric…   . I have some more on it, but I won't go through the whole lot, please will you understand that they are firm, unshakeable, categorical.

Now there have been one or two criticisms, first, that this will help the rich more than the poor. May I make it absolutely clear, that 95%; of mortgages are below £13,000. the average mortgage last year was £6,500. This year it will be a little bit more, so, if you are helping 95%; of the people you are not making a bad stab at it.

Secondly, unless we do something to help people, who could be self reliant, but would not be so without a little help, we could have a massive extra number of people turning towards the state and local authority for housing, and that would be infinitely more expensive and of course, I think, not as sufficently. British, as the policy which we are proposing. Now inevitably it is being called, cruel, deceiving, bribe etc…   . and I thought therefore that it might be helpful, if we looked at what we were called last time we put housing absolutely top priority as an election issue, that was of course, the same as Macmillan said for 300,000 houses. Strangely enough, we found the language used against us almost the same, Mr Wilson 's election address of 1951 talking about the housing promises that we have made said, “The Tory housing target is an electoral trick, a cruel deception on those, who are waiting for their houses, they know they cannot achieve it” , that was last time, within two years, we achieved it, we kept at it and we shall do the same this time.

Thank you! [end p4]

Geoffrey Howe

My statement has also been closely [costed?] and it is set out in two parts. Our programme for immediate action on the social services and the other things we aim to do as resources become available. It will renew our specific pledge to pay the 10 or 20 pound bonus to pensioners before Christmas, our specific pledge to go over to 6 monthly improvements in pensions and other long term benefits the first payments due by February of next year, our pledge to implement [gap in text] recommendations to the [gap in text] Committee and other similar professions in medicine and to set up an enquiry into the working of the [gap in text] conditions of people working in the health service. What is also underlined and important commitment people haven't fully appreciated: Our determination to see more than 1,000,000 self employed people will not have to pay the very unfair extra burden of national insurance contribution which Labour would impose upon them. Up to £3 a week extra. Now these people who run their own business are at the heart of [gap in text] they have been very badly hit by Labour tax proposals we think they are unfortunate. We make it absolutely plain that they will not have to pay unfair additional burden they can come to us for help. [end p5]

Question 1

You started the Press Conference with a suggestion of great sacrifices, you then continued with a great string of promises. Can you give more details of the sacrifices which are likely ahead?

?EH

Yes the sacrifices will those necessary to get our balance of payments right and to deal with the present deficit of £4000 million in the year and at the same time we shall obviously have to have a thrash down as I went on to say arrangements for dealing with production and unemployment and wages together. It is essential that we deal with this complex of matters which really lie at the very heart of the problem.

Question 2

On a point of clarification, Mrs Thatcher seems to have confused the 95%; figure between mortgage holders and population in general.

?MT

Touché. It seems a bit [gap in text] but I don't understand why.

Questioner

I do.

Question 3

In view of what happened recently in the United States what do you intend to do if you get back to Downing Street about last night's burglary of the Liberal Party?

I don't propose to do anything. I haven't done anything so far and I don't propose to.

Question 4

At the 1970 election, Lord Carrington was expecting a defeat, and suggested a party for you in view of your expected political demise—have you received any similar engagements for Saturday night? [end p6]

EH

None at all. I doubt whether I'd [gap in text] anyhow. Not at all if I am in his company.

Question 5

If you are elected as a Government, what would be your specific immediate priorities in two fields—that of economic measures and that of other legislation?

EH

As far as the economic measures are concerned the first priority, as I have constantly said throughout this campaign, is to get the other leaders together and see where we can agree about the economic measures which have got to be taken. We ourselves have said that if it is necessary to use all forms of management of the economy, such as bugetary matters, monetary policy, voluntary agreement is possible between all those concerned on incomes policy, getting cash back into industry, an immediate review for the farmer and the cash injection, all these things have to be done and what we want to do is to get the widest measure of agreement with the leaders of the other parties. That is the economic situation. Secondly, on the legislative side, well, these are always things you decide on immediately you are in government. But these are the undertakings we have given about the housing programme which Margaret has been talking about. Those points do require legislation in some instances and we would press ahead with that. Of course, also the review of pensions every six months will require legislation and that is a very high priority because as Geoffrey says it has to be dealt with by February. But these are two examples of the high priorities on the list as far as legislation is concerned.

Question 6

Can you tell us how your polls and canvass returns compare with the opinion polls?

EH

I can't tell you that I am afraid. As far as canvassing is concerned I can tell you my experience in the country and yesterday I was up in Yorkshire for the day and they are getting good canvassing returns and I found in Sowerby and Keighley tremendous enthusiasm. Those of you who were with me know of the receptions we had there and the candidates tell me that they are absolutely confident of winning those two seats. So I can tell you what is happening on the ground from the point of view of what is the situation. [end p7]

Q.7

In view of the confidence on the ground, could you tell us if you are confident to get a majority tomorrow?

EH

Well, this is of course my view because having been up and down the country I find that people are supporting to a very large degree the idea of a much broader based government. They want to see unity in this country, and more they want it, the more they appreciate the nature of the crisis the more they want it and I also find that the positive policies which we are putting forward are widely accepted. Again I repeat that nobody has pointed out to me anything which is divisive in our manifesto and which is going to divide the country, and this continues to be the case up and down the country. And I also find that people are moving away from Liberal support and back to us and so these are the things which are happening on the ground.

?Lord Carrington

Could I just add because I have so to speak in this election in the [gap in text] county and I have only spent one day in London and away from the rarified atmosphere of press conference and so on at Central Office I have not got the impression that some of you have got about this election. I agree with what Mr. Heath has said about the marginal and critical constituencies and I find the whole atmosphere very encouraging.

Q8

On television last night Sir Keith Joseph was extremely angry and critical of Denis Healey 's plan for a mildly reflationary budget—do you think any reflation is needed at the moment for the economy?

EH

Well I think the situation is that we have got to see the facts and figures first of all and I constantly said this government has not given them to us. This is the first thing which we have got to do. Secondly what one has got to look at is the forecast for the budget deficit for this year. Some of the figures have been published today in the press. Now obviously if the budget deficit is going to be anything like the scale which is published there and so much greater than Mr. Healey said in his budget one has got to approach this with the upmost caution. And Willie said and Sir Keith Joseph himself said that one has got to get cash back into industry—that is quite clear-and also into agriculture because otherwise we are going in for even heavier unemployment and more bankruptcies and I thing there is general agreement about that, that is certainly necessary.

I don't know what they are, and he hasn't given them to the country. All he has done in an electoral manoeuvre is to hint that he is going to reduce taxes for people that is all he has done. [end p8]

Q9

In view of the obvious urgency of the situation, how long are you going to allow for talking to come up with a united policy?

?EH

I have not a fixed time, but I am sure that the other Party Leaders in the talks will recognise the urgency of the situation, and I think that we can deal with it because it is a part of this election.

Q10

Will you have to do anything in the way of a holding operation while you are talking—talks at Chequers and Downing Street?

EH

I don't visualise…   .

Q10A

Talks towards agreeing an economic policy.

Oh I see, you means those sort of talks, I thought you meant talks with Party Leaders, yes…   .

I have not fixed a time, but the situation is quite different, I mean the situation, when we have embarked on the Chequers talks and the number 10 talks quite obviously and it was possibly therefore as to have, those were very concentrated talks and very hard work, but we did settle them over a number of weeks, and of course also, they started in the early summer and were interrupted by the summer holidays, now we are in an entirely different situation, and we can concentrate these talks very hard indeed.

Q11

In view of the urgency of the situation can you tell us what preparatory talks you have had with Union leaders between February and now?

?EH

I have not had active talks about this, quite naturally it is not possible to have preparatory talks with union leaders, when there has not even been a date for an election announced, and when you are not the administration…   . any talks I had were of a social nature.

Q12

You have told us repeatedly about the danger of unemployment—you have just hedged about reflating. Are you not virtually saying you will risk greater unemployment by not reflating?

?EH

No, because you are moving into a situation, where you are saying, as soon as you get unemployment, you automatically reflate on the domestic side, and this in itself of course will agree to inflation. This is the great problem which we face, the combined inflation and unemployment, and I have said therefore, that we have got to look at the figures and see exactly what is going to be the price index for this year. Mr Healey boasted a great deal in the spring, that it was going to be good, about £800, million, now we are told that it is nearer to £5000 million, this is a most enormous budget, this is quite apart from the consequences for the budget you will get in 1975/76, we must be able to re-examine this before we give views, about the re-inflation or otherwise. [end p9]

Question 12

You have been apocalyptic throughout this Campaign about the seriousness and dangers of the situation, you must have formed a fairly substantial and informed judgment of what the situation is?

EH

Well I certainly have, as I have told the country, anybody who has seen the figures first of all for the rate of the increase in wage rates, well you don't have to argue about that because the increase in earnings look at the level of production over the year which is going to remain exactly the same. There won't be any great increase and look at the whole problem of rising unemployment as we see it now, as we go around the country and hear about it that people are already on a four day week. It is all there for you to see and examine.

Question 13

Mr. Heath in view of everything you said about the serious of the situation and the need for National Unity, were this election to produce another minority government, would the Conservative Party seek to defeat that Government at the earliest opportunity and form a coalition?

EH

Well it depends entirely on what the measure of the minority government brings forward of course. One can't pre-judge that.

Question 14

Speaking in Clapham last night Mr Whitelaw drew attention to the fact that he had introduced PR in Northern Ireland—has your own position advanced at all from the SOD that you have put in the Manifesto?

EH

I am glad you have recovered from your pneumonia. It has been a very quick recovery. Not at all no PR was introduced into Northern Ireland because of the result of a particular situation there which was you had two communities largely sectarian though there can be an argument about this but largely sectarian—protestant and Catholic and under our system there had been rule by one party for half a century [gap in text] for power sharing was to create a new structure of administration in government which would allow both communities to work together and not have a situation which only one could have power. Now in this structure it was necessary to have a new form of electoral process and this is when we decided upon a new form of PR. It was not in fact either of the forms which are favoured by the Liberal Party, but it was one which we could introduce quickly on the existing constituency boundaries so that we could get an election for the assembly and then establish the executive so there was a very clear need for doing it and the situation in this country is quite different. There are many other considerations which ought to be taken into account by a Speakers Conference but the situation in Northern Ireland the polarisation between two communities is quite different from the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom. [end p10]

Q15

Mr Heath, we have come to the end of the Campaign, are there any more injections, have you said everything you want to say, is there nothing new coming out?

EH

I have got three more speeches today, one at Gravesend, and two in my own constituency. Naturally I shall continue to develop the field and we shall keep the battle up until the polling booths close tomorrow night.

Q16

Sir Geoffrey, re: the national insurance contributions for the self-employed—which he is going to cut—would he raise the money from other groups or do you consider it would be inflationary to cut the contributions at all?

Sir Geoffrey Howe?GH

We are talking about [gap in text] more like money to the way in which it has been designed, it does increase very very sharply the amount the self employed has to bear, and we shall reduce that out of line showing [gap in text]

Q17

Arising out of that if there is a Speaker's Conference in the next Parliament, would you consider making a reference as to whether there should be an amendment of the Representation of the Peoples Act to reduce the announcement of an Election from three weeks to a fortnight?

?EH

I can't [gap in text] I think that if matter arise that are general public concern or Parliamentary concern it is right to have a Speaker's Conference. I have had a question put to me yesterday up in Yorkshire, where it was said that one person is standing in a vacancy for a number of constituencies, in fact, he has put his name in for a number of constituencies, now this was brought up by the Television people, because they said, of course with the present law of [gap in text] it makes it extremely difficult for them to arrange programmes if one person put his name forward in a whole number of constituencies, so that discusses another matter, that is I also consider people who take other peoples names in constituencies another, would refer to a Speaker's Conference…   .

But on this question of shortening the time, I think that there are two aspects of this, I know that certainly with two elections in seven months, people feel that it has been going on for a long time, it has in fact being going on for seven months, but I have a question here, that what has an election in three weeks, it does lead to a intensification or concentration of election day, where as if it were spread over a slightly longer period like it used to be of five to six weeks, then I think, people can develop arguments much more fully, I know that it is reverse of what people are thinking at the moment, but I think that the interests of some observers from overseas have said about this, is that they feel that in just three weeks, everything becomes immensely tense and concentrated and people dash around madly, whereas if it were a bit longer then, they think on the whole it would be much more balanced form of electioneering, and the argument could be employed at [end p11] greater length, it can be covered at greater length, in the Press and on the media, and there would then be a better understanding by the voters of what the real issues are. I only put that to allow two aspects of it. [end p12]

Question 18

Does that mean that you expect your campaign to peak in about two weeks' time?

EH

No we beat clear very well I think and we have built it right up in the three weeks and knowing we only had 3 weeks we worked it out accordingly.

Question 19

Sir Geoffrey seems last night rather angry with the Liberals, and so did Lord Hailsham—do you share that anger?

?EH

Just his usual self.

Well I hadn't noticed that he was angry with them either. None of us are angry. All we are doing is pointing out on the last occasion when they led to a formation of a Labour government people voted for Liberal candidates and they got a Labour government as a result. I offered the Liberal Party a coalition they refused, and so we got a Labour government as a result. I am trying to point out that Mr. Mayhew for example could have perfectly well stayed in his own seat and fought as a Liberal against a Labour candidate, he didn't choose to do so but went off to a critical Conservative seat and went off to fight that. We are entitled to point these things out, to point out to the voters what the Liberal Party is doing. We don't get angry about these things.

Q.20

Mr Heath, you have said today you have not been told the facts about the economic situation. What is the basis of your assumption that wages are rising and prices rising by 30%;? [end p13]

EH

I don't want end this press conference by going over the facts which I gave many days ago but they are all there in the Department of Employment statistics for you to see. [end p14]

Q.21

You said in the last Election that perhaps you and your colleagues did not do as well as you would have liked on television, do you feel in this Campaign television has helped you to communicate better?

EH

I think it has yes. I have no grumbles about television. In the Granada programmes it is perfectly true our view is, my view certainly is that the election law was broken by reference to a particular constituency and and a particular Labour candidate and each of us taking part the week before hand this particular matter should not be raised and not answered. I think that was regretable but I think that we have been covered clearly by the television media and I think we have put out a tremendous effort and we have been able to extend to a large section of the community. I also believe that the arrangements which I have had round the country for having talks with groups of people did give up on the spot the opportunity of having a dialogue which hasn't normally been vailable during the election. The real problem is of course is that if you are going to have a dialogue of that kind the media has got to be able to devote a considerable amount of time to it and this they can't do, and if you have discussions as I had with the Welsh farmers, for example, at the beginning of the election or talks with shop stewards of shop management for an hour and one still gets the minute and half or minute and three quarters on television well obviously they can't convey even the flavour of a discussion like that let alone the issues which were brought forward by the people taking part in the dialogue.

Q.22

What plans do you have for your television forum—economic problems would be open to all for televising—what other use do you see for the television for your next Tory Government?

EH

This is a major one which I put forward because I think it would have benefited the country to hear the views of people other than politicians brought together in different cities covered entirely by television so they could really understand the details of the crisis. You see I was very interested in doing the Granada programme because those who were present there were about 250 because they had been covered under the television camera having a discussion with those who dealt with those particular aspects of the crisis. For example, one had been on the air about the constitutional aspects, whether coalition or broad based government, working arrangements and so on. And the others were on the economic aspect of the crisis. It was quite apparent from talking to them afterwards that they did have a very considerable understanding of the real issues and these emerged to a certain extent to the questions which they put to me. Others were of course local and personal questions. But this has proved to me how much can be achieved if the thing is tackled in the right way. [end p15]

Question 23

Would you compare the situation of today with the situation of the 1970 Election, when the Opinion Polls gave the Labour Party a big lead and you took over office at Downing Street?

EH

Well I don't know I never discuss the polls but at the last election in February the polls gave us a lead.

Somehow the polls don't seem to quite work out do they?

Question 24

Let us put it this way, are you sure in your own mind that we are still going to have Ted Heath to kick around after Thursday?

EH

You have always kicked him around so I suppose you always will.

Question 25

Mrs Thatcher I believe excluded from her hot of pledges the undertaking to cut council houses and limit the houses for the old—and what she called social problems.

MT

No I think that is just a misunderstanding of the £350 million which was allocated in the budget of which £200 million approx was we believe for municipalisation. Now that is the amount which we will move over. We believe that extra council houses should concentrate on the other things, but, of course, there will be the social cases to which I always refer for we specifically need them and if we help the people who can help themselves then the demand on the council house list will be thereby reduced.

Question 26

The council house programme you do envisage going down over the years?

MT

The council house programme has in fact been steadily coming down for the last 7 or 8 years under all governments if you actually look at the figures. Certainly the result for this year was [gap in text]because of the difficulties in which the builders are finding themselves, but the reduction in the private sector is now catastrophic. [end p16]

Tape 15

Mr. Heath—if you agree to PR for the Northern Ireland elections, why not to the Westminster elections? Do you think the present N.I. MPs are not fairly represented?

EH

But the Northern Ireland members at Westminster aren't elected by PR. PR was introduced by ourselves for the election of the assembly in Northern Ireland, and now that alas has disappeared as you know the Labour Government have decided to set up a convention and have elections for a convention and all that still has to take place and so one can't tell what will happen in future. The Northern Ireland members at Westminster are elected by the same system as the rest of the United Kingdom.

Question 28

Do you think that is fair and adequate?

EH

Well I have already said that as far as the public unease about representation is concerned we will have agreed to set up a Speaker's Conference and this is the parliamentary way of dealing with it, and then we can examine all the pros and cons of the recommendations. Parliament will always insist on settling its own means of election. There can be no doubt about that.

Question 29

The Director of the Electoral Reform Society said in a letter to the Times yesterday it was no good setting up Speaker's Conference if they remained private—they want the Minutes published—and the Minutes published of the last Speaker's Conference?

EH

Well, it's entirely for the Conference itself as to whether it is going to publish. I can't order a committee in the House of Commons to publish any minutes if they don't wish to do so. No government can, it is entirely a matter for the Committee itself. Normally all records of the said committee are published, sometimes bits are deleted for security reasons or for personal or commercial reasons of those who are involved, but otherwise normally everything is usually published. [end p17]

Q.30

Coming back to your Government of National Unity—in view of the hostile reaction from the other two party leaders, do you think by tea-time on Saturday you will have managed to have these talks—or do you think your Cabinet will be composed entirely of Conservatives?

EH

There are two aspects of this, aren't there? First of all talks with the Party leaders and the questions of whether the party leaders are going to maintain the situation after polling day, the view which they have taken up before polling day even allowing for the fact that those views seem to have [changed?] slightly or perhaps more than slightly if one follows what they have been saying in press conferences and in public, and so surely the thing to do is to have the consultations and find out what their views are in the light of the election result? That is the first thing and the second thing is again, I don't believe for a moment that Party leaders will refuse consultation, and I have said that in my recollections this is the first thing and the second thing is again I don't believe for a moment that Party leaders will refuse consultation and I have said that in my recollections this has never happened. Then there is the question of a broader based government—quite apart from a coalition on existing parties in parliament—and that is something which we can then consider in the light of the consultations of the party leaders.

Q.31

What part of your Manifesto will be negotiable?

EH

We have put forward a manifesto which we believe is not controversial and which is acceptable to a great mass of people, but what we have to do in the consultation is to find out where we agree. That must be the first thing, and then each Party Leader can consider what he is able to do, and prepared to do, in order to reach further agreement on measures to deal with the crisis, and that is the position of all of us as Party leaders.

Q.32

You suggested you would be interested in a cut-back in oil consumption—in Britain—how would you do this?

?EH

I think it is going to be very necessary for us to economise on fuel and this requires urgent priority under the new government. This is not talking in terms of rationing but I believe that it is possible if we concentrate on this problem for industry in particular, we learnt that last winter to bring back quite considerable economies in the oil in particular and we have also got to deal with use of fuel generally. This is a very big question indeed and I think every country in the Western world has got to face this. [end p18]

Question 33

Could you sum up how you feel the general style and atmosphere of the whole campaign has been—not necessarily your part in it—but the whole three weeks?

EH

Well, I think that the attitude of the voters has been governed by the fact that it is the second General Election in a very short time and electors don't like an interuption into their daily lives let alone their television programmes. On the other hand I think that they have been soberly considering the issues and this is one of the reasons on the doorsteps many people say they have not yet made up their minds on how to decide how to vote.

As far as the general style of campaigning is concerned we have tried to emphasise to the country the problems which we face and the magnitude of the task ahead of the next government and how we think it ought to be dealt with. I have already said that I don't believe that the Labour Party has done this and their objective has been exactly as Dick Crossman said it was in 1966 and in 1966— “what we did was to get the wages up before they had any impact on prices and make everybody feel happy and win the election.” He said we tried to do the same in 1970 and we failed and quite obviously it's what the Labour Party have tried to do this time. It is a similar technique letting the wage explosion come, you see the enormous extent of it, and it is bound to have its impact on prices next year and if it continues prices will be up 30 per cent next year. Inflation will then be at that rate even higher than anything we have had before and they hope that the voters will swallow this uncritically.

Well I think the voters are thinking very seriously about the consequences of what has been happening in the last five months, and what is more they have to face up to the consequences of sending back a majority Labour Government which would embark on policies which we know that the great mass of people in this country don't want, and so the voters are now faced with a crucial decision and I believe that people want to see national unity and it is quite typical to be put into a situation like this. They want a government which is going to be able to deal with the crisis and they want to be able to deal fairly. Then if there is fairness, they are prepared to make sacrifices provided that they can see at the end that there is some hope for them, and so what we are really debating throughout this campaign is the future of our country and the sort of country in which we are going to live.

Now with that I would now like to thank you all very much indeed for coming to these conferences. To us they have been very enjoyable and we hope to you that they have been valuable. Thank you very much.