Britain's Prime Minister, Edward Heath, has ordered a general election for Thursday, 28 February, to hear the voice of the British people at a time of grave industrial crisis and political conflict.
Housae of Parliament, Central London
SV Newspaper placards announcing that election date has been officially set
CU Newspapers rolling off press
CU Newspapers headling: "February 28, Official"
CU Street sign: "Dowing Street"
SV Whitelaw leaves No. 10 Downing Street
SV Newsmen outside No. 10
SV Heath leaves No. 10 and waves to crowds, gets in car, beseiged by newsmen
SV Heath's car drives off
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EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: FOR STATEMENTS BY THE THREE PARTY POLITICAL LEADERS SEE PRODUCTION NUMBER 1251/74
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Background: Britain's Prime Minister, Edward Heath, has ordered a general election for Thursday, 28 February, to hear the voice of the British people at a time of grave industrial crisis and political conflict.
The announcement from the Prime Minister's official London residence at 10 Downing Street was made on Thursday (7 February) -- it opened a three-week campaign likely to Le the most bitter and stormy for decades.
A great divide separates the two main political parties in the country -- the Conservative and Labour Parties -- on methods of controlling inflation and on the challenge to constitutional authority posed by a threatened miners' strike against the Conservative Government's incomes policy.
After announcing that Parliament would be dissolved on Friday (8 February) to prepare for the elections, Mr. Heath wrote to the 270,000 miners urging them, "in the national interest", to defer the strike. The walkout is set to start on Monday (11 February). The miners are to give their reply on Friday (8 February).
As the opening guns were fired in the election campaign, Britain had another reminder of industrial unrest. Rail services were crippled by a one-day strike in several regions ... part of a series to back a pay claim by train drivers in a dispute that has dragged on since mid-December.
Britain's so-called "Crisis Election" brings a renewal at the polls of an intense personal rivalry between the Prime Minister and Labour Opposition leader Harold Wilson.
But this is not a straight two-party contest. For the first time in years a third party chief -- Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe -- enters seriously into political considerations.
The Liberals have increased their strength in the House of Commons (Lower House) to 11 seats with a series of spectacular by-election victories. Moreover, they have been pulling 20 per cent and more of the popular vote in some recent opinion polls.
The new Parliament will meet on 6 March; it will be officially opened on 12 March.