• Short Summary

    It is expected at any moment that the British Parliament will be dissolved and the electorate vote for a new government.

  • Description

    It is expected at any moment that the British Parliament will be dissolved and the electorate vote for a new government.

    After only seven months of a minority Labour Government headed by Mr. Harold Wilson, the chance is to be given to Britain's political parties to gather support for an absolute majority.

    The issues involved will centre largely on the economy and inflation and, in particular, which methods should be used to control wages and prices.

    The Labour government is firmly committed to a so-called "social contract" with Britain's unions which is, in effect, an unwritten agreement between unions and government by which the unions refrain from pressing excessive wage demands in return for government control of prices.

    This agreement, given weight by the Labour government's repeal of the Industrial Relations Act and the dissolution of the Pay Board, has worked well enough in the past seven months. But it has taken some powerful political argument from the Wilson administration to get some of the bigger unions in Britain to keep to it. Whether they will do so once the votes are counted is questionable. Certainly, if a Conservative government returns to power, the unions will fight it with all the weapons at their command.

    This would mean that any attempt on the part of a Conservative government to re-introduce legislation such as the Industrial Relations Act -- which sought to curb the power of the unions -- could lead to the kind of confrontation which crippled British industry last winter.

    That event severely affected Britain's economy and this is, perhaps, the leading issue. This year, Britain's performance as an industrial exporting nation has been poor. In the City of London, the stock market reached its lowest ebb for twenty years, Industrialists blame this on Labour's policies of wealth taxation which discourage investment. Furthermore they blame the uncertainty surrounding the Wilson government's intentions with regard to state intervention in some of the country's most important industries.

    Labour is committed to a programme of state control in certain key areas, notably in control of North Sea oil -- perhaps the one hope Britain has to pull itself out of the economic mire.

    The other areas scheduled for nationalisation are shipbuilding, ports and certain parts of the road haulage business.

    All these, of course, are opposed by Mr. Edward Health's Conservatives, who claim that these industries are best left alone and that the most certain way to ensure Britain does not lose its future oil revenue is through taxation.

    But, without question, the issue which will capture the votes is the problem of inflation and the cost of living.

    House prices and the difficulties experienced by the young in obtaining finance will tempt both parties to offer solutions -- Labour has already declared it will nationalise land.

    But no British government in this decade has been able to deal effectively with the ever-rising cost of living. With inflation in Britain approaching the 20 per cent a year mark, the electorate will be looking for answers to their most pressing problem.

    The Labour government's answer, so far, has been feed subsidies, control of manufacturers' prices and a voluntary union wage restraint.

    The Conservative programme suggests the need for statutory control of both price and wages, the encouragement of investment in British industry and an emphasis on managerial enterprise rather than state intervention in industry.

    It is expected that the British people will be asked to vote early in October, in what will be a crucial election. After seven months of minority government, the nation will be looking for a positive result.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Issue Date:
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Time in/Out:

Comments (0)

We always welcome comments and more information about our films.
All posts are reactively checked. Libellous and abusive comments are forbidden.

Add your comment