• Short Summary

    The British People go to the polls on October 10, unenthusiastic about having to vote for the second time this year, distrustful of their politicians, and fearful of their economic future.

  • Description

    The British People go to the polls on October 10, unenthusiastic about having to vote for the second time this year, distrustful of their politicians, and fearful of their economic future.

    In February increasing numbers deserted traditional loyalties to the Labour and Conservative parties and voted Liberal of for the Celtic nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales.

    The resulting stalemate in Parliament put the Labour Party in power but without an overall majority.

    According to the opinion polls the intervening eight months have changed none of the uncertainty and disillusion among the British electorate.

    One recent poll reported that two out of every three voters had no confidence in any of the major political parties to solve the nation's economic ills.

    The election comes at a time when prices are rising by 18 per cent a year, when Britain has a balance of payment deficit on dealings with the rest of the world of 4000 million sterling this year, unemployment rising towards one million and business confidence at rock bottom with the London Stock Market lower in real terms than in the 1930's.

    In this crisis situation the politicians agree the people will have to decide basically one question: How can Britain hold and conquer inflation, and which party has the most credible measures for doing so?
    At the heart of Labour's policy is a "social contract" between the Labour Government and the trade unions. This is the voluntary agreement in which the Trade Union Congress has pledged its members to show restraint in negotiating wage deals in return for Government action on prices and the achievement of a fairer society.

    Harold Wilson needs a swing of only 1.2 per cent for control of the 635 seat House of Commons. Mr. Heath's Conservatices need a swing of 1.4 per cent for a majority.

    The Conservative opposition are putting forward a plan of National Unity putting country before party and calling in experts from all sections of the community to produce a united plan to deal with the neation's troubles.

    The Liberals hope that this time they can achieve the crucial break-through to pave the way for the decline of one or other of the two main parties into third place obscurity. They're proposing heavier taxes for those responsible for inflation.

    In a speech making tour in the south of England, Mr. Heath held out the prospect of terrifying wage increases leading to a 30 per cent inflation rate next year.

    If such a situation were to come about, many are suggesting that the democratic way of life itself could be endangered in Britain.

    One symptom of this new instability is the mergence - so far on a small scale - of private "volunteer" organisations proclaiming themselves ready to help the civil power in the event of civic breakdown caused by insurrection or economic disturbance.

    SYNOPSIS: Despite warnings from prime Minster Harold Wilson people are spending freely. Gloomy predictions also from Conservative leader Edward Heath.

    The election will be won or lost over the battle of the shopping bag. Shoppers fear for the value of the pound in their pockets. And victory will almost certainly go to the party with the most convincing anti-inflation policy. The incentive to save is slight - when to buy now is to beat tomorrow's price rise. Britain is now running an annual balance of payments deficit of four thousand million pounds.

    Betting on the election outcome is strong with betters and most opinion polls favouring a Labour win following eight months of minority Government. But the Liberals are hoping to benefit from the disillusioned and undecided electorate.

    In an election being dominated by bread and butter national issues Conservative plans to cut mortgage rates on homes could be an electoral asset. The Conservatives have promised nine and a half per cent mortgages by Christmas if returned to power.

    Many Conservatives believe it was their record on housing that lost the February election. The Conservative plans have been attacked by Labour as hopelessly expensive.

    One badly hit sections of British business has been the holiday industry. These firms have suffered drastic falls in bookings - others have crashed.

    Jobs are still available. But fears grow of a major recession as the unemployment figures rise towards one million. Those with jobs face a decline in their standard of living.

    It's never been more difficult to forecast how the electorate will decide when they go to choose between the old faces they believe have failed before. Many are undecided and could be swayed by relatively minor issues between now and polling.

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