Healing The Scar Tissue 1969–1970

  • David Butler
  • Michael Pinto-Duschinsky


Appropriately, Roy Jenkins had just opened the Export Services Exhibition at Earl’s Court on September 8, 1969, when the export figures for August arrived from the Treasury. He had been hoping for, and had reasons to expect, some improvement. In his speech he had claimed that ‘The trend of our balance of payments statistics is very favourable … and all the signs are that we are moving into substantial surplus.’1 But his surprise was as great as his delight at the full extent of the good tidings. The seasonally adjusted figures indicated a huge rise in exports from £602 million in July to £662 million in August — far too large to be dismissed as a chance freak. At long last the pound was in the black.


Prime Minister Scar Tissue Local Election Labour Party Conservative Party 
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  1. 1.
    It is hard for those outside Whitehall to appreciate how sudden changes in the economic situation appear, even to those at the centre of events. A few percentage points in the exports and imports, or in capital movements, can mean all the difference between success and abject failure. Despite the development of highly sophisticated methods of forecasting, it is not always possible to make predictions of the necessary accuracy. Mr. Maudling has described how rapidly the forecasts were changing over the summer of 1964 in the Sunday Times, October 25, 1964. S. Brittan gives a detailed assessment in his section on ‘Forecasting’ in Chapter 3 of the first edition of Steering the Economy (Seeker & Warburg, 1969). Our interviews with members of the government in September 1969 showed a striking improvement in morale from the low point in June.Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    See David Wood, The Times, February 2, 1970.Google Scholar
  3. 1.
    ‘Roy Jenkins … was under considerable pressure to give a large handout. … He stoutly resisted these pressures.’ S. Brittan, Steering the Economy (Penguin, 1971), P. 407.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    See ‘Swinging London is not much use to Mr. Wilson on its own’, Economist, April 18, 1970, from which the table on p. 132 is drawn.Google Scholar
  5. 1.
    See Peter Jenkins, Guardian, May 12, 1970.Google Scholar
  6. See also Ian Aitken, Guardian, May 13, 1970. ‘As one Minister put it, “if he [Mr. Wilson] waited now and lost in October, he would never be forgiven by the party. But he would not be blamed for grasping the opportunity offered by the polls even if he turned out to be wrong.” ’Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Butler and Michael Pinto-Duschinsky 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Michael Pinto-Duschinsky
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.Pembroke CollegeOxfordUK

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