Defeat and the Coming of Mrs Thatcher
Thus spoke Mr Heath, in the opening shot of the General Election campaign. This appeal was to remain the central theme of the Tory campaign right up to polling day on 28 February. But on the very same day he did something which undermined the strength and credibility of this appeal. He said there would be a special study of pay relativities by the Pay Board, with the miners coming top of the list. The idea behind ‘relativities’ was that during periods of blanket restraint the old differentials between and within occupations became eroded. So it was necessary, in the context of a long-term incomes policy, to get them sorted out. Obviously the miners could expect to benefit from such a study. Mr Heath promised that, whatever the recommendation of the Pay Board, it would be backdated to i March. The obvious query was: Why could Mr Heath not have done this without holding a General Election? Indeed, Mr Heath had given Mr Wilson, the Labour leader, the ammunition for his most telling point: ‘In the most remarkable election programme of all time, he is asking for a mandate to pay the miners after the Election what he refuses to pay them before the Election. For the first time in history we have a general leading his troops into battle with the deliberate aim of giving in if he wins.’
KeywordsGeneral Election Trade Union Labour Party Liberal Party Popular Vote
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