tvParty Election Broadcasts

Conservative Party Election Broadcasts from October 1974

Note: the text is based on transcripts held at the Conservative Party Archive at the Bodleian Library, and Dr Michael Pearce's transcripts of tapes held at the Election Broadcast Archive, University of Leeds.

24th September 1974

JOHN MOORE (on telephone):

Hello, John Moore here.

TOM KING:

This is Tom King. Down in the south west we have already seen all too clearly one aspect of the present crisis, and this has been the appalling increase in rates. People have been faced with ever-rising prices in the shops, substantial increases in so many bills, and then suddenly on top of it all the savage increase in rates.

SARAH HOGG:

Sarah Hogg here.

MARCUS FOX:

Marcus Fox. Er, this is an industrial area in the north. We have known hard times in the past when jobs were impossible to find and today there is unease and a fear that it could happen again, a feeling that things are not right and yet what can be done. Is it so inevitable, and are we so helpless to prevent it.

JOHN MOORE:

John Moore here.

ERIC COCHRANE:

Eric Cochrane in the north west. People here are very worried about unemployment, which is going up steadily. Everywhere I go people ask "Look, we've heard a lot about crises in the past from politicians. Is this crisis really different from previous ones?"

JOHN MOORE:

People in this country are more worried than at any time since the war. Britain faces an economic crisis, and they're waiting to see what, if anything, can be done about it. During the election campaign, we shall be listening to the things that are on your mind as you make up your mind on how you'll vote in the most important general election in our lifetime. All over the country Conservative candidates will be going round, talking to people in their constituencies and they'll be keeping in touch with us here.

SARAH HOGG:

In turn. we shall be keeping in touch with Conservative shadow ministers and putting your questions to them. What would a new Conservative government do to put Britain back on course in this crisis? But perhaps we should really begin by asking is there a crisis, and how bad is it? What are the facts?

GEOFFREY JOHNSON-SMITH:

Let's look at the facts. And the fact is that Britain is in the red. This year alone we're having to borrow four thousand million pounds to pay for the things we buy. Now that's two hundred pounds for every family in this country - three times what it was a year ago. Now it would be one thing if being in debt solved all our other problems. But it doesn't. Take inflation. Last year it was going up at the rate of nine percent. Today it's doubled. Eighteen percent. Although, um, yesterday Mr Healey seemed to make it come out at only eight point four percent, and so the Conservative and Liberal manifestos were telling lies. I can only imagine he hadn't read this: "Inflation afflicts all the countries of the world. From Japan to France, from the United States to Britain, prices are rising at between fifteen and twenty five percent a year". And that comes from the Labour party manifesto.

So even Labour agree that inflation is a world wide problem these days. Well then, is it so bad if we're all in the same boat? The trouble is, it's not the same boat. Because this time last year Britain was sixth in the inflation league table. Today we've dropped to tenth. There's only Italy between us and the second division. Now if you think er inflation is an abstract sort of word, let's look at prices. The same story: up and up. The Labour government has made efforts, but they've only made things worse. And it's not just the price of things in the high street. It's all the other bills that keep landing on the mat. Any one of them is up by between fifteen and thirty percent. And then there are the rates. This year they've risen by up to fifty pence in the pound, and they won't stop there. But perhaps it's worth putting up with all that because at least we've all got a job, and that's something to be grateful for. But have we all got a job? Today, six hundred and forty seven thousand of us haven't. And you can see the trend. Before long it could be off the chart.

And that's just where it will go if wages go on rising. In the last year we've given ourselves. at least some of us have, an increase in our wage packet of twenty percent. And what have we done to earn it? How much more have we produced? Ten percent, fifteen percent? Nothing - absolutely nothing. We're paying ourselves what we haven't earned. That's what this crisis is about, and that's a fact.

JOHN MOORE (?):

Those are the facts. Are we in a vicious circle that can't be broken? Or could the new Conservative government get us out of it, and how? Earlier today Sarah Hogg talked to EDWARD HEATH.

SARAH HOGG:

Mr Heath, when we talked about this crisis last week you said something that intrigued me. You said no government could save this country unless the country wanted to save itself.

EDWARD HEATH:

Yes.

SARAH HOGG:

Well how can we save ourselves?

EDWARD HEATH:

By uniting on the things we have in common. Why should we British always emphasise our differences? We ought to concentrate on the things which unite us, not on those things which divide us.

SARAH HOGG:

But even if we can agree on what's gone wrong, can we agree about how to put it right?

EDWARD HEATH:

Yes, I believe that there's a great area with things which we hold in common er which would enable us to overcome this crisis.

SARAH HOGG:

What are these things we have in common?

EDWARD HEATH:

Well, first of all let us agree that if we're going to be able to pay for what we buy from overseas our industry has got to be able to produce the goods. Then let us put fresh heart into industry, let us banish the threat of nationalisation which hangs over so much of it and the threat of state interference and control from departments in Whitehall and from civil servants.

SARAH HOGG:

Er it's easier to discourage industry though than to encourage it. Just how would you put heart back into industry?

EDWARD HEATH:

Well, the one of the main problems which industry is finding at the moment is that it just hasn't got the cash to enable it to carry on its daily activities, yet alone to invest. Er, the government in fact has been taking so much cash in the form of taxation. We've simply got to put this right. And on the shop floor men now and women are in fear of losing their jobs. They see unemployment mounting and we've got to be able to show them that if they are producing more, if industry has got the means to carry on its activities, why then this is in the national interest and their jobs will become more secure.

SARAH HOGG:

But they will only become secure if we can have industrial peace. How can you guarantee that?

EDWARD HEATH:

No man, no government can guarantee industrial peace, but I do believe that there is when there is a proper realisation of this crisis by all those who are working in industry, management and men, then surely they will have new approach to industrial relations and realise there's really no place in this country at the moment for the waste of production which ensues every time we have a strike er or a stand off of some kind or other.

SARAH HOGG:

But how can you convince them of this, how can you convince them that your government will be a truly national government?

EDWARD HEATH:

Because we in the Conservative party are putting forward policies which we believe the great majority of people in this country can accept, and which they will recognise are in the national interest. That is why I am asking for a Conservative government to be returned with a majority, and when we have our majority then I will consult with the other party leaders in parliament, all of them, and with those outside of parliament so that we can get the widest possible measure of agreement on the er action necessary to overcome this crisis.

SARAH HOGG:

But what could this national government do that an ordinary one party Tory or Labour government couldn't?

EDWARD HEATH:

I believe it can produce policies which will have the support of the great majority of the people of this country and it'll be because that is evident within parliament that we shall get the response of a united country to the action which we take. I'm absolutely certain that that is the only way we can overcome a crisis of the scale, magnitude and kind which is facing us at the moment.

SARAH HOGG:

Mr Heath, thank you.

27th September 1974

WOMAN:

I'm not really sure yet erm I'd like I'd like something different and I'd like some sort of a a government that would be able to sit down with lots of different people and and discuss it all from different parties and different walks of life erm, it just seems so much more sensible erm I think probably there are a lot of people who agree with me and who aren't really sure how they're going to vote yet.

GEOFFREY JOHNSON-SMITH:

What happens at this election will decide what kind of Britain you and your children will live in for the rest of your lives. And that's a decision you can't put off until next time - maybe you did that last time. But now things are getting worse. And you know they are. Prices are rising faster, bigger bills keep on coming in, your money is losing its meaning, your savings are going down the drain, and so is your peace of mind, because you can't even be sure of your job. Something has got to be done. And somebody has got to know what to do.

EDWARD HEATH:

All through the election campaign, we've been up and down the country talking and listening and looking at what's happening and why it's happening, and what can be done about it. There's no doubt the crisis is beginning to bite very hard indeed. All over the country we're seeing new kinds of need, new kinds of hardship, we're seeing the real price which inflation makes people pay. Thousands and thousands of people who want nothing more than to be left to get on with their lives are now finding that they can no longer make ends meet. Life is getting too much for them, and they wonder "does anybody care?" Lots of small firms, and some not so small firms, are suddenly finding that they haven't got the cash to carry on, so they've got to lay people off. And they wonder "does anybody know?" Everywhere people who've never asked for much now feel that they have nothing and nobody. And these people are then told by Labour that there is no 'meeting point', to use Labour's own words, no meeting point between them and the people Labour claim to represent. But there are millions of people Labour don't represent, most of the people of this country in fact. And Labour dare to say 'no meeting point'. No meeting point because you don't happen to agree, no meeting point even though we're all British? No wonder people feel forgotten. Well, we've not forgotten them. They've told us what's worrying them, and we're going to give them a new deal, a new deal for Britain. In this crisis the first thing we must do is to protect people wherever we can, and through the campaign we've spelt out how. There's no such thing as security if you haven't got a roof over your head. The first thing we must protect is people's homes. So there'll be a new deal for homes.

GEOFFREY JOHNSON-SMITH:

First, the mortgage rate will be cut to nine and a half percent. That's for all mortgages, not just new ones. Whatever you're paying now, nine and a half percent by Christmas. Second, help with the deposit for the first mortgage. If you save, the state will help you. Third, for council tenants, the right in law to buy their home at two-thirds its market value. Fourth, an end to the domestic rates within five years, and immediate action now.

EDWARD HEATH:

All of that will help, and it'll help millions of people now. Next we must protect people's pensions. And we shall do that now. So, a new deal for pensions.

GEOFFREY JOHNSON-SMITH:

First, pensions will be increased twice a year and the first increase will be by February at the latest. Second, this applies to old age pensions, public service pensions and disability pensions. Third, the ten pounds Christmas bonus which the Conservatives started will be paid this year as usual. Fourth, we shall relax the earnings rule and scrap it as soon as we can. Fifth, the starting point at which people over sixty-five pay tax will also be raised.

EDWARD HEATH:

Now these five measures really do add up to a new deal for the pensioner, and all of that will help. And of course the other thing we've got to protect is people's jobs. We've got to get rid of these Labour policies that are actually causing more and more unemployment. So there's a new deal for industry.

GEOFFREY JOHNSON-SMITH:

Industry will be allowed to keep the cash to pay its way, and provide the jobs people need.

EDWARD HEATH:

And again that will help. We can't create jobs over night, but we can make a start. We will do all of these things right away, they can't wait. They will help us hold the line against inflation. There'll all practical, there'll all possible. They must be done. Is there really no meeting point between the parties on things like these? Now I've told you very clearly where we stand, that's what you're voting for if you vote Conservative. If I were you I'd ask myself what voting Labour means. Or even voting Liberal. Because those Liberal votes gave you a Labour government last time, and it could very easily happen again, for all the wrong reasons. If you vote Labour, for instance, you'll be voting for nationalisation. You may choose to think you're voting for something else, but that's what you'll get. You can't have one without the other.

And this is what it means: it means higher prices, fewer jobs, and no choice - no choice of goods, no choice of jobs, and the state pushing its nose into every aspect of your life. Is that what you want? Labour want you to put your money on the same old deal all over again. Well, it's your money. I must warn you, the next Labour government will be nothing like the last one. We've yet to see their true colours, but we will do if you give them the chance. Within five years you wouldn't recognise this country and your children certainly won't. And there'll be no way back. Is that what you want? Ask yourselves what's important in your life. What are Labour likely to do for you? Are you self-employed? Perhaps you own your own shop or small business. Labour will increase your national insurance contributions by as much as a hundred and sixty pounds a year. A Conservative government will put a stop to that. And if you're a farmer, a Conservative government will give you an immediate review and more cash - you won't get that if Labour gets in. And with Labour and their taxes you may not even be able to pass your farm onto your son. Unless you're one of what Labour consider the useful people, Labour will leave you out. All they want is your vote, and they're quite prepared to frighten you into giving it to them. "Vote for us, or else" is what they say. Well, it won't work.

In this country we vote with our hearts and we vote in private. We're not to be bought and we're not to be bullied. We've never faced the kind of problems which we're facing today. It's a different and dangerous world out there. We can't cope with it by looking inwards all the time. We've got to keep our friends, we've got to make new friends, for our security and for our future. And we can't go on doing things in the old way. It doesn't work any more. And people know it doesn't work. They want to see something different. They use different words to express it, but they're all saying the same thing. They're saying "things are serious, so why don't you politicians stop arguing, get together and sort things out?" And it's a good question, why can't we? It's the only way, the only sensible way, to tackle our long-term problems. No one party has all the right answers, how can it? We must get together for all our sakes.

Only one party, the Conservative party, has said that it will. We will form a coalition of talents that can out Britain back on course, that can unite this country. It must be the right answer. It must at least be right to try. If you tell us by your vote that this is what you want I believe that men of good will from all parties will listen to the voice of Britain. This country belongs to us all. How can we be strangers, one to another? We must get together and work together. If it means sacrifices we shall make sacrifices together. But we must find the meeting point. If you elect a Conservative majority I promise you this: this country will come through, there will be a new beginning, there will be new hope, it is the only way.

3rd October 1974

VOX POP MAN 1:

I'm all right Jack - it's the same as everybody in this country we're all out to feather our own beds - it it's a cold hard truth, we all want to earn our own money. If that man over there's earning fifty pound a week and I want to take home a hundred and twenty pound - I'm all right Jack

MAN 1:

But are you all right Jack? If you haven't got a strong trade union behind you, digging its heels in, and pushing through a large wage increase for you, the chances are you're anything but all right. So nobody listens to you. And if nobody listens what are they going to do for you? Now we don't think that's right. And that's why a Conservative government is going to introduce a national contract, one with all the people in this country, not with just some of them. On election day, you elect your MP, you expect him to look after the interests of all the people, not just his party. It's the same with the government. It has a contract with all the people. It cannot and must not serve just one section. People have to be protected. Inflation's a killer. It's because we're determined to protect people that we put homes and jobs and pensions slap bang at the top of our list of priorities. Of course we've got to protect the pensioners, and we've already said very clearly what we shall be doing.

MAN 2:

Yes, we're going to do four things for pensioners, and we're going to start doing them straight away. First, we're going to increase pensions twice a year and pay the first increase as from February at the latest. Second. we're going to pay the ten pound Christmas bonus again this year, just as the Conservative government did in each of the last two years. Third. we're going to scrap the earnings rule as soon as we can and start relaxing it straight away. Fourth, we're going to raise the starting point at which people over sixty-five begin to pay tax. Now these four measures really do add up to a new deal for old people.

MAN 1:

So that's straight forward. But it's going to be much harder to protect people's jobs, and that's where these big wage increases don't help at all. They simply feed inflation. They make employers - state, private, it doesn't matter who they are - it makes them say: "Well, if that's what it costs to employ people I can't afford to employ so many of them". So you get unemployment. That's happening now. You've got the ridiculous situation of firms with full order books and they haven't got the cash to pay the wages. So they have to lay people off. So Labour policies are actually causing unemployment, and more nationalisation will only make things worse, and nobody wants it anyhow. But these wage increases are also doing something else that I find very worrying. They're creating new divisions in our society that were never there before. We used to talk, and I'm afraid we still do, about rich and poor, the haves and have-nots, today it's not that simple. There really are a lot of people who have got nobody to protect them. There are millions of them. They've no trade union, they've no voice, and you could be one of them.

VOX POP WOMAN:

Well, I think that we were brought up as working class children.

VOX POP MAN 1:

Yes, certainly.

VOX POP WOMAN:

And we have tried to improve ourselves er educationally, and looked to better things than our parents had, erm and we seem to be penalised for it.

VOX POP MAN 1:

In terms of what was er achieved so far and instead of being able to progress we're held back. I- I - it I think we're typical of a large number of people who want to be independent of of the local authority, want to be independent of large erm Labour unions erm who have found it very difficult to survive over the last erm six months, nine months and it's not a case now of us thinking how our standard of living is going down, it's already gone down, and we've seen that happening, and I think there are lots of young people now who have er to some extent gone out on a limb to buy a house who are finding things very very tight, and the children suffer, erm we don't pursue anything particularly brilliant in terms of a lifestyle but we do feel that there ought to be some reward at the end of the line for people who are prepared to work hard.

VOX POP MAN 2:

Mortgage payments at the moment are very high. I think we're paying here eleven and a quarter percent. If that rate of mortgage interest went up anymore than that frankly I don't quite know what we'd do about it, because eleven and a quarter when we took it out was fine but er with inflation and everything else at the moment if it goes up much higher we could have a big problem.

VOX POP WOMAN 2:

It's not only a question of the mortgage repayments, there's also the rates which at the moment are very high.

MARGARET THATCHER:

Mr and Mrs Maybury were only saying what a lot of people are thinking. Nothing is more important than the security that comes from knowing you've a home of your own. But it's becoming more and more of a problem to get that home. And when you've got it, to meet the costs of running it. We're determined to make it less of a problem. And we've said how. Just let me repeat it. Nine and a half percent mortgages from Christmas. And that's not just for new mortgages, it doesn't matter what rate you're paying now, from Christmas, down it comes to nine and a half percent. And then special cash help for people trying to get a deposit together for their first home. And people who have been council tenants for at least three years will have the right in law to buy their home at two-thirds the market value.

But what if you've started to buy your home, and then find you can't afford the running costs? What about the rates? For many people, what was difficult has become almost impossible. But of course the whole system wasn't really fair to begin with. You can have an old retired couple living next door to a family with two or three wage earners bringing in, say, eight pounds a week , and next door again is a young married couple with small children, just starting out on say forty pounds a week. And yet they all pay the same rates. It's just not fair.

The Conservative government is going to put an end to this, and we're going to make a start straight away. Next year we shall take teachers' salaries off the rates and have them paid by the government. That means there'll be immediate relief. And you'll be able to see the difference in the first rate demand you receive next year. That's just a start. Within the next five years, as soon as we can manage it, we shall get rid of rates all together. The bills will be paid from the ordinary tax system, and that must be a fairer way to do things.

VOX POP MAN 2:

Maybe one man's forty thirty forty percent wage increase is another man's thirty forty percent cost increase, and it's those who have got the power and the might behind them with the unions that certainly seem to be getting the better end of the deal at the moment.

MAN 2:

We've just got to put an end to'them' and 'us'. There's no need for it, there's no time for it. We've got to start working together for all our sakes. The problems we face today are too severe for any one party to solve on its own. That is why we have to get together. That is the only way we have a chance to beat inflation, and avoid another winter of strikes. I don't believe that the trade unions will refuse to work with a government which represents all the people of this country, a democratically elected government. We want a clear majority so that we can form a government of national unity, of all those who put Britain first. That is a firm promise. A week today you cast your vote. Thursday October the tenth. On Monday the fourteenth, we shall be making a start, we shall sit round that table, all of us, and start working together. A national government of all the people - that's what this country needs. And the only way it's going to get it, is to vote Conservative.

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Last Modified: 22 Oct 12
© Richard Kimber