The British House of Commons erupted into chaos on Thursday night (13 November) as opposition Labour MP's forced the Conservative government to withdraw proposals for increasing rents on publicly owned housing.
October 1980. CU Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher addressing Conservative Party Conference in Brighton
GVs Cabinet members on rostrum and party members applaud
CU Mrs. Thatcher finishing speech
GV EXTERIOR Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe leaving Number 11 Downing Street with case containing his budget
CU INTERIOR Sir Geoffrey addressing Conservative Party Conference
CU & SV Party members and Mrs. Thatcher applauding (2 shots)
CU Sir Geoffrey finishing speech (2 shots)
SV Trade Union workers marching through London on Trade Union Councils "Day of Action" and calling for the end of "Thatcherism" (2 shots)
GVs Leicester textile workers and managers marching, calling for government aid to the industry (3 shots)
SV Mrs Thatcher presenting the deed for a sold Council house to new owners
GV INTERIOR Greater London Council Chairman Horace Cutler and Mrs Thatcher sitting in family's kitchen drinking tea and chatting
GV EXTERIOR People in London walking past shops, shoppers looking in windows at Japanese electronic equipment (3 shots)
SV National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) picket signs outside hospital and strikers talking to car driver (2 shots)
GV Picket line PAN TO Large banner for hospital workers and strikers handing out pamphlets (2 shots)
1977: GVs & SVs and CU Soldiers fighting fires (5 shots)
1980: GV Fire trucks out of station and down road in London
GV EXTERIOR Gutted flat and firemen clearing up room
GV & SVs Firemen sweeping out water and checking burned out flat (3 shots)
THATCHER: "To those waiting for the favourite media catch phrase, the u-turn, I have only one thing to say. You turn if you want to."
THATCHER: "The Lady's not for turning."
HOWE: "There is no sensible alternative to the course on which we are set. it would be folly beyond belief to turn back now. Have no fear. We shall not falter. We shall win through."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The British House of Commons erupted into chaos on Thursday night (13 November) as opposition Labour MP's forced the Conservative government to withdraw proposals for increasing rents on publicly owned housing. Environment Minister Mr. Michael Heseltine had introduced rent increase proposals in a written answer during the closing minutes of the Parliamentary session. But he withdrew them after angry Labour members blocked the procession of "Block Rod" a royal official in court dress, as he entered the chamber to bring the present session to an end on schedule. The proposed rise in council house rents was another move to cut public spending--one of the main planks in Mrs. margaret Thatcher's tough economic programme. But, despite growing opposition, Mrs. Thatcher, living up to her nickname as "the Iron Lady" insists the monetarist path is the best one for Britain.
SYNOPSIS: Mrs. Thatcher was addressing the party faithful in Brighton when she answered critics who suggest that her monetarist policies aren't working.
Chancellor, Sir Geoffrey Howe has been the main architect of economic policies designed to drastically cut public expenditure, decrease government borrowing and bring down inflation. He is as adamant as his boss that the Conservatives are on the correct path.
The Thatcher government's main opponent is the trade union movement. With unemployment figures at more than two million, and growing, Labour leaders say that it is working people who are taking the brunt of economic hardship.
And the Confederation of British Industry (C.B.I.) is also putting pressure on the government to change their ways. Managers joined Leicester textile workers in calling for lower interest rates and a more competitive exchange rate, in order to keep their ailing industry alive. The C.B.I. went to Number 10 Downing Street with the some demands.
But Mrs Thatcher is pressing on, trying to sell a new set of ideals to the British people. The Tories introduced the selling of council houses, urging working people to own property, rather than rely on the state of provide housing.
Mrs Thatcher has also repeatedly warned the British people they must accept that if production does not increase, the working force cannot pay itself higher wages. In short, they must accept a lower standard of living until the economy is put right.
Though the Tories have not implemented a pay policy, they have set six percent -- about ten percent below the current rate of inflation, as the amount local authority employees can expect in their pay packets this year. The unions maintain that cuts in social services will permanently damage society. They say that the most defenceless -- the old, the sick and the poor are already suffering.
Britain's firemen, who were expecting almost nineteen percent this year, reacted to the six percent pay ceiling with disgust. The army was called in three years ago when they went on strike over pay. The industrial action ended after a three-year contract was signed.
On Saturday (9 November) firemen began working to rule, only answering emergency calls. And though this crew arrived at a fire a few minutes after the alarm sounded, the firemen are threatening stronger action. They have the support of other unions and fears are growing that Britain may be in for another "winter of discontent".