• Short Summary

    Britain's election campaign not off to an official start on Monday (23 September). All three?

  • Description

    GV EXTERIOR Transport House

    GV INTERIOR Transport House Wilson and others on platform(silent)

    SCU Wilson speaking

    GV INTERIOR Conservative Party HQ

    SCU Heath speaking

    GV INTERIOR Liberal Party HQ

    Semi CU Thorpe speaking

    WILSON: "What this country needs is a strong government, with a strong majority... that is what we're going to get. So I've no answer to give to hypothetical situations of the kind of envisage."

    HEARLEY: "I think, too, there well might be no alternative, because the Conservatives -- led by Mr. Heath -- may be no more successful into attracting Liberals into coalition with them than they were a few months ago. Particularly as Mr. Thorpe has said in public at the end of his conference that he would not accept entry into a coalition, which was led by Mr. Heath."

    WILSON: "What we need is an adequate working majority for a government of national unity, which I've been leading for the last six months. Any more?" (Laughter).

    HEATH: "The country is facing a major crisis. It'll be our task, during the election, to explain to the country the nature of the crisis and its scale. But the point we start from is that there is no dispute between the major Parties.....that the crisis which Britain faces today is, indeed, a very serious one indeed. And so the question is, how are we going to deal with this? We, in the Conservative Party, believe that it must be dealt with on an national basis, through national policies. And the only way, that -- as a nation -- we are going to be able to master problems on this scale, and of this Kind, is if we can unite the nation on the policies which we ought to follow."

    THORPE: "The election isn't being fought on the basis that minority government is not viable, if you read the Labour Manifesto it would be perhaps the finest government that's been produced in this country, or in the world, since the time of the Roman Curia. So they're not saying that it's unworkable. So I reject your first premise. Your second suggestion, yes. I accept there would be a danger of Liberal support eroding, if there was enthusiasm for an outright majority for Mr. Wilson and Mr. Benn and the full Labour programme, or outright enthusiasm for Mr. Heath and all that implies as well. The fact remains that there is no great enthusiasm for either. That is the purely negative reason for why I think our support will not erode."

    Initials ET/2306 ET/2338

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Britain's election campaign not off to an official start on Monday (23 September). All three major party leaders met the press in turn and the ruling Labour Party -- tipped as favcurites to win the 10 October election -- fielded a formidable array of Government Ministers and Prime Minister Harold Wilson at the first of its daily press conference. This film includes statements by the Prime Minister and by Finance Minister Denis Healey.

    All big parties have agreed inflation is the central theme of the second election this year.

    Mr. Wilson, who has led a minority government since the last election in February, re-affirmed on Monday that he called the new vote to get a strong majority to help him get Britain out of economic trouble.

    Conservative Opposition Leader Edward Heath appealed for national unity and Said his party was the only one putting forward a policy of co-operation with other party leaders to cure economic ills.

    Liberal Leader, Jeremy Thorpe, seemed more concerned to underline his Party's chances of continuing to increase its small share of Britain's electoral support.

    At the adjournment of Parliament, the Labour Party had two hundred and ninety-eight seats, the opposition Conservative Party two hundred and ninety-six and the Liberal Party fifteen.

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