• Short Summary

    In the second round of voting for the leadership of the British Conservative Party - due to take place next Tuesday (11 February).

  • Description

    (1972) SV TRACKING Whitelaw and officials walking through grounds of house at Darlington talks (3 shots)

    SV Policeman with dog and policeman inspecting man's papers (2 shots)

    SV PAN Whitelaw and officials into building

    (1972) SV PAN Car arriving in Newry, Northern Ireland

    SV Chanting and singing crowd

    CU Banners and placards

    SV Whitelaw talking to soldiers

    (1975) GV London news PAN TO Whitelaw's house

    SV ZOOM INTO CU Whitelaw speaking to reporter over breakfast table

    TRANSCRIPT: MR WHITELAW & PETER WHITTLE: Well, first of all, I made it very clear beforehand that I hoped Ted Heath would be re-elected as our leader. I believe that his standing and prestige in this country, and over seas - particularly in Europe - was very important to us all at the present time. And therefore I supported and voted for him, and I was naturally extremely sorry when he was defeated. It was a great personal tragedy for one who has given so much to our party as leader - and indeed to our country as Prime Minister. However, there it was. That was what my colleagues decided. and then I felt that it was right to try as I felt it was necessary - to unite our party, both in the House of Commons and indeed in the country as a whole. There was obviously clearly a considerable division as a result of this very even voting in the House of Commons, and of course, the party and the country wanting Ted Heath to stay and members of parliament decided "no". and that was really why I thought I had some thing to offer to my colleagues.

    WHITTLE: Do you think that international politics have seen the last of Ted Heath?

    WHITELAW: I very much hope not.

    WHITTLE: If you were to form an administration in the future he would obviously be part of any team?

    WHITELAW: Oh! I would desperately hope so, but of course that would be up to him to decide. Certainly as far as I was concerned, nothing would be better for our Party and for our country if he would be prepared to accept.

    Initials ET/2010 ET/2035

    This film includes an Interview with Mr Whitelaw at his London home by Visnews Reporter, Peter Whittle.

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: In the second round of voting for the leadership of the British Conservative Party - due to take place next Tuesday (11 February). Mr William Whitelaw, the Conservative Party Chairman, appears to have the strongest chance of winning against Mrs. Margaret Thatcher. It was Mrs Thatcher who defeated the former Leader of the Opposition, Mr Edward Heath, in the first round ballot last Tuesday (4 February).

    Mr Whitelaw is regarded by most Members of Parliament as the main challenger to Mrs Thatcher, Now that Mr. Health has resigned. He refused to run in the first ballot because of his loyalty to Mr. Heath. However, he opened his campaign for the second ballot with a premise to re-examine every aspect of policy and organisation in the Conservative Party.

    He said that after two defeats in National elections, the Conservative Party's task must be to discover where it had gone wrong, and to build a now police and organisation.

    At 56, Mr Whitelaw is a bulky, square-jawed man with large, sad eyes which project an image of transparent sincerity. He was born to a wealthy landowning family with a traditionally Conservative background. At Cambridge University he distinguished himself - not so much by his academic qualities - but by his ability at golf. he was captain of the university's golf team.

    After serving in the Second World War as a Guards officer, he entered Parliament at the third attempt in 1955, and quickly built up a close relationship with Mr Heath. During the Conservative Party's period in opposition between 1964 and 1970, he was the Party's Chief Whip in the House of Commons.

    In March 1972 Mr Whitelaw reached a major turning point in his career when Mr Heath appointed Him secretary of State for the strife-torn province of Northern Ireland. When he took up the appointment the prospects for peace between the Catholic and Protestant communities looked bleak. The protestants had been enraged by MR Heath's suspension of Stormont (the provincial parliament) which Protestants had dominated for half a century.

    And still fresh in the memory of most Catholics was " Bloody Sunday" - the fatal clash between Catholic demonstrators and British troops in London-Herry when 15 civilians were killed.

    But despite early mistakes in his first few months in office, and new waves of violence, Mr Whitelaw quiet brand of diplomacy, which disquiet a steely determination to get his own day, gained the confidence of most political groupings in the province.

    He listened hard to all point of view, and drew up a plan for a new governing structure to replace Stormont.

    These plans were put to the various Northern Ireland parties at a top level conference in September 1972. The conference was held in a country hotel in Darlington in a remote part of north-east England. It prepared the way for elections in the province during the following summer, which produced a new Northern Ireland Assembly. By December 1973, Mr Catholic party and the Liberal Alliance Party into sharing power in an uneasy coalition.

    He returned from Ulster at the end of 1973 with his political reputation greatly enhanced. But he took over the equally onerous post of Employment Secretary. In dealing with the unions he attempted to use the same quiet techniques that he had adopted in Northern Ireland, seeking to conciliate and mediate. But be could only delay the confrontations that finally ended with the General Elections of February 1974, and the defeat of the Heath Government.

    Throughout most of last year, as Chairman of the Conservative Party, Mr whitelaw sought to repair the electoral damage, and in October, played a loading role in the unsuccessful Tory campaign for a government of national unity.

    Today, with his party's morale at probably its lowest ebb for twenty-five years, Mr Whitelaw's strength and determination will be tested to the full if he should become leader of the Opposition after next Tuesday's ballot.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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