BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: In Depth: UK Confidential  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
UK Confidential Monday, 1 January, 2001, 00:43 GMT
Transcripts: The Cabinet Minister
Barbara Castle
Barbara Castle was at the heart of power in 1970 as a Labour Cabinet minister. She told UK Confidential how she witnessed the fall of the Harold Wilson government and the arrival of Edward Heath - and the thinking behind the scenes.


How could it be good politics for the Cabinet, in February 1970, to decide that it was better to hand a difficult economic situation to the opposition, should they win the election, rather than face it oneself?

It's absolute routine for governments, particularly when they're facing an election, to wish to postpone as far as possible the awkward decisions till the election's over.

Every party does it, it's happening now.

The opposition is always in the advantageous position of being able to dodge facing up to the real questions.

You know they can promise the earth and nobody can call them to account. But the - government has to counter that.

So you weren't in any sense ashamed of being part of a Cabinet that was passing on an inflationary situation to the opposition?

My view in Cabinet was not that we were liable to be stimulating an inflationary situation.

I believed that (Chancellor of the Exchequer) Roy Jenkins was pressing his points too hard. It's extremely interesting that you get the vanity of chancellors.

They love to be seen as prudent and balancing the books.

But what I noted, going round the country during that 1970 election, was the apathy among our own rank and file.

There was a lack of buoyancy in the mood and it was I believed that we had pressed people too hard.

We'd held down wage demands and people felt, 'where's the fruits of victory?'

But surely it can't be right to believe that it is more important to spike the guns of your political opponents than to conduct the economy on a similar balanced basis?

But in this case it was not just a question of the government saying "here we are, we're on the edge of a run-away inflation but it's alright, we'll postpone its impact until after the election and then if the Tories are in, they'll have to deal with it". It wasn't just a question of that.

The argument in Cabinet was between the Treasury-minded phalanx and those who said "you're losing the political battle".


The producers of UK Confidential are interested in your views. Send them your thoughts below.

Send us your comments:
Name:

Your E-mail Address:


Country:

Comments:

Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.


Wilson's gamble

AUDIO VIDEO
Links to more UK Confidential stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK Confidential stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes