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Election Battles 1945-1997
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Feb
1974
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1979
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1979: The Thatcher era begins
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Overview
Battlefield
Campaign
Personalities
Issues
Results
1979: Strike picket
Labour failed to deal with strikes

Watch and listen 1979
The election results from BBC Radio
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The BBC looks back at Harold Wilson’s career after he resigns
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Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher attacks the unions
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Prime Minister James Callaghan defends his policies
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Margaret Thatcher: “Where there is discord, may we bring harmony”
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Manifestos
Conservatives
Beat inflation
Tax cuts
Trade union reform
Liberals
Voting reform
Open government
Federal Britain
Labour
Beat inflation
Work with unions
Full employment

Tackling inflation and the unions topped the "five tasks" the Conservatives listed at the start of their manifesto.

In the Thatcherite agenda pushing down inflation now outweighed preserving jobs.

In the field of trade union reform her party promised to repeal what they called a "militants' charter". Secondary picketing and the closed shop would be reformed and unions forced to pay for the upkeep of strikers rather than the social security system.

Cuts in the top rate and basic rate of income tax were promised as were some limited privatisations of nationally owned industries.

In its manifesto, The Labour Way is the Better Way, Labour also put rising prices and the war against inflation as a top priority, but this was also coupled with a commitment to full employment.

Inflation would be brought down to 5% within three years. The party also pledged to bring in a Standing Pay Commission along with the TUC to help deal with industrial strife.

The Liberal manifesto - The Real Fight is for Britain - hoped to capitalise on the failures of the other two parties while in government.

It argued that the relatively short Lib-Lab pact of 1977-1978 made the case for constitutional reform to enable moderate coalitions to marginalise the ‘lunatic’ fringes of the other parties.