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1970: British Prime Minister hit by flying egg
The Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, has been hit in the face with an egg thrown by a Young Conservative demonstrator.

The raw egg, thrown at close range, hit him on the forehead and bounced onto his jacket where it broke.

It was thrown by Tory supporter Richard Ware. He had waited nearly an hour to make his protest, outside the Wealdstone Labour Hall in north-west London, over the cancellation of the South African Springboks cricket tour.

The tour was called off on Home Secretary James Callaghan's orders afer he raised fears of mass demonstrations against apartheid. During the 1969 rugby tour, matches were frequently interrupted by protesters.

The Labour leader shrugged off the incident as a sign the cost of living could not be as high as the Tories were suggesting if people could afford to throw raw eggs.

Eggs must be cheap enough to throw about
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
The economy has been one of the central issues of this election campaign.

Earlier in the day Mr Wilson had faced heckling from a crowd of around 500 gathered to greet his arrival at the Holborn and St Pancras South constituency in north London.

One woman shouted: "He's even put a tax on ant eggs for goldfish."

Another man retorted: "Goldfish are a luxury."

When Mr Wilson was later hit by the egg, he quipped: "If they are fighting the cost of living in Harrow, obviously eggs must be cheap enough to throw about.

"If the Tories get in, in five years no-one will be able to afford to buy an egg."

Although his government has been dogged by economic crises, culminating in the devaluation of sterling three years ago, there have been signs of recovery recently.

Chancellor Roy Jenkins introduced a series of indirect taxes in 1968 and a pay rise ceiling of 3.5% which have helped improve the economy to the extent Mr Wilson felt it was safe to call an election for 18 June.

The polls have all been predicting an easy victory for Labour and Mr Wilson.

The campaigning so far has focussed firmly on the two main party leaders, Mr Wilson and Conservative Edward Heath.

Although Mr Wilson has developed a reputation for one-liners at the daily news conferences, it was Mr Heath who got the better of him this time.

Asked about the egg incident, Mr Heath replied: "This was a secret meeting on a secret tour which nobody is supposed to know about. It means that men - and perhaps women - are walking the streets with eggs in their pockets, just on the off-chance."

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Harold Wilson turning to face the camera after being hit by an egg
Harold Wilson jokes about the cost of living after having an egg thrown at him



In Context
Four days after the egg incident, Harold Wilson's wife was hit by a flour bomb as the couple waited for the prime ministerial car after a visit to the local Labour Party in Battersea, south London.

Asked afterwards if he felt the police should be given increased powers to deal with violent demonstrators, Mr Wilson said freedom was part of a democracy and a respect for the rights of others.

He went on to lose the election to the Conservatives - after what was generally regarded as a very lack-lustre campaign.

The Tories took 330 seats, with Labour on 288 and the Liberals won just six seats. The Scottish Nationalists also gained their first Westminster MP.

This was the first election in which 18-year-olds were entitled to vote - but turnout was down on previous years to 72%, the lowest since 1935.

Stories From 1 Jun


 
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