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1979: 'No chaos here' declares Callaghan

VIDEO : `No chaos here' declares Callaghan

The Prime Minister, James Callaghan, has flown back into strike-torn Britain denying allegations the country is in chaos.

Mr Callaghan told reporters at London airport he would not be declaring a state of emergency - and he dismissed suggestions the country was facing an industrial crisis.

He said: "I promise if you look at it from the outside, I don't think other people in the world would share the view that there is mounting chaos".

Mr Callaghan has been attending a four nation summit in Guadeloupe when many MPs felt he should have stayed in Britain to deal with the widespread industrial unrest.

Strikes have erupted over the past two months in protest at the government's 5% limit on pay rises.

Election call

Bread rationing was imposed briefly in November when a bakers' strike led to panic buying.

Lorry drivers began an unofficial strike five days ago in support of a 25% pay claim.

Tanker drivers are pursuing a separate claim. If both strikes were to become official, they would cause widespread disruption to industry and business.

Opposition MPs are calling for a general election.

Conservative MP, Michael Heseltine said, "It's quite obvious Mr Callaghan is out of touch with the deteriorating situation in Britain...to come back and suggest it all looks parochial is frankly patronising."

He said if the lorry drivers called an official stoppage, then a state of emergency should be declared.

In Context
Mr Callaghan's comments to reporters at London airport led to the famous Sun headline, 'Crisis? What Crisis?'

By the end of January, water workers, ambulance drivers, sewerage staff and dustmen were involved in industrial action, heralding the 'Winter of Discontent'.

On 28 March, Mr Callaghan and his government lost a confidence motion by one vote.

He was obliged to call a general election which was won by Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative party.

He resigned as Labour leader 18 months later and retired from the Commons in 1987.

He was an active member of the House of Lords until his death on 26 March 2005.


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