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September 06, 1974 - Image 21

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1974-09-06

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Friday, September C, 1974

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Nine-B,

THE LABORITES FACE VERY HARD TIMES

Britain s
By ALLAN BARKER
LONDON (Renter) - Biritain is preparing for its second
general election of the year anxiously looking for firm govern-
ment to overcome one of the gravest economic crises in its his-
tory.
Prime Minister Harold Wilson has headed a minority Labor
administration since the last election six months ago but con-
tends this has been too precarious to be fully effective. He is
soon expected to announce an October polling date in the hope
of obtaining a working majority in the 635-seat House of Com-
mons.
THE OVERRIDING issue in the campaign, already unof-
ficially under way, is raging inflation and how to cure it.
Despite still unresolved questions concerning Britain's rela-
tionship with the European Common Market, this will be an
inward-looking election battle likely to be decided on bread-
and-butter issues. Britons are deeply worried about the falling
value of the pound in their pockets as prices rise inexorably in
the shops.
They are unenthusiastic about having to vote again so soon,
and skeptical whether the old-established parties and familiar
cast of political characters have the answer to the nation's
desperate problems.
WILSON will be fighting his fifth election as Labor Party
leader, Edward Heath his fourth as Conservative chief and
Jeremy. Thorpe his third at thethead of the liberals. None of
them inspire much obvious confidence in a cross-section of the
electorate.
But despite the feeling of many people that they have seen
and heard it all before, Britons also recognize that this could

in flation

overshadows

elections

be a crucial election for the future of the country's long-standing
two-party political system and even for British parliamentary
democracy.
The present inflation crisis is not peculiar to Britain, being
shared by other countries such as the United States, Japan and
Australia. But Britain's economic problems seem more menac-
ing than the country has faced for many years.
ON EVERY side there are warnings that economic reces-
sion could turn into something far worse if inflation is not
stemmed.
Because of higher oil prices and a stagnant economy, Brit-
ish living standards are already beginning to fall.
The economic background to the coming election includes:
prices rising by 18 per cent a year, a balance of payments
deficit on dealings with the rest of the world of 9.6 billion dol-
lars, this year, unemployment rising towards the million mark,
business confidence at rock bottom, the stock market lower in
real terms than in the 1930's, and investment plans of many
big firms in abeyance.
EXTREMISTS of both left and right are being heard. Some
leftwing union leaders openly advocate a fundamental reorgan-
ization of British capitalist society to end "exploitation" of
working people.
On the right, private armies are emerging ready to sup-
port the government of the day against strikes thattmight
undermine the civil power and cause a breakdown of law and
order.
The Labor government and its supporters denounce "hys-
teria" about Britain's plight and suggest political bias by news-
papers and the broadcasting corporations, traditional "allies"
of the conservatives. They claim the media is dominated by
middle and upper class intellectuals fearful of loss of privilege
and that ordinary working people who stand to benefit from a
more egalitarian society are never heard.

vital in deciding whether either of the main parties gains a
majority. Public dissatisfaction with the class-oriented politics
of Labor and Conservatives saw the Liberals notch six million
votes in the February 28 poll.
But under the British constituency system of winner-take-
all rather than proportional representation, they have only 15
seats in the House of Commons, including one recent Labor
defector, Christopher Mayhew. Labor now has 297 seats and
the Conservatives 295.
THORPE, youngest of the three party leaders at 45, hopes
the Liberals can increase their votes to nine million this time
and at long last break the 50-year dominance of the Labor and
Conservative Parties.
It was the Liberals who cost the Conservatives victory last
time. Their first task now is to convince the people that those
six million votes were not wasted and that the Liberals are
an effective force.
The latest opinion poll showed Labor in the lead, 51/2 per-
centage points ahead of the conservatives, with the Liberals
holding their place with 19 per cent.
BUT THE poll indicated that there is no guarantee Labor
will be returned to power with a working majority.
Laborhasconsistently refused to weaken its socialist prin-
ciples for the sake of joining a coalition, and if it fails to get
a majority Wilson might preferto leave the job of governing
to the Conservatives and Liberals.
Heath and Thorpe have similar views on the need to stay
in Europe and both believe a legally enforceable incomes poli-
cy should be held in reserve if all else fails to stem inflation.
They failed to agree on a marriage immediately after the
last election, but Heath has already thrown out new overtures
in case of an indecisive result in October.

K_< LABOR'S chief spokesmen, Wilson, Employment Secretary
Michael Foot and Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey all
IS t Y° . say Britain can reach economic stability and further prosperity
if it keeps its nerve and pulls together.
After all, by 1976 North Sea oil will be flowing in quantity
e to Britain's shores, providing a valuable new asset with which
to pay back debts accumulated in these trying times.
Wilson thinks Labor can win the election comfortably on
the record of what it has accomplished in office - ending of
} } last winter's damaging coalminers' strike, comparative indus-
trial peace since then, higher pensions. reform of trade union
laws, and introduction of food subsidies to hold down the re-
tail price index:
THE OPPOSITION Conservatives contend that Wilson wants
an election now because the economic situation will be much
worse next year, and say he would not win after this fall.
HEATH AND WILSON: In an atmosphere clouded by pro- They picture Labor as dangerously lenient to its left wing
phecies of a full-scale economic collapse, the long-standing and to the big unions, and of making no attempt to curb mis-
leaders of oCnservatism and Labor prepare for another bout. use of union power.
Despite detente, U.S. citizens in
M oscow ea rei

HEALEY AND THORPE: Defense minister Healey says Wil-
son's policies will eventually strengthen the sagging economy,
but Liberal candidate Thorpe warns that continued hard times
will trigger a wave of repression from the far right.
Having rejected the statutory incomes polity of the pre-
vious conservative administration, which the unions rejected,
Labor is putting its faith in its so-called social contract.
THIS IS an unenforceable agreement in which the Trades
Union Congress has pledged its members to show restraint in
negotiating wage deals in return for government measures to
make society fairer.
The critics of the government say the social contract is a
mirage, that wages and, inflation will skyrocket and that pow-
erful unions will protect their members at the expense of the
rest of the society. Before very long, say the pessimists, the
whole economic edifice could collapse in ruins.
Thorpe says that if the political leaders fail to stop infla-
tion, others will step in with more painful methods of repres-
sion.
MICHAEL FOOT, the most left-wing member of Wilson's
cabinet, says voluntary methods are the only way in a demo-
cratic society and wage controls have never worked in the
long term.
Another big issue in the election will be Labor's plans for
nationalization - the taking into state control of more firms
and new sections of industry in the hope of improving invest-
ment and overall planning.
Big business is determined to fight any large-scale exten-
sion of state control as outlined by labor's leftwing industry
secretary, Tony Benn.
THE CONSERVATIVES accuse labor of having seriously
undermined business confidences-with its nationalization propos-
als, which they say would wreck the economy.
Sensing possible electoral damage, Labor ministers have
reaffirmed their faith in a continuation of Britain's traditional
mixed economy, with a healthy private sector. Labor says
Benn is being made into a scapegoat.
Labor's efforts to renegotiate Britain's terms of entry into
the European Common Market will also be an election issue.
Heath, the champion of the European connection, has accused
Wilson of undermining prograss within the community and
creating business uncertainty at home by vacillating on Europe.
BUT BECAUSE any results of Labor's' renegotiation effort
will not come until next year, the European question is not
likely to influence the election outcome very much.
The voter appeal of the Liberal Party, however, could be

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Detente hasn't filtered down to
about 456 Americans living in
the capital of the Soviet Union.
They're still in small-town iso-
lat ion, closely watched, permit-
ted little travel. The assignment,
most agree, is important, butI
the problems are big ones.
By LYNNE OLSON
MOSCOW () - A Soviet offi-
cial, chatting with an American
diplomat at a reception here,
enthusiastically recalled how heI
once was invited to spend a
weekend at an American's home
during a stay in the Unitedc
States.
"Why doesn't that ever hap-
pen here?" the American asked.
His question was greeted by si-
lence and a hasty change ofi
subject.1
THE SPIRIT of detente -of
Americans and Soviets comingc
closer together - hasn't muchj
touched the daily lives of 450c
Americans who live in the So-
viet capital.
Like the rest of the foreignf
community in Moscow, Ameri-1
cans are kept isolated from the
Soviet people in almost all as-
pects of life.
Most of the 135 AmericanF
embassy personnel, 23 journal-
ists, 15 businessmen and their
families live in apartments in,
foreigners' compounds scattered.

through the city. large cities of the Soviet Union.
WHETHER pale brick high- These are the only Americans']
rises or small stucco buildings, outside Moscow.I
the apartments are guarded by Since the first Nixon-Brezh-
Soviet militia men, who stand nev summit meeting two years
in small guard boxes and closely ago, the embassy had added !
observe who goes in and out.; about 25 new staff members
One of the policeman's main and the press corps has one new;
jobs is to keep unauthorized member-U.S. News and World
Soviet citizens from entering Report opened a Moscow bureau
the buildings, this year.
"The day they remove the 'THEaMAJOR growth explo-
militia boxes-that's the day of sion has been in the business.
change," said an American cor- community. Before December
respondent. 1972, only two American com-I
Isolation is not a new feature: panies-American Express and
of the Soviet regime. Foreign- Pan American Airways - had
ers have been kept apart from representatives in Moscow.
most Russians since Czarist With the signing of the U.S.-(
times. Soviet trade agreement, other I
THE ONLY Americans who companies and banks started'
don't live in the ghettoes, as sending their people. FifteenI
they are called by their resi- businessmen representing nine
dents, are several businessmen, firms now have Moscow offices.
who live in hotels, a journalist More companies have been ac-
who's been in the Soviet Union credited and will soon open of-;
for more than 30 years and has fices as U.S.-Russian t r a d e
his own home, and a few dozen rises. It was more than $1 bil-
graduate students and profes- lion last year compared with'
sors who spend a semester or less than $200 million in 1971.
a year at Moscow schools and Americans, like other foreign-
live in dormitories. ers, are clearly identifiable by1
Twenty embassy personnel the white license plates on their1
are stationed at the U.S. con- cars. Soviet cars have blackj
sulate in Leningrad, and there plates.j
are a few students in other AMERICANS do their gro-

cery shopping, using special
hard currency coupons, at a
foreigners' gastronom, or food
store, where a bottle of Johnnie
Walker Scotch sells for less
than $2, but fresh fruit and
vegetables are scarce and ex-
pensive.
Yet prices are better and the
range of food available i5scs
much greater than at a Rus-
sian gastrohom that few Ameri"
cans venture into local stores.
Furniture is imported from
Helsinki or Copenhagen, as are
such Western amenities as corn
flakes and chewing gum. Most
other items--soap, clothing or
cosmetics-are purchased dur.
ing vacations outside the coun-
try.
THE AMERICAN Embassy,
a rambling, mustard - colored

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Americans, as one journalist 1

quipped.
Americans can get their mail
and go to church at the Em-
bassy. They eat at the snack
bar, which offers ham and eggs
for breakfast and cheeseburgers
for lunch. On Monday nights,
they watch American movies in
a basement room which is
transformed into a bar on Fri-
day nights.
In keeping with the small-
town atmosphere of the Ameri-
can community, there's consid-
erable gossip about what every-
body else is doing.
"THE EMBASSY tells us not
to gossip about people," said
one diplomat's wife. "But we
ignore it. If we couldn't gossip,
we couldn't survive."
Most Soviet citizens are dis-
couraged from having anything
to do with foreigners. As a re-
sult, Americans usually meet
only dissidents and those clear-
ed by the government to asso-,
ciate with foreigners, such as
Soviet officials, certain intellec-
tuals and those who work in
service capacities -- translators,
secretaries and drivers.
When Americans arrive in
Moscow, a city of 7 million peo-
ple, they are warned about theI
probability that the phoneis
tapped and apartments bugged.,
When discussing sensitive sub-
jects in offices and apartments,

IliI

AFSCME Invites

TO A

PRE-ELECTION

OPEN

HOUSE

All U of M CLERICALS

MONDAY-SEPTEMBER 9, 1974
5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
CAMPUS INN HOTEL HURON ROOM

E. Huron & State Street--Ann Arbor,

Michigan

As the day approaches for U of M clericals to decide the question of union
representation (September 16-23), AFSCME is anxious to hear your ques-
tions. Please come to the "Open House" on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, for
a relaxed evening. Bring:

* YOURSELF

AND YOUR

CO-WORKERS

" YOUR QUESTIONS, COMMENTS & SUGGESTIONS
* MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY. THEY
ARE WELCOME.

- .:::

III ®-t- -L....,.....-1... . :It L-.. .. .--A m ----- r-- r i I

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