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The Labour Government, 1974–79: Political Aims and Economic by Martin Holmes

By Martin Holmes

'... during this transparent and expert heritage of the 1974-79 govt, Holmes exhibits how Labour's aspirations continually encountered the sensible limits of monetary management.' occasions better schooling complement '... lucid and well-documented account.' British ebook information '... Dr Holmes is perceptive and reasonable in his overview of the prime personalities.' Samuel Brittan, monetary Times

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As the pound fell foreign holders of sterling began to react to the inflationary situation and funds began to be withdrawn. For a Labour Government, especially a Wilson Government, this brought back painful memories of the I 960s and added urgency to restoring confidence by reducing inflation, or at that stage bringing it under control. A 30 per cent settlement ofthe NUR's claim was even considered a victory by the government, so serious had the problem become. Harold Wilson recalled that: The Treasury was utterly depressed, and when depressed it tends to go fetishist.

Given such commitments it was not surprising that Harold Wilson had to use all his political acumen, and knowledge ofthe labour movement, successfully to resist a demand to nationalise Labour's Industrial Strategy 37 the leading twenty-five companies, as advocated during 1973 by the NEC. Wilson knew, not least from experience at successive general elections, that nationalisation was not popular with the public at large, including ordinary Labour voters. Wilson also knew that the industrial strategy, given the oil crisis and miners' strike which devastated the economy, was light years away from a practical solution to actual and immediate economic needs.

It looked at the company too much in macroeconomic rather than microeconomic terms and seemed to miss the fact that investment in itself has no particular merit, if that investment is wrongly channelled into a poor product. The report did show many ofthe known problems of British Leyland; plant and equipment were outdated, productivity was very poor, greater investment was required, industrial relations practices were less than satisfactory and the company's organisation al structure was inefficient.

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