#OTD 1992. Britain exits the ERM on ‘Black Wednesday’.

John Smith claims that John Major is “the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government”

The Sun goes with “Now we’ve ALL been screwed by the Cabinet”

A thread on how Smith and Brown went on the attack:
Labour called for an emergency debate on the ERM and the recalling of Parliament

On his debut as leader in the Commons Smith argued it was becoming a “not me Government”
“In view of the debacle, one would expect at least a word of explanation or apology, but there was not a hint of that by the Government whose most noted characteristic is that no one takes responsibility, no one resigns and no one takes the blame. They are a "not me" Government”
Smith argued that

“After all this, we are left with an economy and a society ravaged by recession. There is no more important priority in Britain today than the adoption of a programme for economic recovery. If that is not done, the price will be paid by millions of unemployed”
Smith then turned to an attack on the Conservatives management of the economy:

“The most ingenious and perhaps the most ironic of the Prime Minister's new excuse were in his first comments after he emerged from his air raid shelter. He told us that the problem was...
that the markets were irrational. What are we to make of that one? Now that the Prime Minister is possessed of a genuinely new insight, may we invite him to refrain from insisting that these irrational market forces should determine all aspects of our national life?"
“Given the total mismanagement that has been so vividly demonstrated, may we have no more assertions about the Conservative party's unique and expert knowledge of the working of markets?”
“the contribution to policy of which he appears to have been most proud, has been blown apart, and with it has gone for ever any claim by the Prime Minister or the party that he leads to economic competence. He is the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government”
Closing the debate for Labour was the Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown

“We heard today a prime ministerial speech with no information of substance, no explanation, no justification and certainly no apology to the people of this country”
“He should apologise to the millions of home owners who were told that three years of high interest rates were essential to bring us nearer zero inflation and who are about to suffer higher inflation as a result of his new policy”
Brown went on to attack the attempt to shift blame to Germany:

“Our argument is that the Government can blame neither the Germans nor the exchange rate mechanism nor extraordinary events for the scale of what has happened. They have no one to blame but themselves”
Anticipating Norman Lamont’s eventual resignation, Brown predicted how it would end:

“First, they will cut down his appearances in the media: sightings of him will become rarer and briefer as the Trade Secretary and the Home Secretary begin to take over”
“Then, the Prime Minister will repeat that the Chancellor is wonderful, marvellous, brilliant and courageous. the Prime Minister will say that the Chancellor is an air raid shelter”
“Next, the Chancellor will go to the Conservative party conference and, despite all the efforts—perhaps an interest rate cut to make the Chancellor's speech more acceptable —the ovation will be shorter. Some people will not even stand”
“Next, another meeting of the 1922 Committee will be called—of course, just to take stock. Finally, newspapers will be told that the Chancellor has become semi-detached. The Downing street press office will ask newspapers to focus less on the Chancellor's successes…
…and more on his eccentricities and excesses such as singing in the bath on the road to an announcement that he is about to spend more time with his family. The procedure is well known in the Conservative party. It is not a question now of "whether" but "when".
“The tragedy is that at this stage it is not the Government who will pay for the problems that they have created. Instead millions of British people will pay, after being hammered by the recession, with another round of public spending cuts”
Jim Callaghan – the last Chancellor forced into a pound devaluation – commented:

“The sky is darkening with the wings of chickens coming home to roost”.
William Hill cuts odds on Lamont’s resignation by the end of October to evens:

“We have had quite a few telephone calls from punters wanting to bet on the Chancellor resigning. But the situation is so volatile, he could go before we decide what odds to offer”

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More from @labour_history

26 Jul
#OTD 1945. Landslide. Attlee becomes first PM to lead a majority Labour Government.

After winning a 146 seat majority, he says "It will give heart to all those all the world over who believe in freedom, democracy and social justice"

A thread on the events of July 26th 1945
The general election of 1945 had taken place on July 5th.

Votes were stored away in town hall basements while the service vote was shipped back to the country

Read the story of the campaign here

On July 25th, ballot boxes were opened in the presence of candidates and their agents to check the validity of the service vote.

Counters had to judge who had voted via proxy. They were sworn to secrecy but rumours swirled that there had been a high count.
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4 Jul
As commentators predict a 100 seat Tory victory, Churchill is jeered and cheered by thousands, with one boy throwing a firecracker at him.

In Blackburn, Barbara Castle is wary about overturning the Tory majority

A thread on the last day of the 1945 election campaign
The illegal betting markets remained confident of a Tory victory. Small secret trades continued to take place and bookmakers offered 5/1 on a Labour victory.

Few, it was claimed, were enticed into backing Labour.
The Manchester Guardian called it for the Tories:

‘There is no reason to be other than frank about these matters. The chances of Labour sweeping the country and obtaining a clear majority over all other parties are pretty remote’
Read 19 tweets
18 Jun
#OTD Election 1970

Harold Wilson is defeated and Ted Heath becomes Prime Minister

Fifty years on, a look back at the ‘heatwave election’ as Wilson takes his campaign to 'the people', tensions rise over race and immigration and England look to defend their World Cup in Mexico... Image
Wilson called the election for June 1970 after a turnaround in the party’s fortunes.

In 1969 the Tories held a poll lead of 19% and many within Labour were disgruntled – with issues such as price rises, pound devaluation, Vietnam and prescription charges
But a change economic fortunes – such as a boost in the export figures – meant that by May 1970 Labour held a 12% lead in the polls.

Wilson feared that a delay until October 1970 would allow the Conservatives to spend £2 million on a Summer advertising campaign Image
Read 32 tweets
5 Jun
#OTD 1945. Clement Attlee responds to Churchill’s ‘Gestapo’ speech with an attack on Conservatism:

‘For years every attempt to remedy these crying evils was blocked by the same plea of freedom for the individual. It was in fact freedom for the rich and slavery for the poor’
On the 4th June, Churchill kicked off the 45 campaign with his first election broadcast:

‘there can be no doubt that Socialism is inseparably interwoven with Totalitarianism and the abject worship of the State’
‘there is to be one State to which all are to be obedient in every act of their lives. This State is to be the arch-employer, the arch-planner, the arch-administrator and ruler, and the arch-caucus boss’
Read 16 tweets
29 May
#OTD 1970. The Equal Pay Act receives Royal Assent.

After decades of campaigning, the bill enables women to make a claim for equal pay if they do the same job as a man.

A look back at Barbara Castle and the battle to introduce equal pay for women #EqualPayActat50
In 1946, the Royal Commission on Equal Pay concluded tentatively that women in teaching and certain grades of the civil service might benefit from equal pay.
In June 1947, the Labour Chancellor Hugh Dalton rejected the demands believing that the cost would be too high as he grappled with dire economic conditions.
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24 May
#OTD 1988. Section 28 is introduced. Law states that local authorities cannot 'promote homosexuality' or 'the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship'.

A look back at the controversy surrounding its introduction
In 1986 there had been much public controversy about the book Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin.

Conservative Minister Kenneth Baker called for the withdrawal of the book which the Inner London Education Authority had made available.
Richard Luce – Arts Minister – warned of the rise in ‘intolerant and lunatic libraries’ in Labour councils that promoted homosexual literature but deemed Enid Blyton racist.

He called the books unacceptable to the wider public.
Read 38 tweets

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