October 21, 2010

Cuts: so what's new?

Anti-cuts handbill

"We must combine the support of all sections of the community if the present disastrous course of Government policy is to be reversed."

Here is an illustration of  the fact that the cuts in public expenditure which were recently outlined in the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review, and the opposition which they have aroused, are just the latest manifestations of a recurring theme in British political history. 

This punchy handbill is one of a number of items collected at a national lobby of Parliament held on on 17 November 1976.  It forms part of the Modern Record Centre's extensive miscellaneous series of political ephemera.  The cuts were the price demanded by the International Monetary Fund for the large loan which the Labour Government had sought in order to address the country's economic difficulties.  As in 2010, one of the main arguments made against such cuts was that a contraction of the public sector would have a damaging knock-on effect on the wider economy.  The role of the money markets was also a controversial issue then as now. 

On the other side of the handbill the remedies proposed by the Trades Union Congress that September are summarised.  They included selective import controls, the tightening of exchange control regulations to limit speculative movements of capital, the encouragement of manufacturing investment by increased public expenditure through the National Enterprise Board, increases in taxation on higher earners, and the extension of public ownership, including the banks and key financial institutions.

Document reference: MSS.21/880((link to on-line catalogue)

Click on the 'thumbnail' for a larger image.


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