“..In January 1979, the British Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan, returned from a Summit meeting in the Caribbean to a Britain suffering the serious industrial unrest that became known as the “winter of discontent”.
Interviewed at Heathrow airport, Mr Callaghan’s relaxed attitude to talk of chaos was translated by The Sun the following morning into a headline reporting the Prime Minister as saying “Crisis? What Crisis?”
The electorate’s reaction led directly to Mrs Thatcher’s election victory later that year.
John Key, returning from Hollywood this week, was equally dismissive of talk of a crisis in manufacturing.
Our Prime Minister was in some ways even more insouciant than Mr Callaghan; faced with Statistics New Zealand figures showing 40,000 manufacturing jobs lost in the last four years, he airily asserted that our expert official statisticians were simply wrong.
But the Prime Minister’s denial of the facts reveals more than just a surprising and mistaken reliance on his own expertise in handling statistics and a confidence that he will be believed, however improbable his assertions.
It reflects a deliberately relaxed attitude by the government to the whole issue of unemployment.
The Prime Minister resists talk of crisis because he believes that people are out of work because that is what free-market theory dictates.
That theory takes a very simple view..”
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