Left alone

March 14, 1997

Given the Government's propensity for blaming almost anything that goes wrong on the last Labour government, led by reckless ultra-leftist James Callaghan, there is something quite touching about the sight of them declining to do so on one occasion when they would have a fair case.

Ask the Association of University Teachers what happened to academic pay under the Conservatives, and they will point to 1981 as a base line and argue that the real value of salaries has not risen in 16 years. Ask the Government and they'll say pay has risen 43 per cent since 1979 and academics have nothing to complain about.

Ah, says the AUT, with a nostalgic sigh for that greatest of campaign slogans "rectify the anomaly"; 1979/81 was when the anomaly was rectified, restoring a real-terms cut of more than 50 per cent since 1973 - roughly the period of the Wilson-Callaghan administrations.

Lord Henley's refusal to make use of such freely offered ammunition suggests that he may be a gent by nature as well as birth.

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