BRITAIN: Maggie Gets A for Action

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> The trade unions, a potential source of trouble for any Tory government, especially this one, were given immediate attention, with a velvet glove. Last week 370,000 teachers continued their disruptive slowdown, postal workers threatened a possible walkout, and power workers were voting by mail on whether or not to accept a 9% pay offer already approved by their union bosses; a rejection could mean an early showdown with the government. Despite Thatcher's tough stand on the abuses of union power, her moderate Employment Secretary, James Prior, quickly convened back-to-back meetings with leaders of both labor and industry. In both cases, he stressed his own "softly, softly" approach. But in both cases, he was also warned that the next few months will be "hard going" on the labor front.

> In foreign affairs, the Thatcher emphasis was on continuity rather than drastic change. The Prime Minister received two visiting heads of government without missing a beat. Ireland's Prime Minister Jack Lynch, in London on private business, came in for a half-hour tête-à-tête to sample her views on the chronic issue of British policy in Ulster. Although Helmut Schmidt had offered to postpone a meeting that had been scheduled for last week with her predecessor James Callaghan, Thatcher insisted upon wining and dining the West German Chancellor.

She bluntly warned her guest that Britain would not be "a soft touch" for the European Community. Schmidt, who got along famously with "my good friend Jim," was asked at a press conference how he expected to do with Thatcher. "I have no doubt," he answered cheerfully, "that we shall get on rather fine."

Thatcher also started to prepare herself for an upcoming itinerary of international summits that would daunt an experienced statesman, not to mention a seldom-traveled novice. They include a round table of European leaders in Strasbourg following the European Parliament election on June 10; the Big Five economic summit with the U.S., West Germany, France and Japan in Tokyo a week later; and a potentially tension-laden Commonwealth Conference in Zambia in August, at which the Queen will preside.

While the spotlight logically was focused on the activist new Prime Minister, her defeated rival was consoled by his own moment of glory last week. With a ringing ovation for his enduring personal popularity, an assembly of Labor M.P.s re-elected Callaghan by acclamation as leader of the party.

Now 67, Callaghan is expected to step down some time within the year and retire to his Sussex farm. At that point, analysts believe, he will try to ensure the succession for his fellow moderate, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey, 61, over the other probable contender, Tony Benn, 53, chieftain of the party's militant left wing. But Callaghan also squelched any unseemly haste among aspiring successors by insisting that "there is no vacancy."

At week's end, Maggie Thatcher was still so busy that she had not found time to move her family from their Chelsea house to their new private quarters on the top floor of No. 10. In fact, there wasn't time to bake a cake for Husband Denis on his 64th birthday.

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