The two heavyweights in Britain's general election campaign - the ruling Conservatives, and the opposition Labour Party - yesterday entered the fray with diametrically opposed political platforms. Margaret Thatcher, who is trying for a third term as prime minister, offered voters a ``Tory revolution'' in which inflation would be brought down to zero, income tax anchored at 25 percent, and British society opened up to give the individual as much freedom of choice as possible.
Neil Kinnock, who is fighting his first general election as Labour's leader, unwrapped a totally different policy package, including a state-sponsored 12 billion ($20 billion) war on unemployment, crime, and poverty. Against Tory determination to keep Britain's independent nuclear deterrent, Mr. Kinnock promised that a Labour government would get rid of nuclear weapons and tell the United States to remove its warheads from British soil. But there seemed to be less urgency about this part of the policy than in recent statements on the issue.
The two leaders were launching their manifestoes for the June 11 general election 24 hours after Britain's ``third force'' - the Social Democratic-Liberal Alliance - published its own. Presented by David Steel and David Owen, the Alliance program tried to chart a ``middle course'' aimed at getting rid of class divisions in Britain, cutting unemployment by 1 million through a ``controlled expansion'' of state spending, and keeping a ``minimum'' nuclear deterrent.
As the general election struggle began to get into full swing, most opinion polls showed Mrs. Thatcher and the Tories some 10 to 12 percent ahead of Labour, but with the latter showing some signs of closing the gap. The Alliance is trailing in third place.