Leader's speech, Brighton 1957
Harold Macmillan (Conservative)
Commentary:Since the last conference, Anthony Eden had retired due to ill health and Macmillan replaced him as Party Leader. In this speech, he diagnosed Britain’s primary economic problem as inflation, and rebutted the claims that the Conservatives had frozen private investment and sought to create unemployment. With regard to international affairs, the government aimed to increase trade between Britain and Europe through its Free Trade Area proposals. The struggle against communism was ongoing, which meant, Macmillan argued, that Britain needed to maintain a nuclear deterrent. Moreover, the Soviet Union had been supplying arms to Syria and Egypt, thereby increasing its influence in the Middle East.
HAROLD MACMILLAN, 1957, Brighton
My Lord Chairman, I need not tell you how glad we are to see you among us this afternoon. This vast audience has already demonstrated the affection and esteem in which our Party holds you and will always hold you. Since the last Mass Meeting of the Conservative Conference we have lived through a difficult and tumultuous year, even judged by the standards of this modern age. It speaks much for the strength of the Conservative and Unionist Party and the basic loyalty and steadfastness of all our people that we have overcome so many troubles and are facing the future today with such resolution and confidence. Everyone in this hall will I am sure understand the somewhat mixed feelings with which I approach my task today.
First, I need not hide it from you, pride at the honour which the Party has done me in electing me their leader; next, humility, when I think of the magnitude of my responsibilities; finally sorrow that the leadership should have come to me in the way it did, through the illness and retirement of my friend and colleague Anthony Eden. But to these I must frankly add a sense of inspiration at the challenge of the great issues at home and abroad.
Once again, as twice in my lifetime, we shall only overcome them by unity and daring. I have naturally drawn great comfort and strength from the support of my colleagues in the Government, from our Members of Parliament, and from all of you in this hall who give the Party its direction and vigour in the constituencies throughout the country.
In the course of this Conference you have heard speeches from most of the leading Ministers. I am sure you must be impressed by the grasp of the subject and the breadth of vision which they have displayed. You have heard the Foreign Secretary and shown the confidence and support you have for him amid his heavy responsibilities. You have heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer and been able to admire the courage he is displaying in facing his onerous tasks. There is one, alas, of my colleagues who has not been able to be here, the Home Secretary. We are indeed sorry that he is not with us but it is good to learn that he is heading towards full recovery, for the Party owes him more than it can ever repay.
Now I come to the Party. Here again I want to thank two men particularly. Oliver Poole, who has been a wonderful help to me ever since I first became leader; who kept his head clear and his heart loyal during the first months of difficulty and who has shown a real sense of duty and team spirit in continuing to serve us in that part of our work where he can give us the greatest help. And now I come to Lord Hailsham. I do not think I need say very much about him. He speaks for himself - and very well. I would like to say this. He did not seek this post. He did not want it. Beneath a certain buoyancy which we all love in him, there lies a sincere modesty. He did not think he could do it. But when I pressed him, he finally replied, as I expected, that he would do anything that I asked him to do to the best of his ability. When I told him of Oliver Poole’s generous proposal, then indeed many of the new Chairman’s anxieties were removed. Together they will make a fine team Give them all your support.
Now, I come to this Conference. But before I do so, I am sure you would wish me to express our gratitude to Sir Stephen Pierssené who has served us well and long. We hope he may have many happy years of activity, but perhaps in a less strenuous sphere. At the same time I would like to welcome his successor, Mr. Urton, who is no stranger to most of us.
Now, for the Conference. It has been an inspiring Conference. I think I remember saying on one of these occasions that it was a happy dispensation of Providence that decreed that the Conservative Party Conference should always take place a week after the Socialist Party Conference. At least it makes it easy for the country to draw its own conclusions. There is hardly any need to underline the contrast: ‘To point the moral or adorn the tale.’
This week the keynote of our Conference has been that combination of realism and idealism, so difficult to attain but without which no human organisation has the right to live, or the power to survive. No one who has been here and heard the wide-ranging and thoughtful debates, or read them in the newspapers, or listened on the radio, or looked at the television, can fail to realise that this is a modern twentieth century Party: a Party drawn from every section of the Nation; a Party with the largest youth organisation; a Party which, while resting its foundations in the past, is building for the future; a Party seeking real solutions to modern problems, seeking them with determination, with knowledge and, as is your right, with a certain amount of criticism. I am all for criticism. We cannot just live by patting each other on the back. But we have never gone in for stabbing each other in the back. I read during the recess that Mr. Gaitskell was suffering from a crick in the neck. I was very sorry, but not at all surprised. Looking over your shoulder is the occupational disease of left wing leaders. Here, at any rate, we look each other in the face.
I want to speak first about the outside world - what used to be called foreign affairs. But really that phrase is out of date. In old days foreign affairs meant something remote, rather mysterious, only understood by a few experts. Now we have learnt only too well that our fortunes at home are inextricably linked with the world outside, financially, economically, materially, morally. This modern world in which we live is dominated by three great facts. The fact of Communism; the fact of the new nationalism; and the fact of nuclear power and modern technology with all their immense possibilities for good and for evil.
We were brought up to divide history into times of peace, sometimes secure, sometimes less secure, but still peace; and times of war. But Communism has changed all that. It has destroyed the old distinction. It is a continual war. Cold war we call it, a never-ending struggle between two opposing forces. To most of us it is the struggle between good and evil. But when we say this, we must try to live up to our claim. The challenge to freedom does not only come from abroad. At any rate, we all know the weapons of Communism, both at home and abroad. Propaganda and intimidation to weaken the West by fear, subversion of areas where our vital interests are at stake, and the perversion and arming of nationalism to serve Communist ends. We have to resist these tactics by every means in our power.
At the same time we have to seek - and we are honestly seeking - some kind of an answer by which the danger until it can be finally removed can at least be contained. Peaceful coexistence is fine so long as it is really peaceful, and each side is prepared to live together without trying to undermine the other by plot and intrigue. Yet we must not deceive ourselves as to the nature of this struggle. It is, I fear, one of those great secular divisions from which the world has suffered in the past and which now takes a new and dangerous form. We must be patient as well as prudent. For the conflict is moral as well as material. To meet it we must assess calmly the aims and methods of those who confront us. We must meet any goodwill with equal goodwill. But we must avoid wishful thinking which would accept mere words and phrases at their face value. Deeds, not words, these are the only reality. Above all, we must not lower our guard, nor underrate our own strength. We must certainly not undermine it ourselves.
We have, as I see it, a triple shield. First, there is the community of purpose and moral influence of our own Commonwealth of Nations. Second, there is the growing solidarity of Western Europe. Third, there is our alliance with the United States. One of the great though quiet achievements of the past few months has been the recognition in London and Washington that we must act together. In the Far Eastern troubles of 1954, America insisted on the peril. She was then prepared to go it alone, but we were for restraint. Then a year ago America thought that we had been too hasty over Suez. To us, it seemed that they were too slow to understand what was really involved.
The Communists, of course, still hope to divide us; and if they can do that, their task will be easy. Of course, there are plenty of people who are tempted to harp upon and exaggerate our occasional differences. But I must say frankly that if they do so, they are wittingly or unwittingly playing the Communist game. For on the unity of purpose and policy of the Commonwealth, Europe and the United States lies the hope and the only hope of the free world.
There is one vital aspect of defence in which America and Britain are jointly determined. It is well for the world that that has been so. I mean, of course, the nuclear bomb. This is a matter which needs calmness of judgment as well as imagination; sense as well as sensibility. Nobody can deny that it has been the Western possession of the bomb which has deterred and still deters the Soviet Union from open aggression. Even the most recent developments, however startling, have not altered this strategic fact. It is our will to retaliate with nuclear strength which prevents them daring to launch their enormous forces against us. And it is for this reason that during this year I, with the full support of my colleagues, have resisted all the pressure from so many sources to abandon the manufacture and testing of our weapon without any safeguards for our own security. The pressure was very severe; some of it, of course, was not respectable - it came from Communist or Communist-inspired sources. I did not mind that, but much of it came from the most worthy and high-minded men and women - whose views I naturally respect. But events have shown how wise my colleagues and I were to stand firm, and not to send our Foreign Secretary in the words used in this hall a week ago, ‘naked into the Conference Chamber.’
The story, you know, was told of Wilkes, the great 18th Century demagogue and agitator, that when in his more respectable and declining years he was speaking to the King, the Monarch was surprised at his moderation. ‘Ah!’ said Wilkes, ‘I was never much of a Wilkite myself.’
I am beginning to think that Mr. Bevan was never much of a Bevanite. Of course, I must admit that the second Socialist resolution last week asking us to undertake no more nuclear tests seemed rather to undermine the first. It seemed to take us back to Mr. Gaitskell’s original idea that we should make the bomb but not test it. I never thought that a very prudent plan. But no doubt this was a tactical concession to the extremists. In any case, our position is clear. We want to end the testing and production of nuclear weapons, but we want to make sure that if we make such an agreement it can and will be enforced. But getting rid of the bomb is not enough. At the same time we must have some reduction of conventional forces.
We want, of course, to free the world from the shadow of the nuclear threat. But we cannot give up our deterrent if as a result we are left in a position of hopeless weakness and inequality in conventional forces.
We and our allies have made one proposal after another. They take full account of Soviet security as well as of our own - that is the only way. As yet, so far we have had no real response. We have had nothing but propaganda arguments. But we do not despair. We shall go on trying. Meanwhile, so long as we have the retaliatory power I do not believe that a mass assault by the Soviet forces upon us is practicable. Sir Winston Churchill pointed out that in the stalemate may lie the hope of avoiding global war. Yet we have to accept this fact that if Communism is checked in that way, it will turn to other methods. We have to meet subversion in all its various forms. We must help our friends all over the world who are in danger.
All this means a long and sustained effort. We must not overstrain ourselves. We must not exhaust our economy in Britain by attempting too much. Nothing would suit the Communist powers better or serve our allies worse. That is the purpose of our new defence plan. We believe that we can best fulfil our tasks both in the deterrent and in what we have called the police work that falls upon us from time to time all over the world by well-equipped volunteer forces. We have always said that we would dispense with National Service as soon as it became possible to do so. That is our aim. Industry will of course benefit when the call-up stops. The whole economy will benefit and we should be able to look to our great tradition of volunteer service to match the nation’s needs.
For the moment the Soviet advance has been halted in Europe. The powerful organisation of NATO stands firm. In the Far East, SEATO has come into being and the situation, though precarious, is less anxious than it was a year or two ago. It is natural therefore that checked in two directions the Communist flood should have sought the weakest point - that has been and still is the Middle East.
A year ago when we ascribed much of the troubles of the Middle East to Russian infiltration our analysis was questioned and even ridiculed. I do not think anyone would question it today. Recent events in Syria have shown how persistent Communist subversion can be. One of the great gains of recent months is that our American friends are now determined in close collaboration with us to do all they can to assist and aid the countries of the Middle East. For I am persuaded that it is in the interests of these countries as well as our own that the economic co-operation and friendly relations which have done so much to build up their freedom in the past should be strengthened and not weakened. For it is by this honourable partnership that the standard of the countries of the Middle East and their strength can be continually improved. Soviet infiltration and interference would in the long run prove a menace to both. We trust that the Middle Eastern peoples will see the danger to themselves, that they will discover before it is too late that the Communists who charge us with ‘colonialism’ are themselves the cruellest imperialists.
Let us remind the world that the Iron Curtain has gathered behind its sinister folds no less than a hundred million people in Europe alone since the end of the war. Britain, during that time or in the same period, has helped five times that number - about five hundred million people - in Asia and Africa to achieve nationhood as full and free members of the Commonwealth. The free Commonwealth is our answer to the claims and problems of growing nationalism. What was Communism’s answer? What is it today? It can be summed up in a single word - Hungary. Therefore, while the world outside is full of dangers and difficulties, let us take heart. Let us hold on together. Above all let us hold together the three groups of nations of which we are the only country to be a member of all - the Commonwealth, Europe, and the Anglo-American Alliance.
Only thus can we do our duty by our own peoples and by the United Nations, whose principles we are all pledged to serve and whose authority we seek all the time to strengthen. Yet, if we are to discharge our duty in the world, our power to do so must depend above all upon our domestic economic strength. I believe we have the will, although, of course, there are faint hearts and defeatists everywhere in every country. What we must ensure is that not only that we have the ends but that we have the means. Our foreign policy must rest upon the strength of our economy.
Now I come to a question with which you have dealt. One problem has troubled us both at home and abroad. It is the problem of inflation. So much has been said in this hall during this week that you will not expect me to repeat it. Our great pre-war problem was unemployment. Our great post-war problem has been inflation. Before the war, under Conservative and Labour Governments alike, there were many men and women unemployed. There were machines standing idle. In those days prices were low but unemployment was high. Today we have full employment. In most years, since the war, we have had a labour shortage; that is to say, more jobs in industry than men and women to fill them. All this has brought with it the problem of rising prices. This has confronted both Parties since the war - and many other countries besides our own.
Our first responsibility, therefore, is to see that inflation does not undermine our economic position or endanger the expansion of our economy. We have had our successes. In spite of all our difficulties we have achieved as a nation a good surplus in balance of payments. This year it will be some £200,000,000. We have invested heavily overseas, and of course in our capacity as bankers to the sterling area we have had to meet heavy drawings on the central reserves from the rapidly developing countries of the Commonwealth. Meanwhile, at home we have reached, so far as the mass of the people are concerned, the highest standard of living in our history.
I see that Mr. Bevan called the people ‘an embittered and frustrated industrial mass.’ I do not know where he got that impression from. Has he never seen any of those six million TV aerials which have gone up since 1951? Has he never run across any of the extra two million cars or motor bicycles? Does his view not embrace any of those houses he did not build but we did?
Let us be frank. The wage earner and the business man find wages and profits go far above prices. It is the pensioner, the retired man, the people on fixed or nearly fixed incomes, who have borne the burden. I said at Bedford recently, and I say again today, we have a clear duty to those sections of our people who have not shared in this general prosperity and that duty we intend to discharge.
This is, of course, a many-sided problem. We are not merely an industrial country; we are the bankers to the sterling area. From this we gain great advantages. It helps us, but it brings corresponding risks and responsibilities. The fact that the greater part of the world’s trade is done in our money means that our money can be vulnerable. Our policies must command confidence not only in this country but abroad. And confidence in our money is affected not only by events in this country but also by what is happening abroad. During this summer the pound suffered because people abroad feared that the British Government and people would not boldly face the problems of inflation or of extra wage claims not matched by extra production. It also suffered, and perhaps to a greater degree, because people abroad believed that the German deutschmark was undervalued and saw a hope of a quick capital profit by buying marks. Let us try to get this in perspective for a moment.
In 1951 we took over this country in a state of extreme - almost desperate - crisis. The Socialist Government was so frightened of the situation that they did not even try to deal with it. They had not the courage for that - they ran away from it. It is true they summoned Parliament - but only to dissolve it. We certainly do not mean to run away from our responsibilities. After the first year, when we had to follow and intensify measures of restriction, import controls and the like, we have developed a policy of expansion through freedom, opportunity and incentive - and this coupled with a continuing reduction in the burden of taxation. Monetary policy, restriction or easing of credit, acceleration or retardation in this or that part of the investment programme over which the Government has direct control - surely these are the measures which we must intensify or relax according to the state of the economic barometer.
Nor must we forget the human element. Incentive is necessary if we are to get real expansion, and that is why we have made tax reductions amounting in all to some £800,000,000 or £900,000,000 a year. Nevertheless, when the boom in investment developed in 1955, bringing a danger of renewed inflation, we brought in measures designed to get people to hold back on buying and save more. The credit squeeze helped to restrain the boom within the limits of our resources, restrictions on hire-purchase damped down a bit the spending out of borrowed money. National savings were assisted by higher interest rates, income tax concessions on small saving, and - dare I remind you of it - the launching of the premium bond.
These policies took, of course, some time to work, but they did work. And the result is that we have now a decent surplus on our balance of payments. We have increased both exports and savings to record levels. But the threat today does not come from a shortage of money of the type that led to unemployment between the wars. It is really no good trying to revive the bogey of Mr. Montagu Norman. Everyone is fully employed - indeed, there is, if anything, a shortage of labour. The danger does not come from too little money in the system. It comes from too much. In other words from inflation.
Of course, the Government could, but will not in principle, allow money, paper money - for that is what it is - to be created to ensure that, for the time being, the spiral of wages and prices goes merrily up. But who gains? The wage earner won’t gain in the long run, and all the rest of the community will lose. The spiral won’t keep on going up - sooner or later it will blow up. Then all will lose in a common disaster, in which the trade by which we live, our savings of the past, and our hopes for the future would all be involved. This is where the real threat of unemployment lies - not in the Government’s measures to deal with the problem.
There is another misunderstanding I would like to clear up. It is not true to say that there is a freeze on private investment. Private investment can be financed in three ways - either by bank overdraft, by internal savings of a company, or by raising fresh capital from the public. The first certainly cannot be increased because the bank overdrafts are to be held on average to last year’s figures, and these are forms of money that are in a sense creating money. The second depends upon the wise and prudent policy of those who direct industry. The third, raising money on the market, depends upon what is judged to be the capacity of the market to absorb it, which is another way of saying, upon the willingness of people to save. I am sure we must aim to match our investment by genuine saving. And if more is saved, why then, more can be invested. In the same way, if more is produced more can be earned - and should be earned. What we cannot afford is more to be paid out, unrelated to higher production.
The Chairman has said something about the wicked accusation that we seek to impose unemployment. There may be some people - there must be in this audience - young enough not to have known, there may be some so remote from reality not to realise what mass unemployment involves in human suffering. Certainly anyone of my age, or who has had my experience can never put it out of his mind. We do not seek unemployment - we seek to avert it. And if it ever comes to the people of this country again, it can only come in one way - it will be a self-inflicted wound. Our aim is not to create unemployment and I think our record proves it.
Our aim is not to reduce living standards in any section of our people. On the contrary, our fixed purpose is to raise them for all. Our aim is not conflict but unity. Whatever extremists may say, I would urge ordinary men and women of every section of the community to put out of their minds all appeals to prejudice. But I must say this frankly - and it is my duty to say it - that unless we can show common sense all round we may by ill-considered words and deeds throw away the substance for the shadow like the dog in the fable.
I cannot believe that our people will make the tragic mistake of throwing away the solid benefits which they have gained and the still more substantial benefits which are within our grasp. Surely what we all ought to be doing now is seeing how we can produce a bit more, not seeing how we can chisel a bit more out of somebody else. I believe that, if they think it over, all those who hold great responsibility, either for the leadership and management of business, or the Trade Unions, will have this thought in mind. In any case, our duty as the Government is clear. In spite of misunderstanding and misrepresentation, we intend to see this thing through. Then our policies will be seen not only to be necessary but fruitful. Meanwhile, I feel sure that we can look to you in this hall, and to all those whom you represent and influence outside, for full and active support.
We have seen a good many things through in the last six years. Cast your minds back for a moment. In a fortnight’s time Britain will have had a Conservative Government for six years. Six years of Socialist restriction compared with six years of Conservative opportunity, so we can strike a balance sheet.
First, our trading account with the rest of the world. In their six years the Socialists were £800,000,000 in the red. In our six years we are £800,000,000 to the good. We have been earning abroad more than we have been spending and we are doing so now. And we have been investing far more 50 per cent more - half as much again more - overseas than the Socialists did - and that, in spite of the 6,000 million dollars’ worth which they have received in gifts alone. And we have been investing more at home. And even with our new measures will go on doing so. In six years the Socialists built less than a million houses. In six Conservative years nearly twice as many have been completed. For every single school place completed by the Socialists we have completed two. Take the records on taxation. In five Socialist Budgets taxes went up. In five Conservative Budgets taxes have come down. Then look at the difference in the standard of living: one doesn’t need statistics to demonstrate this - the evidence is all around us. Abundance of goods and freedom of choice. It took us less than three years to get rid of food rationing which had persisted through six long Socialist years.
You will remember the gibe about ‘Red Meat.’ What has happened? I will tell you. The gibe has become the joint. Mr. Bevan once said, ‘Why look in the crystal when you can read the book?’ Well, you can read in the book the comparison between the record of the Socialist and of the Conservative Governments. The facts are all there and six years is a fair period of trial. The trouble is that it is so easy to forget what things were like back in 1951. And, of course, we are such a young Party that many of us do not know.
It is easy to forget how we had to take a bit of margarine with us when we went to tea with a friend, how eagerly we queued for what I think was called a bit of off-ration offal, or that strange part of bureaucratic thinking - bananas on green books only. People in those days could not buy nylons except under the counter or from the spivs; we had to dash round looking for candles every time there was a power cut. And even after six years of enlightened Socialism - six years of this Utopia - the Minister of Fuel and Power proudly made this statement. He said: ‘Electric fires are a major cause of power cuts. We have imposed a purchase tax on them, and the Area Boards no longer display them in showrooms. I am told that in many parts of the country it is becoming really difficult to buy an electric fire.’ What a boast! What a triumph of planning!
That was in October 1951. It was in that same month that the Socialist Prime Minister said: ‘If rationing is good for the people in wartime, surely it must be good for them in peacetime.’ All these things are part and parcel of Socialism. But - and I must be serious - these things are not just a glimpse of the past. They are an awful warning for the future.
In due course the British people will be called upon to make a great decision. When that time comes it will be their duty to put aside many of the minor incidents or temporary difficulties, or even grievances, that naturally arise in the life of any country. It will be true next time, as it was last time and the time before that - to borrow a phrase from our old friend Anthony Eden - that the broad divide in our political life is between Socialism and freedom, between those who accept the doctrine that the State should dominate the life of the individual and those who believe in the highest degree of individual freedom compatible with an ordered community and the common good.
That is still the choice today, and will be in two or three years hence. The people have the right to be informed, and a duty to inform themselves as to the real meaning of the programmes set before them. They have to decide, moreover, partly on hard practical grounds - what will best suit their material fortune and prosperity - and partly, if I may be allowed the word, on spiritual grounds, on what best suits the ideals and ambitions that they have for themselves - aye, their children and their fellow countrymen - their country.
Let us take first the practical grounds. Our economy, under whatever Government, Left or Right, will have to live in a harshly competitive world. It will have to develop its own strength without the great benefit of the legacy of wealth which has been largely destroyed in two world wars. What are the proposals so far set before us by the Socialists? They pay lip service, of course, to the defence of the pound. But how do they propose to defend it against the continual pressure to increase wages, regardless of production? First, by the purchase of some 5 million houses, now in private hands, at a cost of perhaps something like £2,500,000,000. But to turn fixed assets into liquid money hardly seems a very good method of steadying prices or resisting inflation. Then they do it by a series of controls, presumably combined with rationing? That will only bring us back all the frustration and misery, aye, and dishonesty, from which we have recently escaped. They do it by immense increases in public expenditure and so taxation. Will that help? Will they do it by an attack upon industry upon a scale undefined and apparently practically without limits?
There has been a great ideological dispute as to precisely which form of nationalisation was to be preferred, the old or the new. I think the supporters of the new felt that the word nationalisation was not very popular. They came to Brighton not to praise it but to bury it. But really it has all amounted, as far as I can see, to a distinction without a difference. They are using the oldest trick in the world - if the goods do not sell - try them with another label. I read in a Socialist magazine the following account of this dispute: ‘The real choice’ it says, ‘is whether the Government is to use public ownership to take a cut in the swag or to use public enterprise to cut the swag itself.’ This is an elegant way of describing these two proposals which have caused such a furore in the Labour Party. All the same, it seems that a compromise was reached, and it was decided to use both methods. There is to be a short list who are to have their throats cut, and a longer list who are to be bled slowly to death.
Let me turn for a moment to their foreign policies, which are even more obscure. Some support the principle of the alliances; others oppose it violently. Some are in favour of Britain being armed with atomic and nuclear deterrents; others oppose it bitterly. Some are for the American alliance; others against. Some see in Communism the deadly enemy of all free society; others believe it to be something that can be soothed or flattered or wheedled into harmlessness.
We are convinced, and I firmly believe we can convince the mass of our fellow countrymen, that these Socialist theories will not work, that they have been proved not to work, and that they would bring about an early collapse of the whole structure on which we have built up in recent years so much prosperity for all. What is more - I do not believe that anyone really wants that kind of society. Where everything is rationed, where houses are municipalised, where education is uniform, where industry is nationalised, where individual effort is hobbled and derided and where taxes are sky-high. Think of all the bills piling up for the unfortunate Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer. I see that Mr. Harold Wilson has earmarked himself for that job - well, I would not like to be in his boots.
But we on our side must not be content with destructive criticism. We shall succeed if we have - and are clearly seen to have - ideas and policies both at home and abroad which match the possibilities of our time. We Conservatives have a pattern of policy: that pattern has clearly emerged throughout the last six years. Inevitably, the difficulties of recent months, the recurrence of inflation at home, and the Middle Eastern crisis abroad, have somewhat obscured this pattern in the minds of many people. In the maze of events some have lost the thread. But it has not been broken. The pattern is there. It is our special duty - every one of us in this hall - to let it clearly be seen in every constituency throughout the land.
Let me try to give its general outline. Abroad we hold to the policy of peace through strength with our friends in the Commonwealth, our allies in the great regional organisations, and our American partners. At the same time we will do all that negotiation and ingenuity can contrive to turn this policy into one of real peace through adequate disarmament with proper safeguards.
I believe the mass of the people broadly understand this policy and approve it. They understand, too, the modern role of the Commonwealth, changing and developing all the time. They understand the economic value of the Commonwealth as well as its moral value - they want to invest in it and help in its development. And they well know what the world would be like, with the pressures of Communism and the dangers of extreme nationalism, if this Commonwealth of ours did not exist both as a fact and as an ideal.
At home, our aim ever since we took over in the crisis of 1951 has been the same - to build a strong, expanding economy, built to sustain our worldwide responsibilities, built to compete in the markets of the world, and built year by year to raise the standard of living of the people.
Expansion and freedom, trade and progress, remain our main theme and objective, and it is to these that our individual policies are geared. For instance, our Free Trade Area proposals which you debated here yesterday have the aim of increasing our trade with Europe, while safeguarding the interests of our domestic agriculture and of the British Commonwealth. For Europe is the area of the world where trade is expanding the most rapidly, and it is from Europe that the duty of the Old World to meet some of the needs of the new and developing territories can best be met. Our agriculture must continue in good heart and play its part in the new conditions of freedom and abundance. The policy of long-term assurances and improvement grants embodied in our new Agriculture Act will give a sounder basis for farmers than ever before on which to plan ahead.
With regard to Commonwealth trade, you will have read the brilliantly successful way in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his Commonwealth colleagues, has brought to a conclusion the Conference in Canada. And we have given the warmest welcome, and, I trust, some new ideas of our own, as a most constructive contribution to the Prime Minister of Canada’s determination to increase trade between Canada and the Old Country.
We need more power, hence our rapidly developing nuclear power programme, which will be pressed forward on the maximum scale our economy can sustain under the able direction of the Minister in charge. We need young men and women, qualified to handle the new processes and techniques which modern science develops day by day. Hence our rapidly developing nuclear power programme, which will be pressed forward on the maximum scale our economy can sustain under the able direction of the Minister in charge.
We need young men and women, qualified to handle the new processes and techniques which modern science develops day by day. Hence the £100,000,000 expansion of technical education. But, you know, for all their importance, these questions of how to earn our living are but a means to an end - living itself.
Our Party stands for the combination of two principles; the rights of the individual - freedom, let us call it - and his duties. Every man comes into this world alone. He goes out of it alone. Although the life of man on earth is spent in a community, to which each man owes obligations, fundamentally he is a single, individual soul, alone before his Maker.
All through human society there has been this inherent problem of how to combine the rights of each individual man and woman, their right to live their own lives, to express themselves in their own way and to make or, if you like, to mar their own fortunes, how to combine that with the duty that they have to others and the benefits that they can bring to others. A Socialist society, or a collectivist society, would not provide a high standard of material conditions for a people who have no raw materials save coal and a little iron; who brought into being an immense population in a confined compass; and who can only live by their intelligence, their brains and by the constant development of new methods - which spring after all in the long run from individual human brains.
When I spoke on the occasion of my election as your leader some months ago, I said that it is only by giving opportunity to the strong and able that we can have the means to protect the weak and the old. The whole fabric of our social services - slum clearance, health services, insurance benefits, pensions, education and the rest - is nurtured and sustained by the success of individual enterprise and effort. Encourage that enterprise, and these social services will expand in increasing scope and usefulness. But damp it down, penalise it, and inevitably the social services will wilt and wither. But even if that were not so, even if Socialism could provide every material benefit, I do not believe that it offers the kind of life suited to a people of our long tradition of freedom and civilisation. Man was not made for the State, the State was made for man; and there, fundamentally, lies the difference between the approach of our two philosophies. I have no doubt at all that if we can but make these principles known and understood, which way will fall the choice of the great majority of our fellow countrymen.