Leader's speech, Brighton 1969
Edward Heath (Conservative)
At the time of the conference, the five-year suspension of capital punishment, which was enshrined in the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, was ending. The future of the Act would, Heath said, be decided in a free vote in the House of Commons. A further issue was immigration, on which Heath proposed strict controls that were intended to ease the ‘burden’ it placed on Britain’s public services and improve race relations. He also criticised Labour’s economic policy, which had led to record levels of interest rates, overseas debt and unemployment, and offered a number of solutions. Among these were lower taxes, and wider ownership of shares, housing and British industry.
Heath recorded in his memoirs that ‘in some ways it was an awkward conference: immigration caused some difficulties again, although a Powellite motion was soundly beaten, and I had to spend part of my own speech explaining our approach to capital punishment, after the conference had supported an amendment advocating its reintroduction. I stressed that there would be a free vote for Conservative MPs when capital punishment came up for review in the near future, and urged the government to produce statistics to enable MPs to make an informed decision’. (Edward Heath, The Course of My Life, Hodder and Stoughton, 1998, 300).
Madam President, you are presiding today, and we are delighted to see your return to our Party in this high position, over a Conference which has done more in three days to restore life and vitality to the political scene than three years of Labour and Liberal Conferences put together. You have shown not only life and soul by night as well as by day, but you have also shown heart and head as well; and I congratulate you most sincerely upon it.
Look at the breadth of the debates which we have had in these last three days. Our economic debate, in which Iain Macleod put forward so succinctly the plans we are considering for the reform and reduction of taxation. That immensely important debate on industrial relations in which Robert Carr carried further the farsighted and well-thought out plans we have for the reform of our industrial relations. The debate on trade and industry in which Keith Joseph set out again detailed policies for regional development, so important to so many of you here. The debate on housing, showing our policies for helping the homeless in Britain today. And then that very remarkable debate on education, with which this Conference becomes more and more deeply concerned, showing our united opposition to having Socialist dogma and doctrine in education forced upon the organisation of our schools up and down the country. And the debate yesterday afternoon answered by Margaret Thatcher, showing our determination to see that women have a just and equal place in our society today.
In this Conference you have given massive support to these policies which have been put before you by my colleagues and on which they and members of our Party in the policy groups and in the Advisory Committee on Policy under Mr. Reginald Maudling have done so much work.
But there are three debates on which I wish to say something a little more specific to you today. First of all, the debate on the question of dealing with law and order, and in particular capital punishment.
I know full well how deep individual personal feelings are in this matter, and it was right that they should be reflected openly and frankly in that debate. Of course, for many the question is decided as a matter of principle, and it is important to recognise that it is a matter of principle. There are some who wish to see the restoration of capital punishment as a matter of principle and others who wish to see its continued abolition as a matter of principle. I hope that we may all respect these points of view.
At the same time, there are many worried and anxious about the present position who wish to decide the question as to whether capital punishment is a deterrent to murder, and for them an amendment was introduced by your husband, Madam President, in the House of Commons, setting down a five-year period which is due to end in 1970. I believe that for them the Government should ensure that all the statistics are provided on which they can come to a judgment, not just bare statistics but that every case should be examined by a small group of three - a judge, a former Home Secretary, and a criminologist - so that they can, without making recommendations as to what action should be taken, nevertheless clarify what has happened during these past five years. Then in the House of Commons it will be left in our Party to a free vote. Because, as you already recognise, this is a matter of principle.
The other matter to which I would like to turn is the question of immigration into Britain. I can claim without fear of contradiction that since I have been Leader of this Party I have seen more of every area in this country, of Scotland and of Wales, than any other political leader. And I have seen the problems which are caused by immigration in the great cities of our country, the problems of housing, of schools, of the Health Service, and of hospitals; and also the difficulties of ensuring good race relations in many congested areas.
Our purpose, my purpose, is to do everything possible to ensure harmonious relations between the races in this country. I have set out the Party’s policy. It is very different from that of the present administration. It is a policy which, when we come into power, will ensure the strictest control of all new immigration into this country. It will be achieved by bringing the legislation governing the entry of Commonwealth citizens into line with that governing the entry of non-Commonwealth citizens. This will then ensure that the Home Secretary of the day has complete control, subject to any machinery for appeal which is introduced, over the entry of individuals into Britain. If there is justification in the British interest for a citizen to come to this country, then that person will be given a work permit issued for a specific period, in the first instance, say, 12 months. It will be limited to a specific job; it will be limited to a specific employer in a specific place. The result of this will be to prevent any further overcrowding and burden on our already heavily burdened social services. We shall take measures in the country of origin as well as here to prevent evasion of the law passed by Parliament. We shall make funds available to assist immigrants who wish to return to their own country of origin. But we are not going to press them; we are not going to hurry them; we are going to do everything to prevent a climate being created which will make them wish to leave against their own free will
We shall help those local authorities who have got particular problems. This above all is important for the social harmony of all of us: that immigrants who are now living here should be treated in all respects as equal citizens without discrimination. This Conference showed without any shadow of doubt last Wednesday afternoon how determinedly it is opposed to discrimination, whether it be by race or religion or of any other kind, and this we will ensure for immigrants in this country.
As far as dependants are concerned, I believe that it is inhumane, morally wrong and open to social objections that a wife should be kept away from an immigrant who is already here, and the same applies to the young children of school age. Others can fend for themselves in their own countries, but it is right that the wife and young children should be allowed to join those who are already here.
This, then, in my view, is a just, firm and fair policy which will conduce to better relations in this country between the races. It is the policy I have put forward. When we are in government it is the policy which we shall implement.
From this Conference we go out into battle. It has been made perfectly plain that the battle is not far away. We go out to fight for higher living standards for our people, to fight for a better deal for those in need, to fight for a strong Britain, to fight not for a narrow sectional or class interest but to fight for the interests of all the people in this country.
Let us be under no illusions. I have never been under any illusions since the moment I first spoke to you when you elected me Leader of this Party. It will be a hard battle to fight, and I hope that everybody realises that. Victory will not come easily. But if I judge the temper of this Conference aright, the message we send out to our party in the country and to the whole nation is this: We are ready; we are confident; we know that we are in the right; and when the challenge comes, victory will be won.
How very different it was in this same hall last week. Their debate footled and fudged and smudged every single issue which is of importance to the people of this country. It may be that by playing it cool like that they avoided the possibility of melting, which faces every one of us in this hall today. But what they got was froth and frivolity to take their minds off the real issues. Here you have faced the issues, not dodged them.
They have challenged us to fight the next Election on their record. What can suit us better than to fight on their record - the record of five years of Labour Government? A record rise in the cost of living - nearly twice as fast as under us. A record rise in taxation. Looking back over history, you will appreciate that it took 2,000 years from the time Julius Caesar set foot on these shores to the moment when taxation reached the level of £7,000 million a year - 2,000 years. It has taken just five years of Labour Government to double that figure into £14,000 million. A record level of unemployment - more than half a million people out of work, their skill, their energies, their character wasted, for 24 out of the past 25 months. And a record level of overseas debt. I know that they do not like us discussing this, but it is their record - £13,000 million of gold and foreign currencies borrowed since 1964. And still they encourage the borrowing. They pay for American aircraft by borrowing. They encourage British firms to borrow abroad, and take the currency themselves and let them have it in sterling
There is a record level of interest rates - the highest rate for the longest period since the foundation of the Bank of England in 1694. This is no academic matter, just something for financiers and the City. Why are local council rates pushed up so quickly? Because of what they have to pay in interest. Why is it that the young couple buying their own home find the burden of mortgages so great? Because of the level of interest rates. Perhaps a million people in this country with mortgages would privately tell us, ‘It is really more than we can afford.’ That is the result of interest rates under a Labour Government.
It is sometimes a good thing to look back on what Mr. Wilson said in election addresses. It is rather a saddening experience, but there you are. In 1964 it was 100 per cent mortgages and lower interest rates. How hollow it all sounds now! But even more than that, in 1964 it was, ‘Labour will abolish poverty in Britain.’ And today there are 125,000 men and women over the age of 80 eking out their declining years as best they can, and still with no pension whatever.
There are still 250,000 children in families living below the poverty line. Those are but two of the social problems facing us today. I do not blame them for the existence of those problems. We know that they have grown up with our country, and that every Party has made a contribution to dealing with them. But I do blame them for false promises that they would wipe out the problems, and for their incompetence in dealing with them in office.
Contrast that with our record. A record rise in the living standards of the British people under a Conservative Administration. A record increase in social spending - and here is the point - combined with massive and continuing reductions in taxation while we were in office. A proud record of promises made and promises kept.
But what is the Labour Party now claiming? What has its leader claimed for it? Let us take each one of these claims apart - and you have to do it in detail. They claim that they are spending 70 per cent more this year on the social services than we did, and so they say it is a better record. Let us look at it in detail. How do they get this figure?
First of all, they include some months in 1964 when they were not even in Government, and then they include some months in 1969-70 which have not yet occurred, and the money has not been spent. That is cheating.
There has been the great rise in prices, so of course it means that more money must be spent.
What does this figure include? It includes £100 million of selective employment tax. They take £100 million from you in selective employment tax, pay it to the social services, and promptly take it away from them again in selective employment tax - and then say that they have helped the social services. That is cheating.
And there is £83 million in family allowances, which now they claw back to the full, that they include in their figures for spending. That is cheating. £50 million more paid in extra unemployment pay, because of the high level of unemployment and the large number of men out of work. The Party of soul? Madam President, the Party of the dole!
But let us look again at this claim, overall. If we look at it and compare what has really been done in the social services, allowing for the inflation of this Government, in their first four years and our last four years, we get a very different picture. Allowing for all the price rises, the increase in social service spending in our last four years was actually faster than it has been in the last four years under Labour - a 27 per cent increase under us and a 25 per cent increase under them. That is the real position. Do not let them get away with it! Tell every citizen of this country what the real comparison is, and how good our record in those years was.
But last week in this hall the Leader of the Labour Party said, ‘We are changing Britain for the better.’ ‘Hope,’ he said, ‘in the changing North.’ Hope for the people of the North, where there are 66,000 fewer jobs under a Labour Government? Hope in Yorkshire and Humberside, where there are 106,000 fewer jobs? Hope in his own area - the North-West - with 111,000 fewer jobs? Wales? 38,000 fewer jobs; Scotland? 65,000 fewer jobs. What hope is there there - despite all the money which they have been pouring out and of which they boast so much on regional development. That is not the way to change the face of this country and make Britain better.
We all know how boring it is to catalogue the list of broken promises of Mr. Wilson. We have all experienced the tedium of reading the innumerable footnotes in small print at the bottom of every declaration and statement. I have been looking for some all-embracing, omnibus statement of his philosophy, promises and programme, and I have found it by disinterring that speech of his at Scarborough in 1963. Do you remember it? We were treated to the vision of a Britain forged in the white heat of a technological revolution.
I would like to tell you about it. We were told then what a vote for Labour would mean. I do not want in any way to detract from the importance of those words. I will read them to you. He said, ‘A vote for Labour would mean this - the conscious, planned, purposive use of scientific progress to provide undreamed of living standards and the possibility of leisure everywhere on an unbelievable scale.’
He promised us that new industries would be created. He promised more and more young scientists and that more and more of them would stay in this country. Then we were told, as the great summary of this technological revolution - and I will read his words because otherwise you will not believe me – ‘We ought to be giving more thought to developing research in this country for producing little, simple one- or two-horsepower steam engines.’ ‘Because,’ he went on, ‘that is what the world really needs.’
Here we are, six years later. What has happened to those undreamed of living standards? What about the new industries? Where are all these young scientists, with more and more staying in this country? What are the figures for the brain drain? What about the unbelievable leisure? What, finally, whatever has happened to all those little, simple - (Laughter)
We did not hear about them here last week. But we did hear a claim of very remarkable achievements for the industrial developments of a Labour Government in five years. Again, I will read the words to you. I have a script, for the sake of the greatest accuracy, of what the Leader of the Labour Party said. He said, ‘It is the result of the Government’s industrial policy over the past five years - a policy which is now delivering the goods.’
He went on with a very considerable list, covering about two pages of script, which I understand was read very quickly. Nevertheless, the list is there. We might have a look at it. First, in five years of Socialist Government, the steam naphtha reforming process. I have had a look at this. This was started under Winston Churchill in the early 1950s. The first plant was opened in 1954. It is cheating a bit to stick that in the list. Then we have the Rolls Royce RB 211. A statement from the firm says that the idea started 25 years ago, in 1944, before the end of the war. But, what is important, the design work started under Mr. Macmillan’s Government in 1961. I think that that is cheating. The hovercraft, taken on by the National Research Development Corporation in 1958. Another little cheat. The satellite communication station at Goonhilly Down, started in 1959 under us. Another cheat. The electron probe analyser, first produced in Britain in 1960. Another little cheat. What a claim to make!
But I will be fair; there is one of which be is entitled to claim parentage - and that is the project for the aluminium smelters, which at the moment do not exist. And when it comes to tourism, all I can say is that it was not to look at the sites of the non-existent aluminium smelters that BOAC thought up their package deal for young men in New York.
Their most expensive policy of all was their promise not to increase taxation. Under them, taxation rates have run up £3,000 million. Under us they went down £2,000 million. Your pound in his pocket! For every pound you were paying in tax under us five years ago you are paying £2 today. £2 in his pocket. That is not quite what we were promised. He told us, you will remember, that over the period of a Parliament the policies would all be achieved without any general increase in taxation. Again, his own words: ‘One thing I will say,’ he told the nation, ‘The Labour Government has promised nothing we cannot fulfil.’
I want to be fair to them over this - there is no need to attack this Government: you need only to be fair to it - they have still got one more budget in which they can carry out their undertaking. It is up to the Chancellor. All he has to do next April is to take 6d off the income tax, 1s ld off cigarettes, is 9d off petrol, 13s 11d off a bottle of whisky, £10 off the car licence, £11 millions off estate duty, £352 millions off purchase tax and £615 millions off SET, and he will be home on his promise.
But perhaps all this is going to be put right by the recent Government changes and by the developments in the structure of Government. Well, we are not going to see much result from that for the next year or eighteen months. Whitehall, already demoralised, will be thrown into a turmoil. It always strikes me how little practical thought there is behind this. Is there any sign that this is going to cut out waste or reduce Government expenditure? None at all. Is there any sign that they are going to introduce proper business management for individual projects in Whitehall, to which we have devoted so much attention and have made so much progress since I last spoke to you at this Conference a year ago? No sign at all. What a lack of thought - Mr. George Thomson at the end of July given the job, despite the fact that he is a Scot, of working out the new proposals for local government in England and Wales. We English are used to this. He does two months’ consultation and what happens, he is whipped away and put into the job of looking after Europe. Better than that, you have a chap put into the job last Sunday and he is out again by Thursday.
But as Iain Macleod and Nigel Lawson so lovingly said, what has emerged from the whole of this, to the great benefit of the nation, is the death - no that would be wrong - the constitutional abolition of the Department of Economic Affairs. It has been dead for a long time; it has only just now been abolished. You will remember the origin of the Department of Economic Affairs - it was conceived in a taxi in a three minute journey to the House of Commons in order to give a job to George Brown. It seems to me that that must be pretty well the most unproductive thing ever to come out of the back of a taxi - so far.
Their third claim is that the balance of payments is coming right. Let there be no mistake about this. Everybody in this Party welcomes any improvement in the balance of payments and we know and are prepared to give credit to industry for the skill and the drive, the craftsmanship and the effort they have made to get that improvement in the balance of payments. Let there also be no misunderstanding about the price which the people of this country have had to pay over five years in order to get that improvement. Why should I, personally, want the improvement? I will tell you - because I do not want to have to do the same thing as Mr. Churchill did in 1951: take over a country which is saddled with an enormous burden of debt which has been put round the country’s neck by a Labour administration. But a good balance of payments is the only way of beginning to pay off that debt. We shall continue to tell the people of this country the price that they are paying for this improvement in unemployment, in high prices, in high interest rates and in so many other ways.
Strangely enough Mr. Wilson seems to think that any criticism of Socialism is unpatriotic. It is time that he ceased to imagine that Socialism and himself and Britain are the same things. Like millions of others, I fought for my country for six years. I served in the Territorial Army. I was proud to command its oldest regiment for four years. And I am not going to take lessons in patriotism from anybody at a Labour Conference.
But let us just look at another one of these claims. At the end of the Conference Mr. Wilson said, ‘We must not overlook the fact that of the £3,000 million of debt, $1,000 million of overseas debt have been repaid.’
Well, I would welcome that if it were genuinely true. Why did he say 1,000 million dollars? Well, of course, it sounds so much better than just over £400 million. Where did that £400 million come from? After all, there has only been a surplus on the balance of payments of just over £100 million? I will tell you. It came from some of the sterling area countries putting deposits in this country of which they are entitled to repayment, and it came from borrowing from the International Monetary Fund. So to repay debt they have to go out and get other deposits and borrow again in order to repay the original loan. That is what is happening under this present Labour Government. Let everybody know it. It is just another little cheat.
So much for their record - high unemployment, record taxation, enormous overseas debts. Fight on that record? You bet we will. We will wrap that record round them time and again, night after night, day after day, and they will sink like a stone.
But I want to tell you about our own Party and our approach and our philosophy, our programme and our policies. We want to build a country in which men and women and every family can find the scope for creating a better life for themselves - a responsible society which is ready to take on its obligations as well as to enjoy its rights, a country in which men and women can earn more, can keep more and can save more; higher earnings, lower direct taxes and greater savings. Earn more because with better education, better training and better retraining people will be able to make their effort more effectively. In education let us develop children’s talents to the utmost. Of course, it is right to broaden the opportunity for the less able, but let us also not deprive the very able of the opportunities they ought to have. Let the children live better than our generation’s have been able to, earn more without being held up or held back by lack of skill, by lack of up-to-date machinery or by trade union restrictions.
We want an industrial society in which the trade unions, a potential force for great good, are subject to the same rule of law as the rest of us in the community. This is why, as a first priority in office, we shall introduce the major reform of industrial relations to free our nation from the frustrating conflicts of a century and a half of industrial strife. Have no fear: we have given our pledge. We do not withdraw, no matter where the pressure comes from or what it is. We shall carry through our reform of industrial relations.
I mentioned just now Iain Macleod’s speech on the details of taxation. I find people today, in the current mood of disillusionment and pessimism, who say, ‘Surely we have just got to accept that taxes will always go up and up.’ To those pessimists, then, I repeat the very simple fact that in the 13 years of Conservative prosperity, taxes came down in budget after budget. In five budgets out of those when we were in power we brought down income tax. What we have done before we can do again. We are determined that everybody shall keep more of what they earn, and we shall show the young people that they themselves can help to build a better country by their own efforts; and to save more, because we want people to build up their own possessions, because as part of our philosophy we know that ownership gives security and independence.
We do not want a wealth tax. We want every family to have more wealth. We shall encourage home ownership, occupational pension schemes, wider share ownership and wider ownership of British industry. That is why we are looking at different ways of enabling people to take a share in the so-called publicly-owned industries. That is why we shall also maintain the rights of individuals to make their own private provision for health and education.
I wonder if you noticed that extraordinary statement in the Labour Party’s recent document about all this. Again, it is unbelievable unless I quote it: ‘The danger of a growth in private health and welfare which is now gathering momentum.’
How foolish can you get to believe that a growth in people making more provision for their own health, their children’s education and their own welfare is apparently a danger to the nation which must be stepped on by a Socialist Government? So I give this warning to them: they had better keep their hands off the occupational pension schemes, keep their hands off individual rights, keep their hands off private initiative, and keep their hands off free enterprise.
The nation we want to build depends on free enterprise, on a prosperity that is based on earnings, the savings and the efforts of a free people; and a free people who are strong but who are determined that our nation shall be judged by what it can do for the weak as much as by the opportunities it can give to the vigorous. We as a nation must be judged by our treatment of the elderly, by our attitude to the disabled, by the conditions in our hospitals, and particularly the mental hospitals, and by the shelter we can afford to the homeless and to the badly housed. It is this provision to which we have devoted so much time at our party conference this week.
Provision for old age involves more than pensions. It means providing the sort of life which they - the retired, the old folk - wish to live. To add a personal note, my father was 81 yesterday. I advised him to stick to ITN, but I am told that it may also still be possible to get it on BBC.
The old are the most vulnerable section of the community. They are the least able to cope with the changes of modern society. For them there can be no substitute for a policy of care as well as cash - and how difficult many of them are finding it today.
Then, again, we must help the disabled. I have in mind particularly the need of the disabled wife. We appreciate how much the extra costs can be to the disabled because of their disabilities: the extra heat, the special food, the need for special transport - all those things for which they have to rely on others to provide.
Then, again, the homeless. We did so much in our time in Government to help the homeless - and yet so much still remains to be done. But our policy is very clear. It is compassionate and sensible. Today there are all too many who receive subsidies in council houses who, by any standards, do not really need them, and there are still too many who want council houses and cannot get into them.
There are many in need living in privately rented accommodation who are actually subsidising those much better off than themselves. How can it be sensible to allow that situation to go on? There are millions of houses still decaying - sometimes in squalid surroundings - very far short of modern standards. There are two million in the slums and four million in poor repair in one way or another. Perhaps a quarter of the people in this country today live in conditions like that.
Madam President, it is time to take the heartbreak out of housing. We have got to have a new start. We will encourage all those who want to buy their homes to do so. Whether it is a new house, an old house, or a council house, we will encourage them to buy them. We will make sure that the subsidies go only to those who need them to stop the decline and decay in our housing stock, give an incentive to the builders to get on and build the houses, and make the land available for them to do so.
Of course, the State itself, the Government itself, cannot make life better on its own. It is up to us as individuals to do so. That is why I want to encourage both more self-reliance and, at the same time, more voluntary effort. It is voluntary public service working alongside governmental and local governmental effort that provides the humanising element in the welfare state. So many Conservatives already take part in this work. I thank them for it. But at the same time I want to see many more doing it as well - in particular, the Young Conservatives amongst our young people today.
But all this depends on the ability of us, as a country, to pay for what we want. The greater our prosperity, the more houses we can build. The greater our prosperity, the more schools we can put up and the more teachers we can afford in the classroom. The more we can improve our health service and relieve poverty, the more we can build a country of which we can be proud and of which future generations can be proud.
We want a nation which is rich enough to create a new mood of confidence and a new mood which is outward looking. It is as part of this that I want to mention the third debate, that contentious debate of such importance, that on the European policy.
I think here, where so many of you have heard the debates over the years on Europe, you will agree that from my personal position I have, I think, a close knowledge of what is happening in Europe, of the advantages and disadvantages of this policy, of the possibilities and of the difficulties. I have never hesitated to put them frankly before you and I have urged there should always be the fullest debate.
For that reason I was delighted that we had such an excellent debate here in this Conference. It was quite right that you should take a decision. I welcome that decision, but the effect of it on me is to place an even greater responsibility on my colleagues and myself to ensure that the facts are placed always before you, that we tell you the difficulties as well as the opportunities, and that when we are in government, if the opportunity arises that we can negotiate, then we ensure that we make proper arrangements to deal with the anxieties which are expressed, not only in this Conference, but in the country outside.
Before I go on to one point, I just want to deal with another little cheat. You may recall that it was said in this hall last week by the Leader of the Labour Party - The situation vis-à-vis negotiation in Europe is quite different now from what it was when Mr. Heath was doing it in 1962. Now we are in a strong position. Then he was in a weak position.
Let us examine this. The negotiations went on all through 1962. We had a favourable balance of payments - on current account, £112 million; overall, small, but a balance - £12 million. What we did was not to borrow a penny during 1962 and we repaid over £300 million to the International Monetary Fund, which was the end of the money which had been borrowed from them. In 1967, when the Labour Government decided to go into Europe they had an overall deficit on their balance of payments of £417 million and outstanding debt of £3,000 million which they were unable to repay. That is the difference. When we went into Europe with our negotiations, we went from a position which they recognised as being healthy. When the Labour Government tried in 1967, it was with a large deficit on their balance of payments and an enormous outside debt. Just let us get that record straight as well.
What was the phrase from Mr. Wilson, that we had gone cap in hand? Cap in hand? With a favourable balance of payments and wiping out the existing debt! Then what were they doing? Madam President, let us say it quite frankly. By the time they took over the European policy in 1967 they had worn out their knees crawling round the treasuries of the world with a begging bowl to get loans of any kind they could.
I only just want to say this in conclusion about the European policy. When we talk about political influence, we are not talking about something which is purely a matter for ambassadors and politicians. We are talking about something which affects all our lives as well as the lives of generations to come. The influence of Britain in Europe is an influence for peace and stability in a world always liable to conflict.
When we talk about the advantages for industry, then we are not talking about something remote. What we are talking about is the jobs of the men and women and those at our schools and universities today, the sorts of jobs and the number of jobs they are going to have in the future.
There is no magic solution in Europe, nothing which is going to solve our problems at the stroke of a pen and nothing which will destroy British institutions or imprison us in an alien pattern of life.
What the policy can offer us if we are successful is opportunity, opportunity in Europe and in the world outside.
So much is at stake in this election when it comes, I would say to you who are going to play such a vital part in it that you must put a choice to people. You do it individually, not only the leaders of the Party, the Shadow Cabinet and myself, not only our members in the House of Commons, but you, the leaders, in the constituencies and every Party worker. Put this choice to them:
Do they want a Labour Government pledged and committed to more and more taxation? Because what we want is a Conservative Government which will reduce it.
Do they want a Labour Government pledged to ever increasing interference in industry? We want a Conservative Government which will give new opportunity to industry and to commerce.
Do you want a Labour Government which cannot stand up to the trade unions? We want a Conservative Government which will bring all sections of the community under a fair rule of law.
Do you want a Labour Government to tax wealth and level everybody down? We want a Conservative Government which will encourage wider ownership for all.
A Labour Government which talks of compassion but tolerates poverty? Or a Conservative Government which uses prosperity to reduce hardship wherever it occurs.
A Labour Government determined to force its dogmatic pattern on all the schools, or a Conservative Government concerned only to provide the best sort of education for every child.
A Labour Government which gloats as it weakens Britain’s defence forces? We want a Conservative Government proud to preserve Britain’s honour and security
Do you want more Labour incompetence, dishonesty, now trying to cheat at the next election just as it cheated at the last? We want a Conservative Government determined to restore integrity to Parliament and to our political life.
That, then, is the choice. You put it to them. Labour equality, or Conservative opportunity. Labour increasing the growing power of the State, or Conservatives seeking still larger freedom for the individual. Labour retreating from responsibility abroad, or Conservatives taking pride in what our nation can do for the world.
That, Madam President, is a clear-cut choice, and I call on you at this Conference to present it to the British people at your work, in your homes, over the garden fence, in the pub, on holiday, whenever you meet your friends. Tell the people. Tell them the truth which I have given to you today and present to them the choice that lies before this country of ours when the election comes.
Over the years, slowly and without always recognising it, our country grew to greatness and with that growth a change came over our people. They began to think more widely, to broaden their vision of the world outside, to value the qualities which go with true greatness: tolerance, patience, generosity of mind. Now the physical dimensions of our greatness are diminished. As this happens, so we contemplate a danger far greater than the loss of military power and of material possessions. It is the danger of losing the habit of thinking and behaving as a great people, the danger of looking inwards, the danger of being consumed with our own fears and grudges and petty grievances. It is the danger of always fearing the worst and letting pessimism sap our energy. It is the danger of sourness and envy towards our fellow citizens; the danger of suspicion towards those beyond our shores. It is this sad meanness of our spirit which I see growing at the heart of our present discontents
So when I am asked what is the task of the Conservative Party, I would say that it is simply this: to give back to the British people that habit of thinking and acting as a great people, to give them not merely the power but the vision. As Wordsworth said, ‘the glory and the dream.’
For we are a Party fitted by our traditions to draw strength from the past and by our roots in the life of our country to take advantage with courage of the opportunities of the future. The Conservative Party cannot prosper as a sectional Party, pitting one part of the community against another. It cannot thrive as an insular party, ignoring those wider interests on which our prosperity and our security depend. As a new generation comes forward we are bound firmly to reject the sectional and reject the insular. We must commit ourselves to those standards of greatness which have developed in our people over the centuries and which are our true heritage.
And we - our Party - together with the people of Britain must restore once again that confidence in our own abilities and that vision of a better life which we as a Party have and which we wish to share and enjoy with them.
Let us then, after this splendid Conference, all of us together set out from this hall today confident in our faith, proud of our cause.
The moment for which we have so long waited we know cannot be long delayed. Let us set out knowing that when it comes to fight the battle victory will be ours - victory to serve our people and our fellow citizens once again.
Then shall we be able to restore to Britain, the Britain that we love, both the glory and the dream.