Jump to content

Speech Archive

Leader's speech, Brighton 1969

Harold Wilson (Labour)

Location: Brighton


In this speech, Wilson reflected upon the changes Labour had made during its five years in office. Among its achievements were the construction of new homes, schools, hospitals and factories; significant technological advances in industry, which included the development of carbon fibres and the hovercraft; an increase in exports; and a surplus on the balance of payments. There was still work to be done, however, and Labour needed to strengthen the economy further, promote good industrial relations, and tackle the problems of environmental pollution, homelessness and poor housing. In terms of foreign affairs, the key issues were the question of whether Britain should join the European Economic Community and, in the wake of the Commonwealth Conference, aid for the developing world.

Madam Chairman and fellow delegates, I present to conference the Par­liamentary Report.

As you know, Madam Chairman, I always believe what I read in the newspapers. Well, I mean, don’t we all? Now I read that this is the last Labour conference before your Government seeks a fresh mandate. I wouldn’t know - yet. It could well be.

Every delegate here knows what is at stake. What is at stake for Labour. But even more, what is at stake for Britain.

Now, as we look at the first five years of Labour in power, there are those who are at last beginning to see the pattern developing.

I am a little bit worried that those who talked us down so much may now be going to the opposite extreme. My answer to them is that we shall show the same steadiness of nerve when they are writing up our suc­cesses as we showed when they hadn’t a good word to say about us.

Five years of change. Labour is chang­ing Britain, and changing it for the better. There can be no going back.

Look around. Look at the changing face of Britain. Everyone here knows, because he has seen what is developing in his own area. That new hospital - just one in an all-time record hospital-building programme. Those new schools - 3,500 of them opened under Labour. Housing - nearly two mil­lion families in new homes built under Labour. The fresh look on the face of our older towns and cities. The change and the hope which Labour policies have brought to our older industrial communities.

Hope in the changing North, hope in a re-born Scotland, hope and change in Wales. These are the areas which, at conference two years ago, I pledged would be the New Frontier of industrial development. You know what Labour is doing to bring work to these areas. You have seen the factories that are going up.

The Conservatives have announced that if they got back to office, they would cut back on the resources we are spending on this job. We are promoting change. Theirs is a prescription to bring back decay.

Look around. How much has already been done to end the vulgar distortions they so deliberately and selfishly developed. Just ten years ago this month, they were fighting
an election on the gospel of materialism.

In fact, if we were to hire Colman, Prentis and Varley today they could tell the same glittering story of increases by the hundred thousand, by the million, increases under the Labour Government, in the ownership of cars, washing machines, telephones, refrigerators, T.V. sets, transistors, the lot. As they could for every other industrial country. The Scandinavian countries, the Six, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, America, the rest. It has been going on continuously under Labour as under the Tories. But that was all they had to boast about.

What your Government is proud of is that, at the same time, we have been cor­recting the distortions. We have been build­ing a compassionate society.

Despite all the cramping, and, at times, menacing effects of the international economic crises into which this country was allowed to drift five and more years ago, we are, this year, spending on all our social services, including health, housing and education, 70 per cent more than in the last full year of the Tories.

We are changing Britain for the better. We are already creating a Britain of which we can be proud. And the world knows it. The world’s tourists are coming here in their millions. We have all seen them here this summer. They are coming here to buy because they get better value for money in our shops than anywhere else in Europe. But they are coming, above all, because the new Britain is exciting.

Last year, nearly five million tourists came to Britain, almost half as many again as the numbers who came to look at Britain in 1964. Still more this year. It is not just the Tower of London, not just the Beef­eaters they want to see either, nor even the Kings Road. Nor only London, or even Edinburgh, or Caernarvon. It is Britain.

Month after month, the Tories have been painting the picture of a Britain down in the dumps. That’s how they see our country today. That’s how they want to see it. But it isn’t the Britain that really exists. It isn’t the Britain that these hundreds of thousands of tourists have been coming here to take a look at. They have been coming here because to them Britain - yes, Britain with a Labour Government - is an exciting place. A Britain with life and vigour and achievement. With care and compassion.

Many of our visitors come to look at what British industry has done, and at the people who have made it possible. Many others come to see what we are doing in the imaginative creation of new com­munities. Britain’s New Town designs are a focus of admiration when architects and planners meet.

Britain is exciting because of the change in the pattern and quality of life. Especially for the young ones everywhere. A lot of us were at the Durham Gala this year. Look at the kids who were there. Keen, lively. And we have got kids like them everywhere in this country of ours.

It is not only that they face much brighter prospects - educational opportunity, greater freedom, a much wider range of prospects in their work, a much wider variety of things to spend their money on. Of course, all this is true. It is the way they reflect all these things in how they look, how they dress, their sense of fun and enjoyment.

Youth is joining in creating a new society. Youth is involved in these changes. And they have a sense of involvement. Labour is recognising this, by giving them rights and responsibilities which young people have never had before. This liveliness bears no relation to the dispirited society of Tory mythology. We are people who are getting things done.

No, we didn’t have the billions to get to the moon. But we’re winning quite a lot of golds these days down here. I don’t just mean sport - though I remember the Tory laments in the years after the war, that we were not winning the medals and the cups because athletes in a socialist Britain must by definition be undernourished and starving. Even our horses, so the legend went.

Our technological progress in both public or private industry gets a great deal more recognition and respect abroad than it gets in the jaundiced columns of the Tory press. It has not just happened. It is the result of the Government’s industrial policy over the past five years, a policy which is now delivering the goods.

Productivity in Britain’s coal industry increased more than 9 per cent last year, now ahead of the European Community. In nuclear energy - our prototype fast reactor now going ahead at Dounreay is 3 or 4 years ahead of anything else in operation or planned in any part of the Western world, including America. A science based industry and it’s in a development area.

So are the aluminium smelters now being built by private industry with Government encouragement; in three development areas, Northumberland, Invergordon, Anglesey. Yet, the Leader of the Opposition the other day was reported as criticising these ventures, despite the work they create, despite the imports they will save. Sour comment, but what about the other success stories?

We lead the world in vertical and short take-off aircraft. The Rolls-Royce engine, RB211, which won from America the biggest order in the history of British aviation. And more to come. A triumph of private enter­prise, but a triumph for imaginative Govern­ment action in providing the decisive launch­ing aid.

The hovercraft, fostered by Labour’s National Research Development Corpora­tion and by the Ministry of Technology. Unrivalled in the export markets of the world.

The Cephalosporin antibiotic used to save lives where penicillin and other established drugs failed to cure; Cephalosporin, now earning millions of dollars a year from its American royalties alone, and making a profit for the British taxpayer.

Then there is spray steel making; satellite communications stations; pulse code modulation; Dracone barges; the new aviation navigational aids; the ammonia steam-naphtha process; the electron-probe analyser and the rest.

And still newer developments. Carbon fibres, already in use in aviation but likely to transform a growing part of the world’s industries. The biggest development in world raw materials since the discovery of man­made fibres and special steels. This is a new British achievement, a product of work in a Government research establishment developed by public enterprise under Labour Government legislation in Collaboration with industry. And American private enterprise is falling over itself to buy the right to use this product of British public enterprise.

Some of these developments, such as the creation of the most powerful computer industry in the world outside American ownership, depend directly on Government assistance through the I.R C., against which the Tories fought, before, during and after the last election. Or aid through the Indust­rial Expansion Act which raised them to a new pitch of frenzy eighteen months ago. The Leader of the Opposition has now solemnly pledged his Party, if he ever got the chance, to end both.

Can you recognise this Britain of achieve­ment in the welter of propaganda the Tories are pouring out to denigrate the work of their fellow citizens? This sort of Tory propaganda tries to make Britain out to be as dingy as those who peddle the propaganda.

With the generosity which inspires all my comments on the Opposition Party, I said not long ago that I acquitted them, at any rate, of any charge of patriotism so far as the economic welfare of our nation is con­cerned. When the economic indices in any month give comfort to Britain’s critics and enemies abroad, you can see all their top people - looking like Victorian undertakers  welcoming a wet winter and the promise of a full churchyard.

No-one here is going to get over-excited about the trade figures of one single month. But I’ll say this to you. There is reason for pride in the fact that in the first eight months of this year, our exports are up by 9 per cent over the first eight months of last year, by volume,. And 30 per cent above the exports for the same months of 1964 - again by volume. And the orders for next year’s shipments are rising sharply.

There was that remarkable statement in The Economist newspaper only a few days ago. They confessed that a few weeks earlier they had been expressing deep fears about Britain’s economic situation. Now they say, and I quote their words: ‘In these past few summer months of 1969, Britain has been running one of the strongest balances of payments among the major powers of the world; indeed, on the face of the latest figures, the second strongest behind only Germany.’

I welcome the editor’s apology, though I think he is pitching it a bit high now. I am not sure I like these gentlemen claiming economic miracles

We all recall how Her Majesty’s Opposition were dining out on the prospects of our failing to get the balance of payments into surplus. The champagne corks popping. Now, as Britain moves from long years of deficit into surplus, their champagne is turning into gripe-water. Earlier this month came the Treasury figures for the second quarter of this year, showing a balance of payments surplus of £190 millions, that is seasonally corrected, £100 millions.

Britain’s friends applauded these figures. But not the Leader of the Conservative Party. This is what he said. Sourly he dismissed Britain’s achievement. I quote: ‘The second quarter is always a good quarter... If we are to keep the thing in perspective, we have to recognise that this comes at the end of five years of Labour Government.’

Well of course he has got a point. The second quarter of the year is usually - he said always - seasonally favourable. He has got another point. We have been in office nearly five years. So let us see what the balance of payments surplus was in the seasonally favourable second quarter of 1964, when the Rt. Hon. Gentleman himself was in charge of the nation’s overseas trade. Remember our surplus in 1969 was £190 millions – that’s plus. What was their sur­plus? There was no surplus. Their achievement was a deficit of £184 millions - a minus. Their achievement after nearly thirteen years was to produce a quarter’s results £374 millions worse than what we have just published after less than five years. And in the second quarter. ‘The second quarter is always a good quarter.’

Not when he was in charge.

I’ve often tried to understand the way their minds work. I think it’s this. It is really a psychiatric problem caused by deprivation from the office to which they thought providence had called them at birth - or even before. This has so warped their vision that a Tory deficit of £184 millions was a sign of unparalleled economic strength and virility, while a Labour surplus of £190 millions is the result of an impoverished and debilitated nation, crippled, paralysed, shackled by bureaucratic controls, bled white by taxation.

I believe they are getting rather worried about the image they will be presenting in this hall next weak. I have given some thought to their problem. What I think they should do is get a new flag, like their co-belligerent Ian Smith. I have gone to the trouble of working out a motto for them - Bonum patriae Conservatoribus pessimum, which being translated, broadly indicates that what is good for the country is bad for the Tories.

But I don’t give up hope for them. They are very well bred. I read a few weeks ago that there were more Etonians on the Tory front bench now than even in the Macmillan and Douglas-Home Cabinets. So perhaps they will respond to my appeal to them to keep all their sour gripes for the home market, and not use them for export.

We are getting used to this talking down of Britain when they go abroad.

He was at it again a few days ago. The Conservative Central Office disseminated an article he had written in the American journal Foreign Affairs, in which he affected to claim that Britain was less able to com­pete in the European Economic Community than in 1962. Fortunately, the American audience he was addressing can form their own opinion on the facts. 

It is a pity he did not study that moving ballad of John, Greenleaf Whittier, ‘Bar­bara Frietchie’ –

‘Shoot, if you must, this old grey head. But spare your country’s flag, she said.’

I will make them this offer and they can consider it next week. If they stop telling lies about us, we will stop telling the truth about them.

But for modern Tories, lack of economic patriotism is not enough. There must also be a total lack of responsibility in the formulation of their so-called policies.

This has taken the form of a rake’s progress of mounting expenditure commit­ments, combined with mouth-watering pledges to reduce taxation. Their Party spokesmen, from the Leader of the Op­position sideways, have committed them­selves to an East of Suez presence. The cost of this has been authoritatively estimated at between £250m and £300m a year. What with a fifth Polaris submarine, and other commitments, they are committed to increased expenditure on defence on a scale of over £300m a year.

And all this before they get a chance to let Julian Amery loose on another flock of costly prestige aircraft. Denis Healey has already saved the country £2,000m as against the programme we inherited. But there are Tory expenditure commitments outside, in addition to the defence field.

Their own Daily Telegraph, a fortnight ago said, ‘The Conservative promises to spend are legion.’ Shadow after Shadow pops up, to promise £20m here, £50m there, £100m somewhere else. Shadow beneficiaries, like the promises, are legion. Hardly a single deserving or undeserving section of the community is omitted, provided there is a prospective pay-off in votes.

Some of these are specific pledges, naming the amount, the concessions. Some are vague promises, as Tory leaders take to the road dispensing to each area they visit Shadow largesse froth their inexhaustible pork barrel.

The Telegraph’s independent costing? I quote: ‘The party has not put any figure on its total of promises, but it is hard to see them costing less than £1,000m a year.’

That grim looking family in the Tory posters would really be paying too much tax.

Irresponsibility. Opportunism. Take their latest manoeuvring on the Common Market.

I grant him this, no-one has been over a long period a more passionate believer in Britain joining the Common Market. But now you get the same ‘on the one hand this and on the other hand that’; the same desire to wound without being caught out striking that we have had on race, on hanging, on Rhodesia. It is, of course, no accident that Mr. Powell, a few weeks ago, announced the Tory Party’s Common Mar­ket policy as his Target for 1969.

But, for a vintage performance of transparent opportunism, let me take you to Sheffield last Wednesday. The aim was to create the maximum confusion by saying that a further application to join the Com­mon Market, without certain things being done, would be folly.

So he set up a whole series of phoney Aunt Sallys and then proceeded to get knocked down by them.

The first Aunt Sally he tangles with is his great new discovery that before entry Britain would have to be sure that all of the six present Common Market members wanted us. A brilliant perception. We can’t get in unless they do want us - all of them. The Rome Treaty lays it down. That is what his 1963 veto was about.

Aunt Sally No. 2. He says there must be no commitment to a federal organisation in Europe. I am gratified. Every time I have said this the Tories have attacked me.

Aunt Sally No. 3. At Sheffield he attacked us in terms for our 1967 application. While he is fully in favour of going in, he was reported as saying that a great deal of damage was done to Britain’s case by our application in 1967.

But does he think this decision was wrong? Did he think it then? Hansard, 9th May, 1967, Col. 1300 – ‘We welcome the application which the Government are making and we wish them every success.’ Indeed even earlier on 5th November, 1966, he made a speech at Harrogate. I quote the report which said that he called on the Government for a firm declaration of intent to join the European Economic Community…

‘Let it be declared,’ he said, ‘that Britain wished to become a full wholehearted member’ and he spelled out his demand for a declaration on every obligation that will be involved.

He went on: ‘Time is not on our side. Now is the moment for decision.’

Now nearly three years and one Powell speech later apparently it was the wrong decision.

Aunt Sally No. 4. Now, as a delaying move - I quote again – ‘The British people should be given every scrap of information available.’ He boasted of how much information they gave. Really?

I remember the storm in the House of Commons when, behind closed doors in Brussels, he stated Britain’s entire negotiat­ing terms to the European Council of Ministers. He refused to inform the British Parliament or the British people what he had committed us all to. It was only after a leak in Western Europe seven weeks later, which was published in Britain, that they had to publish a White Paper.

When Labour’s Foreign Secretary stated our position and all the major issues involved at a meeting of W.E.U. on 4 July, 1967, he spoke at 4 p.m. and the White Paper was laid before the House an hour later.

‘All the information?’ All we got from him were those monthly recitals giving the latest state of play on the higher groceries.

We have always insisted that before any decision can be taken, Parliament and the people have to be given the facts. That is our position today. And now the very full information we gave in 1967 has to be brought up to date.

Weeks ago, I sent an instruction that new calculations should be undertaken of the estimates and assessments made two and a half years ago.

Agriculture and the cost to Britain’s balance of payments, on various possible assumptions about developments in agricul­tural prices.

Capital movements. The estimate of the balance of advantage or disadvantage of capital movements, where a great deal has changed since 1967.

The trade balance. Since 1967 British exports to the Six have increased by 41 per cent by value. What new assessments can be made on likely trends in both exports and imports?

These estimates are being prepared by the combined action of all the Departments concerned. When they are ready, they will be made available to Parliament, for public discussion and debate.

When we announced our Common Market policy in 1967 we said that, in or out of Europe, Britain had to be strong. If we failed to build up our economic strength, then, in Europe, we should not be able to face the competition. If we failed to build up our economic strength, then, outside Europe, we should become a backwater. So we gave first priority to building up our economic strength.

And, in what we have done, our security and our independence lie. Whatever the outcome of negotiations about entry. Our application remains. Our statement of 4 July, 1967, remains, subject to changes made necessary by the passage of events. Our position is clear.

The Six have many problems, not least the present state of European agriculture. If they, the Six, are ready for negotiations to begin, we are ready. If, in these negotiations, we achieve terms satisfactory for Britain, on the lines we have outlined, then negotiations will succeed.

But, unlike the situation in 1961, we no longer face the challenge of Europe cap-­in-hand. Europe needs us just as much, and many would say more, than we need Europe.

It is the common interest of all of us to achieve economic unity. But, if this cannot be achieved, we can stand on our own feet. At a heavy price for Britain, no doubt, but at a heavier price for Europe, and at a devastating price for Europe’s influence in the world.

This Conference starts from the achieve­ments of the first five years of your Labour Government. It is our job over this next year to make sure that everyone in this country recognises and gives credit for these achievements. We all know it can be done.

But, I must warn you, now is the time for confidence but not complacency. The 1945 Government perished because by 1950 powerful voices, both inside and outside the Party, were urging that all we had to do was to consolidate what had been achieved. They said the main job had been done. But our job is only beginning.

This Government’s programme of urgent and forward-looking legislation is enough to keep Parliament busy for the first two or three years of the next Parliament.

The legislation, all the work of the Labour Government, after the next election will continue to reflect changing priorities. In the last five years most of our energy has had to go into dealing with the balance of payments problem, and into the reorganisation and modernisation of industry.

But for us as socialists, technological achievements and the balance of payments surplus are not ends in themselves but only means. Means to those ends which we are in politics to achieve, human dignity and social justice.

The priorities of the past five years have been dictated by the over-riding economic situation and by the beginning of our attack on poverty and the major social problems. But as socialists we must con­tinuously change our priorities. Change the priorities because as we change society, as we advance, the problems of society are changing. And as we advance, the stan­dards we set ourselves also advance.

In opposition we equipped ourselves to deal with the problems neglected by the Tories and based our priorities on them. Some may even have thought that that was the only job we needed to do. But exper­ience of government has emphasised new needs and therefore new priorities.

This is why Labour Government always has work to do. This is why Labour Government can never run out of steam.

In the years ahead we have still got to make economic strength and a balance of payments surplus an urgent priority. This is why we are not going to imperil the hard fought ground we have won in the battle for economic solvency and economic independence.

Without this strengthening base we shall, not able to sustain that rate of growth of the economy which makes it possible for us to meet in full the growing priority needs of our society, including full employ­ment.

Without this strengthening base we can­not contribute, as we should, to the needs of the developing countries who constitute half of mankind.

A few months ago we had a great Commonwealth Conference in London. Twenty-eight countries - most of them not long ago subject dependencies of an empire, now all of them independent, eight of them having achieved that independence since 1964. A great deal of the time of that con­ference was devoted to economic affairs, the living standards of the one quarter of the world’s population which between us we represented.

For them, and for others, the problem is not whether the rate of growth of the British economy is going to mean that we can treble or quadruple our own standard of living per head by the end of the century. What half of mankind is concerned about is whether they can avoid, and whether we can help them avoid, a cut in their own miserably inadequate standard of living.

That is why we need strength at home, and as we achieve it we shall be increasingly concerned with the broader perspectives of industrial change. We shall be increasingly concerned with investment in human beings as well as investment in technology.

More and more we have to concentrate at every level in Government and industry on the basic problems which undermine industrial relations. Problems, not of Britain only or mainly, but problems that are now being faced by Germany, France, Italy, the United States.

More and more we have got to ensure that those who give their skill to industry are enabled to contribute more to the de­cisions of industry. More and more we have to find means of making a reality of in­volvement and participation by workers in industry - making a reality of the National Executive Committee document on Industrial Democracy which the N.E.C. pre­pared under the chairmanship of Jack Jones and which was approved by confer­ence last year.

Unless we do that, any industrial policy would simply make eleven million indus­trial workers slaves of a process, slaves of a machine. We intend the process and the machine to be the means to a fuller life for them. Fuller, not only in terms of the reward of their labour. Fuller, not only in terms of the increased social wage which a more efficient economic machine will make increasingly possible. But fuller too, in other aspects of the quality of life. In more leisure and in fuller facilities for the enjoyment of leisure.

Madam Chairman, looking back over this past decade it is clear that the 1960’s have been a period of immense change and economic crisis for Britain. The politics of the 60’s have inevitably been heavily centred on the problems of economic man­agement. The decade that lies ahead will not be free of economic difficulty. But it is already clear that other problems are moving to the centre of the political stage.

First, our environment. There is a two-fold task: to remove the scars of 19th century capitalism - the derelict mills, the spoil heaps, the back-to-back houses that still disfigure so large a part of our land. At the same time we have to make sure that the second industrial revolution through which we are now passing does not be­queath a similar legacy to future genera­tions. We must deal with the problems of pollution - of the air, of the sea, of our rivers and beaches. We must also deal with the uniquely 20th century problems of noise and congestion which will increasingly dis­turb, unless checked, our urban life.

First among the priorities of the 70’s is to get rid of the scandal of bad housing and no-housing. That is why all of us here are on the same side as Shelter, indeed we were there first.

I am not going to get into an arid and cold argument about how you define homelessness. The problem is those without homes; the problem is those living in slums; and it is the same problem of human misery.

Shelter themselves acknowledged how much has been done by this Labour Government. In a few weeks time, in a little over five years, your Labour Government will have built two million homes. This is a record contribution in re-housing the homeless and the ill-housed. Homes for two million families, in just over five years.

In the last four years, 340,000 slums have been cleared in Great Britain, we are proud of this record but everyone here is deter­mined to do a great deal more.

More to stop 4½ million older houses from becoming the slums of the 70’s. This is the task which our Housing Act of this year - a greatly underestimated piece of legislation - was specifically designed to tackle. An advance in housing standards the Tories were too mean to aspire to.

So, on this vital problem of giving all our people decent homes we welcome the job that so many organisations are doing. We welcome, too, the urgent and passionate pressure which organisations like Shelter can bring to this. When it comes down to it, aren’t your ideals the same as theirs?

And, when it comes down to it, can their ideals ever be achieved by the Party of ­the Rent Act, the landlords, the Party which let Rachmanism flourish? By the Party which is pledged in national and local terms to cut back on the people’s housing? This should be a target for Shelter. By demo­cratic means. Fighting them city by city and town by town when, in their insensate and insensitive economies, the local councils they control are cutting back in the programme needed to relieve overcrowding and to re­move slums. That is why every fighter against homelessness should be in the attack. But, let every one of them realise that if this problem is going to be solved only a Labour Government can solve it.

Time and a Labour Government are needed - needed to deal with problems that have been piling up over decades, and the new problems that a socialist Britain de­mands must be solved.

I said earlier, look around you at the new schools going up. But we have to look around, too, at the slum schools in our big towns and cities. And in the country­side where the children have an equal right to modern surroundings. Because, even with a record school building pro­gramme, we have had to concentrate our resources first in the new housing estates and the new overspill areas where there were no schools at all. And the downtown slum schools have remained. Slum schools can no more be tolerated by any socialist than slum houses. We have already in the past two years made a start on nursery schools. To get the priorities right for nursery schools, primary education, slum schools, time - and a Labour Government - are needed.

Look too, at the new hospitals that have been built. But look around too, at the urgent need to replace those Victorian buildings. Bastilles in which too many of our sick, including the mentally sick, have to be treated. 

In the past few months scandals have come to light in the treatment and care of the mentally handicapped, including the very special problem of mentally handi­capped children. Scandals which must not diminish the admiration we all feel for the dedicated care which so many of our health service workers have shown and are show­ing, almost without recognition. Dick Crossman had the courage to insist that these problems should not be swept back under the carpet. This is another area of community concern which had never come into the centre of the stage because other and apparently more pressing problems crowded it out.

It calls for a new priority within the health service and already the Government have recognised this. This is a problem that will be with us in the next Parliament and beyond. How we deal with this is the test of a decent society. Time and a Labour Government are needed.

There are other social problems which are not problems of bricks and mortar at all. Festering social problems that plague, not only Britain, but every advanced urban community.

As socialists, we have equally deep concern about these. And, because we have always asserted that social grievances require social solutions, we have the right to be listened to.

Labour’s promotion of community rela­tions and the eradication of social disease spots is making human rights a reality in England, Scotland and Wales - and North­ern Ireland. We reject those who exploit social grievances for political and racial purposes. That is why I today again condemn the trend to Powellist thinking and Powellist policies.

There are, of course, no headlines in the patient, dedicated social work which is going on to ease the urgent social problems of our great cities and towns, still less the unsung success of those who are patiently working to bring about integrated social communities. But there are headlines in the contorted hatreds of the dedicated racialist. 

There are those here and abroad who seek the answer to these problems by the oppressive use of authority. Labour’s answer is that authority must be used to assert human rights. 

Madam Chairman, we are building in Britain not an authoritarian society, nor a negatively permissive society, but a strong, tolerant and compassionate society.

That is why we are concerned not only with the physical environment in which our people live and work but the moral and political environment that determines still more the health and happiness of us all.

This is our faith. This is our vision. But faith and vision backed by a policy of socialist priorities.

Next week in this hall they will see a gathering to which not only policies, but faith and vision, are strangers. We go forward from today into the year ahead, into the 70’s. We have the faith. We have the vision. We have the means to make that faith, that vision, a reality. We cannot fail.

Back to top

Home | About | Resources | Contact Copyright © British Political Speech 2017 | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy