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Speech Archive

Leader's speech, Blackpool 1973

Harold Wilson (Labour)

Location: Blackpool

Commentary:

This conference took place ten weeks after Portuguese soldiers massacred whole villages in Mozambique, and Wilson condemned the government for subsequently entertaining the Portuguese dictator during his visit to the UK. In the remainder of his address, Wilson attacked the government’s record in a number of areas, including its decision to freeze incomes while allowing prices and rents to continue to rise; its failure to keep up with its public building programmes; and the collapse of its economic policies.

Mr. Chairman, I beg to move the Parliamentary Report. This has been a session of great intensity covering the mounting and increasingly obvious demoralisation of the Government.

The total reversal of incomes policy; Stages I and II of the Government’s statu­tory prices and incomes shambles; the collapse of the Government's economic policies; the breakdown of the Government’s housing policy.

There have been the almost endless Northern Ireland debates; the debates on the Common Market, as month by month we have reaped the bitter fruits of the. Government’s entry terms. But what we have been concerned with is not related to these islands only. Yesterday I called on this conference to accept a new dimension in internal policies. If we are really to dare to accept the measures necessary to create one nation, one community, one family, this cannot be inward looking, nationalistic, xenophobic, whether we are inward looking within our own coasts or inward looking within a West European campus.

In these past three years we have seen the horizons of this country not expanding, but shrinking; a Prime Minister who re­fuses to attempt to give a lead to a Com­monwealth and only seems to be fidgeting in his chair to get away; a Foreign Secretary incapable of peering beyond his vision of a reconstructed concert of Europe. Let it at least be said in defence of Metternich that the Holy Alliance itself was never under French patronage. A Government insensi­tive and protocolaire about the brutalities of Chile’s counter-revolution; a Govern­ment whose view of the open seas to the West of us is limited to the thought that they provide a means of shipping military jets via the United States to a Spain that denies freedom to her own people and seeks to enslave the people of Gibraltar.

We censored a few weeks ago the Govern­ment over the Mozambique massacres and their wining and dining of the Portuguese dictator. We have been proved right. We have restated the role of Britain in the world fight for freedom. A century ago that fight was in Europe. Today it is in Africa and the wider third world, and we have welcomed to this Conference repre­sentatives of those who are leading the fight for freedom in Africa and elsewhere. (Applause)

If a century ago Palmerston, Gladstone and Disraeli could see that Britain’s interest meant a breach with the ancient empires and the support of national revolutionaries in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, can­not the present rulers of this country see that not only the moral future of Britain but its real interests are bound up with the support of freedom movements in Southern Africa? There may be African freedom fighters who would appear incon­gruous in a Belgravian drawing room, but I guess Garibaldi and Kossuth did not bath twice a day either.

Our debates that we have had on the state of the nation, on prices and incomes policy - the Government have rejected all the advice the Labour movement has given them: our own debate here a year ago, the TUC’s warnings. We warned - both of us - that unless they tackled prices, unless they countermanded the rent increases for which they had legislated and which this week hit the council tenant yet again, unless they helped the lower paid, unless they lifted the standard of living of the pen­sioners, unless they included within their freeze and in Stage II protection for the owner-occupier, unless they brought all these requirements into their policy, their proposals would fail: fail because they were unworkable, unworkable because they were fundamentally unjust.

But when last November, in defiance of a score of categorical election pledges, Mr. Heath proclaimed a total statutory incomes freeze he did not deal with food prices. It was a total wage freeze but not a freeze on rents, a total salary freeze but not a freeze on mortgage interest rates. He did not increase pensions, but he increased the burden on the lower-paid. His achievement – his first achievement - was to create anomalies affecting some of our most poorly rewarded industries and services - the farm-workers, local authority manual workers, gas workers, civil servants and others.

He rejected the Parliamentary Labour Party’s demands for action to protect these groups. He preferred to await the report of a Pay Board which had not been set up, under a Statute that had not been intro­duced into Parliament and which, when it was established, would not be answerable to Parliament.

A year after our warnings here, we now have a report from the Pay Board unconvincingly putting forward useless proposals which are not even sustained by its thin argument. The fact is that those who were prejudiced by the Government’s action a year ago have not caught up and never will. The fact is that he has repudiated all the principles of fair dealing between one group and another.

He has breached a long-standing arrangement of comparability between one sector of public industry and another - gas and electricity, for example. He has repudiated a principle accepted by successive Governments since 1957 about the comparability of civil servants’ salaries and wages with those of the rest of industry. He has gone further: he has prostituted the position of the Head of the Civil Service, long regarded as the protector of the rights of the Civil Service, by involving him in the devising and enforcement of the Government’s policy, and requiring him to communicate to public employees the breach of policies previously agreed. He has in fact rejected the principle which a year ago I demanded he must insist upon - no discrimination against the public sector.

Now even the CBI are in revolt. Exports are being frustrated; delivery dates dishonoured, because of a famine in the over­heated areas of the country of both skilled and less skilled labour. For private em­ployers now, it is every man for himself. Some of them are unable to get labour, and to meet delivery dates they are bidding up wages and salaries by every device legal and illegal, while other employers are reacting in the same way to hold the labour they have. Outside the manual field, at any rate, there have never been so many creations of new titles, new grades, new and honorific job specifications, as we have seen in this great campaign by employers to beat the pay policy.

But for the farm worker and the miners, the steel workers and the textile worker, the railwayman and the post office worker, there are no bogus titles.

And we have seen the deadly effect on our essential services, seen the police in London and other big cities, and those who drive the buses, and the students, on the hospital service, and last week we even read of a famine of linen supplies for hospitals be­cause of a shortage of labour in the laun­dries. And even while we have been here in Blackpool, employers honourably seeking to implement agreements they have entered into with their workers, agreements related to new patterns of productivity, are now appealing, in vain, to the Government to allow them to honour their undertakings. It is Cornish Clay one day, it is British Leyland the next. But Mr. Heath and his colleagues insist on accumulating the grapes of wrath and dishonouring agreements and dividing the British people.

Let us tell him, whatever may be said from this platform next week, you cannot solve the problems of inflation with a public relations exercise; still less can you solve it by appointing a Cabinet Minister, Sir Geoffrey (Alibi) Howe, to camp outside the BBC – ‘Today’; ‘The World at One,’ ‘PM’ and ‘Tonight’ - as an apologist for an indefensible policy. (Applause)

For the first time in the history of this movement, the Labour Party - the National Executive Committee and the Parliamentary Party - and the Trade Union Congress - have reached agreement on a categorical programme for fighting inflation.

We have set out the measures which in our view must be taken as a minimum programme if we are to secure a policy for fighting rising prices and rising rents.

Action to control prices, where it counts, w here the housewife does her shopping.

Direct action to deal with essential foods, using food subsidies.

A freeze on all council house and new town rents.

Action, such as I called for yesterday, to control the London capital market and freeze market interest rates.

A crisis tax on land and property specula­tion.

An adequate pension increase now.

A declaration that in the next Budget provocative and divisive tax concessions to the wealthy are to be reversed, and the proceeds used to help the less well off.

The country has rejected the Govern­ment’s excuses. And no wonder.

This Government, elected on a pledge to reduce prices, in fact came into office determined to force up prices. This was made clear by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in September, 1970. He called for higher prices then, in order to secure higher profits, in order to secure higher investment. We have had the higher prices. We have had the higher profits - record profits. But investment is still lagging sadly behind the level of 1970.

We know with what determination the Government set out to increase food prices with their food levies. Again, let us not under-rate their successes in forcing up food prices. After all no-one in this country can now be in any doubt about the effect on the price levels, now and so far as he is con­cerned, forever more of the humiliating terms Mr. Heath accepted from M. Pompi­dou in May 1971. (Applause)

But what this Government have con­spired with Europe to ensure is that when prices come down again, as they do from time to time, they won’t come down in Britain.

Even the Beaverbrook Evening Standard told us in August: ‘the traditional British breakfast could soon become a meal of the past because of escalating prices for bacon and eggs. And now the cost of cereals is going up.’ And that was after its stable mate had confessed what every housewife knows: that for millions of families the roast beef of old England has disappeared from the Sunday table.

To complete the trilogy, we have from the same source - Beaverbrook Newspapers - the confession that beef prices will never come down to anything like traditional levels because of the British Government’s acquiescence in recent decisions of the Common Market.

Mr. Heath has not only gone along with rising prices stroke after stroke after stroke; he has built in a ratchet to ensure that once risen they stay risen.

The Government’s inflationary policy is one, but only one, of the reasons for Britain’s economic crisis. The other is their headlong rush into creating a free market, a free market in name, but one where every­thing which affects the concerns of the financial interests they serve is rigged before you start.

The consequences we know only too well. Prices in peace time rising faster even than in wartime. The national debt in peace time rising even more than in wartime. We remember in Election week 1970 his scare story that a Labour Government would have to introduce a wage freeze and would devalue sterling within three years. He did both and did it in two years. Now his devaluation means that the £ abroad has plummeted by 20 per cent.

He has not in fact received the same treatment as happened on an earlier occa­sion. In fact it was all quite cheery. The Daily Express had the headline, ‘£ Floating. Proud,’ ‘Holidaymakers told “Get your pounds changed here.”’ The story began, ‘The £ bravely floated to freedom last night.’ Like a brick, as it turned out. (Laughter and applause).

Now, as each dismal set of trade figures follows another, we see Mr. Peter Walker rushing to the studio, or the nearest mobile broadcasting car, to proclaim them as a triumph of the Government’s policies.

But we remember a few days before the election of 1970, when the monthly trade figures were published - a very small deficit - Mr. Heath deliberately falsified their message. He was inevitably successful in orchestrating a great Press and broadcast­ing lamentation at the impending collapse of the economy. We were in fact in surplus, and our balance of payments was soaring to a £1,000 million surplus on the plus side.

But month after month this year we have seen trade deficits of £150 millions and above. In June they published the worst ever figure - a deficit of £209 million in a month; an average deficit for the preceding three months of over £150 million. Where were the screaming headline writers of June 1970? (Applause) Perhaps it was the news-­print shortage. (Laughter) One great London evening newspaper printed a perfunctory statement in the bottom right hand corner of the front page, referring the reader to page 50 of the City section if he cared to read all about it. In later editions it disappeared altogether from the front page.

After the trade figures had been pub­lished, the other great London evening newspaper produced an afternoon edition with a main headline across seven columns: EXCLUSIVE ‘Soccer Star Marriage shock’ - (Laughter and Applause) - A London striker’s ‘Wife goes home to Mum.’ This I can assert with confidence, recalling our experience of Mr. Heath conducting the mighty press orchestra of June 1970, if there had been trade figures in that month such as those he has achieved three years later, they would have been trumpeted abroad across all the columns there are. Even if the wives of every footballer in the First Division, the Second Division (Laughter), the Third Division and the Fourth Division, the Scottish First Division, the Scottish Second Division, the Central League, the Southern League, the Lan­cashire Combination, (Laughter), the Isthmian League, the Spartan League, the Athenian League, indeed the entire football Combination had all collectively gone home to their mums.

What, month by month, is destroying the last vestiges of confidence Mr. Heath still enjoys, even among his own friends in industry and the City, is the growing realisation that the Conservative Party, at home and abroad, after all their boasts, has become tainted as the Party of unsound finance and clipped money. And all the country is given is that repetitive speech about growth.

Growth? A stretch of jungle, a foetid swamp, are certainly not deficient in growth; an unweeded garden ‘"things rank and gross in nature possess it merely.’

But Mr. Heath has achieved a distorted growth by the unique prescription of applying fertilisers to the weeds and Para­quat to the fruit and flowers. (Applause and Laughter)

In no area of our society have we seen the consequence of hard-line Tory policies and distorted growth more clearly than in housing. Reports are coming in from all over the country of the breakdown in other public building programmes. Hospital building in several parts of the country delayed by a year or more. Schools held back, shrunk in size, or not even started.

It is ludicrous, not least after all the pledges about the place of housing in the ‘Better Tomorrow,’ that the city of Shef­field should now be totally precluded from building by the Government’s actions. Other cities are still maintaining some sort of a programme, but the unreal yardstick controls mean that even those authorities that are doing some building are in many cases being forced into building broiler estates with no room to breathe. With broiler estates, you can always be sure that the Liberals will be there to rifle the nests.

The Government are in fact using their yardsticks to cut back public expenditure on housing without having the guts to tell Parliament or the country. They have not cut the programme; they are simply mak­ing it impossible to achieve. The coward’s way out.

In the private sector, to the shortage and chaos, as I said yesterday, they are adding the financial anarchy. It is ridiculous, and essentially divisive that the cost of paying for Dunromin should depend on manoeuvr­ings in the Euro-dollar market. This is not all.

I said yesterday that in my view the finance of housing should become a national responsibility. But one thing is urgent as soon as Labour comes into office, even while this major financial reorgani­sation is taking shape. A short sharp Bill should go through Parliament cancelling the built-in escalation of rents for council tenants and for private tenants. (Applause)

That is the first step towards the repeal of the Housing Finance Act. We will draw its teeth before we cut its throat.

That is why when we look at these things in the public sector we find a mere­tricious vulgarity in Mr. Heath’s ‘You’ve never had materialism so good’ speech. There is little that is surprising in the fact that there are now more colour television sets or dish washers than there were three years ago. Each decade sees an increase in the purchase of the products of technolo­gical advance. I should be very surprised if in 1933, when there were three million unemployed, there were not very many more radio sets than in. 1930.

But we have to lift our eyes above the sales figures of an over-advertised society.

There are other values, and they are neglected by the kind of Government Britain has got and the kind of people they exist to promote.

Is the Admass profession capable of ex­pressing - still less satisfying - the real desires of average parents, their hopes for them­selves, their dreams for their children?

Is it not possible, if they were asked and if society were to respond to their answers, that they are more concerned with getting a good school for their children? That they would give higher priority for the demo­lition of a Victorian barracks of a school and its replacement by a school worthy of their new generation? Might it not be that they would measure their family’s standard of living not by consumer goods but by the chance their children would have the size of the classes they will attend? For as Ted Short reminded us last year education de­privation and inequality begins not at 11+, or even at 5+, but in the years before the child is 5.

Are not working mothers more concerned to have adequate nursery facilities for looking after their children during working hours? Are not so many of our people concerned that they should not have to bring up their children in homes whose structure and amenities are a blot on our civilisation?

Is this age not guilty today of building slums which shortly will take their place? Is not our system of society guilty when we build a Fort Yardstick to take its place beside slums inherited from the past? Would not our people give much more to live in a home where children could sleep in quiet, not subject to the roaring and belching of a juggernaut society, or the ever-demanding requirements of nocturnal jets?

Would not our old people prefer to live the retirement they have earned in better amenities than so many of them get, rather than hear on radios or TV about the material symbols of a society from which they are so largely excluded? Would not all - young and old - yearn for greater access to green fields and open space in the countryside? Or when they go down to the sea or the river to have some confidence that their day or their week or their fort­night is not ruined by the pollution of modern society?

These are the ideas so many of our people have in mind when they think or dream of the luxuries which could exist in that narrow margin between outgoings and income, and to achieve those dreams is not only a question of the organisation of in­dustry and finance and the extension of public enterprise we were talking about yesterday. It is still more a question of the values which inspire our society.

We must be prepared to dare to produce the policies, to venture upon the measures that will make a reality of the freedom of choice, the degree of involvement, the right of a voice in all the major decisions affect­ing the life of the individual and the individual family - the Edinburgh theme.

But the challenge which faces us lies not merely in widening the area of individual choice but in providing a means both in industry and in society generally to create a more responsible society. Responsibility not conferred from above.

Conference now has come to terms with the implications of the programme I presented yesterday. Above all, in education. Because it is about education that we are in fact speaking.

We in the Labour Party reject the idea that education is simply to train techno­logical lobby fodder, or to instil into our children the particular degree of smartness required to compete in a commercial rat race.

We have always said that education must be for the fuller appreciation of life and an ability to appreciate the riches of this and of past civilisations.

But that is not all. We are talking about citizenship. What I asserted in my Edin­burgh series of speeches was the need for individual citizens, individual families, to be brought more and more close to the decisions which affect their lives.

But the programme that this Conference clearly accepted yesterday adds a new dimen­sion to the educational challenge. Yesterday, I put before you a massive programme, on behalf of the National Executive Committee, for bringing the land, the minerals and great sectors of industry into social owner­ship.

To do that will be meaningless unless all our people are identified in the wider responsibilities that will pass from boardrooms that are not accountable to the national interest, to a new system which is accountable to the nation through an elected Parliament.

The 19th century educational revolution was designed to produce a middle-class elite for meeting the requirements of the new Establishment at home and in the Empire.

The educational revolution in the 20th century was based certainly upon the ideals of great educationalists and teachers, but in its higher reaches it is still far too greatly concentrated on meeting the requirements of a predominantly commercial society.

A century ago Tennyson said, ‘We are not spinners all.’ Today we are not com­puter programmers all either, and none of us accept an educational system designed mainly to feed the requirements of a society orientated on profits and marketing and capital gains.

But above all we have got to ensure that our system of education is directed not to the creation of school-leavers who will be so involved in the rat race that they never begin to live until they are too old to enjoy it. We have to end the artificial system under which education ceases for the majority of our people one day in one July; their past school life and their con­tinuing education must be part of the same process.

In Blackpool six months ago I rejected the argument which suggested that there is any defined ordinance that every newborn child should be automatically assigned to either the officer class or the operative class in industry and in our wider society.

That is why any programme for industrial democracy must provide for an obligation on the employer, public or private, to enable every employee to have continuing education, with compulsory facilities for day release not only in vocational training but in all forms of study which he wishes to follow so that he can play his full part in industry and in all the wider calls of citizenship.

The Victorians said ‘We must educate our masters’ and they produced a Daily Mail. But in the context of yesterday’s debate those responsible for decision making in industry will come increasingly from those who are working in industry and they must have facilities for continuing educa­tion and must have them more abundantly.

Including the Open University, created by the Labour Government, which has now been acknowledged by the world’s leading educational authorities as the greatest advance in education in this or any other country in the world in this century. (Applause) Although the then Conservative leadership said they would destroy it when they came into office, even they are now applauding its foundation and taking pride in it. Pride too in the fact that other countries all over the world are emulating it or improving our balance of payments by buying our teaching material.

I now want to come to this. This Con­ference at Blackpool is the second in the autumn series of Party Conferences.

There was another at Southport. Immediately afterwards I learned from the press that Mr. Thorpe, following the distinguished precedent of Mr. Grimond 10 years after Orpington, was already preparing his dis­positions for the day following the next General Election.

I am not opposed to innocent amusement provided he does not take himself seriously. (Laughter) After the next election he and his little band will have the same freedom to vote for the Tory Opposition that they exploited to the full when the Labour Government (Applause) was surviving with a majority of two in the autumn of 1965.

The claim that the Liberals now have clear policies on the great issues of the day is shaken a little if one studies their record in this Parliament, a record no less maverick than that of the years after 1964.

On the Industrial Relations Act, on which the next Parliament is going to take a clear decision, they voted for the second reading and against the third reading. On the issues which reduced Britain to a state of industrial chaos in the summer of 1972 they voted, when the bill was going through, in favour of the cooling-off period; but on the provision for the strike ballot they abstained. On the important vote on the code of industrial practice under the bill, three Liberals voted for it and three abstained, or had other engagements.

On the Second Reading of the EEC Bill five Liberals voted with the Government and one against, in a division which gave the Government a majority of eight.

On our call for a general election so that the people could decide before Britain entered the Market, all the Liberals voted with the Government against us and against community politics by the British people. (Applause)

On the vote for a referendum before entry three voted for it and three against. There was no clear Party line, though two of the recent Liberal by-election victors in Rochdale and Sutton and Cheam decided they would get more votes be falling over themselves to adopt our policy for a referen­dum before a final decision was taken.

Their voting record on VAT is even more difficult to fathom. In any case, their vote for the Market decided the issue. On prides and incomes, on which the next Parliament must have a clear view, they supported the Government in every vote on all aspects of Stage I and Stage II. In our censure on the Government for the treatment of hospital and ancillary workers and other lower paid groups, the Liberals voted with the Government. They are, we understand, campaigning for a national minimum wage though there is some confusion about whether this should be £24 or £25 a week. But when they had the opportunity to vote for lower paid workers, they trooped obediently through the Conservative Lobby against them. (Applause) 

The press build-up to our conference here this year is reminiscent of what hap­pened exactly eight years ago. When we met here in Blackpool then, you would have thought from the build-up that one issue dominated the Conference, namely, what my response would be to Mr. Grimond’s offer to keep the Labour Govern­ment in office as long as it dropped its programme in favour of whatever the Liberal programme happened to be at any particular moment of time. (Laughter) I rejected this out of hand. We then had a majority of two, and the Speaker’s seat was vacant.

Now there are ancestral voices heralding a new alignment of political forces. With all the authority of a twice-defeated Conservative candidate, the. Editor of The Times is thundering out his canonicals.

As a first step - and what has happened to the public opinion polls we had at the last Conference? Are they showing something different? (Laughter) As a first step, he and his fellow manipulators dream of an election result in which the Liberal Party holds the balance in a newly elected Par­liament. This, they pray, will lead to a situ­ation which would mean a permanent majority for the Conservatives by the creation of a new Liberal Party out of the ashes of the Labour Party. They are wast­ing their time. This Party is not for burning. (Applause)

Let this be clear: as long as I am Leader of this Party, Labour will not enter into any coalition with any other Party, Liberal or Conservative or anyone else. (Prolonged applause)

As long as I am Leader of this Party there will be no electoral treaty, no political alliance, no understanding, no deal, no arrangement, no fix, neither will there be any secret deal or secret discus­sions. Whatever the results of the election, a Labour Government will go forward boldly on its policy, challenging any manoeuverers to make their position clear in vote after vote. On land, on housing, on industrial relations, on education and on the rest of this programme that we shall be carrying out. If, as they never dared to do between 1964 and 1966, they make it impossible for us to implement that pro­gramme, then the issue will be taken openly back to the people of this country for a final decision. (Applause) And let the danger light upon those who thought they could exercise an electorally unearned control over a constitutional government. That is that and will remain that. But one conclusion follows. If there are those of undefined political allegiance who devoutly wish to see a coalition, they must understand that the only coalition possible is a coalition of the two Tory Parties, the Conservative Tory Party and the Liberal Tory Party. (Applause) So let everyone recognise, a vote for the Liberals is a vote for a Tory dominated coalition. (Applause)

Now finally, from the dreams of South­port back to the realities of this Conference. I do mean this Conference. In recent weeks, visiting constituency parties, I have stressed the good fortune of those who have been chosen by their Constituency Parties to represent them at this Conference. Their Parties have paid the pooled fare. I told them that they would get good value - two for the price of one. For one pooled fare they would get two Conferences - the one we have been attending this week, the other we read about next morning. (Laughter and Applause)

I have to confess that I understated the contrast between them. I ought to have realised what was going to happen a few days ago when I read those fanciful accounts of the transactions of the NEC over the 25 companies - no relation to reality whatever.

If there is one thing some of our Fleet Street friends cannot stand, it is a successful and united Conference. They are having a bad time. They began to prepare for their new line, as we see this morning, before we even met. The Editor of The Times had a leading article about the screaming nightmares to which he appeared to be subject about Marxists under the bed.

Following that leading article, another is now a front runner for the Aims of Industry prize for independent journalism. (Laughter) Should you in fact have missed it I should like just to lint before you to give you a chance of savouring yesterday’s Daily Express report of our Conference. It began like this:

'THE SCENE, at first glance, in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, might well have resembled Moscow’s Palace of Congresses in Stalin’s time.'

(Laughter)

'All those massive crystal chandeliers under the gilded stucco ceiling, with its coats of arms and dancing cherubs, and | below, those serried ranks of grim-looking delegates'

(Laughter)

'in their square-cut lounge suits – not a smile between them – at the opening of the Labour Conference.'

Then he goes on:

'Not forgetting the few women kept firmly in their place, so it seemed, well at the back.'

(Laughter)

'And, on the presidium – sorry, platform – the same grimness, the same authoritarian aspect.

'Around all was the colour red as the basic theme of the affair.  Red plush seats.  Red draped platform.  Red back-grounded slogan, “Labour Leads to a Better Britain.”

'And red costumes worn by MPs Mrs Barbara Castle, Miss Joan Lestor and Mrs Lena Jeger.

Small wonder the smile of expectancy on the face of the Tass man on the Press table.'

(Laughter and applause)

'Small wonder the approving clouds of Georgian tobacco smoke from certain sections of the diplomatic enclosure.'

This reference to red costumes - let us get this out of the way first, shall we? It is a very dated phrase of the fifties. I do not know who thought that one up. It really is a tribute to my lady colleagues’ sartorial conservatism - they always wear red on Conference Mondays! And then that smile of expectancy on the face of the Tass man on the Press table. Has anyone ever seen a Tass man smile? And that egregious tobacco. What was it – ‘Small wonder the approving clouds of Georgian tobacco smoke from certain sections of the diplo­matic enclosure.’ Speaking as one who is rapidly becoming an authority on tobacco, I have never learned how to make clouds of tobacco smoke approving. But if this is possible, I suppose next week in this hall it will be Rhodesian tobacco curling upwards in satisfaction. (Laughter and Applause)

Then the Express lists a diplomatic gazette of ambassadors and ministers attending this Conference. And, I do not like to mention this, even an accusation that you, Mr. Chairman, in your opening speech, were plagiarising Leonid Brezhnev.

I hope the Diplomatic Corps, not only East European, but the whole range of Excellencies from the South African to the Portuguese will know with what sinister interpretations the Daily Express must now greet their attendance at the Conservative Conference next week.

Seriously though: no wonder the Express is losing circulation. If they, and others, printed the football results with the same accuracy they devote to our Proceedings here, not only would Huddersfield Town be the top of the First Division (Laughter), but no-one would buy their paper.

But let us face it, in 28 years the Tories have not changed; 1945, Clem Atlee was the Gestapo; 1973, I am the KGB (Laughter), and the ideals underlying this Conference are to be disinterred from the archives of the Marx-Engels Institute. I thank them very much for that.

You, Mr. Chairman, sought them in the words of Robert Blatchford.

I could go back earlier to another im­peccably democratic source, to the words of a statesman - who more than a century ago, fought for democracy and. indeed, died for democracy. And I want to sum up what I think this conference is about by quoting Abraham Lincoln, and this is what he said:

'In the early days of the world, the Almighty said to the first of our race ‘in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’; and since then, if we accept the light and the air of heaven, no good thing has been, or can be enjoyed by us, without having first cost labour. And, inasmuch as most good things are produced by labour, it follows that all such things of right belong to those whose labour has pro­duced them. But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have laboured, and others have, without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To secure to each labourer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government.'

That, Mr. Chairman, is the message of this Conference, of this Party, to the people of Britain and to the world.

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