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Speech Archive

Leader's speech, Brighton 1977

James Callaghan (Labour)

Location: Brighton


At the time of this conference, the government had recently launched an initiative designed to create an ‘independent and non-racial Zimbabwe under majority rule in 1978.’ In his speech, Callaghan restated his opposition to racism, which he claimed had worsened because of high inflation and unemployment. These problems remained a high priority for Labour, Callaghan continued, and the government was working closely with industry (both private and nationalised) and the trade unions in order to address them.

Madam Chairman and comrades, I present the Report of the Parliamentary Labour Party - a Party which has placed 42 Acts of Parliament on the Statute Book during the last twelve months but which does not command a majority in the House of Commons. Nevertheless, these important reforms include such matters as the new Coal Industry Act - the most important Act passed for that industry since the original nationalisation Act of 1947. It is an Act which gives a firm industrial foundation to underpin the mining industry for the future and will help and assist the welfare and livelihoods of thousands of miners in this country, who have always been close to the heart of the Labour movement; the Nationalisation of Shipbuilding and Aircraft which, as a delegate reminded us yesterday, has reprieved thousands of jobs in a shipbuilding industry which is suffering in every country from the world economic depression.

And how often year after year, have we heard the delegate from the Agricultural Workers’ Union coming to that rostrum to demand the abolition of the agricultural tied cottage. With the passing of the Rent Agriculture Act of 1976, the Labour Government consigned the agricul­tural tied cottage once and for all to the dustbin of history.

Then there is the Social Security Act, which in addition to providing higher benefits for pen­sions, sickness, maternity and injury, all of which become payable next month, has now given the Labour Government authority to begin paying from 17th November an entirely new benefit of £10.50 per week to those married women who, through ill health, are incapable of carrying out their normal household duties. 40,000 women will benefit.

When I hear some say that last Spring we should have cut and run when we faced that fateful vote of confidence, my reply to them is that it would have been worth keeping our Labour Government in power if we had done nothing more during the year than put those four Acts into operation. But of course much more has been done, and there is much more for a Labour Party in power still to do. Quite apart from the issues raised in yesterday’s economic debate, to which I shall return later, the agricul­tural debate - one of the best debates that I have heard on this subject in this Conference for many a year - demonstrated the Labour Party’s commitment and interest to the people of our rural areas as well as in our industrial cities. We are one nation. Let me say to those who spoke in that debate that the whole of Conference was influenced by what they said - and I will cer­tainly use such influence as I have to ensure that the Government will make a positive contribu­tion to the study group that Conference agreed to establish yesterday.

Let me say one other thing about yesterday’s debates - perhaps for the benefit of the com­mentators. Don’t let the outside world make any mistake about the nature of our debates, or about the nature of the criticisms that will be uttered this week. Let every one of those com­mentators understand that whatever else may be said, this Conference wants to maintain - and will work wholeheartedly to maintain - a Labour Government securely in office with the power to carry out our policies.

Yes, it was a hard year. I thank the Leader of the House, Michael Foot; the Chief Whip and the Whips’ Office for the hard work that they put in to sustain our minority Government in power. It is not easy, you know. Sometimes I think, when I hear speakers at the rostrum, that I won­der what they would really think it was like if they came down and recognised the difficulties that the managers of Government business have, week after week, trying to steer issues that we care passionately about through a House of Commons where we are in a minority. I thank them both very sincerely for their support.

I thank, too, the Parliamentary Labour Party. It was their loyalty and - let me add - their constructive criticism that gave the Government the support it needed to carry on.

As a minority Government we lost some Bills and we had others amended. The balance sheet was on the right side. But the Parliamentary agreement with the Liberal Party gave the coun­try and the Government a period of political stability that will enable our policies to begin to bring results and enables us to begin to plan on something more tangible and substantial than a day-to-day existence.

The arrangement with the Liberals was reached on a basis which respected the basic integrity of the two Parties. I place on record my appreciation of the spirit in which Mr Steel has conducted affairs with the Lord President and with myself under this agreement. There is no misunderstanding between us. At the next elec­tion - ah! the next election. Perhaps I ought to make clear that I agree wholeheartedly with Denis Healey’s comments on the next election - both the authorised version and the revised version. He is quite right. The election will come next year - or if it does not come then, it will come the year after. I guarantee it. At any rate, whenever it comes, the Labour Party will fight as an independent party with our own program­me, and we shall seek an outright majority from the electors at the polls.

Until then, the Parliamentary Labour Party will continue the fight against the most reactio­nary Conservative leadership seen in the House of Commons since the end of the First World War. The Tory Party has insatiable craving for power. To them it is a God-given right to be sought without scruple. When they are in Opposition and it is denied them, the mask slips. At present they can see nothing but their own short-term self-interest. They lash out in all directions. Their attitude is that the national interest is always put into suspense when a Labour Government is in power.

I deeply regret that at this delicate moment the Leader of the Opposition should give the impres­sion that the Rhodesian leader, Mr Smith, could somehow expect a different approach if ever there was a Conservative Government. (Applause) Such nudges and winks may keep the stone-age warriors on her own back benches quiet; but it is an irresponsible deception of the white Rhodesians that could lead them further along the road to disaster.

After months of careful, quiet and patient pre­paration, in close co-operation with the United States and with the backing of the international community and our European partners, includ­ing the front-line Presidents, the Government has launched a new initiative on Rhodesia: an initiative with no less an objective than an inde­pendent and non-racial Zimbabwe under major­ity rule in 1978. I will not go into detail today about that initiative. But I want to make one thing clear: it is based on and motivated by only one British interest - the interest in seeing an orderly and peaceful transfer to majority rule in Rhodesia, with a secure future for both black and white people. Those who see in it some plot of British imperialism are chasing shadows. If there are imperialists on the continent of Africa, they are certainly not British. We are seeking honourably to discharge our final obligation, not to recapture the long-lost glories of Empire, and I am sure that the Conference will wish David Owen success in the difficult task he has under­taken.

But, Madam Chairman, you better than any­one know that our search for racial peace and harmony in Southern Africa will seem shallow and hypocritical if we cannot mirror such a tolerance here in Britain. I recently read some words about South Africa in which the author said:

'It is the only society of which I have know­ledge where no private virtue, no public worth, no intellectual or physical gifts can redeem you throughout your life from the inferiority brought about by an accident of birth for which you have no responsibility.'

Conference, I am sure, agrees wholeheartedly with Arnold Goodman about that.

We in the Labour movement - let the country know it - reject the philosophy of inferiority from the cradle to the grave whether it be in South Africa or in Britain. (Applause) The time is long overdue to speak out. Let us not equivo­cate on this issue. There can be no carefully weighed electoral calculations to be met by cloudy phrases. We are opposed to racialism. We are opposed to discrimination. We will do all in our power to ensure that every citizen in this country, irrespective of race or creed, enjoys equality of opportunity and equality of protec­tion under the law. On this we cannot com­promise.

Inflation and unemployment have always been exploited by extremists. Groups who are easily identifiable have always been vulnerable at such times. The Jews in the Thirties have been replaced by the blacks in the Seventies. History tells us that the persecution of the minority is only the first step. That is followed by attacks on the trade unions, on the press, on free speech, and so on democracy itself. Let no one be in any doubt about the true nature of those who wrap their poisonous doctrines in our national flag.

But they will not be beaten by self-appointed private armies enacting a re-run of history on the streets of our major cities. Political violence, from whatever motives or whatever quarter, will be stopped. Those who claim that it is the proper response to racialism are no friends of democ­racy or of workers - black or white. The police have difficult judgments to make in these mat­ters, and I am determined that they should not be made the scapegoat when they try to hold the ring in some of these difficult situations. They will have the full support of the Government in carrying out their functions in this regard. The people of this country do not accept that there is an absolute right for anybody to conduct himself in any way he chooses regardless of any serious inconvenience or even harm to his fellow citi­zens that his or her actions might cause.

Madam Chairman, you will recall that last year, because of the daunting problems then fac­ing us, many pundits were ready to write us off both as a Government and as a nation. One wrote that I had made my first report but I would not be here to make a second. Well, I am here for the second - and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth, and however long you want me. They underestimated the toughness and the reaction of the British people when they recognise and know the facts.

This year the background to our debates is the welcome fact that we have managed a turn-round in Britain’s financial prospects - I emphasise the word financial - which gives us the best chance since the end of the war to break out from the pattern of national retreat and decline, and to begin to move forward.

This has been assisted - I cannot say it often enough, and our colleagues know that I mean it - by the co-operation of the trade unions and their members, whose acceptance of moderate wage ceilings has helped so substantially to bring down the level of inflation. Now we need a united Labour movement, both to propound our own policies and to expose the sham and the cynicism of the so-called Tory alternative. Take prices, for example. We are asked to keep them down. We were asked yesterday again. The defeat of inflation remains the Government’s number one priority. But what has been the Tory contribution to that fight? They opposed the Price Commission Bill. They opposed food sub­sidies. They have attacked the Consumer Advice Centres, they have attacked us for defending the British consumer in the Common Agricultural Policy renegotiations, and they have called in their Policy Statement, The Right Approach, for an agricultural policy based on ‘an end to artificially low prices which depress investment.’

That is their policy: an end to food subsidies; an end to mechanisms which protect or advise the consumer; an end to defending the consumer in CAP negotiations and a policy of ending ‘artificially low prices’ in foodstuffs. That is the real­ity of their prices policy. The challenge to our movement is to expose them for the frauds they are: the party that printed confetti money; the party that deliberately allowed the money sup­ply to run out of control, and which was finally ejected from office with a massive balance of payments deficit - which we picked up - and with inflation stoked up in the pipeline that choked both-economic growth and new invest­ment.

Expose the double talk of people like Geof­frey Howe, who warns the Government not to stimulate the economy and in the next breath laments the absence of growth in manufacturing industry and investment. Remind people who it was in the middle of the 1974 election who suddenly promised to reduce the mortgage rate to 9½ per cent. Well, we are not only keeping our promises - we are keeping hers as well. The mortgage rate has come down to 9½ per cent. But it has been done not as an election gimmick, but the hard and honest way.

But don’t just expose their past misdeeds. Remind people of their plans for the future. Expose the reactionary elitism of an education policy under the joint control of Rhodes Boyson and St John-Stevas, the heavenly twins. One wants to cut the school-leaving age. The other wants more privilege in education - a perfect combination of Wackford Squeers and Bertie Wooster. (Laughter)

Labour needs a vigorous and active Party - a Party strong in membership to overcome the Tory challenge. We also need a united Party. I shall continue to work to achieve that end.

In recent times an issue that has weakened our unity has been the dissension over our member­ship of the Common Market. Conference will know that I have suggested to the NEC - and they have accepted - that after we have all listened to the debates on the Common Market this week, Ministers from the Cabinet and rep­resentatives from the NEC should meet in the autumn to see how we can work out a pro­gramme of radical reform as full members of an evolving European Community. By so doing, the Labour Party will once again be the only major political party to whom the British people can look for the prospect of changing those fea­tures of Community membership which cause dissatisfaction, whilst at the same time working for the development of the Community and the growing unity of the people of Europe.

An issue where we have also endeavoured to meet genuine concern is in our approach to devolution. I have recently returned from a visit to Scotland - a visit, may I say, on which I was refreshed by the warmth of my welcome and the vigour of the comrades I met. I came away once more convinced that we would be missing an historic opportunity if we did not respond to the genuine desire for a measure of devolution. The Tories have gone back on their promises. The SNP see devolution as the first step on the way to a narrow, nationalistic independence. Labour and only Labour offers what the majority of Scots have called for - a greater say and greater control over their own affairs within a United Kingdom. (Applause) So we shall bring forward the Bill in the next Session. We shall also bring forward a timetable that will make sure that the Bills can be properly considered and a conclu­sion reached. The least the Scottish and Welsh people have a right to expect is that Parliament should reach a conclusion, so that, by means of a referendum held after the Bills have been pas­sed, it will be for the people themselves to decide, in Wales and Scotland, whether they wish devolution to go ahead. For these reasons, when the Bills and the timetable are presented to Parliament in the next Session, the Cabinet will expect them to be fully supported by every member of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

At the next election we shall have to carry conviction on the central issues of prices and jobs. There are one-and-a-half million reasons why unemployment is at the heart of our con­cerns, and of the concern of the debate yester­day. Everyone of us, whatever degree of responsibility he may hold, hates unemployment and what it does to the men, women and young people affected by it. No member of this Party would even consent to use the plight of the unemployed or accept a permanent high level of unemployment as an economic regulator. But nor must we cheat the unemployed, or this Con­ference, by pretending that there are quick, easy solutions which will give everyone work. If, there were, we would have used them.

In this decade, unemployment has become endemic throughout the industrialised world. But although it is a world problem which will require world solutions, the Government have taken a wide range of actions to try and alleviate the impact. I hope you will bear with me if I spend just a few minutes describing some of those actions, because I think they should be placed on the record.

Since April 1975 we have made about £900 million available for special employment and training measures which will help almost 800,000 people. In June, Albert Booth announced a new £160 million Youth Opportunities Programme which will give up to 230,000 unemployed young people a chance of work experience or training each year. This programme is the largest of its kind in Europe. By September 1978, the number being helped will have doubled. It is our objec­tive - an ambitious objective - to meet a pro­gramme by April 1979 that every school leaver unemployed will be offered a place under this programme.

Two new plans to provide temporary jobs for adults were also announced, as well as the extension of the Youth Employment Subsidy, and an additional 10,000 places in further education. The Job Release Scheme, which began last November to allow those in their final year to retire early and give up their jobs to unemployed people, was extended to 31 March, 1978.

We have extended the Temporary Employ­ment Subsidy until 31 March, 1978, by which time it will have helped to protect 460,000 jobs - nearly half-a-million - and the new Small Firms Employment Subsidy will give for an experi­mental six months £20 per week for each new full-time job created in small manufacturing firms in Special Development Areas. There is also under way an expansion of the Training Opportunities Scheme and Government support for 41,500 additional training places for appren­tices and technicians in industry. I thank the engineering unions and I thank Hugh Scanlon for the work they have done in that particular matter.

We have also taken far more action than is generally acknowledged or recognised to protect our most sensitive industries from unfair com­petition. Quotas have been introduced covering three quarters of our imports of textiles and clo­thing from low-cost suppliers, and a considera­bly higher proportion in the case of the countries which constitute the main threat. We have taken action to protect the footwear industry from unfair competition, imposed quotas on the imports of black and white television sets from Taiwan and South Korea, negotiated restraints on imports of Japanese colour sets, steel, cars, pottery and a number of other goods. Altogether, the range of voluntary restraint understandings which we have with Japan at industry or Community level covers between a quarter and a third of our total imports from Japan and includes all the sensitive sectors. We have also speeded up anti-dumping procedures, with the result that in the last 12 months we have taken action in nearly 40 cases of alleged dump­ing.

I want to make clear that import controls are not a cure-all either for Britain’s problems or those of the world. Britain lives by trade more than most countries. If every country tried to solve its problems by reverting to protection, our analysis shows that Britain would suffer more than most. That is why the Government will continue to work for sustained growth in our own economy, and throughout the world. But we must intervene to stop unfair competition and we will intervene to prevent industries with a viable future going to the wall.

Last week the final step was taken to order the Drax B power station. Drax B is significant, not only in itself and for the work it will give, but because it is the first of a new series of power stations that the nationalised electricity industry will need to build from now until the mid-1980s, and this will have massive implications for more secure jobs, more secure employment in the boiler-making, turbo-generating and coal indus­tries.

The newly nationalised shipbuilding industry has been assisted by the allocation of £65 million to the Shipbuilding Intervention Fund to help our own yards win orders which might otherwise go to foreign yards. I would like to take this opportunity of saying to Conference that during the weekend I have been in communication with the Chairman of the Polish Council of Ministers following my official meeting with him last December in London. I raised this question then and told him that if they wanted to build ships we ought to be able to help them to do it. In the light of the messages that we have exchanged this weekend, I can tell Conference - and through Conference the shipbuilding workers of this country - that there is now every prospect that a major contract will be concluded this month for the sale of 24 ships that will provide about 8,000 man years of work in British shipyards and their supplying industries. (Applause)

The construction industry is particularly dependent upon public expenditure, and unem­ployment has suffered as a result of our expendi­ture reductions last year. It has suffered too much, despite the two separate injections of £100 million since then. I do not want to antici­pate decisions that the Government have yet to reach, but in my view in any stimulus that may be applied this year the construction industry stands high on the list for serious consideration. (Applause)

Regional development grants, the advanced factory programme, record investment by British Steel and more money for the National Enterprise Board and the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies have all been used in the battle to create jobs.

The recent decision of the Ford Motor Com­pany to make its next major European invest­ment here in Britain gives the lie to those pes­simists who go abroad and talk the country down. There was a long period of negotiations. Eric Varley and his Ministry conducted a lot of them. There was a good team effort. I came in at a fairly late stage and I saw high-level officials. Then I saw Henry Ford and I invited him to come and have a talk with me. When I discussed this matter with him, I knew that nearly every other country in Europe was going all out to win this plant. Why? Not only because it would bring new technology, but because of the ripple effect that such an important investment has on other industries, on employment and other potential overseas investors. It is without doubt the most important new overseas investment for many a year.

Henry Ford told me that Ford’s asked for two things if they came here: first, good quality in the product and second, continuous working. I said that the Government’s industrial strategy aims to do just that, with - for the first time in our history -  Government, management and work­ers planning together measures to improve the international competitiveness of our key indus­tries. In other words, produce the right goods at the right time, at the right price and of the right quality, and there is nothing this country cannot do.

In the motor car industry, as in all other indus­tries, all sides must co-operate in order to meet this challenge, for that is the only way we shall sell our products overseas as well as holding our share of the domestic market. And that applies to Leylands as well as to everybody else. Success here will be the best possible form of job creation.

I detected yesterday, I thought, some feeling that perhaps the financial success of the last year ought to be discounted. Don’t do that. It is a financial success, as I emphasised at the beginning. We have not had industrial success yet. But you cannot get industrial success unless you have confidence in Britain’s industrial future, based on a strong currency, record reserves, a surplus in the balance of trade, falling interest rates, a falling inflation rate and rapidly increasing proceeds from North Sea oil. Do not under­rate this financial success. It gives us a firm foundation on which we must now start to build our economic future. We have brought the coun­try through the bad times: now let us carry it forward into the better times.

But don’t let’s overlook the enemies that still lie ahead which, if left unvanquished, could still destroy the prospects of prosperity. Take infla­tion. Industry and the public services have both got their part to play in this fight. Inflation will only continue downwards if employers behave responsibly about price increases and wage and salary earners are content with moderate wage increases. Let me repeat. A ten per cent increase in national earnings means a lower rate of infla­tion in 1978 than this country has enjoyed for many years. More than ten per cent means that inflation will start to go up again. I was going to say that you cannot alter the laws of arithmetic. But you can in one way. If a money supply policy as fierce as that advocated by Keith Joseph were adopted, this might enable inflation to be checked, despite high wage settlements, but only at the cost of unemployment soaring way beyond the levels of the 1930s.

So to those who tell me, ‘No way will the country accept ten per cent,’ I reply, ‘Then no way will you stop prices or unemployment going up again.’ Let me remind you that a number of nationalised industries have already undertaken that any increases in prices that they may be forced to make will be limited to the increases in inflation. So to that extent we have got the future in our own hands. As regards prices in the private sector, now that we have the Price Commission Act we shall use it rigorously in order to ensure that no irresponsible increases take place that will lead to excessive profits.

In my past life I have been a negotiator - a trade union negotiator. And every negotiator knows that if the first wage settlements in the current round start well above ten per cent, that will set the pattern for the whole year. It is as plain as a pikestaff that the level of wages enters into export prices. If one goes up the other will, and the end of that road is that Britain becomes uncompetitive once more, export orders are lost to other countries and unemployment will grow. I shall do all I can to prevent Britain from follow­ing that road - though I recognise that there are limits to what the Government can do, which makes it all the more imperative that we win the battle for public support.

I recognise that many trade union leaders are under great pressure from their members. So is the Government. The pressure on you is to claim high wages. The pressure on the Govern­ment is to keep down inflation and high prices - ask your wives. But we share one thing in com­mon. Neither of us is seeking confrontation with the other. We must therefore help each other. The Government is already doing its part. Since August there is more money in the pay packets through tax cuts. Interest rates are going down. The home borrower has had his mortgage cut three times this year. And now, during the com­ing months, as Denis Healey said yesterday, the Cabinet will be looking, again at the levels of taxation to get the right balance.

The average man always has a grumble about tax deductions, but he also wants proper hospi­tal treatment when he is ill. He wants to be cared for when he is elderly and have proper public services. That is why we need to get the balance right. I listened to the Chancellor carefully yes­terday for any crumbs that I could pick up - he says that it now seems that we can take further action this autumn - further action to reduce taxes, and further measures in line with our strategy will be taken again next year depending on the situation as it develops between now and then. This should help to lessen the pressure on the wages front and I ask all those responsible for negotiations to take it into their calculations. We are not fighting each other: we are fighting on the same side to get the best results we can for all the people of this country - and that includes the millions of trade unionists.

The Government pledges that it will adhere to a policy of going for a rate of growth that will not jeopardise our inflation prospects and a rate of growth that can be sustained. To do so is the best way - no, the only way - to preserve the jobs of our people and, at a time of high unemploy­ment, to improve the real standards of our people. Comrades, there are no short cuts. But there is a road ahead. In the end the people will decide. Meantime I say to both sides of industry, ‘Please don’t support us with general expressions of good will and kind words, and then undermine us through unjustified wage increases or price increases. Either back us or sack us.’

This country has got to make the choice, and I have made mine. We have come so far together that we cannot falter now. Our opponents and some newspapers decry public spending as though it was something indecent. But never let us cease to spell out what public spending really is - decent pensions, good hospitals, modern schools, well planned cities, well maintained roads, the National Health Service, unemploy­ment pay - the whole structure of our system of social security. That is public expenditure.

If education, health, pensions and the rest are to be bought in the market place by the highest bidder, then the few will enjoy the good life. Yes, I suppose we could go back to the Vic­torian levels of taxation that some people would like. If we do so our people will go back also to the Victorian levels of health care, housing, education and social benefits. Even today our society has much to do to give all our citizens the basic decencies of civilised life. For we are grappling with great problems in the industrialised world which in a changing situation has not discovered the signposts, as Tony Benn said yesterday, that will lead it forward towards the goals of full employment, high investment and a good growth rate.

Of one thing there is no doubt: we must be guided by an approach to industrial relations based on co-operation, not on confrontation. Industrial relations are human relations. They flourish best on a basis of mutual understanding, mutual respect and mutual recognition of rights and responsibilities. The Tory Party has made a major contribution in recent months to mutual understanding in Sir Keith Joseph’s intemperate and ill-advised condemnation of the impartial inquiry into the Grunwick dispute. (Applause) Though let me add that I exempt the Leader of the Opposition at once from the charge of having made any serious contribution to thought on industrial matters, whether on Weekend World or anywhere else. (Applause)

In contrast, the Labour Government has worked out in consultation with the Trades Union Congress and placed on the Statute Book a framework of industrial relations which will stand the nation in good stead. If there are flaws in the legislation we will examine them, whether on the issues of trade union recognition or of picketing. We should not be afraid to look at any of these. Albert Booth will begin consultations on these matters in due course, when certain cases have been decided in the appropriate place.

The next 20 years will be totally unlike any­thing that this country has seen since it first moved to become an industrial power 200 years ago. The oil riches beneath the North Sea prop­erly used can transform our economic future in a way inconceivable even ten years ago. How that wealth is to be used, the philosophy behind its distribution, will have a substantial effect on the kind of country and the kind of society that our children will inherit. The gross value of oil resources over £200,000 million - go on putting noughts on and you still won’t get to the end. Production in the 1980s is in the order of 100-120 million tonnes a year. A balance of payments benefit rising to more than 5 per cent of our Gross National Product. Government revenue from oil and gas rising to some £4,000 million a year in the early 1980s. We have not yet absorbed the opportunities that these startling statistics offer us, if we use this new found wealth in a way which is both sensible and reasonable.

In a matter as important as this the Govern­ment should not decide what is to be done with­out proper debate and discussion. I have asked as a first step both the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Energy to produce and publish a paper setting out our objectives towards the end of this year. 

As a nation we can now begin to lift our eyes and see a brighter horizon. We can plan now for the years beyond the next election, for the Bri­tain of the 1980s, when we must use our present opportunities to become the master of events and never again to be their slave. It is our responsibility as democratic socialists to do that, to plan ahead and follow our vision to use these material resources to achieve a better society. This is our opportunity. But it is still only an opportunity - an opportunity which we can take or miss. The oil will not flow for ever, perhaps for not more than 30 years, and while it flows it will not solve our basic problems. It will be no permanent solution if we blow all the pro­ceeds on immediate consumption while our industry is left without adequate investment or nothing is done to replace the oil with alternative energy supplies for the next century. It is our job, our task, our responsibility to get the right balance between investment in our industry, better social services and paying off our debts. But I can say straight away what is, in my view, our first priority. That must be to modernise British industry so that our workers, by the end of the 1980s, will have the plant and machinery to compete on equal terms with the best in the world. The Government must take whatever action is necessary to achieve that. It is the only way to ensure full employment.

'There is one other important factor. The polit­ical parties will be likely to make their choices differently - very differently - on this matter. The difference between us and our Tory oppo­nents will continue to show. We shall insist that the main benefits of oil continue to be for Britain and not for the multinational oil companies. (Applause) Reinvestment of the revenues for more jobs in the future, and not just a quick, greedy, boom-and-bust. Redistributing the pro­ceeds to all sections of our community, and not just a Tory bonanza for the privileged few. Socialist principles of redistribution. One more reason why it is important in these coming years, for the future of all the British people, to have a Labour Government. To let everybody share - future generations as well as this generation; Wales and England as well as Scotland. We do not believe, as our opponents do, that market forces alone will allocate those resources cor­rectly. All history is against that view. 

Democratic socialists embrace the idea of freedom. We care for it passionately. But we do not limit its definition. We also seek for people freedom of a quality which our opponents seem unable to comprehend, which, unless they have a vivid imagination, those who have not been denied this freedom find it difficult to appreciate: the freedom which comes from being brought up in a decent home of your own and a healthy environment; the freedom which comes from being educated in a modern, well-equipped school, having adequate training and a job dur­ing your working life, being cared for in sickness and being able to look forward to a secure old age. The society where these things are a right to every citizen and not simply auctioned to the highest bidder grants the greatest extension of our historic freedom - namely, the freedom of every man and woman to develop to its limits their own potential qualities. (Applause)

I suppose in the Labour movement there are probably more active workers who know from personal experience what the denial or the grant­ing of those freedoms really means. The Next Three Years and into the Eighties - the docu­ment that was moved yesterday - sums it up like this:

We reject the idea that there is a choice to be made between a more equal, just and compassionate society and, one with greater economic efficiency. The two go hand in hand.

Comrades, we know that we have a big job of political education on our hands. The Tories have always been skilled at packaging their pro­ducts. But we can take strength from the fact that our democracy has regularly seen through and rejected the Tories’ selfish brand of politics. Let us determine at this Conference now to offer our people a vision of society more inspiring and more worthwhile. Our creed is as old as this century but as modern as tomorrow. For the pioneers who launched this movement their aspirations must have seemed but a distant dream. Many of their dreams have been fulfilled. They have become realities, thanks to succes­sive Labour Governments.

It has been a turbulent century of bitter wars and uneasy peace. Mankind is still haunted not only by the threat of war and self-destruction, but still by the age-old curses of poverty, hunger and disease. For all our successes in the last three quarters of a century the agenda before us is still formidable. But so it was for the early pioneers. To those young people searching for a political star to guide them, I commend the belief that service to their fellow men and women is a wider horizon than self-interest; that true liberty is best assured where society as a whole accepts responsibility for guaranteeing each and every citizen a certain quality of life.

That is our task. That is what we say to our people. It is for us, overcoming our doubts, unit­ing despite our differences, to go out and commit the British people, convince the British people, that this is our future - the future of a civilised democratic society that can be a great influence in the rest of the world, and of which we can be proud to say that in our generation we helped to form. (Applause)

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