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Speech Archive

Leader's speech, Blackpool 1980

James Callaghan (Labour)

Location: Blackpool

Commentary:

In his last speech as leader, Callaghan attacked the record of the Conservative government, claiming its policies had resulted in higher prices, unemployment, taxes and interest rates. As regards international affairs, the past twelve months had seen the Soviet Union invade Afghanistan, and NATO’s decision to station Cruise missiles in Europe. These events together had heightened tensions between the Soviet Union and the West, though negotiations between the two sides were due to start in Geneva the following week. Of further concern were poverty and debt in the developing world, and Callaghan called for international action to address them.

I am not sure whether that applause was to enable the photographers to get their photos and get out of it, or whether it was a genuine appreciation. I am going to assume it was the second. (Applause)

Every succeeding Conference has its own atmosphere, sets its own objectives, and they are all different. Last year, in the face of our defeat, we had a Conference that was basically looking backwards - backwards to what had gone wrong, why we were defeated. A period of self-criticism is healthy. But you know we have got some very strong-minded individuals in this movement of ours. But despite all of them, I believe there is in every Conference a general will that seems to emerge almost unknowingly to set its own objectives. And I believe this Conference is in the process of doing the same thing.

Yesterday I listened, as we all did, to some very important and good debates, beginning with the resolutions on the economic situation, moved in forward looking, not backward looking, constructive terms by the General and Municipal Workers and seconded by the National Union of Mineworkers. We listened to one of the best debates on energy that I can recall, to an excellent debate on education, and on transport. I must say I enjoyed the high level of debate and some out­standing speeches - I found myself in agreement with some of them more than with others. But I was confirmed in my view that a general will is emerging and will emerge as the week goes on from this Conference, and it is this: that every­thing that we say and do shall be directed towards achieving a basis of unity and a basis of unity that will develop the thrust that is required to rid our country of a reactionary, hard-faced and incompetent Government, headed by the most self-opinionated Prime Minister since Neville Cham­berlain. (Applause)

What is there that can divide us when we have a reactionary Government in power now that can reduce the real value of national insurance be­nefits to the 1930s, or a mean, hard-faced Government that does not even spare the nation’s physically and mentally handicapped children from their penny-pinching economies? And an incompetent Government that cannot even con­trol the supply of money - the instrument which they told us was all that was required to settle our problems and to bring down inflation. We did not believe them then and we have been proved right since.

But how different it was all going to be when Mrs Thatcher was campaigning 18 months ago. It was to be a land of tax cuts, where everybody would be in work, either standing on their own feet or somebody else’s. (Laughter) Just like the good old days. Well, 18 months later the good old days look remarkably like the bad old days. Even the tax cuts have turned out to be phoney. The total tax burden on the average family in this country is higher today than it was when Labour left office. As in the 1930s, the depressed areas of industrial devastation have re-emerged in Wales and in Scotland and in the North and on Merse­yside, and this time in the West Midlands. They are to be added to the list. Last time it was the town of Jarrow that symbolised the political ban­kruptcy of the system. This time it is the men and women of Consett. And no one could have heard the delegate speaking yesterday and listened to him without feeling anger and a new determina­tion that the men and women of our country shall not become the pawns of the market-place and the market economy.

There is a callousness about the attitude of Mrs Thatcher and Keith Joseph and Geoffrey Howe that compounds the wickedness of their policies. Firms are being made bankrupt, whole sectors of industry like textiles and footwear are closing down, order books are at a low ebb, output is slowing, new investment in plant and machinery is cut back, interest rates have never been higher, over two million men and women are out of work. And the reaction of Thatcher, Joseph and Howe is that what is happening is clean, healthy and will purge us, and we will emerge leaner and fitter. They go on saying it as if it were a matter of pride. It will get worse before it gets better. To them every company that goes to the wall is a sign of economic realism. Every new man or woman on the dole is proof that competition is working, even if they are not.

In this new Britain, failure has become success. Rising bankruptcies become the rejuvenation of British industry. According to Mrs Thatcher, an increase in unemployment means that we are still on course. Words that will rank with ‘let them move house’ for insensitivity. There used to be an advertisement with the caption, ‘Even her best friends won’t tell her.’ (Laughter) But they are, and telling her loudly and clearly. Even the newly ennobled proprietors and editors of the newspapers are biting the hand that lifted them up. The magisterial Times sums up the Government’s plight with a lofty leading article - well, what else would you expect? - headed ‘Miles Off Course.’

Let us look at the evidence for that. Compare the record of our last 12 months with their first period in office. Employment - not unemploy­ment: when we left office 160,000 more jobs had been created than in the previous 12 months. Now there are 400,000 fewer jobs. Unemployment: with Labour unemployment fell by 90,000 in our last 12 months. Under the Conservatives 600,000 more men and women are out of work in the last 12 months. Job vacancies: 50,000 more in the last 12 months of Labour’s office. 130,000 less in 12 months of Tory office. When we left office there were too many school leavers seeking jobs - 190,000. Now there are over half a million. Interest rates: May 1979, 12 per cent. Under the Conservatives, 16 per cent. Money supply - the totem pole of the Tories: Labour, 12 per cent. Under the Conservatives, 18 per cent. Inflation: 10 per cent when we left office, now over 16 per cent.

Take some of the price rises that go into inflation. Gas prices did not rise in the last two years of the Labour Government. Under the pre­sent Government, up by 26 per cent. Coal price increases: 13 per cent in Labour’s last 12 months, 37 per cent under the Tories. Electricity: a 4 per cent increase in Labour’s last year, 100 per cent under the Conservatives. Dental charges: £5 a head, now £8. Prescription charges: 20p, now £1 in December next. School meals: 25p with Labour, now an average of 55p. Mortgage rates: 11¾ per cent with Labour, 15 per cent and an additional £20 a month with the Conservatives. Economic growth: 3 per cent higher in Labour’s last year, 2 per cent lower under the Conservatives. Industrial production: 4 per cent higher with Labour, 9 per cent lower under the Conser­vatives. Manufacturing output: 3 per cent higher with Labour, 5 per cent lower under the Conser­vatives. Private manufacturing investment: 10 per cent higher with Labour in the last 12 months. It will fall this year by 10 per cent under the Conservatives.

That is the Tory balance sheet, a record of unrelieved failure. And every company chairman and director who is driven into the bankruptcy court and has to call in the liquidators should send the bill to Saatchi and Saatchi. (Applause) And if anybody wants to ask why we need unity in this movement, it is to ensure that we can reverse that calamitous decline that has taken place since they have been in office. (Applause)

Of course I know we got a lot of things wrong. We are not archangels and we never were. Yesterday I heard a delegate advising Conference on how to vote. You may remember him. He came to the rostrum and told us how to vote on all the resolutions, and particularly to beware of the resolution that had been moved by the General and Municipal Workers, seconded by the National Union of Mineworkers, that called for a different strategy. And he asked us to beware of it because he feared the consequences of working out these arrangements between the Party and the trades unions. Beware, he said, or we shall find ourselves in the position we were in before. Friend, there are millions in this country today who would love to be in the position they were in before. (Applause)

David Basnett rightly said that the next Labour Government will need to retrieve what he called a crisis situation. And faced with such a situation, we shall need priorities. We must determine those priorities and I have no doubt what they must be.

The first priority and our first pledge to our people must be that we shall so organise our affairs that we aim once more at securing a high and stable level of full employment for our peo­ple. That is and must be the top priority. (Applause)

Some people have told me that after 16 months of hibernation I have woken up in the last couple of months. (Laughter) Well, I can never get to sleep with that fellow behind me. (Laughter)

I tell you what it is. There are fewer of us now. Many of you younger delegates are experiencing for the first time and seeing for the first time what we grew up with in the Thirties, what brought us into the Labour Movement and what, inciden­tally, will mean that we shall die in the Labour Movement and will never leave the Labour Movement. (Applause) However bad a socialist I may be in the eyes, of a great many of our col­leagues, I know why I and many others of my generation were bound to be in the Labour Party. We were determined that the Thirties should not be seen in our lifetime. And as I reach - and draw no conclusions from this - and get near the end of my political life - see what the commen­tators make of that - (Laughter) - but as I see the conditions being repeated once again, the policies being followed once more that we thought we had destroyed forever as the result of the 1930s, I cannot but feel a deep indignation and anger that this generation should be required to go through the things that our generation went through. And I am determined to fight it as hard as I can. (Applause)

There are a lot of initiatives that will be needed in this crisis situation that was  referred to by David Basnett and Lawrence Daly - many initiatives, and I cannot outline them all this morning. But this Party has a responsibility for outlining them in detail during the course of the coming week. But more than that, over the next 12 months, in conjunction with the trade union movement, to work out a policy that can be agreed. It must be agreed. I have never seen so much talent as there is burgeoning in the Labour Party at the present time. But you have got to work together. You will not succeed unless you do - all of you. (Applause)

But what we need, both urgently and in the longer term, first of all on the international front is joint decisions by the industrial countries to reverse the mistakes they made at Venice, to promote economic growth and employment as the top priority of the world. We need international agreements to stimulate world trade. Tem­porary import controls Moss Evans referred to yesterday - yes, he said temporary: I accept that. I think it is necessary in view of the clamping down on demand that has taken place and the fact that this Government has certainly not done what is necessary to re-stimulate demand. But I emphasise that they cannot be long-term protec­tionist policies. Beggar-my-neighbour policies are no policies for socialists. And I am glad to see that the Transport and General Workers agrees with that. Yes, recycle the huge OPEC oil surp­luses and revenues that they have now got and which they cannot use. They cannot absorb the imports that would ensure the employment in the debtor countries to pay the debts, so they have got to be used in the Third World. And I want to come back to that a little later. Use the North Sea Oil revenues to modernise Britain’s core indus­tries instead of financing unemployment. Lower interest rates and the exchange rates. We must secure an agreement and understanding to keep growth in money incomes, as David Basnett said yesterday, and the growth in productivity in line in order to avoid inflation. That is the purpose of it.

We must stimulate more public spending, especially on public and private projects. There are times when public expenditure has got to be controlled. But now is the time to expand it. When Ray Buckton painted the picture yesterday of what is happening to the railway system of our country, how penny-wise pound-foolish can this Government get by keeping down the public sector borrowing requirement to its present level? More resources to the National Enterprise Board at the present time, more money on training and apprenticeships. Stan Orme has pointed out more than once that a whole generation of our young people today are missing the chance of apprenticeships. How can that be replaced? It can be replaced by the Government now. A conservation of energy programme. Those are only some of the things that need immediate attention by the Government. Others are set out in the Liaison Committee’s document.

And I say one other thing. Our Party has always been the Party which has used local authority resources as a means of improving the lot of our people in education, in housing and in some aspects of health, trying to build up a decent environment in our cities and our towns. This is a form of practical socialism - municipal social­ism, if you like. But once again we must restore - and we pledge ourselves to restore - to our own local authorities, to our own people who were elected to those authorities, the responsibility for determining how the needs of our people locally are to be met in that direction. (Applause)

I would like to move on. The posters around this hall are headed ‘Peace, Jobs and Freedom.’ And there are no bigger tasks for the world than peace and its security. I would couple with that the relationship between the developing world and the industrialised world. And the world’s leaders must take note of the growing demand for peace throughout the world.

During the last 12 months we have seen out­breaks of war and violence in South East Asia and in South West Asia. One war in particular is going on even now. Europe, although it still remains comparatively stable, has seen a heigh­tening of tension. But it is obscene to observe the nations of the world rushing to spend more on armaments, the Western industrialised nations setting a bad example and even the Third World countries following in our footsteps.

Overshadowing all this, bad as it is, all these regional disputes, important as they are, in the Middle East, in Latin America, in South West Asia, in Afghanistan, is the dread horror of nuc­lear war, on a scale that would totally transcend the destruction of Hiroshima. The consequences are unimaginable in the destruction of our civil­isation, in lands laid waste and the populations that will be decimated and the survivors deformed.

Don’t think that any of us who have had any responsibility for these matters are less caring than those who have not had that direct responsi­bility. I have said before and I repeat again: I do not believe that there is anyone of the generation that fought through the last war, be it Brezhnev, Carter or anyone else, who would release a nuclear weapon. I do not believe it. I have had the advantage of personal talks with all of them. I know the horror. They know the horror. Those of us who are perhaps closest to it know more than anybody else what the consequences could be.

But the nature of the problem has changed since that idealistic CND agitation of 20 years ago. Then there were four - at the most five - countries which possessed the nuclear weapon. Now middle-sized industrial countries, even some classed as developing countries, are now possessing themselves of the technology. How do you deal with this? This is one of the two great problems that the world has to face, important for the whole future of mankind.

How can Britain’s influence best be used in order to achieve this for all mankind - not just for ourselves but for everybody? There is no one here who would suggest that our policy should just be governed by fear. That is not an argument that I would expect to hear advanced and I do not believe it will be. Fear is a bad counsellor. We want to see not only our own country rid of these weapons but other countries too. And Britain has an important role to play.

At the end of last year the situation turned rapidly for the worse by two events. First of all there was the decision of the NATO countries to station Cruise missiles in Europe. That was fol­lowed by the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. The consequence of those two actions was that tension became heightened, and I must say I felt more pessimistic than I have felt for a long time. Admittedly the Cruise missiles were to be stationed in Britain and in Germany in three years’ time. But it led the Soviet Union to say, rightly or wrongly - in my view wrongly - that they would not negotiate on a reduction of nuclear weapons in Europe unless this decision by NATO was reversed and therefore three years would elapse and the Cruise missiles would come. I never believed it was right and said so to those who would listen in the Soviet Union. Until NATO had reversed its decision, they said, no negotiations, ignoring the fact that the Soviet Union itself was adding every week one new SS20 with three warheads to its arma­ment, 30 new backfire bombers every year. Well, our own Prime Minister would be one who reacted in the way you would expect. She rattled the sabre, she stepped up the pressure and she called for strong measures. Thank God there were other statesmen in the world who could see the situation a little differently.

It was left to Helmut Schmidt, the Chancellor of Germany, a man who had seen war at first hand, to take the initiative on this matter. And by skill and by mediation he has achieved a shift in the Soviet Union’s position that is of profound importance. He went to Moscow, he discussed this matter with Brezhnev last July and he sec­ured, either because Brezhnev was ready to do it or by the force of Schmidt’s own convictions, a change in the Soviet Union’s attitude so that after July Schmidt was told by Brezhnev that he would withdraw that pre-condition. Schmidt then sent Genscher, his Foreign Minister, to Washington to confer with the Americans and President Carter, in the middle of an election. He sent him to see how the United States would respond to the changed Soviet attitude, where the Soviet Union were no longer insisting that Europe should reverse its decision on the Cruise missiles as a precondition to any talks and any negotiations. They have now limited their preconditions to two. One is the ratification of the SALT II agreement, and the second is the desirability of including the forward-based sys­tems in Europe in the negotiations. Both are conditions that should be accepted.

President Carter is under great pressure in his own country, fighting art election. Nevertheless, he took a decision for which we should congratu­late and thank him. He took a decision that Mus­kie and Gromyko should meet as they did and he indicated a readiness to initiate and to begin fresh talks. Secretary Muskie and Mr Gromyko met, as you may have read in the newspapers. They cleared the way for new negotiations. Those new negotiations will begin in Geneva on Monday week, on 13 October. These talks are of the greatest significance to the world. They can lead to a new and lower balance between East and West, to limit the arms race in medium range ballistic missile systems in Europe.

Some people say to me, ‘Look, if Britain would give a lead, if only you would take a moral stand on this, you would get a response.’ Com­rades, I know of nothing to justify that assertion. I wish it were true. I would like to think it was true. But look at the record. I recall that shortly after he came to office President Carter renounced the building of the new B1 bomber - one of the most significant weapons that was likely to emerge. Was it followed by any response from the Soviet Union? No. Then we had the proposal to introduce the neutron bomb. That too was dropped. Did it meet with a Soviet response? No.

I have recently spoken at length with Chancel­lor Schmidt on these issues. I can only tell you his views, and in my view he is the leading statesman now in Europe on this matter as on so many others. It is his view that not only does the present build-up go far beyond the security needs of the Soviet Union, but that it is the fact that the NATO alliance refusal to reverse its decision to abandon the Cruise missile that has made the Soviet Union come to the conclusion, fearful as they are of the use of this dreadful weapon, that if there is to be serious and mean­ingful negotiation then they must start from the present position. It wasn’t giving up anything that put them in that position. It was because they saw that the Western Alliance’s position was cohesive. That happens to be my view but it is - even more importantly perhaps - the view of the Germans who have at least as deep a concern about this matter as we do. I do not believe that the great Labour Movement is going to say in the face of this, ‘Stop the world, we want to get off.’ It is surely our task to back to the hilt, seriously, and sincerely, the negotia­tions that will begin on Monday week in Geneva, agreed in the middle of an election campaign by President Carter, and to press our own Prime Minister that she should stop the sabre rattling and join in the effort by others who possess greater insight about these matters than she does. (Applause)

Let me repeat our task - the Labour Move­ment’s task. And we have great influence with other parties in Europe and elsewhere. It is not an influence that if we take a view that they think is self-regarding totally that they will follow. They will then say, ‘What is happening to the British Labour Movement?’ But we have an influence if we put our weight behind these negotiations and if we put our weight behind a search to rid the whole of the peoples of the world of the nuclear weapons, then we have an influence which is out of all proportion to the fact that we are still in opposition. And I beg of you not to weaken the position of anybody in this particular matter. The Germans have as vital an interest - as great or greater an interest - as we have in the growth of this weaponry and there­fore of achieving a new equilibrium at a lower level which itself would lead then to further steps on this path of eventually ridding the world of these dreadful weapons. That is the position of our sister party now fighting an election, and how profoundly all of us must hope that Chancel­lor Schmidt and the SPD win this election in Germany. (Applause)

I see that Herr Strauss says that he aims to be the Mrs Thatcher of Germany. Well, we would willingly transfer her at a much lower transfer fee than they paid for Kevin Keegan. (Laughter and applause)

But truthfully we cannot wish the German people such harm as that.

Let me turn to the other aspect of this prob­lem. The preservation of peace is of vital importance and underlies everything else. But just a word about what is happening with the Third World today. Our movement must take note - and indeed does take note - of the develop­ments that are taking place. The poverty in the world is growing and not diminishing. The Third World is sliding even more deeply into debt because of the oil price increases. World popula­tion - this will affect the younger delegates - is increasing at a faster rate than ever. Four billion people today. By the year 2000, 6.3 billion peo­ple is the best estimate that can be made. Think of the strain that is going to be placed not only on resources, not only on food, not only on energy, but also on the stable political relations that are needed in a world where resources may be get­ting less. Populations of the great cities esti­mated by the year 2000: Cairo, 20 million people; Calcutta, 20-30 million people; Mexico City, 30 million people. Think of the cost. Think of the strain on these developing countries that do not have our infrastructure to build on and ask your­selves what are going to be the political tensions in the world that will arise from that.

The problems are beyond the capacity of any one country to solve. There is a need for mutual world interdependence on these issues, not only out of charity - although it fits in with our principles of mutual interdependence. The Brandt Report - another great German - has indicated some steps forward on commodity agreements, access for industrial products, the measures to stimulate economic growth, the relief from indebtedness. We have to put together three things, and we ought to be in the forefront of doing it, as indeed Brandt has taken it up.

First, the industrialised world now has vast excess capacity and over 20 million people out of work. Secondly, OPEC has vast oil revenues that they are unable to use and absorb the imports that are represented by those revenues. Thirdly, the Third World has vast needs to relieve poverty and hunger and illiteracy and disease. Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to put those three ideas together and to see how we can work it out. And for socialists it cannot be impossible to achieve that. We do it because it would provide work for the industrialised world. We do it because it would provide the aid and assistance that the developing countries need. We do it because it would ensure that the growing interdependence of the world is recognised. If we had the vision and imagination to do this - and I intend to pledge myself to work for it: I believe it is one of the greatest tasks there is - we should ensure that our growingly vulnerable world has a better chance for new generations.

Now let me have one word about constitutional issues. I have offered my own advice and views on this to the Party in my speech at Brecon on July 3 and I need not repeat it now. There’s nothing new about the discussions we have been having. The relationship between the constituency parties and the trade unions, and between the PLP, the National Executive and the Conference, have been discussed on many occasions in the last 75 years. As long ago as 1907 the Conference decided that they would instruct the Parliamen­tary Party to do certain things. Seventy-three years ago - rough lot this Parliamentary Party is, isn’t it? But of course it is experience that has altered the situation, because what experience shows is that policy cannot be laid down. If it is to be successful, it must be agreed, and no amount of constitutional wrangling will produce a solu­tion. A satisfactory relationship between all the elements of the Party and its affiliated bodies such as the trade unions can be achieved subject to one condition, and only one condition. It will be achieved provided that it springs from mutual trust and confidence between the various bodies and personalities. (Applause)

The most perfectly devised constitution will not work unless mutual trust is present. And if proposals are conceived because it is believed that some are traitors, that some do not have the will or lack the capacity, if that is the basis of proposals when they are put forward, then they will not be accepted. Now look, we have got to work together. For heaven’s sake, I have emphas­ised this time after time. Proposals that are considered must not be on the basis that you cannot trust some other section of the Party. We are all comrades and we have got to work as comrades and believe in each other’s good faith as com­rades. (Applause)

And that mutual confidence is what I want to build up between the federal structure of our Party. It is a federal structure. It is essential. The trade unions and the constituency parties are the principal elements in that structure. They are. Never let it be forgotten, incidentally, that the membership of these two sections largely consists of the same people. But as I see from my vantage point on the National Executive Committee, they are apt to look at their common problems from slightly different angles. So what do we need? We need understanding that the role of each is essen­tial to the health and success of our movement.

Hugh Dalton once compared the Labour Movement to a strong, growing tree. Without the trade unions, he said, there would be no roots and no stability, but it is the constituency parties who provide the heavy crop of political fruit. I believe that to be as true now as when he said it 40 years ago. As for the Parliamentary Labour Party, the one thing to which it is bound under the constitu­tion is the election manifesto, because the Par­liamentary Party has to carry it out. They are the people who have to do the job day by day, and that is why, quite simply in one sentence, the Parliamentary Party must be involved and share joint responsibility with the National Executive Committee and why the National Executive Committee in my view - and I say it in all good comradeship - are wrong to try to assume sole responsibility for the preparation of the man­ifesto. (Applause)

Having said that, I do not want it to be thought that I believe the constitution is unchangeable or is perfect. It is not. We are an evolving Party. We can change it. But changes have got to be made against a different atmosphere from the present one. We have got to get away from this. For pity’s sake, stop arguing. The public is crying out for unity in order to get rid of the Thatcher Govern­ment. (Applause)

Mr Attlee is coming back into favour. He is being quoted by all and sundry. Every time I read an article or hear a speech I hear a quotation from Clem. I must say it only goes to show what hap­pens to us after we are dead. There may be a time when even I shall be cheered by the constituency parties. But in 30 years’ time, not now. I do not ask for it now. (Laughter) But listen to what Clem said, because it is very apposite in my view to the present situation:

'Self-criticism is a healthy thing as long as it does not lead to a paralysis of the will. But there is a danger that a party may be so concerned about its own health that it becomes a political valetudinarian incapable of taking an active part in affairs. It may discuss its own internal conditions to such an extent that it disgusts all those with whom it comes in con­tact.' (Applause)

Comrades, for the time being we have had enough discussion I think we have all learned lessons from what has happened over the last two or three years. I do not exempt myself from that. I never have done. But I say to you that it is our job this week to look to the future after Thatcherism. We shall need both emergency measures to staunch the bleeding and, a long-term plan. Peo­ple have now seen that Mrs Thatcher’s appeal to self-interest, to private profit, to the free market, is a failure in the modern world. We assert instead that everything depends upon the response which can be drawn from men and women acting for the common good, wherever they work - in indus­try, in local government, in education, in the health services, wherever. As one of the early socialists said - and I want to finish on this theme - we should take to socialism because it is ethi­cally right, otherwise we shall stop short at collectivism.

To all of us, to all our colleagues, I say that we must begin with a framework of principle to give unity of purpose and action. The posters on the walls proclaim, ‘Peace, Jobs and Freedom.’ Let me add two more: ‘Equality and Fellowship.’ We are discussing all these issues this week. Yes, we believe deeply in freedom. It is as essential as the air we breathe. But we all believe that it is not just freedom as an absence of restraint, but freedom in fellowship, freedom as a positive fulfilment of a man’s or woman’s personality as a member of society.

We are all united about this. And what a won­derful team we are when we get together and work together. It far transcends and outshadows anything the Conservatives can put up. But we all believe, everyone of us, that socialism is not just a fixed set of institutions. We are all agreed that it has an ethical basis and an underlying idealism. Sometimes our ideals may seem to conflict. We may conflict with each other. But the ultimate value of our society, to which we must all work, and to which we all want to work, depends on the way we uphold our ideals and - here comes the practical man creeping out - the extent to which those ideas can be applied in practice and realised.

Now all my colleagues know that our task is to apply this to the Britain of the Eighties: the workers and the trade unions to seek more control over their lives and the direction of their own industries; women to build on the gains that they have made so far in pursuit of a true partnership and equality; the young in search of a society that will enable them to develop their personalities to the highest level of which they are capable; all of us, whoever we are to rid ourselves of inequality, whether it springs from educational differences, colour and race differences or differences of wealth. As a movement we must guard against becoming a mere agglomeration of sectional interests and pressure groups - many of them worthwhile, many of them utterly worthy in the objectives they seek, but taking only a limited view of society as a whole. Above all we agree, all of us - and this is the unifying factor - that the brotherhood of man was born out of a rejection of the view that a good society can be created from a mass of competing, self-seeking individuals.

Comrades, we have won great battles. There is no need for us to be ashamed of what the Labour Movement and Labour Governments have done in recent years. (Applause) Now there are more to win: the battle for industrial regeneration at home, the battle for equality, the battle against world poverty, the battle, above all, for peace. That is our mission for the 1980s. Only the Labour Party can fulfil it. Nobody here, I think, talks any nonsense about centre parties or the rest of it. It’s as dead as a dodo. Mere fluff. (Applause)

But you cannot do it divided. You can only do it if you work together. Unite. That is the call for this Conference. Unite. And I call on every one of you to unite to roll back Thatcherism and forward to democratic socialism to save our people and our country. (Applause)

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