Leader's speech, Brighton 1981
Michael Foot (Labour)
Commentary:This speech was Foot’s first as Party Leader. At the time of this conference, unemployment was at a record high and Thatcher had agreed to go ahead with the construction of the Channel Tunnel linking Britain and France. Within the Labour Party, Tony Benn’s unsuccessful challenge to the incumbent, Denis Healy, triggered an election for the deputy leadership, which was the first held under the new electoral college procedure. In March 1981, Labour dissidents formed the SDP, which by autumn had forged an alliance with the Liberals. As regards international affairs, Foot expressed his support for nuclear disarmament following his recent visit to Moscow.
Chairman and comrades, perhaps you would permit me to start my remarks with one personal recollection. It is 47 years ago that I joined the Labour Party in the city of Liverpool, and just about a year after I joined - or a year and a half - a general election was declared by Mr Stanley Baldwin. I got on the next train from Liverpool to London and I went along to Transport House and I went along to see the then national agent of the party, because I wanted to see whether it was possible to fight in that general election. I said to the national agent: ‘Have you got any seats left where you haven’t got Labour candidates?’ They showed me the list. The general election was only three weeks off - they did things a bit quicker in those days. (Laughter) They showed me the list. I looked down it carefully and I saw some rather unattractive names, but along with them I saw a reference to the constituency of Monmouth. I said to the national agent: ‘That’s in Wales, isn’t it?’ (Laughter) I knew that much. I said: ‘Can’t I go there? Isn’t that a good Labour seat?’ They said: ‘Well, you know, that’s the country part of Monmouthshire and they’ve also had a bit of a split in the party down there recently. Maybe you can go down and heal it.’ (Laughter) So, you see, I have had quite a lot of practice at the game I am up to. (Applause)
I will give you another lesson from the same recollection. The following day we set off on our election campaign, because I went down to Newport that night and was adopted by a properly-organised selection committee, I can assure you. (Laughter) There were only ten people there, but we managed the business very successfully, and we set off the next morning without any loudspeaker, one van and the message of democratic socialism. We went along to open the campaign with my friend Tom Powell, who was the agent of the Monmouth constituency, and we set up our little stand just by the plinth that some people know in the little town of Usk. There Tom Powell got up to open our campaign and he said: ‘Well, here we are in bloody old Tory Usk.’ That is how he opened our appeal to the people of Monmouth. (Laughter) I learned from him that, even if that is what you feel, there are other ways maybe of successfully saying it. (Laughter) Those two lessons I got from that occasion.
Yesterday's debate, I believe, revealed some of these other ways of saying things. Yesterday's debate on economic affairs exposed Government policy in the way it ought to be exposed. It showed what we could have been saying and should have been saying effectively and unitedly over the past twelve months. (Applause) Much of it has been said and was said, I underline, by the Labour Opposition in the House of Commons, and I reject the charge that the socialist case, the party's case, has not been put there over this period; but we can do it better if we concentrate all our energies on the task. We all know the need to expose this terrible record of crime and folly which mounts every month and day by day. Perhaps it is not properly noticed everywhere that, almost week by week, the collapse of the Government’s economic policies causes them to attack our free institutions. They must find scapegoats. So with every economic failure they turn more viciously on the local authorities or the trade unions or the nationalised industries or on the obligation of Parliament itself to provide full employment. I hope to try and illustrate these matters as I proceed.
Yesterday showed to the party and to the country, I trust, that we have an alternative strategy, we have an alternative policy. It was presented by Denis Healey, it was replied to by Tony Benn. I fully acknowledge to Tony from this platform the strong part that he has played in the preparation of that alternative strategy and the contribution that he has made to the party. (Applause) I want to see a new Labour Cabinet in which Denis Healey and Tony Benn and a few others - I will mention them too - play leading and honourable parts. I believe it is my duty to try and work for it, and the duty of everybody else. (Applause) Tony said yesterday that he did not want a Cabinet drawn up by the Tory newspapers; I fully acknowledge that. I do not know if he would like to see the list I have got. (Laughter) I can show it to him some time. There has been a bit of difficulty about some of these matters from time to time, you know. I have thought occasionally of going along to consult my old friend who, I think, is pretty well the best man in the business, Brian Clough. (Laughter) He is pretty good at picking teams, but he has had some difficulties himself recently. I thought at one moment that I might be losing Trevor Francis and John Robertson all in the same season, but I hope we can avoid any such troubles I think that this Conference is going to be a sign to the country that we have.
Tony referred yesterday to some of the events that are happening elsewhere this week: black Monday on the Stock Exchange - we do not know whether they have recovered on Tuesday, but there are many places up and down our country that have had black Mondays where they have not had any recovery. (Applause) Black Mondays in Liverpool, black Mondays in Birmingham, black Mondays in Manchester, black Mondays in Ebbw Vale, the blackest days we have known in the last 30 or 40 years for our people. This is what we have to face above all other matters. I have only one or two additions to offer to what was said in the debate of this subject yesterday, but I say it in order that we should underline the terrible reality. The whole country knows - ought to know - that the total unemployment is the worst ever recorded. Of course we used to make the comparisons in regions; we still have to do so. Some, like Wales and Scotland and the others, are even harder hit - Merseyside and some of the others - but now we also have to make comparisons in terms of age and sex and colour. The Manpower Services Commission prophesies that - today the figure for long term unemployment is 630,000 out of work for more than a year - and the Manpower Services Commission forecasts more than one million of long-term unemployed under that definition, by the end of 1983. Young people - we had the arguments most passionately and properly put about them in the debate yesterday. The numbers of women unemployed: over the past five years the numbers of women workers without a job have increased twice as fast as the number of jobless men. The figure is up to 900,000 on the register - that means it is well over one million unemployed women in this country today.
Every day since the Tories took office, since Mrs Thatcher became prime minister, for every day since then 750 women have been added to the dole queue - every day. As to what has been happening in the figures for coloured workers, the unemployment figures are equally appalling. Unemployment totals, if they continue along this scale for any period, are going to drive deep fissures into our society. What happened in Moss Side, Liverpool and the rest is what we in the Labour party are dedicated to stop, but when I went to Liverpool and walked through the streets of Liverpool to see it with my own eyes, it is a monument to Thatcherism and to our failure in allowing Thatcherism ever to have occurred. (Applause) They tell us it is not their fault. It is all the fault of the world recession and Britain's chronic inefficiency. Well, that is a lie. But even if it were the truth, it is no exoneration. They could still act to reverse the decline. They tell us that they cannot, and that means they will not.
The immediate alternative to this unparalleled disaster is clear. The Government can step in to get people working again. There is an enormous amount of work which our battered country needs and there are vast armies of people waiting to do it. What is missing is the money which will enable those people to be paid to do the work. It is this which the Tories have set their face against. They will restrict credit; they will not extend it to the private sector or the Government. Yet it is the expansion of credit which enabled this and every other industrial country in the world to escape from peasant economies. They say that the funds available to finance government expansion or industrial expansion do not exist. They apply this principle, for example, to the gas-gathering pipeline in the North Sea. Here is something which would be of enormous benefit to the economy by harnessing North Sea gas cheaply and effectively, but to say that you are going to leave it, as the Government does, to the individual operators, is like telling people that they must each be responsible for building the piece of road outside their own front door. (Applause) The Government is in a unique position to organise the project, but the Tory obsession about finance, and about public-sector finance in particular, blinds them to such opportunities. If they are so concerned about the shortage of money, why are they encouraging so much money to leave this country by the removal of exchange controls? (Applause) Portfolio and other direct investment is now leaving the country at a rate of £6 billion a year, enough to finance a 50 per cent increase in Government borrowing.
Or turn to another project which illustrates the whole abject hopelessness of this Government for our people. President Mitterrand paid a visit to London a few weeks ago. I am sure you would wish me to say from this platform how we send from this great Conference to him and to the socialist party in France every godspeed and good wish for the success of that government. (Applause) There are many issues on which we may have differences and arguments and discussions. I promise you we will arrange the meetings to do so, but I assure you that we will do everything possible from our party's point of view in the interests of our party and in the interests of theirs and in the interests of European socialism as a whole to conduct those discussions in the friendliest and proper comradely spirit. But I was referring to the visit of President Mitterrand to Downing Street.
Falling momentarily under the influence of President Mitterrand, Mrs Thatcher agreed to go ahead with the Channel tunnel. Considering the number of jobs and the kind of jobs - steel and all the rest - the idea is certainly to be welcomed, but we must put to Mrs Thatcher the question she keeps putting so fatuously to us and the nation and, presumably, to her hand-picked, thick-skulled Cabinet: ‘Where is the money to come from?' Where is the money to come from for the Channel tunnel?’ Is she to print it? No, that would be wicked; she cannot do that. Is she to borrow it? No, that is wicked too. According to her theory, you cannot get it that way. So is she to raise it by more taxes? Of course that is more feasible? Contrary to her election pledges, she happens to have raised taxes in this country higher than ever before in British history. (Applause) As far as I know, she is not proposing to raise the money from extra taxes. So is she to raise the money by cutting somewhere else? That would not help very much either, because wherever she cut, she would be cutting jobs, probably, and not increasing them. So on her theory, which she has told the country and preached to the country with such tireless reiteration, she cannot carry out the promise that she made to President Mitterrand.
I suggest she goes along and has another talk with President Mitterrand and ask him where he is going to get the money. He will tell her, I am sure. He will tell her in the best French and then translate it for her. (Laughter) He will say he is going to borrow it. And because he is a persuasive kind of chap, you know, he may add: ‘Of course it always helps, you know, if you are able to give orders to the bankers instead of taking orders from the bankers.’ (Applause) Of course the money can be borrowed; that is how every such great project in our economic history has been advanced.
And if it is sense to build the Channel tunnel that way - or the French tunnel, as some of them may call it - why is it also not sense for the reconstruction of our inner cities, for the improvement of our homes, for the rebuilding of all our shattered industries after another? That is the task on which we have to embark. I am most grateful to President Mitterrand for his visit and for having illustrated this simple matter so well.
Let me turn, however, to what happened after he had left, because President Mitterrand’s visit gave us only a temporary respite from the monetarist lunacy. Within a few days she and her Cabinet were back in the old asylum - I will not go through the whole story, there was a very good debate on the subject yesterday, but they are working on the principle that during the next period of Parliament they will introduce an even more ferocious attack on what local authorities are seeking to do to protect our people and an even more ferocious attack on the money they need for the job and also on their rights as democratically elected bodies. I can tell you that some of the most agonising discussions we have had on the National Executive throughout this period are precisely those in which we have seen how our local authorities up and down the country have been driven into the most appalling dilemmas on the subject.
My sympathies are on both sides of the question, I tell you, because I can see how fierce is the argument, how difficult is the problem for those elected on intelligent programmes of community and socialist action, and then finding themselves thwarted by this Government intervention. We must do our best to mobilise all our resources against them, but I say to you one thing in particular, and I hope this will be properly understood, because the latest proposal the Government is making to deal with this situation, as far as I can see, is that there should be a so-called referendum.
If, in certain circumstances, the local authority wants to go ahead to raise rates - if necessary to carry out pledges that they may have made or to protect elementary services in their area - the Government is saying that they are going to have some enforced referendum to decide whether the public supports it or not. You know, there have been referendums - I am not talking about any in this country - elsewhere; the kind of referendum they are talking about sound very much like the kind of plebiscite they used to have in some fascist states - very much like them. Because of course the proposition that would be put to the ratepayers and the people in different parts of the country under these proposals would be a scandalous proposal. It would not be one that bore any genuine relation to democracy at all. So I say in advance - I have not got the full agreement of either the Shadow Cabinet or the National Executive to this proposal, but it must not deter me - that if they go ahead with any such idea of enforced referendum from the central Government on local authorities, the Labour party will boycott. We will have nothing to do with it. (Applause) The boycott will expose the grisly farce of the whole business.
All right, if they say that is undemocratic - they have no case for doing so - I will offer them another offer. We will let them have a referendum in one or two places, if they like, on local rates, if we have a referendum on their next Budget. (Applause) If they let us have that one - or on the last one, if they think it was such a good one - they can take their choice, but that is a fair, democratic offer, otherwise I tell them here and now that we will have nothing whatsoever to do with such a gross invasion of the rights of local authorities in this country. (Applause) I would wish, if I had time, chairman, to speak also about their grotesque attacks on the public sector, the nationalised industries. There are many such topics on which I would wish to speak, but I do not wish to proceed too long on this occasion. We will have many such opportunities to present them, but I underline afresh that in my judgment what we are living through - it accords very much with what was said in the debates yesterday - is not merely an attack upon our economy, we are living through the most serious attack on our democratic institutions which we have seen for generations. We must mobilise all our strength and intelligence and unity in order to resist it.
Let me say a few words on some of the topics which seem to have aroused some interest in other parts over these last few months. There was an election for the deputy leader. There was also, as was kindly noticed, a non-election for the leader. (Laughter) I have never been very good at arithmetic, but I have to tell you that my majority was slightly larger than Denis Healey’s. (Laughter) Anyhow, on that reckoning I have every right, I think, to say what I think on the subject. Even if I did not have the right, I would probably still say it. (Laughter) I think we have to acknowledge what has happened and then see how we can make it more effective. I have not the slightest doubt about the decision of this Conference to have an electoral college for the election of the leader and the deputy leader on suitable occasions - occasions that are suitable for the party as well as everybody else I think that on that basis, of course, I am sure it is right that we should accept and acknowledge the whole arrangement to have an electoral college. (Applause)
But I do think - and I do not think anyone will dispute it; indeed the chairman at the beginning of his remarks at the beginning of our discussions underlined this too - we have to look at the way in which it works. I do think we have got to see how we can improve it. I think we have to look at many of the provisions that were made for the way in which Members of Parliament vote, and others; I think these matters have all got to be examined, but I think we should accept the principle and then see how we can translate it into better effect.
Tony, if I can also comment on a remark he made yesterday - and this is in one sense the central question that I am elected as leader of the party to try to solve, that is the balance between the Party Conference and the Parliamentary Party. This is not a new question; it is one that has prevailed in discussion about how the balance should be operated and how it should be conducted, right from the very first time when Keir Hardie became the first leader of this party. I accept what Tony said yesterday on this subject; if we can translate that into effect, I accept partners - that is what it has got to be. The partnership has got to be one in which the Parliamentary Party does not presume the right to dictate to the Party Conference, and the Party Conference does not presume the right to dictate to the Parliamentary Party. (Applause) They have both got to do it, and in doing it we have to show a spirit of tolerance. I accept what Tony said too. Tony said - and I quote his words, and I listened, as they were addressed especially, I think in a sense to me - He said about the Parliamentary Party that he wanted to have: ‘a better internal democracy so that he is never again told he is there being a “dog licence issued by a prime minister”’...
Or, I presume, a leader of the party. I give Tony and everybody else concerned this absolute undertaking here and now that no such dog licences for Members of Parliament will be issued by me. Indeed, I can recall the first occasion when that was said, because I was in the party meeting when it happened. It was said by Harold Wilson. I occupied a place on the back benches and I protested against that statement then. I have protested against the idea behind it ever since, and will go on protesting against it to my dying day. No dog licences for Members of Parliament. Their right to exercise their own judgment on these matters, their own conscience, their own political knowledge and experience - that must be part of our democracy too. I believe that I have a special duty to try and protect that right of free judgment of Members of Parliament because I would not be here if that had not prevailed. (Applause) That applies not merely to me, but it applies, I believe, to the whole range of those who have been elected to office inside the Labour Party, and I believe we can restore that principle. It is not only a question of intimidation suggested by prime ministers or leaders of the party: intimidation can come from other places, too. What we want to see is a proper tolerance established and sustained throughout the party as a whole. (Applause)
I would wish, if I had time, to discuss some other matters too. I would like to tell you all the secrets of what happened in the last Labour Cabinet. (Laughter) I have read about them everywhere else. (Laughter) I have my own point of view. You know it is not the case, but I will only do this very briefly now because there is something much more important still that I wish to speak about. It is not a question, usually in Labour Cabinets, of an argument between right and wrong, a clear case and a bad case. Very rarely - I do not say it never happens, but it is very rare. That’s not the way the place works - it is usually one Cabinet Minister who has a very strong view for one reason and may indeed come to the Cabinet meeting equipped with the party manifesto commitment on the matter, and another Cabinet Minister who will also come to the same meeting also equipped with a party manifesto, or even a Conference resolution, because it is not the case that all Conference resolutions throughout the whole history of the Labour party have always been consistent. It is not the case. So there is an argument, and they are very important arguments. I do not say that we have never had some bad eggs; of course we have, but the overwhelming majority of those I have seen - I have not been in quite as many Labour Cabinets as Tony has, but I have been in one or two (Applause) - but I say the overwhelming majority of those who come to those Cabinet meetings, according to my experience, are coming there to try to give their contribution for getting the best solution to the problem. That applies to previous Cabinets and, indeed I am sure it will apply to future ones. It is all part, you know, of what Tony argues. Here I fully accept what he says about the absolute necessity that we should make our position credible. Of course that is right. We have at this Conference been adding up a whole list of items which we are going to present to the nation: health, education, employment, our great industries that have got to be repaired, our housing policy and the rest. It is going to be a huge total, and quite right, because the pressures come from every quarter of our movement and they explode in Conferences such as this with all the passion and feeling that we have seen at this Conference too.
But we have to persuade the nation that we are capable of discriminating between the things we can do first, the things to which we give the highest priority. That is what Aneurin Bevan meant when he talked about the language of priorities being the religion of socialism. We have to choose. You have to choose all the time. Mendes-France says ‘to govern is to choose’; of course that is correct. But we have to make a lot of the choices now, and one of the choices I say that we have got a long way to go on is to make a better agreement with the trade unions than we have ever had before. Certainly none of the things that we talk of can become credible in any sense unless we have that undertaking and understanding with the trade unions. The national economic assessment which we have written into our document, unanimously accepted by the TUC and by this Conference. That assessment, I believe, can be translated into practical action. I hope that before every budget we are going to have the most detailed examination and discussions with the trade unions to ensure that we carry out not merely their will, because we shall be representing in Parliament a wider franchise still, but in those discussions we will be translating into action the reality of what we have discussed here. I believe that on that basis we are also going greatly to improve our chances of victory. Indeed there is no other party in the country that can talk on these matters in the way and in the sense of comradeship that we speak with the trade union movement. (Applause) It is the source of the foundation of our movement and it is our great strength here at this Conference, and it will be our great strength to the end of the century and beyond.
I will take a few more minutes, if you will permit me, because there is another subject even more important than anything else that we have been discussing. We shall be discussing it again tomorrow in the Conference, but I wish to put my views on the subject to you, the greatest question of all: how to live in peace? How we are to use the influence of the Labour Party, even before we get power, to stop the nuclear arms race. (Applause) Is mankind capable of the imagination and exertion necessary to stop that race, to put it into reverse and to substitute for it a determined, sustained attempt to negotiate our way back to sanity and to safety? This is the supreme question, and we may be at the most critical moment of choice. If this immediate opportunity is lost - by that I mean the discussions that have started between Mr Gromyko and Mr Haig from the United States and later of the so-called theatre nuclear weapons in Europe - we may never have another one of equal potentiality. Certainly no one can say with any assurance: ‘Don’t worry. We will wait. We’ll have a few more years of nuclear rearmament and see what it looks like then.’ I must say that, following my visit to Moscow with Denis and a few others from our party in the House of Commons, I do not believe - I repeat what I said when I came back - that anyone who attended those meetings we attended could have come away with a different impression from the one I had. Of course the Soviet leaders want to negotiate. They are ready for it, they are eager for it. Indeed they give every impression that the necessity has now become desperately urgent. If they do speak of the matter in desperation, who can say they are wrong?
But what about the others? What about the Americans, the United States government? It is not anti-American, it is no more than a plain statement of fact, that the United States government, or some powerful sections of it, have not shown much readiness or eagerness. I give you one quotation:
The political problems in Washington are also far from resolved. There’re people in the administration who are profoundly sceptical and who have the power to delay and complicate the whole process.
Now I have said that, I have no doubt I would be accused of being a Soviet spy, or something of the sort, but those are the words that were printed in The Times on the day that Denis and I returned from Moscow. It was partly at least pressure from some of the United States allies, from many of our socialist allies in Europe, the Western German Government amongst them - it was partly pressure from them that finally persuaded President Reagan to agree on the talks.
I understand that there are some in the Foreign Office who take a different view - our own Foreign Office. What have we got to say about them? On the very day that we arrived, before we had even given a report of what we had seen or the talks we had had, they put up some over-ambitious underling in the Foreign Office to say that we had been deceived by the Russians, and to pour cold water on anything that we suggested. It was a very strange outburst, because, according to the Western case - there is something in it - one of the most serious things that has happened in the arms race over recent years is the stationing of the SS-20s on the other side of Europe in the Soviet Union. Many people in the West have claimed that it is that stationing that has upset the balance. The Russians deny that, but that is part of the argument. They say they were merely rectifying a previous disbalance; of course that is the way the arms race goes.
But what we brought back from the Soviet Union - on some other matters too, but more clearly expressed than ever before on this question - was that the Soviet leaders were saying to us - (they said it to us quite emphatically after we had gone through it in very careful detail): ‘Yes, we are prepared to reduce the numbers of SS-20s.’ If you are to get to what we want - that is to get them all abolished - of course that is one of the ways in which you have to proceed.
But the Foreign Office came out in their denunciation of what we had said with a most extraordinary tale. They said ‘ah, all this was offered by the Russians and the Soviet leaders way back before December 1979; you have been deceived.’ Well, its very interesting, isn’t it? Before December 1979 was before the invasion of Afghanistan, before the decision in the West to go ahead with cruise missiles and the Pershings and the rest, and the Foreign Office says to us that they were offered then a reduction in the SS-20s. Remember that there were many fewer SS-20s at that time, maybe some 50, 60 or 70; there are many more now. If we are ever blown to pieces in these islands, it may be by the SS-20s that it is done, although we shall never probably know if it happens. So you would think that, even in the Foreign Office, they would be interested in the numbers of SS-20s, wouldn’t you, instead of trying to pour cold water on the whole effort that we were seeking to achieve? I wish I had time to elaborate what I believe is the highly dangerous course which the United States government has taken on so many of these questions, particularly in Latin America and El Salvador and the rest. (Applause)
Our Government on the great arms question - and so many other things - seems to trail along behind without having any influence whatsoever. We are not prepared in the Labour Party to proceed along those lines at all. I know tomorrow there are the discussions and debates here - very important debates - on the resolutions and the party’s statement on this subject, carrying the proposals, on nuclear disarmament a good deal further. Such proposals command all my sympathy and support. (Applause)
But I say also, I am also interested, as every sane man and woman on the face of the planet must be interested, in the possibilities of negotiations here and now. I think there could be a chance of getting some agreement between the super powers. I think from what I heard in Moscow that they understand the impossibility of seeking nuclear superiority. I think they also understand the outrage of any ideas of so-called limited nuclear war in Europe. I think there certainly could be an agreement stopping the development of the neutron bomb. I think there could also be considerable advance towards all the ideas of nuclear-free zones. If we could get breakthroughs in the next year or so on some of these questions, the whole prospect for mankind could be altered. Do not let anybody tell me, as some attempt to do, that these are just the ravings of an old nuclear disarmer like myself. Nothing that I have seen persuades me that the CND campaign was wrong; indeed I think it was right. (Applause) There are many moving in our direction along some of these other lines that I have been suggesting too, and there can be a very important convergence between them.
I would like in a minute or so to read to you - I apologise for its slight length, but these, as I say, are the most important questions the world has ever had to discuss. I underline that the declaration I will read in a moment is that which was passed at the Socialist International in Paris a few days ago. I underline that this declaration represents the views of socialist parties inside NATO and outside NATO, socialist parties in the Common Market and out of the Common Market, so do not let people tell us that if we come out of the Common Market, we cannot have international action with our friends - of course we can. (Applause) Indeed, I think the declaration that I read to you now is one that commands a growing, wide support amongst all democratic socialists in Western Europe. There are still many differences and shades of difference, but if you look at the advance that has been achieved over the past year or so, then I think we can have real hope for the future. This is what they said:
'In Europe the objective should be effective reductions and eventual elimination of theatre nuclear forces on both sides. The Socialist International regards as encouraging the resumption of talks between the United States and the Soviet Union, as repeatedly urged by the Socialist International. The negotiations should be resumed without further delay and with a political will to succeed not later than 1983.
While opposing the introduction of all new theatre forces in Europe on both sides, the Socialist International also rejects the manufacture and deployment of the neutron bomb. In order to provide the negotiations with a constructive starting point, the parties should make an interim agreement on the qualitative and quantitative restrictions at a level preferably lower than the present one.
The parties should not undertake any action anywhere in whatever form which might endanger the outcome of those negotiations.'
They go on to say further:
'The Socialist International welcomes the continuing endeavours aiming at the creation of nuclear free zones, particularly in the Pacific area and in Northern Europe, and regards the already existing nuclear free zone in Latin America as positive example.'
I hope to live to see the day when we in this country are part of a nuclear free zone. (Applause)
Let me just say, if I may, one further word in conclusion. When I returned, one of those Tory newspapers referred to me, and they referred to Gulliver’s Travels. They made a bit of a mistake there, because I know more about Gulliver’s Travels than the Foreign Office. (Laughter) I can tell you what happened. Gulliver, as far as we know, when he came back from his travels, lived happily ever after for quite a long time, as I propose to do. He also came back very much wiser, indeed probably one of the wisest men who ever put pen to paper, because if you read Gulliver’s Travels properly, you will see it has some most extraordinary things. He came back from his travels in a flaming state of anger, such as I am in now, about what he had seen of the infamies being done in the world. In one sense he saw those infamies expressed in imperialism, one nation trying to subdue another nation, but even beyond that he saw it in terms of war and the infamies of war itself.
And you know, wonder of wonders, he also described how the brilliant scientists of those days or the generals of those days, getting together in some military, industrial complex, invented a weapon. A weapon of such power and strength and absurdity that it could only be used by the nation that invented it at the price of their total destruction.
It is all in Gulliver’s Travels. We should see that every member of the Foreign Office gets a copy. (Applause) We should see that we are not deterred by anything from the greatest crusade that our Labour movement ever set its hand to. The world is crying out for peace as it has never cried before. I tell you - I hope I am not boasting - that I am a peacemonger, an inveterate, incurable peacemonger. (Applause) I ask the support of this whole movement to translate that into action. (Applause)