Leader's speech, Blackpool 1988
Neil Kinnock (Labour)
Commentary:Following a challenge by Tony Benn, which arose in the wake of its general election defeat in 1987, Labour held a leadership election at this conference, which Kinnock won with a clear majority. In this speech, Kinnock presented his strategy to promote economic efficiency and social justice in Britain, which in turn would create a wealthier, fairer society. A key element of this strategy was the need to protect both workers and the public, and he recalled the Kings Cross disaster of 18 November 1987, in which 31 people died, to illustrate this point. Kinnock also outlined his vision for Europe as a community as well as a market, and questioned the Conservatives’ commitment to protecting the environment. Although Kinnock welcomed the recent treaty to scrap intermediate nuclear weapons, he repeated his call for full disarmament.
Gwyneth, Comrades, as you may have observed, before I began I started to cough. It was not a bug that I picked up in Scottish night last night, but I picked it up from somewhere. I haves fantastic cold from somewhere, so I trust that, in best comradely fashion, you will bear with me if there should be some sound fade in the course of what I have to say this afternoon.
Thank you very much, Gwyneth, for your generous welcome, and thank you, too, to the conference. I would also like to say to both Dolly and William, thanks very much from all of us for everything that you have done, everything that you do, and, indeed, being so hale, hearty and committed, everything that you will keep on doing for the Labour Party in the future. (Applause)
Comrades, now that everyone has had an opportunity to digest the results of Sunday night, I should like to thank you again for your support.
You know that my feeling about the leadership election was that it was an unnecessary distraction from our work in the party. (Applause)
But the fact is, asked for or not, elections have results and results give mandates.
That mandate was given democratically and it will be used democratically. It will be used very deliberately and very directly for the purpose for which I believe it was given to me by people right across the Labour movement.
The purpose of unity.
The purpose of change.
The purpose of doing everything that can be done to secure victory for this party at the next general election. That is why I was given this mandate. I was given the mandate, too - and this is how I will serve it - in order to pursue the democratic socialist values of this movement and the social and economic vision which arises from those values.
We are socialists, we are rationalists.
Our vision is insight, not a mirage.
We have strong ideals, but our idealism is not naivety. We do not pretend that the world is as it is not.
We have a dream, but we are not dreamers.
We do not simply desire ends. We understand the necessity of committing means and it is precisely that which produces our commitment to social justice and to economic efficiency.
There are those, of course, like the present government, who consider social justice to be an impediment to economic efficiency. There are some - including, from what they say, some in our movement - who consider economic efficiency to be a threat to social justice.
Both are wrong.
The simple fact is that sustained social justice depends upon a foundation of economic prosperity and economic success cannot be properly achieved without social justice.
Justice and efficiency - the two go together.
Of course, you can get some costs down, you can get some profits up, you can get some form of efficiency by ignoring social justice. You can say that you are slimming down, sharpening up, shaking out, and call it efficiency. But if in the process you shut down 30 per cent of your country's manufacturing capacity, if you refuse to modernise training or invest in science, if you have generated all the costs and losses of mass unemployment, if you have kept your interest rates and your currency at a level which helps importers and harms exporters, then the efficiency you get is going to be limited, fragile and temporary.
Similarly, you can - and should - have greater justice out of better distribution. You can - and should - use what you have got more fairly. You can - and should - take the most from those who are best off and give the most to those who are worst off. All that is essential. But it is not enough by itself.
Unless the policies of justice and generosity are built on the foundation of vitality of production, efficiency of production, expansion of production, they will not last very long. Those policies of justice and generosity will die for lack of sustenance, lack of means.
Justice and efficiency. They are interdependent.
The proof of that abounds.
Education and training provide the most obvious examples. That is not recognised in practice by a government whose commitment to training is a fraction of that of our competitors. It is not recognised at all by a government whose education policy is to opt out schools under a cabinet that has altogether opted out of state education. (Applause)
They refuse to recognise that you cannot have an efficient economy if you waste the potential of the people. And you cannot have a fair society either.
If we want fairness and efficiency, we shall, for instance, have to break the historic habit of regarding girls and women as second class citizens in so many spheres of education, training and employment. (Applause)
We shall have to stop treating child-bearing and child-rearing as a disqualification from opportunities.
We shall have to stop treating the provision of childcare as a privilege and a luxury and start to treat it as a right and a necessity. (Applause)
And if, in this modern economy with the changing shape of its workforce and the changing conditions, demands and realities of work, we are to ensure that women have the opportunity to reach their full potential, part-time workers must have full-time rights when it comes to training, social security support and health and safety at work. (Applause)
Justice argues for that. So does efficiency. For there is no stimulus to advance in poverty wages, low skills, bad conditions, exploitation, insecurity. All of those are an inducement to employers not to make the commitment to investment, modernisation and development. It is folly for anybody to assume that you can secure economic success in a low-tech, no tech, low-wage economy. That is the opposite of justice and the opposite of efficiency for both sexes. And it doesn’t work.
That is the test that we apply. Not just in our criticism and condemnation of the sweatshop, but in our judgment in the whole shape of the economy.
For some people, judgment of the shape of the economy is very easy.
There are those, like the government, who simply say ‘private good, public bad.’
There are those who say, in a mirror image, ‘public good, private bad.’
Neither of them are dealing with the realities.
Neither of them are applying the real test, the real judgment of the shape and performance of industry. Neither are asking the real question ‘does it work?’
But that test is applied elsewhere.
It is applied in Germany, in Japan, in Sweden, in France. In all of those countries they appreciated long ago that public and private sectors, government and market, had to work in combination if the strength of the economy was to be developed and the potential of the economy to be maximised.
It is that combination that works.
And we have to make it work for us in Britain through all the instruments available. Through social ownership in all its forces, great and small.
Through regulation to protect consumers, the environment, health and safety conditions both of workers and - we remind ourselves in this year of the King’s Cross disaster - of the public as well.
We must use the instruments of strategic investment in training, in science, in research and development.
All of that is essential to strengthening a British economy that is underinvested, underperforming and carrying a huge trade deficit.
Some of those weaknesses are chronic. Some are acute and recent. They’ve come about despite the enormous oil bonus.
The weaknesses would be serious in any circumstances. They would present great challenges at any time. But now we are facing the extra pressure and contests that arise from the completion of the European Community single market.
The Tories’ preparation for that huge change has been pathetically inadequate. It has consisted of a £9 million advertising campaign and a few business breakfasts.
For the Tories the single market is nothing more than a free capital market. They ignore industry’s needs whether those needs are for modern training support, for science funding or for a competitive, pound to give our exporters a fighting chance in the rest of the European Community.
Patently, our producers have not had that chance. When Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 we had a balance of payments surplus with the remainder of the European Community of nearly £1 billion. But what is not advertised as we approach that single market is that we now have a deficit with the other countries of the European Community of £14 billion. In those circumstances, we patently have not been prepared, we are patently at a disadvantage, made all the greater by the fact that our major competitors in the Community market have been making strategic preparation, sector by sector preparation, industry by industry preparation, to see what advantage they can secure.
But apart from the absence of preparation, the government resent and resist the social obligations arising from the creation of the single
It is the hostility to that social dimension which has produced the Prime Minister’s play acting in recent weeks.
This is the Prime Minister who whipped and guillotined the Single European Act through the House of Commons in 1985 specifically to spur the move to the single market. So it is no good her playing Boadicea now when she sold the pass three years ago. (Applause)
The intensity of Margaret Thatcher's hostility to the very concept of the social dimension disgusts even Conservatives in Europe. They should understand that the very idea of ‘community’ makes Margaret Thatcher recoil.
Our attitude is very different. We want Europe to be a community as well as a market. We want that market to work for people, not the other way round. We want continuing common strategies for expansion across the Community in place of the Eurosclerosis that leaves 18 million workers in that single market unemployed.
And we want all that because we insist on social justice as well as economic efficiency.
That insistence is put by democratic socialists right across the continent. In the TUC last month, Jacques Delors said: ‘The European Community will be characterised by co-operation as well as competition. It will encourage individual initiative as well as solidarity. It would be unacceptable for Europe to become a source of social regression, while we are trying to rediscover together the road to prosperity and employment.’ Of course, Delors was right.
If a single market is created that extends across half the continent of Europe and the requirements of social justice are not installed as a central component in that venture, then the fruits of economic efficiency will be scooped up by a few countries - indeed, a few regions in a few countries. We will then be left with two Europes: rich and poor, congested and neglected, over-developed and underdeveloped - and I mean under-developed in the most literal sense.
None of that would be just. Certainly, none of it would be efficient. It would be expensive, ugly, a constant cause of waste, a constant source of tensions between peoples. That is why we say that the social dimension of the, single market must be central to the prospectus and to the practice of the European Community.
Social Europe must mean getting the highest standards of working conditions and workers’ rights right across that single market.
It must mean raising pensions and benefits to European standards. British pensioners will know how far they lag behind their contemporaries in the rest of the European Community. It is a source of shame. (Applause)
It must mean, in this multinational market, tough anti-trust laws firmly enforced by domestic governments and by the Community itself in order to protect the consumer against monopoly and monopoly practices.
It must mean substantial social and regional funds to counteract the market’s inevitable pull of wealth, production and jobs towards the centre.
And social Europe must mean the root and branch reform of the Common Agricultural Policy which is unsustainable in terms of justice and efficiency. (Applause)
It is clear, too, in this neighbourhood of Europe, where distances get smaller and contact gets greater, where the idea of community with diversity gets clearer, that we live cheek by jowl and social Europe must mean community action to safeguard, to protect and conserve the environment: land, sea and air.
In the name of social justice and economic efficiency we insist upon all of that. Nowhere is that insistence stronger than in policy on the environment.
Perhaps, here at least is some conjunction with the Prime Minister after her speech last week.
She is aroused to the environment.
It took many people so much by surprise that there was talk of administering a drug test! (Applause)
The arousal has been a long time coming.
She has had nine years of power. Nine years in which the hazardous waste imported into this country has increased tenfold because the British government of Margaret Thatcher has kept standards of monitoring, checking and storage so low that firms in Britain can actually undercut firms in the remainder of the European Community. (Applause)
In her nine years in power the government has consistently weakened and blocked European moves to control industrial emissions and to improve the quality of water in the reservoirs, rivers and in the sea around our coasts.
In her nine years of power, the National Environmental Research Council has had its grant cut. So much so that a scientist, commenting last week on Mrs Thatcher’s remarks, said, ‘To be a scientist in Britain now is to know what it felt like to be a Christian in ancient Rome.’ (Applause)
Perhaps after the speech to the Royal Society last week the sinner repenteth. And we, being generous spirits, will rejoice - not necessarily in heaven but in Blackpool - which is the next best thing, I am told. If the sinner repenteth, if there really is a change, we welcome it.
But if there really is a change of heart it produces a basic question that Mrs Thatcher must answer.
She must tell us and the country how she thinks it is possible to protect the local, the national, the international environment from the poisoning and pillaging now going on by relying on the mechanisms of the market which she so much admires. How will it be possible for that to be done? (Applause)
If she is going to rely solely or mainly on the willingness of the market to tend to the great strategic issues of cleaning and conserving the environment, then the lady is not serious.
To be serious she will have to respond to the calls that we have made together with Greenpeace, SERA, Friends of the Earth and many other lobbies and bodies anxious to conserve and develop, improve and protect the environment. We have made calls for investment in science, more prosaic calls for the repair of the sewers of Britain, calls for cleaning up the beaches, controlling the industrial filth that is thrown into the sky and into the sea because there is totally inadequate control.
If the Prime Minister really is serious about her commitment, she will have to respond to the repeated calls for urgent action and new legislation to control pesticides, to control the import of waste, to control and prevent dumping at sea and to reduce atmospheric pollution.
The Prime Minister can soon produce tangible proof of her intent. She can incorporate all of those demands that I listed and a few more in the Queen’s Speech next month. She can make the absolute commitment to comprehensive legislation. She can do it very quickly. We would support that legislation gladly: We want it, we have argued for it.
And we want some answers to some questions as well:
Since the Prime Minister claims such zeal for the protection of the environment, is she going to introduce new regulations to stop the development sprawl into the green belt in the south-east and elsewhere in Britain? (Applause) Is she going to stop Ridley’s raiders spraying concrete over this green and pleasant land?
For it is a fact that her successive secretaries of state for the environment have softened, dissolved, effectively removed the assortment of circulars and regulations that gave communities the right to protect themselves against speculative development and urban sprawl. They, in the name of the market, have taken that away. If the Prime Minister is serious, for the sake of consistency, she will not just nave to restore powers that previously existed, she will have to make them modern and absolute as we would.
The Prime Minister has another question to answer. Is she going to provide local authorities with new resources, extra rate support grant, for urban improvement instead of punishing those local authorities who have tried to do their best to protect, develop and improve their urban environment? (Applause) You cannot be an environment enthusiast and a rate-capper.
Is she going to cancel water privatisation? Surely, anyone so evangelical about the environment as the Prime Minister could not possibly contemplate handing the supply and safety of water to owners who are only going to consider quality after they have decided what profit they need to take. (Applause)
Is the Prime Minister going to cancel electricity privatisation? Surely, anyone with her fervour about the environment could not possibly transfer control over nuclear energy, over the burning of fossil fuels, over the conditions of production and supply and price to owners of the industry who, by definition, will have to put profit first.
Surely, no one with her newfound fervour for safeguarding the environment of Britain could contemplate any act of privatisation that would result in the extensive ownership and control of water and electricity - two fundamentals of life - to commercial interests that either do not belong to this country or are not interested in this country or both. How can that kind of control be handed to people who will never have to live with the consequences?
There is, of course, one other great requirement for anyone expressing serious concern about the environment. It is that they do everything possible to ensure that the poor countries of the world - the poor countries whose poverty itself is a major cause of environmental degradation - are helped out of their agony. (Applause) If Margaret Thatcher is going to do that, the very least she has to do is to double the current level of overseas development aid, for her government, in nine years, have cut it in half. (Applause)
Mrs. Thatcher has been to Africa. Geoffrey Howe has been to the north Kenyan desert. So it is not as if they have not witnessed the consequences of people so poor that they have actually got to kill the earth from which they live, by over-grazing, over-farming, without any adequate support, without adequate investment, without adequate tools, without irrigation. The land is so over-used that they know that in the very act of feeding their families today they are beckoning famine for their families tomorrow.
That has not happened because of carelessness. It has not happened because of incompetence. These are some of the most skilled farmers in the world - most of them women, naturally. It has happened because of the intensity of cultivation that they have been forced into because of their poverty.
If Margaret Thatcher is serious about the world’s environment, as she said, if she thinks that it is ‘the great challenge’ of the last part of this century and of the next century, she has got to provide money to ensure that people can save their lives and the lives of their families by having the resources to care for the earth that feeds them. (Applause)
If she did that it would be social justice and economic efficiency on a global scale.
We need that in our international relationships just as much as we need it in our national life. For if social justice and economic efficiency are not the ruling values of our society, where does our society go?
Many people are asking that. They say, ‘What is happening to our country and what is going to happen to our country?’
Anne Holmes is here. She was our candidate in Kensington. People who had never voted Labour before voted Labour because they were asking this question as they witnessed the great divide - not the north-south divide, the south-south divide that fractures the south of Britain as Britain is divided north to south. These were prosperous people concerned about what was happening in their society around them and what is happening to our country.
The answer is that unless we apply the policies of social justice and economic efficiency to create wealth, and unless we apply those policies to use that wealth to create a fairer society in Britain, then Britain inevitably goes further along the path that it is set upon now. It goes further along the path to a split society.
It goes further towards a community divided into three unequal parts - a small, opulent superclass at the top; a larger class of people living in reasonable but sometimes anxious affluence in the middle - especially those at the bottom end of that central class who are subject to the pressures of a credit-driven economy; and at the bottom a third class, an underclass of people living in dire need.
I am not describing some distant tomorrow, some awful decade away, I am describing Britain now.
In Britain now nearly nine million men, women and children live on supplementary benefit. Another nine million live on low pay. That is one in three of the population, 18 million people on poverty level, whether they earn those desperately low wages or are thrust into poverty because of unemployment, illness or disability and are confined to the dependence on what the government chose to hand out to them in their social security system.
By 1991, that underclass will be even bigger - 22 million men, women and children - and they suffer all of the social and civil disadvantages that go with their low incomes. Our society is disfigured and endangered by such great poverty.
To their credit, many who are not poor understand that. They understand, too, that a society with such great and growing differences in personal economic conditions is unlikely to be a society at peace with itself. It is an insecure society. That is what we have now.
The expressions of insecurity take many forms. They include increasing family break-up, increasing neurotic stress and breakdown, poverty and homelessness, crimes of sexual abuse and robbery, drug and alcohol abuse, a huge rise in violence for criminal ends and - incredibly and terrifyingly - a spread in violence for entertainment, whether it is in football crowds or in quiet country towns on a Saturday night.
Of course, no one could or would blame the government for all that. But it is impossible to accept that there is no connection between the fracturing of our society and the grabbing ‘loadsamoney’ ethic encouraged by a government that treats care as ‘drooling,’ compassion as ‘wet.’ A government led by a Prime Minister who says that ‘There is no such thing as society.’
‘No such thing as society,’ she says.
No obligation to the community.
No sense of solidarity.
No principles of sharing or caring.
‘No such thing as society.’
No sisterhood, no brotherhood.
No honouring other people’s mothers and fathers.
No succouring other people’s little children.
‘No such thing as society.’
No number other than one.
No person other than me.
No time other than now.
No such thing as society, just ‘me’ and ‘now.’
That is Margaret Thatcher's society. (Applause)
I tell you, you cannot run a country on the basis of ‘me’ and ‘now.’
You cannot run domestic policy on that basis, and you certainly cannot run international policy on that basis. Nowhere is that more obvious than in defence policies.
Margaret Thatcher tries to operate ‘me’ and ‘now’ politics at every level. Thankfully, other leaders do not share her narrowness or her lack of vision.
The relationship between the superpowers has been changing radically since Reykjavik. But it is in the year since we last met at conference that that changed relationship has manifested itself in tangible form, with the treaty to remove intermediate nuclear weapons.
That relationship, whatever the outcome of the presidential elections in the United States of America, will be further developed by the reduction in strategic nuclear arms and it will be strengthened by agreements on conventional force reductions.
Those changes have taken place partly because of the fact that Mikhail Gorbachev and - I guess you never thought you would hear it from this platform - Ronald Reagan, too, had the courage and wisdom to take initiatives that grew, according to their own testimony, from the fact that they as individuals and as leaders they have accepted the moral arguments against nuclear weapons that we, and many like us across the world, have been putting for three decades and more.
When Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan say that we have ‘entered the age of nuclear disarmament,’ then there are opportunities for clearing countries and continents of nuclear weapons that have not existed at any time since NATO and the Warsaw Pact became nuclear powers.
That is why we must encourage all new steps, celebrate all new achievements and seek the power to participate in that process to end dependence on nuclear weapons anywhere in the world. That is what we must do. (Applause)
That power, as is obvious to everyone, can only be attained, only be exercised in government.
For everyone here and throughout the Labour movement knows that if we do not get the power of government, the consequence will be that Trident will definitely be completed and deployed, and, in addition, other systems will be multiplied under the guise of ‘modernisation.’
To win power is to have the means of achieving a non-nuclear defence policy ourselves and securing the reduction in the nuclear weapons systems of others.
Not to win power is to make certain the increase of nuclear arms by a Tory government that wants more of such arms and not less.
This party, I am certain, wants to be part of the process of nuclear disarmament. Indeed, this party wants to take a leading part in that process of nuclear disarmament.
That is only possible in government. It is not possible out of government.
When we conclude our review next year and when we resolve our policy for fighting the next General. Election, that policy must be serious about nuclear disarmament, serious about defence. Indeed, so serious about both objectives that we are capable of earning the democratic power to achieve them. (Applause)
The whole policy review process is a challenge that we have given ourselves. Many welcome it and participate in it as a means of refining and refreshing the ways of applying our values in practice.
Others are not so bold. They see the emphasis on individualism and on competitiveness and it sends them reaching for their slogans.
‘We don’t like all that talk about individualism,’ they say.
Frankly, I am amazed that any socialist can say that. Because to me there is no test for progress other than its impact on the individual.
The great inspiration, the great distinction of democratic socialism is that it does not just desire the ends of individual liberty, individual identity, individual choice, it actually commits itself to collectively providing the means for the people to exercise their rights in practice.
Let those who say that there is a collision between concern for the individual and commitment to collective provision understand this - that the whole purpose of such collective provision is the service, the safety, the care, the opportunity of the individual. (Applause)
For democratic socialists, collective provision is a means not an end.
The moment that the collective becomes an end in itself, a basic value is deserted and socialists deliver themselves into the hands of those who want to defame socialism as a creed of uniformity, of regimentation, of drab levelling down.
We are none of those things. Our belief is in diversity, liberty, real freedom of choice and real freedom of chance, real freedoms that can be exercised because the means exist and are at the disposal of every person for the material and spiritual advance of all people.
Be confident in that belief.
The collective is the means not the end, and the end is the advancing, the nourishing, the encouragement, the succouring, the reward of the merit of the individual.
Be confident in that belief, for it is individualism without the Tory grub of greed.
And what about this problem that some people say they have with the idea of competitiveness?
What do they want? An uncompetitive economy?
Is anyone going around deliberately looking for a job in an uncompetitive firm?
Is anybody trying deliberately to negotiate a bargain in order to bring about uncompetitiveness and the threat to jobs that goes with it. Of course they are not.
Don’t those who are afraid of accepting the commitment to competitiveness understand that we make calls - as we all do - for investment in science, in training, in roads and infrastructure, in regions, in education, we are not just demanding the means for social justice, we are also demanding the ingredients of competitiveness?
Or are some people so defeatist, so short-sighted, so lacking in conviction that they believe the Tory propaganda that you can only get competitiveness by getting rid of workers, by shutting down firms, by pushing down wages?
Of course, when we make these arguments about individualism and about competitiveness, we make the arguments as the consumers’ party - as we always have been from the first day that the first socialist demanded decent health care, decent houses, decent education. They are the basic requirements of consumption because they safeguard basic rights. We do not want those rights buried under bureaucracy or administration. We recognise the fact that all but the most powerful and tenacious individuals are puny when they are faced by an administration, a bureaucracy, a seller much bigger than they in power and stature. That is why we are and always have been, the consumer’s party.
But when we speak of those things, when we make those arguments about individuals and consumers and competitiveness it is not long before we hear people in the movement saying that we are proposing ‘to run the capitalist economy better than the Tories.’
Comrades, the day may come when this conference, this movement, is faced with a choice of socialist economies. The debate will be fascinating as the Labour Party conference chooses between the two.
But until that day comes, when that choice of socialist economies is actually presented, actually in existence, the fact that the kind of economy that we will be faced with when we win the election will be a, market economy. That is what we have to deal with and we will have to make it work better than the Tories do. (Applause)
By better, we mean that we combat unemployment, we make the commitment to training, we make the commitment to investment, to paying proper pensions, to funding the National Health Service.
Even after that has been the implemented programme of a Labour government for years, there will still be a market, still be a market economy. What will be different will be the condition of the people who have had the chance to train, who will have been engaged in the new industries, who will have benefited not just from the greater production but from the fairer distribution that it finances. That will be applying our values, our vision in practice instead of just talking about it.
There is no ‘slide to the right’ in that.
There is no ‘concession to Thatcherism’ in any of that.
In any case, let me tell this party what so many in this party tell me: the greatest concession to Thatcherism is to let it win again. That is the ultimate concession. (Applause)
Those who are afraid of developing the alternatives that will gain the support of the British people, those who say that they do not want victory at such a price had better ask themselves: if they will not pay that price for winning, what price are they prepared to pay for losing? And who are they prepared to see pay that price? (Applause)
Because I tell you this - the price of defeat is not paid by the people on this platform or even in this hall.
The price is paid by the poor.
We feel disappointment, frustration, anger when we are beaten. We feel all that.
But we will not have to live on poverty pensions.
We will not have to go creeping and crawling to the social fund. We will not have to wait in dead end training.
We will not have to live on low pay - at least, not most of us here. There are some low-paid workers here paying the price of defeat. Not the rest of us.
I am heartily sick of seeing the victims who pay the price of our defeat.
I am heartily sick of meeting people in anguish and having nothing to offer them but sympathy and solidarity when I know we should have the power to give them real hope, real support, real backing, real opportunities. (Applause)
It is not just here. It is not just those 13 million people living in poverty in Britain who pay the price. Many more pay the price - women, men and children. There are millions beyond our shores.
This year, Glenys and I went to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique. You might have seen it reported - because the journalists with us were hypnotised by a few minutes of exchange with a very frightened, very nervous soldier in the Zimbabwean army.
But that day we had been to Mozambique. That day we had been to two villages in central Mozambique: Chimoio and Inhaminga. Chimoio and Inhaminga are railway villages where the people in their thousands are starving. Not because of floods. Not because of drought: Not because of some dreadful natural catastrophe. They are starving in that village because their village has been isolated by the attacks of the terrorists of RENAMO financed by the South African government.
As Glenys and I got into the square we saw a thousand starving children, not one of them with anything remotely resembling normal clothing. Indeed, Glenys and some of the journalists saw children wearing tree bark, women wearing parachute silk, escaped slaves from RENAMO, women who could testify on the day that they escaped to journalists that the parachute silk had come from ammunition boxes that they had carried from South African submarines on a beach in Mozambique.
At Chimoio we met an old man in his sixties with his nose and ears clipped off. He had been mutilated because he was the secretary of FRELIMO in his village.
And yet we have a Prime Minister who says that sanctions against the state that sponsors the terrorism that commits those atrocities against children and old men and old women would be ‘immoral.’
I say to you when we do not win, it is not just the wretched of our country, the poor and the needy of our country who lose, it is people far away, human being who need to have in Britain a Labour government committed nationally and internationally to the cause of social justice.
Any time anybody is tempted to pass a resolution, to make a statement, to conduct a vote, to hold a demo that a moment’s thought would teach them would obscure the true nature, the identity, the effort to gain attention for the policies of the Labour Party, let them pause and think of the people they meet in their Saturday morning surgeries, or the people who might live next door to them, or the kids in Chimoio and Inhaminga who need a government of social justice.
If we remember these things in this movement, out of it will come a solidarity and a unity that makes us an attractive force and a mighty force.
It is for those reasons that I listen to the people of our party in their thousands who tell us to get on with compiling the policies that will appeal to the people, that will win us power to apply our principles of social justice and our plans of economic efficiency.
I am certain - more certain now than I have ever been - that that is what the people of our party, the people who support our party, the people who want to support our party are looking to us for.
Let us do it. (Applause)