Leader's speech, Scarborough 1926
Stanley Baldwin (Conservative)
Commentary:Since the last conference, Germany had entered into the League of Nations, and the ratification of the Treaty of Angora had vindicated Britain’s policy towards Turkey over Mosul. In this address, Baldwin spoke about the need to encourage private enterprise in agriculture, the significant progress of the government’s house-building scheme, the need for lease reform for shops and businesses, and the Electricity Bill, which was intended to enable Britain to produce cheap energy. He also attacked the Labour Party for its failure to condemn the General Strike and the coal stoppage, and highlighted the need to reconsider trade union law in the wake of these events.
‘It seems but a short time since we met at Brighton - and how much has happened since then - and this meeting comes most opportunely to enable me to meet the workers of our party gathered together in this beautiful town from all corners of the kingdom to give an account to you of our stewardship in the Government, to hear from you at first hand the result of your deliberations, embodying as they do the new ideas, the new ambitions, and the new aspirations of our great party.’ What the Government had done during the last year formed a remarkable record, in the face of the unparalleled difficulties with which they had been faced. Dealing first with foreign policy, the Premier said the entry of Germany into the League of Nations, together with the ratification of the Locarno Treaty, had set the seal upon a great work, the first stages of which were actually in progress when they met last year. By that Treaty the principal nations of Europe, collectively and severally, guaranteed the inviolability of the frontiers between Germany and France, and Germany and Belgium, a consummation which he regarded as a signal triumph for British diplomacy. He thought the Conference would share the pride of himself and his colleagues in the achievements of the Foreign Secretary, and in the part which the representatives of this country had played in the promotion of peace in Europe.
‘A year ago, you will remember,’ he continued, ‘we were vigorously attacked for our foreign policy towards Turkey. We were told we were leading the country into a disastrous war and the conduct of diplomatic relations in the Near East was no longer safe in our hands. We knew the value to place upon such criticism. I tried a year ago to allay your fears, which I do not think were very great. (Laughter.) We proceeded undisturbed in the policy we had laid down. What was the result? The Treaty of Angora was signed by the Turkish Government in June; ratifications were exchanged in July. They will shortly be registered with the League of Nations. Our policy has been completely successful. (Cheers.) We have succeeded in putting an end to the disturbed relations with Turkey that have existed ever since the conclusion of the war.’
In other spheres of foreign policy the administration of the Government had been no less successful. ‘We have made satisfactory arrangements with France and Italy about their debts on terms which we believe, in all the circumstances, to be just, and the first payments have already been made.’ (Cheers.)
The only anxiety, perhaps, at the moment lay in the Far East, in China, where our interests had been wantonly damaged by some of the insurgent elements in that disturbed country. ‘But in consequence of the firm attitude adopted by the Government I trust our difficulties are in a fair way to solution - (cheers) - though I think it necessary to add that although we shall in no whit depart from our policy of conciliation and patience with China, we shall not hesitate to take whatever steps may be necessary to protect the lives and property of our fellow countrymen.’ (Cheers.)
Heavy Programme to be Faced
Turning to Imperial affairs, the Premier said: The most important event is the forthcoming Imperial Conference, which will begin on the 19th of the present month. It is a matter of profound satisfaction that the Prime Ministers of all the Dominions should have found it possible to attend in London, and I should like to add that the action whereby all parties in Canada, immediately after the General Election, have united to facilitate the presence of Mr. Mackenzie King is, to my mind, a remarkable illustration of that spirit by which all over the Empire endeavour is now made to place the interests of the Empire above the interests of local party politics.
The work of the Conference will, as in past years, be heavy. It will include a general review of foreign policy, of defence, and of the questions to which these subjects give rise. Consideration will be given to the development and improvement of the system of communication and consultation between the Governments of the Empire on matters of importance and common concern. I will not detail to you the other subjects which will come under review, but, of course, attention will have to be paid to the pressing question of overseas settlement and inter-Imperial trade - (cheers) - including the work of the Economic Conference of the Empire, Marketing Board, communications, which will include the work of the Imperial Shipping Committee, and the question of Imperial air services. Then there come questions of research and a very important question, the exhibition in the Empire of Empire films. (Cheers.)
We for our part shall enter the Conference with one single object in view - to promote to the utmost of our power wise development on the political side, consistent progress on the economic side and the relation between these many communities which together make up the British Empire.
Schemes Delayed By Labour Disputes
Coming to agriculture, which he termed a difficult subject, Mr. Baldwin said he thought it was well to spend a few minutes in considering the solid achievements, not spectacular, of the Government, and continued: We made it clear at the beginning of this year that we are not prepared to lend ourselves to any kind of fantastic experiments. The industry has suffered enough from Government experiments during the last few years, and we have to remember that experiments, which involve large public expenditure, must necessarily be postponed, as I shall have occasion to show later, by the events which have taken place during this year.
The system of subsidies, which was tried on so large a scale by the Coalition Government, failed, and I think the farmers have not forgotten their experience.
We are definitely opposed as a Government to any form of compulsory control of cultivation by committees or by officials.
It is contrary to the instincts and the traditions of our people, who naturally, and I venture to think rightly, prefer to manage their own business in their own way. (Hear, hear.) In the words of the White Paper, which we published early in the year, the right course in the best interests of the industry and of the nation is to proceed on the line of education and encouragement, rather than of coercion, to endeavour to create that confidence which is essential for progress, to stimulate private enterprise, to assist those engaged in the industry to organise themselves on an economic basis, and to protect them from the dislocation or the reversal of policy and from rash proposals which would impair progress and breed insecurity.
I know that is not the kind of policy which will commend itself to the Liberal party or the Labour party, but I would like to give you, by way of illustration, some of the practical things that we have done and are doing to help that industry. It is our policy to undertake reforms, some of them matters of detail, for which there is a genuine demand. They are very often matters of a technical character, so that they may not be appreciated by the general public at their proper value, but that is of little consequence if we can give the agricultural community what they want. I would like just to mention, what many of you know, how much the Government has been helped by the Agricultural Committee of the party in the House of Commons, under the able chairmanship of my old friend, Sir George Courthope.
We have made provision in the estimates for near three-quarters of a million in aid of agricultural education and research, and it is a great satisfaction to know that every year the advantages of scientific fanning are being better known and appreciated all over the country. A serious attempt has been made to improve the condition and the character of a great deal of water-logged and ill-drained land, which remains in this country, and a sum of £1,000,000, to be spent over five years, is being provided for grants in aid to approved schemes carried out by statutory drainage authorities, and an Act has been passed to increase the powers of the County Councils for dealing with small drainage problems.
The Rating and Valuation Act, passed at the close of last year, not only gave permanent relief to agricultural land to the extent of three-quarters of its rateable value, but for the first time in England and Wales provides that the farm buildings, which are in effect part of the ordinary work and equipment of the farmer, shall be assessed on the same basis, a concession which, I believe, is much appreciated, and will afford material help. Some relief in rates has been given in rural districts by grants in aid. For this purpose £1,400,000 has been given this year from the Road Fund, which, as you know, derives its funds in turn from the proceeds of motor taxation.
The policy of the Government in developing the growth of the new rural industry, that of sugar beet, is meeting with great success in various parts of the country. Nine factories were working last winter, and four more are expected to start this autumn, and the acreage under cultivation is already about 125,000 acres.
I should like to mention two or three comparatively small Acts, just to show you the extent of the ground which has been covered in a year, both busy in the ordinary work of Parliament, and perhaps more full of anxiety and difficult problems for solution than any year in recent times. The Seeds Amendment Act will secure for the farmer that the potatoes he buys for seed purposes are true to description and variety. The Markets and Fairs Weighing of Cattle Act secures for the farmer fair play in the sale of cattle, by providing that fat cattle must be weighed in market before sale. The Diseases of Animals Act enables the Government to pay compensation for the slaughter of cattle suffering from the worst form of tuberculosis, and over 18,000 affected cattle have been eliminated from our herds within the last twelve months.
Bills before Parliament
The Horticultural Produce Sales and Provisions Bill will provide that commission salesmen shall render proper accounts of their transactions, showing the prices they received for goods entrusted to them for sale, a measure which, I believe, all farmers and growers of market produce will find of great value.
The Fertilisers and Foodstuffs Bill will protect farmers against fraud in the periods of fertilisation, where, as you know, it is difficult to detect fraud without expert analysis.
There are two other measures before Parliament which will be carried into law in this year, the Smallholders’ and Allotments Bill, which sets up a new system of smallholdings on the basis of ownership by fair annual instalments over a period of years. This Bill is of great importance to labour, because for the first time in a measure of this kind, its terms are applicable to copyholding. Upon the same principle the labourer will acquire freehold, upon payment in annual instalments.
The other Bill is the Merchandise Marks Bill. It is intended that all imported goods and agricultural products shall be labelled with the country of origin, and for the first time the public will be in a position to know whether they are really buying British or foreign goods.
The crux of the agricultural position, of course, is the question of prices, and, as the experience of other countries shows, the farmers’ hope of better prices lies mainly in improved methods of marketing. Like other businessmen they must organise their selling scientifically and study the requirements of the markets. The investigations carried out by the Minister of Agriculture are pointing the way. It remains for the farmers themselves to take action on the lines suggested.
The Empire Markets Board so realises the importance of this that they have granted the sum of £40,000 for further inquiries into the marketing of home-grown produce, and I hope from that sum good and practical results may ensue.
Beginning to Catch Up the Arrears
A closely allied subject, one that touches the people throughout the country, is the question of housing - the policy of the Government in regard to housing, under the able administration of Mr. Neville Chamberlain. (Cheers.) As this question has baffled every Government since the war, I think here we may take a little credit to ourselves for what has been done. Not only are sufficient houses being built to meet the normal growth of the population, but at last we are beginning to catch up the arrears.
I will give you one little illustration, which may be familiar to you, to give you an idea of what is being done. Since the Armistice there have been more houses built throughout the country than the whole of the private dwellings in Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, and Manchester put together. (Cheers.) What is more satisfactory is that the progress under Mr. Chamberlain’s Act has been achieved at comparatively low cost to the Exchequer. Under his Act each house costs £6 a year to the State for twenty years, whereas, under the Socialist Act of 1924, the cost to the Exchequer is £9 a year for forty years, and under Dr. Addison’s scheme £41 a year, of which a substantial part will continue for sixty years. (Laughter.) During the twelve months ended on March 31 last, nearly three times as many houses of all classes were completed as the annual average for the three years before the war, and the greater progress continues to increase.
I think, therefore, we may say, not only that success has attended the Government’s efforts, but that the promises we gave on this subject at the general election have been literally and faithfully fulfilled. (Cheers.)
In addition to that, you may have noticed a modest Bill introduced just before the recess to meet special cases of housing in agricultural districts, the need of which has never been adequately met by the output of houses under the Housing Acts. In many districts there is a serious shortage of cottages at a rent within the reach of the labourer, and, owing to the high cost of building, owners of estates are unable to provide all the cottages required on their land. On the other hand, much can be done by alteration and improvement of existing houses so as to bring them up to modern standards. The purpose of the Bill is to assist holders of agricultural land to undertake this work themselves. The operation of the Bill is strictly limited to cottages for bona fide farm workers. (Cheers.)
Help to Leaseholders
A matter that might be of interest to business firms and shopkeepers in large towns and which deserves serious examination, is the question of leasehold reform. Complaints are frequently made by tenants. For example, it not infrequently happens that substantial improvement of the property made at the expense of the tenant passes to the landlord at the end of the term without payment to the tenant of any compensation. Sometimes a considerable business grows up in particular premises; during a lease. A valuable goodwill is created which is liable to be destroyed on the expiry of the lease if a renewal cannot be obtained on reasonable terms.
This subject is one which bristles with difficulties, because ill-advised legislation might easily do more harm than good. We must be certain that any legislation proposed will not bring into existence greater evils than those which prevail. There are causes of legitimate grievance, and we are at present engaged in examining where it is possible to amend the law to meet those cases in which there is genuine need for reform. (Cheers.)
Although I have tried to take you over very briefly the whole field of our activities during the last year, I don’t think I ought to go further without reminding you that the contributory pensions scheme, which was passed into law in the first year of our office, is now in operation, and is working smoothly. Payments in respect of claims on the part of widows and orphans already cover more than 400,000 persons. In January of the year after next nearly half a million men and women between 65 and 70 will become entitled to old age pensions. A. very considerable degree of co-ordination has been secured in the administration of health and unemployment schemes. As a direct consequence of the passing of the Act, the calls on the poor law relief have been reduced by more than two millions a year.
Security to the Worker
I think it is very important to remember this: that while the social services provided by the State are today of an extensive character, they are at the same time consistent with the encouragement of thrift and forethought. Our party has always recognised the immense importance of maintaining these qualities, and therein, I think, lies one of the great distinctions between us and our political opponents. It is the consistent aim to offer such assistance from the State as is legitimate, and is within its economic resources without impairing the independence of the recipient.
By their various schemes the Government hope to complete the security for the worker, security which will be mainly won by his own efforts, by his own self-sacrifice, though it will be substantially assisted by the help of employers and from the State.
One word about a measure which shortly, I hope, will become law - the Electricity Bill. In view of misconceptions which seem still to prevail in some quarters, it is very desirable to explain that the Bill does not provide for nationalisation, nor is the State undertaking the supply of electricity. Owing to the parochial line upon which electricity has grown up in this country, Great Britain is far behind her competitors in the production of cheaply-generated electricity, and, in consequence, its use for power purposes is far less than half of what it should be when you look at what has been accomplished in foreign countries.
By the Bill, generating stations will be developed on the most suitable sites and on the most efficient lines, and will he linked up all over the country. The saving in capital charges and through the improved load factor will, I hope, enable current to be supplied to authorised undertakings at less than half the average present cost, and at a lower price than even the best installation can produce today.
Careful provision is made in the Bill that the benefit of cheap generation shall be passed on to the consumer. The expert advisers, who have made a detached examination, assure the Government that the saving in capital expenditure during the next few years will be more than sufficient to pay for the whole cost of the transmission lines, and at the end of that period the annual saving in cost of generating will be approximately £11,000,000 a year.
Naturally, the amount spread over a vast multitude of consumers only means a small benefit to the individual, but the result of the benefit to the community at large is very great; and the reduction in costs should lead to a great extension in the use of electricity in industry, and render it possible to supply many rural districts which are at present outside the area of supply.
I think that the broad outline which I have given you of achievements and of purposes is one which, without any undue complacency, we may feel proud.
Socialist Leaders’ Lack of Courage
I have only to mention the handicaps from which our efforts during the past year have suffered, and the setback, on which I shall say some words, the setback which social progress has received from the protracted dispute in the coal industry and from the upheaval caused by the General Strike. The one, unhappily, is still with us, but, as regards the other, the time that has elapsed since its termination enables us to review it without passion, and I am glad to see that you have been in your Conference addressing your minds to some of the problems which it raised.
Since the Great War no such threat has been made to the British community. (Hear, hear.) Nor did the war itself threaten in the same way the institutions upon which the life of our Commonwealth is based. (Cheers.) There are those of its apologists who would have us believe that this was a strike like any other strike, having economic ends in view; as if, indeed, the stoppage of a nation’s life and the dislocation of its industry would add one penny to the miners’ wages if that strike had lasted to the crack of doom. (Cheers.)
But whatever may be urged on behalf of the economic character, the logic of that strike is plain. Had it been successful, it would have over-ridden the constituted Government of the country, and the will of the community as there represented, and brought to an end our Parliamentary institutions. It so happens that the people of this country are profoundly attached to their Parliamentary institutions - (cheers) - institutions which are the very child of the nation. When Kings came into collision with Parliament, it was the Kings who felt the shock and not Parliament. The genius of Oliver Cromwell only made a fugitive indent in the system, which he was able to suspend for a short period. He passed, and Parliamentary institutions remained. Can it be thought that the institutions of centuries, which have resisted assault from the highest quarters, assaults from men of genius, are going to fall down and collapse before such an attack as they were subject to last spring?
What at the moment of that crisis was the attitude of the Parliamentary Labour Party, His Majesty’s Opposition? There were men among them who, for a space, had formed His Majesty’s Government, who had experience of government, the experience of the responsibilities of Parliament to the people, and who had the wit to understand what the challenge meant, the challenge of the General Strike, to Parliamentary institutions.
No Public Protest
I confess I was never more disappointed than at the lack of statesmanship and, still more, at the lack of courage. Though not responsible for calling the General Strike, they were nevertheless silent at a moment when courage on their part might have saved thousands of their followers from being led astray, and might have saved the country from the experiences of that unhappy experiment.
There is a responsibility which rests on His Majesty’s Opposition, as the alternative Government of the country, and I am confident that the country has taken note that the leaders of that party raised not a single word in protest in public, whatever their feelings in private, upon this challenge to the State, and at this time of crisis they were unequal to their responsibility.
They had an opportunity to show that they stood for law and order in this country, and to speak out boldly as their duty bade them. And what contribution did they make? Sectional criticism in the House of Commons, and bitter speeches in the country.
The threat which the General Strike offered was one which the Government - or any Government - was bound to resist, and the spontaneous reaction of the community was such as to win the reluctant admiration of the whole world. (Cheers.) Those who called the strike learned their theories abroad, but the material with which they had to work was British, and the strikers themselves behaved with a restraint and orderliness typical of our countrymen - (cheers) - and in strange contrast to the violent doctrines which, for the time being, they were used to give expression.
In the very brief account of the struggle I give, I cannot pass over alluding to the restraint of the police and the protective forces of the country. I think you will all feel with me that the highest credit is due to the Home Secretary - (cheers) - for the way in which he combined the utmost possible efficiency with the most considerate and temperate use of exceptional powers with which it was necessary to arm him for this exceptional period. (Cheers.)
Now there is a great deal that might be said about the causes of these troubles through which we are passing, and I hope to speak of them at meetings in the course of the winter. But this is not the place, nor have we the time. I would say in a few words, and, of course, it will be for posterity to judge, but in my view the General Strike, and very largely the same is true of the coal strike, are the inevitable results of tendencies which appeared in this country before the war, and which have been greatly accelerated by the war and the years of peace.
There is a very close parallel between the industrial situation and the situation of Europe before the war. In each case you have the agglomeration of masses of men with that curious mass psychology. You have vast bodies formed on either side in the industrial struggle; and leaders and human nature being what it is, the temptations to try your strength is almost irresistible. Collision is bound to come, the appeal to force rather than the appeal to reason, and the mere massing together of those large bodies leads in the individual to a sense of apathy and to a loss of personal responsibility among the rank and file, and a curious belief that it does not matter what you do, because the Government will always step in and make it right.
Can Democracy Learn?
Just as the masses of men in Europe, the big armies, the ambitious leaders, led to the inevitable catastrophe, so in industry the same phenomenon occurred. The question is: Are we going to have the wisdom to learn? The events of this last year have set all men thinking. We know that if democracy can learn, it can only learn by experiments. It has made the experiment. Has it the capacity to learn? There are many results left behind. I can only deal with two obvious ones.
The first is one which I have touched on earlier in my speech, and it is this: That the last months through which we have passed have postponed for some time - and whatever Government is in power - any prospect of ameliorative legislation which requires money. It means a slowing down of such progress as would have been easy had the strike not taken place. Everyone realises that, and there is no doubt there are many who will use this as a stick to beat the Government with for not making more progress. The fact that progress cannot be made while the country is making up the losses which she has suffered will be used to keep alive that discontent which the enemies of the country long to see among them.
It will be our duty to combat that in argument, by speeches, and by education to the best of our ability. My own firm conviction is that such arguments as I have referred to will be used by all the extremists. I believe that the vast majority of our people today can trace cause and effect in a way they have never done before. (Cheers.)
Trade Union Law
The Difficult Problem to be Solved
The second point that the events of the last few months have brought into the forefront is the necessity for a re-examination of the existing law concerning trade unions. There is no need tonight for us to discuss, highly interesting as those are, the causes which brought trade unionism into existence; but it is worth remembering how much they owed in their earlier days to our party. (Cheers.)
Our party, in fact, did more than any other to create and to consolidate the trade union movement, and those amongst you represent the most active element in the Party, who are the spearheads of our propaganda, don’t you ever let it be forgotten in the country.
I think we have to remember this: That we are still in a state of society where collective bargaining is necessary, where society still needs trade unions. You cannot smash the system, and if you could it would be wrong. (Cheers.) But the country is greater than the masters of industry, or the trade unions. (Hear, hear.)
A difficult problem we have to solve is to reconcile the rights of men in combination with the rights of individuals, and both of them in relation to the wider community of which they are only a part. (Cheers.)
I think we must remember, in the words of Disraeli, that the popular liberty is something more substantial than the exercise of the sacred rights of sovereignty by political classes - a very pregnant saying.
Now you have today passed a resolution, to the terms of which the Government will give, as is their duty, prompt - (cheers) - and careful consideration.
You know how deeply preoccupied we have been in the last few months with the existing situation, and you will, I know, be patient with me if I am not able to announce tonight a decision on the details of a Bill. (Laughter.) Let me only say this: we are conscious of the wishes of our loyal supporters in the country. We are fully alive to the importance of the question which is so much exciting your interest. As soon as we have completed our examination of the subject, we shall prepare a Bill and proceed with it in Parliament. (Cheers.)
When we are in a position to present that Bill we shall rely with confidence on you - (A Voice: ‘And we will not betray you’) - (Cheers) - for support.
Nothing to Dispirit
And now it seems to me hardly necessary, in the presence of a gathering of this kind, to say there is nothing in the outlook today to dispirit us. There is nothing to make us lose courage. There is a good deal to make us exercise patience. The man who takes ephemeral views, somehow his views are always those who come to me and say that all that I and the Government have worked for in the last three years is now exploded and done with, and that the events which followed my refusal to press home our victory by adopting Mr. Macquisten’s Bill have falsified my hopes, and proved I was wrong. Not at all.
It was perfectly obvious to me when I began my campaign two or three years ago that so long as I tried to teach the people of the country on these lines it would bring out of his hiding place every extremist in the country. They knew at once that if the teaching I was trying to inculcate was successful, if it gripped the man in the street, their occupation would be gone. (Cheers.) It was bound to bring us that opposition. It was bound to excite the Minority Movement, and they have worked their best ever since. They have done what they never did in private life: they have worked overtime. (Laughter and cheers.)
In exactly the same way, I was not surprised at that burst of organised ill-manners in the House of Commons, confined only to the extremists, regretted by many Members of the Labour party, but done with deliberate intention to try to make the Government look contemptible in the eyes of their supporters, to weaken our authority, to throw mud on us. Such tactics cannot succeed in this country, and they will not. But I feel that tonight I must just tell you, as my friends, that I regard such manifestations as merely a form of hysteria emanating from men who knew they were beaten.
A Call to Duty
Working for the Good of the Country as a Whole
I told you some time ago there was much thinking going on in the country. There is. I believe that employers are thinking. I believe that trade union leaders are thinking. I believe that the working men are thinking as they have never done before.
I believe there is a genuine desire, when these troubles are over, amongst many men, whose minds have not hitherto been turned in that direction, to see if we cannot come together to increase the production of this country, to get work going, so that we may get better wages and more prosperity. (Loud cheers.)
1 take it as a good sign that today there are trade union leaders studying problems in America instead of in Russia, and before I sit down I would like to remind you of a few words used by Disraeli more than eighty years ago in a situation not only dissimilar from that in which we find ourselves today, showing with what unerring instincts he laid his finger on the spot in 1844, showing that we, who represent the Government today, however feebly, are trying to follow in the direct succession and applying to the problems of this age the temper and spirit he would have applied in his time had he had the opportunity. He was speaking in Yorkshire:
We are asked sometimes what we want. We want, in the first place, to impress on society that there is such a thing as duty. We do not do that in any spirit of conceit or arrogance. We do not pretend that we are any better than others, but that we are anxious to do our duty, and if so we think that we have a right to call on others, whether rich or poor, to do theirs. If that principle of duty has not been lost sight of for the last fifty years you would never have heard of the classes into which England is divided. We want to put an end to that political and social exclusiveness, which we believe to be the bane of this country.
We don’t come out like a pack of pedants to tell you that we are prepared to remedy every grievance by the square and rule. It is not so much to the action of laws as to the influence of manners that we must look, but how are manners to influence men if they are divided into classes, if the population of a country becomes a body of sections, a group of hostile garrisons. We see but little hope for this country so long as that spirit of faction that has been so rampant of late years is fostered and encouraged. We call it a spirit of faction, for the principles on which the parties which nominally divided this country were formed have worn out and ceased to exist, and the association of men, however powerful, without political principles, is not a party, but a faction. Of such a state of society the inevitable result is that public passions are excited for private ends, and popular improvement is lost sight of in particular aggrandisements.
The Next Election
There, over eighty years ago, you have expressed in words far more eloquent than I can find exactly the points upon which our party during the last three years has been working and are working and will continue to work.
We have passed in Western Europe in the last ten years through a whole century of experience and of change, and as a result the world is giddy. It is the same in religion and in politics. Those who remain in parties joined together by fixed principles are the minority, and the majority are driven about this way and that, the prey of every specious speaker, of every quack, whether in religion or in politics.
No longer are all the electors members of a party or parties. The voters today under the extended franchise are almost in a minority, but we are, as Mr. Lane Fox said, the largest, the most cohesive body in the country, and power will only come to those who govern the country for the people, for the people who are not attached to party will follow the Government, which as a Government knows no class, but fights for what they believe to be the good of the country as a whole.
It is particularly important in gatherings of this kind to keep that constitutional idea before your mind. The appeal to the country must be made in two or three years. It will be for them to give a verdict upon our work, whether in their view it is good or bad. But I say, with three definite parties and the many political combinations that exist or may be possible, there is all the more necessity for us to see that we so govern, so try to educate the country that we may receive that support from the men and women of this country, that support may be given to us, because they believe that we are trying to the best of our ability to govern the country for the good of the whole country and not for a class. It is only by that support that any Government today can come in and can have the requisite power behind it to govern in this country at all.
So let us remember that, and insofar as we keep these ideals before us, always based on the great principles of our party, which have come to us straight from Disraeli, if we only go forward in that spirit we need have no fear but that we shall be able to cope with the difficulties which occur from day to day. We need have no fear that the country when asked will endorse our action and will confirm the verdict which they gave two years ago.