Note: The text is based on transcripts by Dr Michael Pearce
held at the Labour History Archive at the National Museum of Labour History. Some sections have been divided into paragraphs for ease of reading
28th September 1964
The choice we are making in this election will affect
every, family and every member of every family. Let's get right down to
the problems that practically all of us face today. First there's the problem
of making ends meet. Our Conservative opponents have spent a great deal
of money on advertising, on telling you about the prosperity they say they
have given you. They haven't, you've done it, often in spite of them. And
in very many cases it's only been possible through long hours of overtime
and because of wives going out to work.
Of course our standard of living
is higher than it was five or ten or twenty years ago. So it ought to be,
that's natural. It's true of every industrial country. But it has risen
a great deal less in Britain than most others. A fact the Conservatives
simply can't deny and to be fair to them, they haven't tried to. But what
does our standard of living depend on? It depends on how much is coming
into the home, which is mainly a question of wages and salaries. And it
depends too on how much goes out. The government which now tries to take
credit for your prosperity has spent most of its time fighting to keep
wages down. Remember the wage freeze, the pay pause? You remember Selwyn
Lloyd telling us that we shall be bankrupt if he didn't put up prescription
charges for old age pensioners and that they just couldn't afford to pay
nurses a decent wage. Yet the same Chancellor could find money for the
surtax payers. Remember how the teachers, the civil servants, social workers
and only a few weeks ago the postmen have had to struggle to get reasonable
wages? Remember how Conservative ministers have said flatly that if anyone
pressed for higher wages the government would dry up the supply of money
so that unemployment would result? And in fact the direct result of Selwyn
Lloyd's cuts was a sharp rise in unemployment and it's taken three years
and an election to get the unemployment figures back to where they were
then. Now they're claiming the credit for the higher incomes that you have
But there's another side to the problem. It's not just a question
of incomes, it's what a family has to spend out of their income and the
first charge of every household is the rent or the mortgage payment for
those who are buying their own house; and with that goes rates and if you
own your own house, the heavy cost of house maintenance and repairs. High
rents have been deliberate government policy. We have the Rent Act, rising
rents swelling the incomes of property companies and driving thousands
of tenants from their homes. This is still going on and it will get worse
unless something is done. We shall repeal the Rent Act, restore security
of tenure and see that rents are fixed at a fair level. We shall help people
seeking to buy a home and reduce the mortgage payments they have to make.
The government as a matter of policy have raised interest rates; this is
why council house rents and building society mortgage payments and rates
have gone up. Then we have the problem of continually rising prices - meat,
milk, bread - very soon groceries; rising fares, children's clothes and
shoes, and shoe repairs as well.
These things I have just been talking about are facts within the acknowledged
and day-to-day experience of every one of us. Why is it then that
after thirteen years of unusually favourable world economic conditions
for Britain, the Tory government have simply failed to cope with these
growing problems? At any rate the facts of the Conservative record are
not in dispute and now I'm going to ask Christopher Mayhew to illustrate
just for a minute or two some of the things that have been happening.
In the past we've often used charts and diagrams
to set out the facts of the Conservative record. We've made them very accurate
and they've never been challenged. And now we're glad to see non Labour
newspapers doing the same and reinforcing many of the points we've been
making ourselves. The Guardian has just published a chart comparing the
rise in living standards of different countries over the last ten years.
That's Britain there, a rise of twenty five percent a quarter. Look how
much less that is than other quite representative countries like the Netherlands,
Sweden - a wealthy country, France, Italy, Germany and Japan. Looking at
this chart it seems absurd that the Conservatives should be making the
rise in our standard of living as one of their main election issues at
the present time.
The Guardian, of course, only shows a few countries but,
unfortunately, if we compare ourselves with other larger groups of countries,
the results are equally disappointing. You may have seen our programme
last month in which we showed that if we'd simply kept up with the rate
of advance of the fourteen other countries of Western Europe under Conservative
rule we would now be producing extra goods and services worth eight thousand
million pounds per year; that's the equivalent of four pounds ten shillings
a week for every employed person in the country. We costed the Conservatives
stop go programme and it cost us all four pounds ten shillings a week.
The Guardian has also just published a chart on housing. This shows that
in the United Kingdom, that's the United Kingdom there, we are now spending
about three percent of our total production on housing - about the same
as Japan but much lees than the United States, France, Sweden, Germany,
Italy, Switzerland. If we'd devoted as large a proportion of our resources
to housing as they have, we'd be right on top of our housing problem today.
And then there's education. Well I'd like to present you with the latest
facts in the famous Hogg report, but Mr Hogg, of course, has declined to
let us see the facts of his report until after polling day. Meantime we
have to make do with other official reports. I have the Newsome Report
here on secondary schools. It shows about school buildings as a whole,
one-fifth only are up to standard, two-fifths have some serious deficiencies
and the remaining two-fifths have many serious deficiencies. And the facts
about the balance of payments. The Board of Trade is more forthcoming than
the Ministry of Education; and this chart, the latest official chart of
the Board of Trade, shows the gap in our trade. Those large columns show
the gap between our exports and imports. The amount by which we are failing
to pay our way in the world. Look how the gap grew in 1960. It was after
that we had the pay pause and the unemployment and look how it's growing
again today. We're getting into debt today at a rate of between one and
two million pounds a day and if the chart doesn't speak for itself, today's
Daily Mail I have here. It says "Our trading deficit is described even
officially as massive and is larger than at any time since the war. Exports
have been disappointing and imports too high" and so on. Now these are
just a few facts. We shall show many more in these broadcasts - just a
few facts to set against the Conservatives election propaganda.
How can we get these things right? How can we get Britain
ahead again? It's nice to feel when we lose some international contest
that we're perhaps sporting losers. But isn't it about time we started
winning? Anyway, good luck to our team in Tokyo. But in the international
economic league, aren't we getting a bit sick of being told it can't be
done? How is it going to be paid for the Conservatives ask? For a start
we might well ask them that question. For after twelve years in office
they suddenly last winter rushed out a whole series of promises on all
those issues which for years have been the nation couldn't afford. You
know I think the Conservatives have done a very valuable service in this
election in admitting frankly that their programmes cannot be fulfilled
unless we get a steady four percent increase in production.
very well. But what they don't tell you is that this four percent is nearly
double the rate they actually achieved during the last thirteen years.
Judged on their record the Tories' modernisation plan is a phoney. It can't
be achieved without the steady expansion which just has not happened under
three successive Tory governments. Why, even the election boom is petering
out after only a few months and the prosperity they're talking about they're
getting on the slate - borrowing abroad. If they were allowed to go on
like this the country would soon be in pawn, with all that means. All the
experts agree on this as you saw in Christopher Mayhew's talk a minute
So I must warn you whoever wins this election is going to be faced
with very grave economic difficulties right away. Of course a government
determined to master the crisis could cope with it. But I must tell you
in order to pay for the houses, the schools, the pensions, to improve living
standards we've got to have a steadily expanding economy and the Tory's
stop go stop is not the way to do it. There's much more to do than raising
the money. It's a question a physical resources and how we use them. Take
housing. Like everything else it means planning, it means drive and that's
what we haven't had. They've just blithely announced an increased housing
programme after thirteen years and they forgot to plan the bricks. To get
rid of the slum schools, schools without even the minimum needed for good
teaching. The schools described in the report Mr Quintin Hogg wants to
keep from you until after the election. This means physical action - bulldozers
to clear them away - bricks and mortar or timber and concrete and glass
- to build the new schools. That's why I keep emphasising the production
that they've failed to achieve.
So here we have it. Planning, work, priorities.
There's nothing mysterious about it. The problem is how do we as a national
family allocate our housekeeping budget in such a way as to see that individual
families are getting the best out of life. I was talking about housing
just now. We can only solve this problem if we set aside more of our resources
to this job than we've been doing. If we make it a number one priority
instead of letting it trail behind less essential but of course much more
profitable projects such as building luxury office blocks as a nice money
making speculation. And then, social security. It's not the government,
any government, Labour or Tory which provides pensions. The British people
as a family has to make provision for those who are in need. To look after
the older members, giving them the chance as a right, not as a charity,
not as a donation, to live in their retirement in dignity and comfort -
the widows, the sick, the disabled. If a family's income rises, it doesn't
spend it all, it makes provision for the future by taking out insurance
policies, it provides more generously for the father or mother living in
retirement and this is what we're going to do as a nation. We've said clearly
how we're going to do it and in our future election broadcasts my colleagues
will be coming along to show exactly what we propose to do and how we're
going to do it. It's just a matter of common sense and of common humanity,
deciding which things are important, which things must be done first, but
it does mean having a government, a government which isn't afraid to take
decisions, a government which won't sit back and let the money-makers,
the take-over bidders, the tycoons, shape our future. A government which
is concerned with the national interest, the interest of mothers and fathers
and individual families. A government of the people, yes but we believe
bringing in all the people, not just a privileged few. It's a tremendously
[the rest of the transcript is missing]
2nd October 1964
ANTHONY WEDGEWOOD BENN:
The Conservative message in this Election is
really very simple. Everything's all right. There's nothing to worry about.
Leave it to us. To get this message across they've spent millions of pounds,
in hired advertising agencies, paid actors to appear on posters, had hand-picked
street interviews, the whole apparatus of advertising normally used for
selling soap or detergents or washing powders or tooth paste. But in our
hearts we know this picture of Britain is not true.
Now there's no point in beating about the bush any longer.
We've got to face facts and face facts now. This country is lurching towards
the biggest economic crisis since the war. Britain is losing over one million
pounds every day. The gap between what we export and what we import has
been widening for the last fifteen months and the very latest figures show
that this gap is growing faster and faster. This is a crisis which affects
every single one of us. If the present trend continues it will mean that
our jobs, our wages, our hire-purchase payments, our mortgage rates, are all in jeopardy. Now I know
that Mr Maudling half denies it but then the Tory Leaders denied that there
was a crisis in 1955 and after that we had the Credit Squeeze; they denied
that there was a crisis in 1960 after which we had the infamous Pay Pause.
But the situation to-day is far more serious than either of those examples.
All of us in Britain and especially the Conservatives must face this fact
for until we do there is no hope of our being able to do anything about
it. However, what is even more worrying than the economic situation itself
is the fact that the Conservatives still pretend that nothing is really
the matter and that nothing should be done. Conservative Leaders in a last
desperate attempt to cling to office are holding this country to ransom
for Party political reasons. This is both blind and irresponsible. For
the next government, whichever Party it is, will have to pay very dearly
indeed for this mistake. There is one over-riding reason why we are now
faced with this crisis. The Conservatives throughout their thirteen years
have refused to plan - our roads, houses, schools, hospitals are utterly
inadequate for this reason. And abroad, we are falling behind the other
industrial countries of the world. They are exporting far more than we
are. To-night I want to show you not only what is wrong but also, and this
is far more important, how the Labour Government will plan the new Britain.
Examples of bad planning are not hard to find. Look around you at the
long delays, frustrating waits, all our cities seem to be jammed with cars.
And it's the same on holiday too - long waits, heavy lorries on the roads,
many of them dangerous, no transport planning here. Motorway construction
- too slow and badly planned as well. For the railways it's been another
story - the axe, the axe wielded by Dr. Beeching, hundreds of stations
to be closed, thousands of miles of line that could have played a useful
part in economic development.
No social costing here, just pounds shillings and pence. And for those
people who really could be fitted into new towns, a government failure
to plan ahead. For the Tories it's been the Rent Act - thousands of people
evicted, Mr Henry Brooke the Minister responsible. Those who are looking
for homes in our new towns find the same signs everywhere Offices to be
let, to be let, to be let. It's the same with education - some beautiful
new comprehensive schools built but many other schools in appalling condition
- the figures Mr Hogg won't release. Bad planning. Over-sized classes.
All this could have been anticipated if someone had looked ahead. The worst
example - our old industrial areas, worst victims of stop and go, left
to decay and only last year eight hundred thousand men out of work because
of stop and go. Bad planning once again.
Nowhere is it more clear the consequences of the absence
of planning and real government than what has happened in Scotland during
these past thirteen years. We've seen Scotland become a land of diminishing
opportunity. In thirteen Tory years we've lost three hundred and seventy
thousand people; they've left Scotland - mainly young men of talent, skill
and craft, crowding into the already over-crowded South and the Midlands.
This can't go on. If Scotland is going to be able to play its part in the
economic expansion that Labour plans, we must have these opportunities.
Between 1961 and .1963 there wasn't an increase in jobs in Scotland for
men and for boys, there was an actual decrease of thirty-three thousand
at a time when the Tories boast of having created a million new jobs in
Britain for men. The actual facts are stark - they're grim for Scotland
and only Labour planning will improve the position and give us the forty
thousand jobs a year that we really need. Their housing - it's a tragic
story. In 1953 thanks to Labour Government's planning, they were able to
build thirty-nine thousand houses; last year it was down to 28,000 - a
loss over these years to Scotland of one hundred thousand much needed houses.
Their social policies and their employment policies have been such as to
deny us what we think are our rights in respect of employment and social
conditions. But it will take more than thirteen years of Toryism to quench
the spirit of the people of Scotland. We will come through and we will
play our part in the New Britain under a Labour Government.
LADY MEGAN LLOYD GEORGE:
Wales with all her magnificent potential has
not been able to develop her own resources or take a full part in the British
economy in the last thirteen years. Under Tory planning we've had uncontrolled
expansion in the South and a slow steady tragic drift of young people from
Wales. Now unemployment has gone down it's true. But de-population has
not and this means that there is still a serious shortage of jobs in Wales.
It is indeed another form of unemployment. How can we reverse this migration?
I'm convinced that we can under the Labour plan to induce industrialists
to come to Wales, to improve our transport system and Mr Marples has been
in reverse and has chosen Wales as one of the places for some of his major
closures. Now at last we are to have Welsh people planning for Wales with
a Secretary of State for Wales, a voice at last in the Cabinet of Great
SPEAKER NOT KNOWN:
The policy of stop and go has also had a serious
effect on British industry. With me are two men who are actually concerned
with running large business firms. One of them is a Chairman, the other
a Managing Director. What do you think of government economic policy at
The point is this, that every Manager is a professional
planner whether he accepts the term or not. And we Managers have to predict
the future of the economy so that we can order our investment plans for
increased expansion and all the rest of it. Now if there's no government
and particularly if the government is stop, go, stop go, our plans are
nearly always wrong. Now if there's a broad industrial plan, we've a much
better chance of optimising output and increasing exports and all the rest
of the things that the country demands of us.
I entirely agree. I mean the fifties have proved we've
been fumbling with the management of the economy. I think industry, both
employers and Trade Unions, deserve some credit in trying to persuade the
Tories of the importance of planning in a reliable and steady way. We have
got to do our jobs, have a frame-work in which you can get on serving the
community, making a fair profit if you do it that way, but the one thing
that we are most afraid of is topless management.
SPEAKER NOT KNOWN:
May I put this to you because it's sometimes
said that if you do have real planning as Labour intends, industry won't
co-operate with you. Is that your experience?
Those who say that are political scaremongering. I don't
think many say it because a manager's job is to make his business prosperous
and to optimise output and all the rest of it. Well is it conceivable that
a manager would ruin his own business because he didn't like the political
complexion of the government? Managers are really not quite so foolish.
Well, a manager is not doing a political job. But I think
all managers do appreciate that politics affect their business decisively
and this is the first point. I think the second point is that industry's
job is to work with the government of the day, to serve the community and
the national interest and I believe that industry is going to try to do
that but to do it, it must be sure that the strategic objectives are going
to be firm and firmly supported by a government that believes in planning.
So it is clear that the essential issue at the Election
is which of the two Parties do you trust to change and modernise Britain.
And make no mistake, without change, without modernisation, we can't get
the expansion that we need to carry out those programmes which are put
before you. Now which Party do you think will change all this. Labour -
which created the Health Service, fought steadily for the Welfare State
or the Tories who fought against that and now grudgingly talk of giving
donations to old age pensioners? Mr Maudling says that the whole economic
situation will come right on the night provided he has an incomes policy.
But where are the plans to secure this real incomes policy? Where are the
plans to control land prices, to control profits, where are the plans for
tax reforms to stop fiddling, where are the plans to modernise and energise
There are none and without planning, without change,
the Conservatives clearly couldn't possibly carry out any of their precious
promises. We in the Labour Government are going to plan for two main objectives
- for efficiency and for prosperity. This country is losing ground to the
other industrial countries in the world simply because we are so inefficiently
led. Since the beginning of this year more people have started working.
That should have meant more production, but it hasn't. The Labour Government
will reverse this trend. We cannot just trust to luck and hope that things
will turn out well in the end. The last thirteen years have shown that
things simply do not work out that way. We can no more hope that the economy
will expand without our doing anything about it than we could hope to have
a pretty garden just by sitting back and watching the weeds come up.
efficiency isn't everything, and it would be a dull and stodgy country
if it were. We shall also plan to increase prosperity in order that everyone,
not just a few privileged people, can get a fair share of the increased
wealth that this country can produce. We shall ensure that the land speculators
do not grow rich by making house buyers pay huge sums for their homes.
We shall plan so that the North of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland,
do not steadily decline while the South-East is filled to overflowing.
And as a consequence of doing this the Labour Government will have created
the climate for a real incomes policy. The Conservatives have failed to
achieve this because they simply mean limiting wages and salaries - they
refuse to deal with profits, dividends, rents, land prices. Labour's incomes
policy will include profits as well as wages, it will also include rents
and land prices - this is why we have the complete backing of the Trade
Unions, without which no incomes policy can succeed.
Once we have got a
comprehensive national plan then we shall be able to ensure the steady
expansion of the economy which is so essential for our increased prosperity.
The Conservatives accept the state that this country is in as being inevitable
and indeed they appeal to you not to change it. But we know that not only
can things not stay as they are, our problems can and must be solved. Britain
can still be the most successful industrial country in the world and with
a Labour Government and with your active participation it will be. Britain
has the skill and the experience as well as the capacity for work. To succeed
in our task getting Britain moving again, we must get rid of all the tired
complacency. Britain has a vast job on its hands. It's going to be exciting
work and it'll often be difficult, but it's a challenge we cannot ignore.
When you decide on October the fifteenth for a change, then together we
can get on with the job.
5th October 1964
Prosperity. That's the main theme of the Conservatives
in this Election campaign. Of course we're better off. Practically every
country in the world is better off than it was a few years ago. But we
haven't been given these things, we've had to work for them. Work for them
by doing extra overtime, work for them by both husbands and wives going
out to work and get a lot of them by running up a big hire purchase debt.
Yes, there are plenty of things in the shops if you've got the money to
pay for them.
We bought this basket of shopping today in London. Just a basket of
ordinary groceries, bread, milk, butter, meat. And this is what it cost
us. This is the shopping list - two pounds, four shillings and five pence.
A year ago exactly those same items would have cost us one pound, nineteen
shillings and six and a half pence. But now one year later they cost two
pounds, four shillings and five pence. I'm going to speak to one of the
men who knows most about food prices in this country - Lord Sainsbury -
and see what he has to say about it. Lord Sainsbury, from your own experience
do you find that food prices are going up?
They are definitely dearer than this time a year ago.
I estimate one shilling and three pence in the pound.
And what do you think that we can do about it?
Well I think for example we can improve marketing. Take
vegetables, there can be set up more producer co-operatives and by such
means we can lessen the gap between what the grower gets and what the housewife
pays. And then in manufactured foods, I would like to see set up a watch-dog
price commission that had the power to compel companies to reveal their
costs, to see how these costs were built up and I believe if that was done
it would act as a very effective brake on what I would describe as socially
irresponsible price rises.
So if there was a sudden jump in prices the Price
Commission would come in and investigate the reason?
Prices are bad enough, but the weekly rent, the monthly
mortgage payment are the first charge on any family budget and these have
gone up the very most of all.
We know what land prices can do to rents, rates, mortgages.
Recently a Council had to pay for every person it re-housed from some slums,
one thousand pounds per person for land alone. Ever since the Tories repealed
Labour's Act of 1947 Councils pay profiteers' prices. Houses are dearer,
rents up, rates up. Labour will buy land needed for building at a fair
price and not a profiteer's price. Now let's take some examples. Do you
pay rent to a private landlord? If you were de-controlled by the Rent Act
you might at any time get four weeks notice to quit. If you're still controlled,
remember that while the Rent Act is law, a Minister can make an order and
you would be de-controlled and your security gone. Then those who are buying
their homes know the burden of high interest. If you're hoping to buy you
see as well house prices forced up by dear land. That is why Labour will
provide in the future mortgages at lower rates. Or are you waiting on a
Council List for something better than a home you can just fit in to and
Between 1953 and 1963 the Tories cut in half the number of
Council homes built every year. We shall reverse this policy. Or is yours
a home without a bath, hot water, separate toilet? Two years ago Labour
stated its plan for giving councils power to modernise if the landlord
will not. Recently the Tories have begun to echo our policy. But it's the
same all the time at every point. As the Election approached the Tories
began to talk of doing something about land, something to help the owner-occupier.
They have had thirteen years in which to act. We need new policies and
a new government that believes in those policies.
The people who are most cruelly hit by prices that
keep on going up are, of course, the elderly, the pensioners. Two million
of them, one out of every four, have to go to the National Assistance Board
to get enough each week not to live on, but to buy the barest essentials
for existence. Nearly a million more qualify for National Assistance but
for reasons which seem good to them don't choose to apply. If you happen
to be ill as well as old, then you have to scrape together the money for
prescription charges as well, week after week. We believe that taxing the
sick is just about the meanest way a government can raise money and that's
one reason why Labour will get rid of these charges once and for all and
find the twenty odd million pounds to meet the cost. We've poverty enough
in Britain today, especially amongst pensioners, to make the Tory boast
of an affluent society sound to them like a bitter mockery. There's no
need in a prosperous Britain for these forgotten pockets of misery and
a Labour Government will tolerate them no longer.
How do we aim to do away
with this poverty in old age? We intend to bring in an incomes guarantee
to replace the National Assistance supplement. Under this system every
pensioner and those on sickness or unemployment benefit will get their
supplement not by going to the Board but from the Post Office as of right.
On October the fifteenth you will be choosing between our proposals for
ending poverty in old age and the Conservative's donation to the older
pensioner, which can only mean that those under say seventy-five, or seventy
in the case of women, get something less. I often think of another group
of forgotten fellow citizens. The unmarried woman, perhaps going out to
work to support an aged mother, coming home tired out to look after her,
never getting a holiday. She gets little fun and little consideration.
By helping the old we can at least ease her burden a little and give her
some hope of security when she too is old; or will she, if the Conservatives
have their way, she'll be forced to wait till she's 70 for Sir Alec's little
But how much can the nation afford to spend each year,
not only on schools but on pensions and on all the other social services?
Of course it's perfectly right and proper to ask that question and I'm
going to answer it this evening. But I want to say something first. The
Conservatives talk a lot about the austerity and the rationing of those
early post-war years under the Labour Government. What they never call
attention to is the austerity and rationing which still exist in affluent
Britain today. There's not much doubt about the austerity of the lives
of the old age pensioner dependent on National Assistance, and as for rationing
- well what about the government's attitude to school building? This year
for example, the local authorities submitted school building programmes
worth one hundred and seventy million pounds and every school in that programme
was absolutely essential or it wouldn't have been included. But the Minister
cut them back from one hundred and seventy million pounds to fifty million
pounds - in fact he forbade the Councils to build two-thirds of the schools
they desperately needed and which they could build if they hadn't been
prevented from doing so. I call that rationing even if another name is
used today. And I'm not surprised that Mr Hogg has suppressed the official
report on the state of school buildings submitted to him over a year ago.
But even without it we know quite a lot. We know that half our Primary
Schools were built in the Victorian age, that nearly half of them have
no inside lavatories, that nearly half of them have no playing fields,
that two-thirds have no proper science accommodation and that three-quarters
have virtually no library. Yes, it's a strange world we live in. Any company
which wants to build for profit, which wants to build luxury flats, offices,
bingo palaces, no matter what, is completely unrationed by this Conservative
government. Yet local authorities each year are forbidden to do the essential
school building, without which nearly half our children are now being denied
a fair chance in life. And the government's attitude to the teacher shortage
is just as puzzling. It was twenty years ago that forty was fixed as the
maximum size for a class in a Primary School and today one child in five
is still being taught in classes of forty in this country. Despite all
the government's boasts this situation isn't going to get better, it's
going to get worse if these people stay in office. So that by 1970 under
a Tory government nearly half our children in Primary Schools will be being
taught in classes of over forty.
Now that seems to us intolerable, so we've
worked out an emergency plan for dealing with the teacher shortage, for
recruiting far more young teachers, for winning back more married teachers,
to get to part-time work. We know the plan will cost money but we believe
we can't afford to postpone the education of our children. So I come back
to this question of cost - how much can the Nation afford. Well, it depends
on how much the nation is earning. What we can afford if we double the
present rate of economic expansion will be far more than what we are affording
now when we're expanding slowly and every three years production is being
virtually halted by stop go stop. Our plans for raising the old age pensioners
above the National Assistance level, for abolishing prescription charges,
for building more schools, for training more teachers, all these plans
are based on one single assumption - that we can and we must double the
rate of expansion we've had for these last thirteen years under Conservative
rule. And if anybody tells me that this can't be done by the British people,
I reply that's what our neighbours in Europe have been doing for years
and we're convinced - give Britain the chance, we can do it too.
8th October 1964
A welcome development in election politics has been
the coffee meeting where people meet comfortably in each other's homes
and talk about politics and meet their candidates. Now this evening we've
got a version of that, but four of us are here in the
Studio and then in a North London suburb Mrs. Murphy has gathered a
group of her neighbours. Now when we establish contact with her we would
like her and her neighbours to ask us questions to which we will do our
best to give replies. Mrs. Murphy are you getting me clearly.
Yes thank you Mr Callaghan.
Good. Well now would you like to fire some questions
Yes. First of all I'd like to talk about the rising cost
of living. We're all very concerned about this and recently I read about
the tea boys on building sites getting forty-two pounds a week. Don't you
think this is a contributory factor?
Well I don't hold with that particular wage. I think
it's an example of the way things have got out of proportion in this country
to-day. But the question of the cost of living really raises much deeper
issues than that. One of the first things we would have to do would be
to make a real attack on monopolies, on price fixing. You know the present
government allowed the Monopolies Commission almost to lose power. We will restore those powers. We will give it
greater speed of action and we'll act upon its reports. Up to the present
Government there are I think thirty reports which have not been acted on.
Another thing we won't, we can't tolerate is the way some managements use
wage increases for quite improper increases of price. Recently in the engineering
industry there was an increase of five percent in wages - prices were put
up five percent. But wages are only half the cost of production in that
industry and would have justified therefore a much smaller price increase.
That's one of the things we've got to stop.
But how on earth can cost of living be stabilised for constant
strikes and wage claims?
I don't know that there are constant strikes - let's get
one fact clearly in our minds. That although there's a lot of press talk,
there are less strikes in this country than in the majority of industrial
countries. But the point to be remembered is this - that men are always
blamed for strikes and you know any objective person looking into causes
of strikes knows very well that half the strikes are caused by bad management.
(Hear, hear) The channels of communication are bad inside industry.
Now the Conservative Government you see has soured the whole thing. They
have been unfair in this period of change. The great problems of redundancy
are abroad because of changeover to automation and the rest of it. You
remember the pay pause don't you in 1961? They cut right across the negotiating
machinery, they placed a terrible burden on the nurses and the teachers,
they acted unfairly. Now the British workman has not got low mentality.
He understands the justice of a case. Put to him reasonably and on the
understanding that justice will be done, he is prepared to share his responsibility
and the Labour government when it is formed will do all within its power
to really get a better attitude, well of confidence inside it.
I wonder if I could possibly ask Mr Gunter a supplementary
question here? Reading the newspapers this morning there was reported the
fact that the Labour Party intended, if they were returned to power, to
conduct urgent discussions with the Unions. Could you outline precisely
what form these discussions would take?
Well one of the great problems this nation has to face of
course is that we cannot spend more than we earn, that unless productivity
rises by a sufficient amount then pay increases are a danger. What we want
to do is to get the Unions with us, to sit down and think out how in equity
the various and varied claims of different sections of the workers can
be dealt with. And we shall do that in consultation with them and indeed
I know that a large area of management of British industry would join with
us in trying to find the answer to this most difficult problem.
I know of a number of cases of old age pensioners who are
very poor and yet are too proud to ask for National Assistance. What would
the Labour Party do about this?
What we want to do is to establish a national minimum
income. This will be a tremendous step forward in the whole of our social
programme. Because for the first time we would try to fix levels below
which no one living in this country should be allowed to fall. We would
then like, having raised the pensioners incomes to that level so that they
got them as of right and without recourse to the Assistance Board, we would
then want to relate increases in pensions to increases in earnings so that
as the average workers earnings went ahead so we could ensure that the
pensioner didn't fall behind and create the conditions to which the questioner
What does Mr Callaghan think is the civil pension for an old
age pension - the average pension.
Well it's much higher, it should be much higher than
it is now and we shall certainly try to fix a level which will take pensioners
off of National Assistance for all normal purposes. As to the future in
the long run. If you ask me what the long run pension should be, well looking
well ahead, I believe we ought to aim at pensions that are about half of
average earnings, average earnings, I think this would be the sort of standard
of life on which you could expect old people to live reasonably but that
would have to be worked to by stages.
Mr Callaghan I wonder if I could ask the panel a question
on the subject of immigration. Now when the Immigration Act was introduced
this was very firmly resisted by the opposite Party and I see no evidence
to date of any intention on the part of the Labour Party to repeal this
Act. Could you explain this?
There hasn't been any change of policy here. The Labour
Party always believed and said that there must be controls over immigration.
What we were arguing about in the House of Commons was the proper means
of doing this. We didn't like the particular way the government suggested.
The policy of the Labour Party is perfectly clear. We will keep on immigration
controls, we hope by agreement with Commonwealth countries. We will give
help from the central government to towns, areas where there is a concentration
of immigrants. We believe that immigrants here, as the Prime Minister said,
must be treated like everybody else but, of course, they must also live
like the people they've come to settle amongst. We want them to get a good
day's pay for a good day's work. We will also enact legislation to prevent
incitement to racial hatred. We want to create the conditions under which
good race relations, good harmonious race relations can steadily arise.
I'd like to ask a question. One talks a lot and hears a lot
of talk at election time on defence particularly. One of the things I've
heard said quite a lot is that the Labour Party are going to leave the
defence of Britain to the Americans. Is this true - what is going to happen
if the Labour Party gets into power? What are you going to do about it?
Well of course that story is complete nonsense. But no
country in the world can stand alone in defence nowadays. Our security
depends on our alliance and the Prime Minister has said this a
great deal himself. Thanks to our alliance nuclear war has become very
unlikely. If it did come we couldn't conceivably meet it alone. But it's
vital to prevent every single country in the alliance having its own control
over its own independent deterrent. That would mean Germany getting atomic
weapons and a much greater risk of war than we have to-day. So we in the
Labour Party think that our first priority in defence should be to equip
our own troops properly where they are in fact fighting on the ground to-day
- in Borneo, in the Middle East, all over the world. And we can't do that,
we're not doing it at the moment because we're pouring hundreds upon hundreds
of millions of pounds down the drain in a search for nuclear independence
although in fact as you know, the latest thing is five hundred million
pounds on building a Polaris programme entirely dependent on missiles from
the United States.
I'm very worried about the American bases in this country.
Surely if America gets involved in a war, for example the Cuban crisis,
we would also be involved and be a number one military target? What would
the Labour Party do about this?
I'm perfectly certain there isn't going to be a nuclear
war, but if there were, I'm afraid the whole world would be involved in
it and it wouldn't matter where bases were. I think the essential thing
is the first thing a Labour Government must do in the
field of Foreign Policy, is to go to the United States and negotiate
with them a transformation, a re-organisation of NATO so that we and the
other European allies can share, participate with the United States in
the control of nuclear strategy and policy for the alliance as a whole.
I would like to ask Mr Callaghan of leasehold houses, and
to get the ownership of the land.
Ray, you deal with this.
Well, of course, our proposals have been made very clear
about the leasehold reform and we have said to the country
that those leaseholders who are owner-occupiers and have had a lease
that is over twenty one years in duration, we shall give them the
chance to buy it at proper and decent rates. We shall ask them to pay,
of course, the proper value of it. And that is that and that is how the
leaseholder will be defended in the future.
On the larger issue of housing anyway. This is a rich borough
and yet I know that there are thousands of dilapidated houses, crowded
with people. Just how quickly can the Labour Party get its programme for
building these four hundred thousand houses a year into operation?
I think this is the whole case for economic planning.
It's absolutely vital that we should have proper planning in this field
of housing as elsewhere. Systems of industrialised building which have
been in existence on the Continent for many years and are only just now
coming into force in this country will help us to speed up new house building.
We shall encourage local authorities by means
of lower interest rates to go ahead and build as well as encouraging
the house owners themselves, the new house owners, by lower interest rates
and I think as important as anything, we shall deal with this land racket
business. It really is intolerable the way the government has gone on year
after year saying there's no solution and pouring scorn on the rest of
us when we try to find one. We believe our Land Commission is the best
solution that yet's been devised and I believe a combination of all these
ways would enable us to get rid of what is a very considerable social scourge.
If the Labour Party get in, how soon can they make all the
changes regarding housing and land?
We'll make a start straight away. Leasehold reform
that Mr Gunter spoke of, that can be introduced into the first session.
But generally speaking, this has got to be a long term plan and I am not
pretending, none of us has, that we're going to perform all these reforms
within the space of twelve months. After all there are thirteen years in
which some of these reforms could have been put into force and they haven't
been put into force. But we believe, and we really mean this, that the
fresh energy and the new leadership and policies that are based on the
interests of the people will enable us to make a fresh start at an early
date towards making a Britain of which we can all be proud.
I'd like to, if we've still got time, to ask a question about
education. That's a thing that most housewives are very concerned about.
In State schools the classes are particularly large, much larger, unfortunately,
than in private schools - forty and fifty in a class, I mean thirty is
a small class. The only way to get over this obviously is to get more teachers.
How are the Labour Party going to set about getting more teachers into
the profession to reduce the size of classes?
First of all I think we must encourage a lot more married
women to go back to teaching when their children have grown up. But of
course the real key is the wages of ordinary teachers. This must be improved.
It means a new review of the wage structure in the teaching profession
and of course it means building better schools than the schools the government
is so ashamed of at the present time, it's actually suppressed its own
report about the condition of them.
There's a representative group of questions from representative
voters. They're not all members of the Labour Party, I just don't know
how many of them are or how many of them are not - we've never met any
of them, nor did we know the form that these questions were going to take.
But we hope they've been as interesting to you as they were relevant to
those who put them and to those of us who were trying to answer them. Good
12th October 1964
SPEAKER NOT KNOWN:
Three days to go and before Harold Wilson speaks
from Manchester, a few words from Lord Attlee.
I see Sir Alec Home says they wouldn't feel confident in
meeting leading politicians from other countries unless they had an independent
deterrent. I never felt like that nor did Mr Ernest Bevin and of
course Ernest Bevin was a great personality. As a matter of fact this idea
of the independent deterrent is nonsense. The same order of things - the
Conservatives under Neville Chamberlain on national defence. There was
no such thing as national defence. You had to have collective security.
Winston Churchill and I both said it without effect. And now today the
idea that somehow we shall be stronger if we had a nuclear weapon is absolute
nonsense. They cannot tell me of any possible occasion in which we ourselves
independently should want to use a nuclear weapon or how you could use
it us a threat. You have two enormous countries, Russia and the United
States, they have the deterrent, it would be better if the deterrent was
only in the hands of U.N.O. ... for the more ... nuclear weapons in other
hands the more danger there is of their falling into the hands of some
trigger-happy fool. You have France wanting it, China wanting it, kind
of every self-respecting person must have their own bomb. Well if a man
had any personality he could put across British policy without a nuclear
bomb in his hand.
This Election is about the standing of Britain in the
world. When we vote on Thursday we're deciding the future of our country,
we're deciding the well-being of our people and of our children, we're
deciding whether we're going to go on trailing behind other countries or
whether as we believe Britain can recapture the lead we once held amongst
the nations of the world. We're tired of being pushed around. But if we're
going to assert ourselves this means we must have economic strength at
home, for if we stand still at home we stand still abroad. But it's not
only a question of restoring a sense of economic purpose to our national
affairs and getting Britain on the move again. On Thursday we shall be
deciding whether we can make this country a country which cares, which
can combine efficiency with new vigour in our economic life but also which
can ensure that the prosperity of the nation is shared by every family.
Why is there a choice? There are deep differences in policies first. But
more important there's a basic difference between the philosophy and approach
of the two Parties, to the kind of society that we want to create. President
Roosevelt said once "Better the occasional faults of a government living
in the spirit of compassion then the consistent omissions of a government
frozen in the ice of its own indifference". And the Labour Party which
sprang from the people is concerned about people, people as individuals,
people as families, their health, their happiness, the opportunity they
have to develop their talents and live a full life.
Our opponents approach
the problem of government in a much more materialist way. To them the supreme
test is how well business is doing, how high is the level of profits, how
are Stock Exchange prices doing. Because they believe in the old Victorian
idea that the profit and loss account is the sole criterion of the national
welfare. And this is one reason why we've had in these recent years a decline
in the values on which our society is based. A feeling that the man who
makes money, however he makes it, is more highly esteemed than the man
who earns his money, producing for his fellow men or providing the necessary
services on which a civilised society depends. In this election we're choosing
a government for the next five years.
The Conservatives want us to have
government by a closed and privileged circle, to have a government which
will keep things as they are, which is content with second best, which
will abdicate responsibility in favour of those who owe no sense of accountability
to the national interest, whose only concern is with their own private
gain. We reject this one-sided and selfish approach. We seek to create
an open society in which all have a vital and vigorous part to play, in
which life has colour and variety, but in which the pursuit of happiness
is matched by a sense of purpose. We believe that government by the people
must be by the whole people and you can't talk of political democracy if
there's no economic democracy. When I fly the Atlantic in a jet plane,
I want to know that the pilot of that aircraft is highly skilled at his
job, concerned with the safety of his passengers. Frankly I don't care
who his father was or whether he went to the right school, and if your
father or mother or child has to face a major operation, all you care about
is whether the surgeon known his job, you don't want to know if he mixes
with the right circles or has the right friends.
And you know when it's
a question of our strength and independence, we want to feel that those
who are deciding what we produce, what we invest, or how we're going to
crack open tough export markets, are men trained for the job - whether
it's a job of production or a job of selling abroad. We're fighting for
our lives in a world of tough professionals and we can't go on as we have
been. Let's look at the two parties' philosophies against the issues with
which we're faced because it's this fundamental approach that lies at the
heart of all the issues that dominate this Election this week. Land prices,
housing, the cost of living, pensions, education.
Take land prices. If
you're clever enough to get hold of a piece of land which the ratepayers
need for a school or a housing project and if you sell it to the community
at an exorbitant profit, you're honoured as a smart operator and you know
the Conservatives glory in a system which enables our urgent housing needs
to be exploited by a handful of privileged men who have perhaps inherited
vast landed possessions, or by speculators who've moved in and bought land
in the hope of a quick profit. Millions have been made in these speculative
deals and the cost comes out of our pockets. It's paid by your family when
you come to pay your rent or your mortgage payment. We believe that the
land of Britain should be used for the benefit of the people of Britain
not for private profit. When new building pushes up land values the increase
in value should come to the community and be used for the benefit of the
whole community. That is why we're going to take urgently required building
land into public ownership.
Or again take housing. Conservatives think
of housing as a legitimate field for private profiteering. This explains
their inhuman Rent Act which has put up rents to a record level. It has
forced hundreds of thousands of families out of their homes and the Tories
with their Rent Act have enabled unscrupulous landlords to exploit the
housing shortage, even to the point of creating Rachmannism. We believe
that the government should act to help owner-occupiers by lowering interest
rates and of course help them by providing cheaper land. That families
paying rent should be able to live in their homes without being held up
to ransom by private landlords. So one of our first acts will be the repeal
of the Rent Act. We shall restore security of tenure, we shall create machinery
for fixing fair rents.
Then again, take rising prices. They've called off
the fight against the abuse of monopoly power which Labour began with the
Monopolies Act of 1948. And their concern for the profit of middle-men
has meant that year by year the gap has been widening between what the
farmer gets for his produce and what the housewife has to pay. To the Labour
Party you know, the cost of living is not just a question of economic management,
it's a matter of living or just barely existing, for old age pensioners
and others living on small fixed incomes. The Conservatives' treatment
of the pensioners reveals all the underlying meanness and selfishness of
the "I'm all right Jack" society. Time after time they've rejected our
demands for increased pensions and now with an Election they make a promise
to increase the weekly pension by about half-a-crown a weak each year -
less than the current rise in the cost of living. And Sir Alec Douglas
Home talks on television of these pathetic increases in pensions as donations.
But this is not a subject for charity. Old age pensioners are entitled
to live in conditions of dignity and comfort as a right as members of our
national family for whom they've done so much. This is why I pledge the
Labour Government to urgent action to deal with this problem with a humanity
that has been lacking. To ensure to each a guaranteed and adequate income
on which our old age pensioners, widows and others can live, without the
need to go cap in hand to the National Assistance.
It's the same with education.
As democrats, as socialists, we believe in the right of every boy and girl
to educational opportunity which will develop their talents to the full,
develop their abilities to get the best out of life and to put the best
into life. But that isn't all. We believe in Britain and in this ruthlessly
competitive age in which we live, our best brains are our finest asset.
We're faced with the formidable industrial and technological challenge
from the Soviet Union and from other countries. This challenge has been
dramatically underlined to-day by the new Soviet spaceship, and faced with
this kind of challenge we can't as a nation afford to neglect the development
of a single child.
Once again it's all a question of priorities and what
we think is important. However dedicated a nation's teachers, they can't
do the job they want to do if classes are over-crowded, as they are all
over Britain. But teachers stand low in the Tory scale of values, much
lower than many others who contribute nothing to the country's welfare.
And you don't get fair educational opportunity either. In slum schools
in these grim relics of the Victorian educational system, in which so many
of our children still have to be taught. You don't get it either under
a system of segregation in our schools where the eleven plus cuts off three-quarters
of all our boys and girls from almost any hope of higher education. To
deal with these problems we've put forward our ideas and plans for creating
a new Britain. They say that it can't be done, that we can't afford it,
that it's beyond our grasp. What they mean is that they can't do it, they
won't do it and on the basis of the halting, limping, faltering Tory record
of the past thirteen years, of course they're right. We mustn't try to
achieve this programme they say, we might strain ourselves. You know this
is a language of defeat. We believe this country can do it, we can do it
if we get away from the sterile waste of stop go stop pay pause policy.
If we get a new sense of urgency into industry, if we harness the tides
of scientific and technological advance, if we can get both sides of industry
to shed their addiction to out of date practices to which they cling because
they fear the consequences of change. We've got to re-discover and recapture
the spirit of adventure.
So this is the choice we face on Thursday. If
you're content to settle comfortably into a standard of living which is
rising not by as much as it ought to be rising, if you're content to see
this country sink into a rut of cosy complacency, if you feel that we mustn't
reach out to heights that are within our grasp, if you feel that as things
are they must remain, if you think that Britain's role in the world depends
upon our ancient monuments and nuclear posturing, if you're satisfied with
the stop go stop see-saw which is a Tory substitute for real economic planning,
then your choice is clear, you stick with the Tories. Lloyd George once
said and President Kennedy repeated it in his Election four years ago,
a tired nation is a Tory nation. But if you want to see Britain moving
ahead and getting ahead, if you want to sweep away outmoded ideas, the
old boy network that has condemned so many of our ablest young people to
frustration. If you want to see that at every level of our national life
talent and ability are recognised and given their head, then you'll feel
with us the sense of challenge and of excitement and adventure. For it
the past belongs to the Tories, the future belongs to us, all of us. Isn't
the choice that we're making on Thursday just this? That we want the children
for whom all of us are voting to look back and to say that these were the
great days, this was the moment when the people of Britain said enough
in enough. When they decided to take their future and the future of our
country into their own hands. This is what we shall be voting about on