Quote: Attlee

Attlee Quote Charity Society


Quote Book -[19]- Society and Decent

Back on Wednesday, there were armed police at Kings Cross Station – when i wonder did that start to be something that happened.  Back way when there used to be armed military at Zurich Airport – then later and occasionally some could be found roaming an airport terminal in the UK, this seemed new.  Unwelcome sort of new.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind Mahatma Gandhi
It is essential to remember that civilisation takes long to build and is easily destroyed.   Brutality is infectious. As It Happened – C R Attlee

Quote Book -[6]- People

P21 “Usually in life one is either looking forward to the future or backward to the past, so that it is seldom that one says to oneself, ‘What a glorious time i am having”. But I can recall that very often this thought came to me as i walked past the old grey buildings.”
P23 Referring to college:

“I was at this time a Conservative, but id not take any active part in politics. I never belonged to any political club. There were also a number of societies seeking support from undergraduates , especially in the religious field, but I was not attracted though a number of my closest friends belonged to them.”

P29 “My elder brother, Tom, was an architect and a great reader of Ruskin and Morris. I too admired these great men and began to understand their social gospel. My brother was helping at the Maurice Hostel in the near-by Hoxton district of London. Our reading became more extensive. After looking into many social reform ideas – such as co-partnership-we both came to the conclusion that the economic and ethical basis of society was wrong. We became socialists. I recall how in October 1907, we went to Clements Inn to try to join the Fabian Society. Edward Pease, the Secretary, regarded us as if we were two beetles ho had crept under the door, and when we said we wanted to join the society he asked coldly, “why?” We said, humbly, that we were socialist and persuaded him that we were genuine.”
P31 Referring to work at a boys club:

“It was astonishing how wide were the interests of the boys in all kinds of subjects. Sometimes they produced very good aphorisms. For instance, we were discussing friendship one evening. One boy summed it up by saying. ‘A pal is a bloke wot knows all about yer and yet loves yer.’ Another time we were discussing the qualities of a gentleman. One said, ‘A bloke what does no work.‘ Another said, ‘A rich bloke.’ Young Dicky, a bright lad said, ‘I reckon a gentleman is a bloke who’s the same to everybody’

Source: As It Happened – C R Attlee

P7 Most people confess “self-knowledge” with knowledge of their conscious ego personalities.   Anyone who has any ego-consciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself. But the ego knows only it own contents, not the unconscious and its contents. People measure their self-knowledge by what the average person in their social environment knows of himself, but not by the real psychic facts which are for the most part hidden from them. In this respect the psyche behaves like the body with its psychological and anatomical structure, of which the average person knows very little too.

Source: The Undiscovered Self – C G Jung

Pxii Many of Jung’s patients seemed to him to be stuck because their thinking was too one-sided. He was very interested in the idea that the personality contains opposite and conflicting aspects – finding a balance between these was very important for individual progress. Jung said it was essential for a person to understand their own psyche, and work with it in this way to achieve a sense of individuality, before they can achieve satisfactory relationships with others.
P47 Conscious attitudes within the psyche are always balanced by unconscious attitudes – if a conscious attitude grows too strong then the unconscious will always seek to restore equilibrium. The unconscious will express its ideas by means of dreams, fantasies, spontaneous imagery, slips of the tongue and so on. If the unconscious message is ignored then neurosis of even physical disease may result
P55 For Jung the psyche is a dynamic system, constantly changing and self regulating. Libido flows between two opposing poles, which Jung calls ‘the opposites’. There are many opposites in the psyche, for example conscious/unconscious; sleeping/waking; thinking/feeling; anger/peace. The greater the tension between two opposites, the greater the libido. The opposites have a regulating function in the psyche: when an extreme is reached the tendency is for the libido to flow to the opposite state, so that, for example, rage becomes calm or love becomes hate.
P56 Jung stresses that the ego is not the same as the Self, which is the whole personality and includes both conscious and unconscious aspects of the psyche. Like the unconscious, the Self already exists when we are born, and the ego emerges out of it in the course of childhood development. It seeks biological goals, but is also interested in the spiritual and the numinous because it has a transcendent quality. The overall goal of the Self it so me the individual complete and whole.   It is often depicted symbolically in images such as mandalas. The health of the ego depends upon the health of the self.

We need to develop a strong and effective ego in order to function in the outer world. This the chief task that we have to accomplish in the first half of life, as we learn to grow away from out parents and do things for ourselves. A strong ego can exert a balancing influence, keeping the conscious and unconscious aspect of the personality in equilibrium. An over inflated ego, on the other hand, will form a dictatorial intolerant personality. Such an ego can become highly unpleasant, even dangerous, seeing itself as all-important, almost god-like.

During the second half of life the ego and the Self begin to confront one another and gradually we begin to understand that the Self is actually more important. At this stage, the personality can begin to integrate and eventually we may attain higher consciousness. Evidently most people never reach this stage in the individuation process!

P65 The Principles of Opposites.

Everything in the psyche naturally has an opposite aspect, and in fact this principle is basic to all of nature. Think of up/down, light/dark and so on. Following this principle, every ‘good’ content I the psyche tend to be balanced by an equivalent ‘bad’ content. The flow of libido (psychic energy) between opposites is greater when there is greater contrast between the opposites. This flow of libido drives our behaviour.

P65 The Principles of Entropy.

This is borrowed from physics and describes the tendency for all systems to ‘run down’ as energy is evenly distributed. In the psyche this means that opposites tend eventually to blend together – we can see this, for example, in the way people tend often to ‘mellow’ as they get older, losing the extreme energies of youth.

P66 Jung applied another basic biological principle to the psychology of the psyche; the principle of homeostasis. This refers to the way living organisms always strive to keep themselves in a state of balance, no matter what goes on in the environment.   So, for example, when we are hungry we eat food, when we are too hot we take of clothes or seek a patch of shade.   Again, the principle applies throughout the animal and plant kingdoms, and even within non-living systems.   Jung always stressed that the psyche has evolved as part of the world in which we live. Therefore he saw it as logical that the psyche too would seek to balance at all times, just as the body does.
P70 Jung insisted that the development of the psyche extends well beyond childhood and adolescence, even continuing into old age: we never finish the process of self-examination and growth that charts our journey toward individuation.
P71 Taking responsibility for our less favoured aspects is the first task of the Self in the individuation process. Throughout this process the psyche has to continually examine and confront what it produces. In terms of Jung’s own two conflicting personalities, we could say the analytical, conscious personality Number 1 is continually looking at and trying to understand unconscious personality Number 2, which is always sending messages to try and get Jungs attention. The work is not easy, as Jung himself admitted, but it can have great rewards as it helps us to become more peaceful humans, better able to relate to our fellow beings.
P73 It is important to try not to repress anything and to accept things as they really are. This may not be comfortable at times, and Jung says that the ‘other’ that we discover lurking within us may often seem alien and unacceptable. But our task is to stay with it and let the feelings sink in, because we will be richer for every little bit of self knowledge. We have to accept the parts of ourselves that seem evil because they show us our areas of imbalance. Once we are able to take a good look at the conflicting opposites in our psyche it is possible to work towards reconciling position that lies somewhere between the two.
P104 Problems often arise when parents try to force a child into a mould that goes against the natural type. This sort of pressure can result in neurosis and hampers development in later life. If the parents are more flexible they can help the child toward developing its natural type. Often the unconscious function is projected onto others as the child grows – perhaps onto parents, siblings, peer group members, actors or pop stars. The child will identify groups or fall in love with people who satisfy this function. Through a process of repeated projection and subsequent withdrawal, the whole psyche gradually becomes more integrated. This is why attachments of this sort are so important to the developing psyche.

Source: Teach Yourself: Jung – Ruth Snowden

Intermission: Political Speeches – Attlee – Leader’s Speech [3]

Clement Attlee (Labour)

Location: Scarborough

The main purpose of Attlee’s speech was to introduce Labour’s manifesto for the 1951 general election. During its 18 months in office, Labour had continued to build up the NHS, while Britain was starting to reap the benefits of the nationalisation programme. Labour was also committed to a controlled economy, which Attlee claimed was a pre-requisite for co-operation with other nations. Such co-operation was evident in Britain’s support for the UN in dealing with Korea, as well as for the Atlantic Treaty on defence. However, Britain was facing a number of challenges, among which were rising prices and the problem of equal pay, and Labour pledged to tackle them in its manifesto.

May I thank you for your very kind and generous welcome. My duty this afternoon is to introduce to you the Labour Party Manifesto for the Election of 1951. We shall discuss it during the next few days and others of my colleagues on the Executive will be speaking to you on various points, so my task is to give you a general introduction to the Manifesto and to commend it to you.

We open this Manifesto by saying that we are proud of our record. We have nothing to apologise for and we go into this Election full of confidence. It does not seem a long time ago since the 1950 Election. That Election was a remarkable achievement. It is rare for a post-war Government to survive a General Election in the atmosphere that follows a great war. There are inevitably many hardships, many individual grievances, which would perhaps tend to make people think, ‘Let us have a change’ and the idea ‘Let us have a change’ seems to be about the only thing the Tories are putting forward at this Election. But the electors showed a remarkable con­stancy. We had lost no by-election in the previous four and a half years. We came back with a majority, but a small one. And remem­ber, at that Election we told the people the truth. We did not promise them lower income tax, reduced taxation and greater benefits for everybody. We asked them, as an educated electorate, to face the facts of the situation; and that, again, is what we are doing in this Election.

During those eighteen months of the 1950 Government we broke another record. For a Government with a small majority to get through eighteen months with no major defeat, with an Opposition thirsting for power, is quite un­precedented. Governments have lasted a long time on a small majority previously, but that was because the Opposition did not want to come in. Our Opposition has neglected no opportunity of trying to defeat the Government. And I want, here and now, to pay a high tribute to the Labour Members, of the 1950 Parliament. They have shown great loyalty, great con­stancy, great endurance. Many of them have attended the House at great personal sacrifice and at great risk; and I should like here to pay a tribute to one who, through illness, cannot be here today, and that is our great Chief Whip, Willie Whiteley.

In this year we lost a great man, a great Labour leader, the outstanding Trade Unionist of his generation, a man who contributed an immense amount to the winning of the war and the greatest Foreign Secretary we have had – Ernest Bevin. I should like to pay my tribute to another great servant of his country and of our Movement, Stafford Cripps. He wore himself out in devoted service and we all rejoice that his health is being restored. We hope to welcome him back.

Our work during those eighteen months has been difficult and necessarily not very specta­cular, but I should like to say to all of you that there has been no halt in Labour’s advance. Some people take a superficial view and think of our advance as signalised mainly by the passing of particular Acts of Parliament. The real measure of our advance must be taken in looking at what has been done in the field of administration, as well as of legislation. What has been occurring during the eighteen months has been the implementation of the great measures that we passed in 1945. You can pass great measures like our Health Act, the nation­alisation of coal or of gas, or of electricity, but that does not mean that within a few weeks or months you are going to see a complete change in that service or industry. You can only begin the change, and it takes a great deal of time working it out.

The National Health Service has been steadily built up, but it is only recently that we got the full report of one year’s activities. In the mines we had to overtake the neglect and mismanagement of decades. On the railways you had the same thing. During these eighteen months great improvements have been made. I would pay a tribute to what has been done by the members of the boards, by the manage­ments and, above all, by the workers in those industries. I shall never forget the appeal that I made in the spring to the miners for extra work. It was not an appeal to their cupidity, it was to their patriotism and their sense of social service, and the response in which they gave us the extra coal we needed was a signal example of the new spirit that you get where there is work for the community.

Of course, the Opposition say nationalisa­tion has failed. It has not failed. They say nationalisation was due to an ideological pre­judice. Nothing of the sort. Our nationalisa­tion measures were essential for the recon­struction of the country. The fact that they were in Labour’s programme only shows the prescience of Labour in knowing what the times required. I recall very well Sir John Anderson’s words: ‘In the case of the Bank of England, Transport, Cable and Wireless, Electricity and Coal the onus of proving the need for socialisation may not unreasonably be held to have been discharged.’ No one expected that we could reap the full benefit of those changes in a few short months. It takes time to work the economy, it takes time even to work the new spirit that is required – and that applies to some of the personnel in those industries who have not yet got the new spirit.

These eighteen months have been marked by great progress; but it is progress that must be judged by remembering what the difficulties are. If Len Hutton goes in to bat for England and bats for three hours for 50 or 60 runs it may be an enormously creditable achievement on a very sticky wicket. We have had to bat on a very sticky wicket and great progress has been made. That progress must not be stopped by these great undertakings passing under the control of a Government whose members do not believe in the principle on which they were erected. That principle was the organisation of the economic resources in the interests of the whole of the people.

During those years we have had the incessant work of planning. There are a few eccentrics in the House of Commons who do not believe in planning at all. They believe you can go back to laissez faire. There are others on the opposite side who believe in planning, but their objectives are different from ours. I assure you that a government in a modern state must plan the internal affairs of the country and must join with others in planning for a world society, because conditions in the modern world are such that you cannot plan in isolation.

We are constantly in touch with our friends of the Commonwealth. Only last week there was a conference of Economic Ministers. We are constantly planning in the United Nations with other nations, because we cannot make progress without co-operation with other nations. Experience has shown that to have effective co-operation you must have control over your own economy. There have been Governments that have rashly abandoned controls, gone to their electors, told them they must give up controls, and they have met themselves coming back; they have had to put back the controls that they rashly abandoned. In our Government we achieved a very great success through the co-operation of all the Ministers and the country, but in particular this is connected with the name of Stafford Cripps.

The people of Britain under the leadership of the Labour Government did a great work in reconstructing our viable economy and dealing with that difficult problem of the balance of payments. It was a great disappointment that, just as we were beginning to see daylight, we were forced to embark on rearmament.

It is right that in our Manifesto we should give the first place to peace. Peace is a thing that we all desire, but peace does not come about through wishful thinking. Peace is not just a negative absence of war; peace means that you get rid as far as you can of the causes of war.

We have taken our stand through very many years, through good or ill, on support for the rule of law. That other great Foreign Secretary of ours, Arthur Henderson, laid down the lines on which we have acted. Throughout we have supported the United Nations and when the challenge came in Korea we unhesitatingly went in with other members of the United Nations Organisation representing the democratic forces of the world. We realised that Korea was a test case we realised that armed aggression had arisen once more in the world and we accepted the logic of the situation, as a matter of respon­sibility, first of all to our own people and secondly to the whole of the free world.

It is common practice of our opponents to try and run down Britain in the eyes of the world and to say that we have lost our influ­ence. It is quite untrue. We hold a unique place. From our geographical position we are a vital link between Europe and the New World. From our position as a leading mem­ber of the Commonwealth we bring together nations in all the continents and in particular we unite in one great association the nations of Asia as well as of Europe. Thus Britain has great experience.

It is not our fault that the world is divided. We do not wish to see a great gulf between East and West. We have done everything we can to bring them together. We stand ready at any time to meet and deal with the people on the other side of the Iron Curtain. The fault is on their side of the net. They have only to make a real response, a response not only in words but in actions, to be able to get rid of this cloud of suspicion. But we have been forced by their attitude to build up a great non-aggressive treaty of defence, the Atlantic Treaty, and we have had to make our contribution to that.

We worked out how much that contribution would be. We had to hold a balance all the time between the necessary support for arma­ments and the support of a viable economy in this country. That programme is going for­ward. We realised that sacrifices would be necessary, but it was essential, if the world is to be free from fear, if we are to get an accom­modation of relations with the other side of the Iron Curtain. I believe that there should be adequate strength in the freedom-loving nations. We do not like having to spend a great deal on arms, but we have to recognise the mentality of the people with whom we deal, who have a materialist philosophy and think in terms of strength.

We get a lot of criticisms of our foreign policy. If we act independently we are told we ought to have consulted other people. If we consult other people we are told we are being subservient. The fault is always ours, never the other people’s. In foreign affairs you have got to work with other people and you cannot just lay down your policy and expect everyone to accept it. Believe me, it is a hard life being a Labour Foreign Secretary!

We keep a steady course and we have a steady people. That is an essential in a world where there is a good deal of nervousness and where it is easy for people to yield to hysteria. We shall keep on that steady course. We support the United Nations; when disputes arise we take them to the United Nations, as we did in the case of Albania, as we have done in the case of Persia.

I am always hearing voices raised clamour­ing for what they call a strong foreign policy. What does ‘a strong foreign policy’ mean? People who use that phrase are living in the past; they are thinking of Lord Palmerston. Those days have gone for ever. But because we support the rule of law it does not mean that our policy in any case has been weak and vacillating. It does mean that everywhere we do the utmost we can by negotiation.

Rearming has inevitably meant an increase in world prices. The fact is that if (as we do), we desire a rise in the standard of living in the world, particularly in all those areas that have had such a raw deal in the past, inevitably we increase the pressure of demand on available supply. Our policy at home has done that. Take electricity: there is a tremendous demand on our electrical resources. Why? Because so many more of our people want to use this amenity. There is a tremendous demand on the telephones unsatisfied. I can remember being Postmaster-General in 1931, and inaugurating a campaign to get people to have telephones. Why was there not that demand then? Because the masses of the people could not afford them.

Therefore, you must not be surprised that there are these rising prices. They can only be met in the long rim by increased production in the world. We have been following a policy of abundance. The other way that was tried between the wars was a policy of restriction, of grinding down the demands of the people, with the result that in the 30’s you had what they called a crisis of abundance, because there were things that no one could buy. We do not want to see the clock put back to that kind of thing. The answer is: increase produc­tion and meanwhile we must try and follow out a policy of fair shares.

As a result of my visit to Washington last December we have been trying to deal with raw materials on an international basis, trying to get fair shares. At home here, too, we work on a policy of fair shares. Wherever there is this increase of demand and this shortage of supply there are the profiteers opportunity. You will see set out in our Manifesto addi­tional measures that we want to take to deal with those who profit out of the nation’s needs.

We have already sheltered our people very largely by such things as food subsidies and price control. We are going ahead with such things as fruit and vegetable marketing; restric­tion of dividends; public ownership wherever it is necessary and desirable; and the policy of redressing the inequalities of wealth, the policy of getting a greater distribution of wealth.

Only a few years ago Wales was in danger of losing an enormous proportion of its popula­tion, of becoming derelict. Today Wales is a land of hope and a land of achievement. We have the same thing in Scotland, not only in the industrial belt but in the highlands and islands. You have the same thing in the countryside of Britain. Before the war there was increasing disequilibrium between town and country and here, too, you had those depressed areas. All that has gone and you see today a more prosperous countryside than we have ever had before. You have had a Government that has not only looked at the countryside as a means of producing food, but as part of our great national heritage of beauty. We are now cleaning up some of the mistakes of the past and we are throwing open the beauty of our country to all our people. Under the heading of Social Justice in our Manifesto we draw this contrast between the past and the present, but we are not satisfied with the present; we are pressing on for the future. As I said, the rate of our progress is conditioned by circumstances.

We as a Government are always faced with multitudinous demands, all desirable in them­selves. They are pressed by different groups of people and it is good that there should be this enthusiasm. But the task of a Government is to make a decision on priorities and it is not an easy choice. You see some set out in our Manifesto. There is the problem of equal pay. We want to do it, but we have to find a time when we can do it. All these things must be conditioned by circumstances; we must make decisions on priorities.

The crucial question of this Election, on which every elector must make up his or her mind, is this: What kind of society do you want? We know the kind of society we want. We want a society of free men and women – free from poverty, free from fear, able to develop to the full their faculties in co-opera­tion with their fellows, everyone giving and having the opportunity to give service to the community, everyone regarding his own private interest in the light of the interest of others, and of the community; a society bound together by rights and obligations, rights bringing obligations, obligations fulfilled bringing rights; a society free from gross inequalities and yet not regimented nor uniform.

Our opponents, on the other hand, regard the economic process primarily as the giving an opportunity to the individual to advance his own interests; community interests, national interests, are regarded as a hypotheti­cal by-product. Their motto is: ‘The world is my oyster; each one for himself.’ The result of that policy can be seen by all. There was the army of the poor; there were the slums; there was beautiful Britain defiled for gain; there were derelict areas. The fruits of our policy can be seen in the new fine generation that is growing up, in the new houses – because we have done a great work in housing. You hear only of the people who are not satisfied. The people who are snug in a Council house do not write to you about it.

The fact is that a very remarkable job has been done under great difficulties. You see our new towns, you see our smiling country­side. I am proud of our achievement. There is an immense amount more to do. Remember that we are a great crusading body, armed with a fervent spirit for the reign of righteous­ness on earth. Let us go forward in this fight in the spirit of William Blake:

I will not cease from mental strife,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

Leader’s speech, Scarborough 1951

Intermission: Political Speeches – Attlee – Leader’s Speech [2]

Clement Attlee – Achievements: Instigating Real Social Welfare & Publicly Available Free Health Care For All

Location: Margate

Attlee’s second speech to the Party Conference as Prime Minister spells out what he sees as his government’s two main objectives: to tackle the difficulties facing Britain in the aftermath of the war, and to begin the groundwork for a new social order characterised by freedom, peace and justice. He is also keen to stress achievements, and to demonstrate the commitment to, and success of, planning measures and also internationalist goals.

It is a relatively short speech. As with Attlee’s other addresses it is primarily focused on the party, an attempt to dampen expectations and to communicate the complexity and weight of government. But it is also an affirmation of determination and faith despite difficulties. Again, however, some of the speech is clearly a response to general criticisms of the government. For instance, in the context of a discussion of international solidarity Attlee insists: “…we are seeking earnestly to build up harmony and world peace, and I utterly deny the charge made by some people whose subservience to one great power makes them charge us with subservience to another. We are subservient to none. We seek to collaborate with all’. Elsewhere he says “We are not, I think – despite some prognostications in the newspapers – yet half way through this Parliament. We intend to complete our programme”.

Attlee suffered an extremely hostile press. But in his speeches to the Party he tends to rebut accusations somewhat obliquely (in a way that runs the risk of emphasizing rather than overturning them) and to avoid making strong, direct counter-attacks. For him the speech is a formal report presented to the party for its approval.

It is twenty-two months almost to a day since the Labour Government was formed, and in this Report we give you an account of our achievements, a second installment of the carrying-out of the programme which we placed before the electorate. This record is one of which I think we can be proud. We have admittedly placed before Parliament a heavier and more important programme of legislation than has been submitted in any previous Parliament. Our opponents say that it is too heavy. But the times in which we live demand great changes, and there was a great legacy of past neglect which we inherited. Let me give you but one instance the problem of the mines.  That had been ripe, and over-ripe for decades. It was left to us to deal with the muddle of the past. That has meant a heavy addition to our legislation and it has meant also that we have been hampered by the neglect of the past in the reconstruction of the present and in our work for the future. No little of our troubles in the industrial and economic sphere is due to the fact that the mines were neglected. Now we have taken action we can see a change in the scene.

There were great measures of social reform prepared during the Coalition Government. Many of those could have been brought forward during the war. They  were not brought forward. We have had to do that work: in fact, in twenty-two months we have had to do the entire programme that the Conservative Party had at the last General Election – a Five-Year Plan. We have a young and eager Parliament and a nation demanding great things. Therefore I make no apology on behalf of the Government for having given Parliament plenty of hard work. After all, work is what we are asking of the nation. It is just as well that Parliament should set a good example.

I have received complaints of rushed legislation, of insufficient time to discuss great measures. I have been nearly twenty-five years in Parliament and I have never known an Opposition fail to make that complaint. We had a good many years in opposition, and the work of opposition takes a great deal of learning. You have to learn how to make the best use of the time, and we are resolved to give the Conservative Party the opportunity to become thoroughly versed in the part.

I should like to pay a tribute to our members in the House of Commons and also in the House of Lords. They have been diligent. They attend much better than in any previous Parliament I have known. They are loyal. Of course, in a Party like ours there is always a great deal of freedom. They have been co-operative and they have collaborated with Ministers. And, after all, Government is not just a matter of Ministers giving orders. It is essential in a Parliamentary democracy that the Members of Parliament should be co-workers with .the Ministers. Let me pay a tribute particularly to two men who I think have done a great job in this Parliament – Neil Maclean and Maurice Webb. They have had the job of presiding over Party meeting; and, having had a longer experience than most of that particular work, I congratulate them. There has been immense activity in Parliament, and work on Committees, official and unofficial; and I should like to thank all my colleagues in Parliament, my colleagues in the Government and our members through­out the country for the help and support they have given to the Government. The record is before you. You know it quite well – and if you don’t, you should.

But quite as important as legislation is administration. Much of it is less spectacular but equally important. When you pass great measures, you set in train a whole mass of actions which have to be taken by Ministers. Health, Social Insurance and Education Bills all mean an immense amount of administra­tive work. You have to get those things through and coming in at the right time, and I congratulate those who have been in charge of the measures we have taken through on their implementation and on the work they have done. I claim that in every sphere of Government you have seen our Socialist impulse, our Socialist outlook.

We have had some difficult times because some of our Ministers have been away ill. We are all very glad to get Herbert Morrison back again. He seems to have plenty of vigour. And I am glad to say, too, that the health of the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, has been better. The strain on him and on other Ministers is very heavy. And let me say a word for our Civil Service, who get more kicks than they should: The strain on the Civil Service is heavy. Civil Servants play their part splendidly. When I see, demands from this Conference and so many resolutions that this must be done immedi­ately and that must be done immediately, I want just to warn you not to overstrain the machine but to leave it to the Government to decide on priorities.

Let us look at our purpose, our achievement and the work that lies ahead. First of all, what is our purpose? We came in with a double purpose, first, to deal with the very difficult conditions, internally and externally, resulting from a long war, and second, to lay the foundations of a new social order evolving from the old. We had to effect two transitions, one from a war to a peace economy and one from a capitalism based on private enterprise and private property to a Socialist economy based on the control and direction of the wealth and resources of this country in the interests of all the people. Neither of those transitions could be effected in a few days or a few months; it takes a long time. We had three great advantages in tackling this task and seeking to achieve our purpose. First, we had our Socialist faith as our guide and inspiration; secondly we had a clear programme integrated into a definite plan; and thirdly we had a fine Majority in Parliament. I would like to stress here the integrated plan. Our action in bringing great spheres of economic activity under national control and ownership was not the result of some academic theory; it was the essential part of our plan, a plan conceived in relation to the actual conditions of the world today and the actual problems we had to solve.

How far have we advanced in achieving that purpose? In face of many difficulties we have effected a smooth transition from war to peace over a very wide field. You had demobi­lisation. You have not yet had the slackening of controls and you will have to have controls as long as there are shortages – and that is admitted even by our opponents, who like to clamour for controls to be abolished but quite often ask for them to be put on when they are asking questions in the House. It is admitted that freedom is relative: one man’s freedom may be the enslavement of thousands. We have to try to get an equal measure of freedom for all. We have had to face world shortages and local shortages, a very difficult foreign exchange position and an uneasy situation in foreign affairs. They have always interrupted the plan. The plan must be worked in relation to the actual conditions of the time, many of the features of which cannot be foreseen. We might have had less difficulty if we had been content not to try so hard to get all the things we wanted done. Then you would have had other evils, other complaints and unemployment. The very vigour of our plan has made difficult the exact integration of every part of it.

I am not going to deal with all our achieve­ments or I would take too long. I want only to indicate those general lines on; which we are, building the foundation of the future. There is the control of finance. There is the smaller tribute paid today by those who work to those who own. The Budgets of the Chancellor of the Exchequer have effected a great Control of finance, and a better distribution of pur­chasing power among the masses. The second thing is the transfer of basic industries into public ownership. A third is the control of the land and the planning of the country, not only to the economic advantage of the country but to make it a happy and a beautiful place for our people to live in. There is the direction of capital into the places where labour is. We are not going to have the Depressed Areas again. That is planning. We have an agricultural policy going forward, and it is first time in my recollection that any Minister of Agriculture has had his policy approved by all the workers in agriculture – farmers, workers and the rest. We have had the great building up of the social services, of health and education. There are many other matters too numerous to mention, but that is not a bad achievement for less than two years.

Overseas we have been carrying out Labour’s policy. What is Labour’s policy overseas? We have sought to help all our fellow men towards self-government and towards higher economic standards. These problems are not easy. We have sought earnestly to deal with the great problem of India, the problem of Burma, the problems in the Colonial Empire. You heard the account of what is being done in that sphere. We are seeking to promote the economic development of the world in the interests of all peoples – not for some favoured few, as Mr. Nash pointed out so well. We have got away from that idea. We are seeking to develop the resources of the world for a higher standard life for all.

In foreign affairs we have been following a policy based on support of the United Nations organisation. We have had a great many Ministers besides the Foreign Secretary going overseas and taking part in international conferences. People’s eyes are too apt to be fixed on certain political discussions and to ignore the work going on in the Social and Economic Council and in the international field. A number of our Ministers, young as well as old, have taken part. And well they have done; and I would like to express my confidence in Ernest Bevin and his collabora­tors. I say that we are seeking earnestly to build up harmony and world peace, and I utterly deny the charge made by some people whose subservience to one great power makes them charge us with subservience to another. We are subservient to none. We seek to collaborate with all.

Finally I will say a word on the work that lies ahead. We are not, I think – despite some prognostications in the newspapers – yet half way through this Parliament. We intend to complete our programme. That programme is only an installment of our long-term plan. We intend, with your help and the help of the people of this country, to carry that long ­term plan to completion. Can we carry it out? Well, we can legislate and we can administer, but the implementation of our plan does not depend on the Government alone, or Parliament alone, or the Civil Service alone; it depends on the co-operation of the people of this country. We have gone far now in deciding fairer distribution of the national cake. We must increase the size of that national cake. We must have hard work, good management, true economy and a full use of science if we are to increase the wealth of this country and raise the standard of life of our people. And we must co-operate to this end with other countries. We must raise the amount of available wealth in the whole world. We must march forward together.

When we took on this great responsibility I said ‘We face great difficulties. We have a great opportunity.’ That opportunity has come to the British Labour Movement. It has come to the British people. It is for us to demonstrate to the world that democratic Socialism is the way to peace, the way prosperity, the way to freedom and the way to happiness.  Today there is no coherent alternative policy to Labour’s in this country. Our opponents are bankrupt of ideas. They seek to deck out that shabby garment of competitive capitalism and organised selfishness with shreds and patches taken from our programme. But they lack the essential inspiration. They lack the moral ideal that informs our policy. They lack, in a word, our Socialist faith – the faith that has carried us to power after years of striving, the faith that can remove mountains, the faith in the common people, the faith that we can build a world of peace, a world of justice, a world of freedom, a world of happiness for all. In that faith we shall conquer.

Leader’s speech, Margate 1947

Intermission: Political Speeches – Attlee – Leader’s Speech

Clement Attlee – Widely considered the finest UK Prime Minister of modern times, in public and academic surveys

Location: Bournemouth

Labour was elected to office in July of 1945. Ten months later (on the 11th of June) Attlee reported on the government’s achievements to the rest of the Labour Party. They were many: nationalisation of the Bank of England, the repeal of the Trades Disputes Act, legislation on National Insurance and the NHS. But also numerous were the difficulties: managing demobilization; the transition from a war to a peace economy; the housing shortage in a bombed-out nation; shortages of labour, coal, transport and food.
The Times described this speech, in terms that perhaps seem unlikely to be applied to so famously modest a figure as Clem Attlee, calling it “a vivacious account of the Government’s achievements in the first 10 months of its life”. In truth there is much that seems simply businesslike in this speech. Yet that very manner serves Attlee well as he seeks to reassure his Party and steel it for the labours to come.
Formally, the party leader’s speech to the Labour Party Conference is the report of the Parliamentary section to the rest of the Labour movement. And perhaps the most striking thing about the speech, to those looking at it today, is the extent to which it really is such a report. There is little here that is addressed to a wider public and not much that is hugely rousing. Indeed, the tone is more one of reassurance of the Party. Attlee lays out the successes of his young ministry, and affirms the overall competence and experience of the Labour Parliamentarians. There seems to be a measure of defensiveness in front of a party that may want more, and more quickly. Attlee dampens expectations while reassuring that ‘the Movement is going forward’.
The speech is light on metaphorical flourish – aside from a rather drawn out image of a policy ‘fish basket’ – but ends with a firm commitment to he an idealistic politics. A passage in foreign policy affirms commitment to decolonisation and the spread of democracy. Expressions of international solidarity will remain an element of the Labour leaders speech into the 1990’s.
Overall the speech is an argument for (and a demonstration of) the unity of the party in government. But behind that lurks a certain defensiveness. In reporting on the success of the Parliamentary Party Attlee seems to think it necessary to prove the right of his people to be in office. He stresses their legitimacy by referring several times to their electoral mandate; he affirms competence by adducing ministers’ previous experience in the war cabinet; he cites the ability to convince an unnamed American statesman. He also feels it is important to state that his government’s policies are rooted in practical experience and not ‘a priori theorising’. In short, although primarily addressed to the party the speech seems also to respond to range of criticisms expresses elsewhere (and in so doing draws attention to them). That is a characteristic of speeches from Labour leaders. It is never found in Conservative oratory.

I have heard many Parliamentary Reports moved in Conference. I myself have been responsible for a number of them, but this Parliamentary Report differs in character from any of those that have come before Conference hitherto. For the first time we have a Report of the work of a Labour Government in power, a Labour Government supported by a great majority in the House of Commons, a Labour Government carrying out the policies of the Socialist Movement.

I have been nearly 24 years in the House of Commons, years of struggle, years of being in a minority, with two short frustrated periods of office. It was not without emotion that I rose for the first time in the House of Commons with the consciousness of the backing of nearly 400 Members. Today my mind goes back, first of all, to the last Bournemouth Conference in that fateful year, 1940. I remember how this Conference took its great decision. It did not take that decision lightly, but it resolved that in the crisis of the nation the Labour Movement would take its full share of responsi­bility. We went into the Government as a united party. Through those difficult years we worked as a united party, and we came out as a united party. Those decisions were taken democratically by the Labour Party in con­ference. We did not have to wait to be told the party line from elsewhere.

Those five years of responsibility were of inestimable value to us when the time came for us to take over the responsibilities of govern­ment. We had much experience. We had much knowledge of the problems that we had to face, but before we took over the Government we went to an election, and we fought that General Election honestly. I have known skilful tacticians in the political world who have told me that it was always advisable to go to the country on negatives, on criticism, on grievances and vague promises. I have known Govern­ments that have got in through a subterfuge.

I have known Governments that have got in through stunts of one kind and another. We went in setting out our full programme, and as a result we were returned – as our opponents admit – with a mandate for our full policy. That is democracy in action.

What has been our course of action since we obtained power? How have we approached our problems? I recall very well meeting the new Labour Parliamentary Party in the Beaver Hall in the City of London, and I stated then that our intention was to carry out our full programme. I said: ‘We have to deal with the problems arising from the war and the aftermath of war, very heavy problems that will put a burden on any Government. We have schemes of social reform, schemes prepared during the war government, in the preparation of which your Labour Ministers took a very full share. We are resolved to carry through those great schemes.’ But, I said, ‘We also are resolved to carry out as rapidly and as energetically as we can the distinctive side of Labour’s programme: our socialist policy, our policy of nationalisation.’ That was the line of action laid down then. It was embodied in the King’s speech, and this Report shows you how faithfully it has been carried out.

This vigorous and forceful action rather upset our opponents, for some of them seemed to be rather scandalised that, having gone to the country with a clear and definite programme, we should proceed to carry it out. It was always their pretence that programmes of nationalisation were theoretical, ideological fads, drawing the Government’s attention from its proper duties. Indeed, they went so far as to embody that view in a vote of censure which, as you will see from this Report, was well and truly defeated. The fact is that these measures of ours are not theoretical trimmings. They are an essential part of a planned economy that we are introducing into this country. They are designed to help in promoting full employment, economic prosperity and justice for all. They are vital to the efficient working of the industrial and political machine of this country. They are the embodiment of our Socialist principle of placing the welfare of the nation before that of any section and of dealing with every problem in a practical and business­like way. We have been able to show how essential our proposals are to the needs of the existing situation, and so, when it came to bringing our measures on to the floor of the House, our Ministers and our Members in the House had no difficulty in putting their case across. Let me say that I have never known a Parliamentary Labour Party with so many Members so capable of putting Labour’s case across.

We had secured a clear mandate from the people, and so, when we introduced the nationalisation of the Bank of England – which some of us can remember as a subject of such violent storms in Parliament and the press, which was regarded by some people as the end of all things – it went through with hardly a ripple on the surface of either House, and when we came to the nationalisation of the mines, although there was criticism in detail, it was quite clear that the Opposition had no alterna­tive. I recall very well, after the Second Reading debate, talking to an American statesman. He does not belong to our Party. The last thing he would like would be to be accused of being a Socialist, but when he came away from that debate he said: ‘Your man Shinwell convinced me.’ The case on the mines was unanswerable. Those two have already become law, but others are marching on. The Cable and Wireless Bill is in Committee, and so is the Civil Aviation Bill. Others are in preparation, and the process will continue. These measures are not the result of some a priori theorising. They come out of hard and practical experience and close study of the problems involved.

I think that that is a pretty good start. You must not overload the political machine. I believe that quite a number of our Members in the House of Commons are realising that we have made our policy of full employment begin with them. You must not overload the adminis­trative machine either, because the Civil Servants are also experiencing full employment. In all these things we must observe the priorities

I can assure you that we are planning ahead. We are planning ahead for the work of the next session after this one and the next after that. It is generally agreed that this legislative activity is unexampled. It is attributable to the energies of Ministers, of the Civil Service and of the House of Commons. 73 Bills have been introduced. 55 have already received the Royal Assent. There are a lot of fish in the basket, and they are not just minnows. There are pretty big salmon among them. Look at those three great measures of social reform: National Insurance, National Insurance Injuries and the National Health Services. In previous Parliaments any one of those would have been thought to have provided a full meal for a whole year. We worked on the basis of what was done under the War Government, but Parliament and this Government have improved on those first drafts submitted during the war years. We have produced them in the first ten months of our Government.

Our opponents had some kind of a vague programme, not very clearly put across at the General Election, which was called the five year plan. As far as I can see they would have proceeded very leisurely to do in five years what we have done in ten months. We are in great measures of social reform, to vary my metaphor, two up and one to play, two on the Statute Book and one which is just going through Committee. We have had a wonderful spirit and wonderfully loyal support from all our Members in the House. Of course, they have criticised because we are trained in criticism, but their criticism has been con­structive.

Let us look a little further into the fish basket. Here is another large one: the repeal of the Trade Disputes Act. At long last that unjust stigma on the Trade Union Movement, that injustice to Civil Servants, has been removed. The late Prime Minister invited us to go to the country on this issue, to appeal to Caesar. We appealed, Caesar gave his verdict, and the Trade Disputes Act is no more.

We have had two successful Budgets. It is a remarkable thing that confidence in our British financial system has risen steadily with the work of the Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer. Besides these Budgets he has introduced other measures designed to make money the servant and not the master, designed to cause capital to flow into those channels where it will bring forth most fruit for the benefit of the whole people.

Among the lesser measures there are some which are of vital importance dealing with questions applicable to the miners, questions dealing with dockers, dealing with special sections of the people and dealing with the whole people. Besides these there are a number of measures which are absolutely needed in the stern conditions under which we are living.

I would like you for a moment to consider just what the conditions have been in which this great volume of legislation has been placed on the Statute Book: not the easy times of peace, not a time of settled conditions, not a time of leisure for Ministers or for Civil Servants, but the most difficult time of all, the period of reconstruction after a great war. I say, the fact that we have been able to pass these measures with full discussion is a great vindication of the democratic system of govern­ment.

But legislation is one thing and administration is another. Let us have a look at administration. No one, I think, would deny the magnitude of the administrative tasks that have faced this Government. People used to say to me before the election: ‘Don’t you hope you will not win? Look at the difficulty of your task.’ We did not take that line. Take one or two of our major questions. Demobilisation is an enormous problem. Our policy was to maintain with reasonable flexibility the principles which had been laid down by a great Minister of Labour, Ernest Bevin, during the war. Nothing throws up more difficult cases than demobilisa­tion. Nowhere is it more easy to get prejudice, but I claim, looking back over these ten months, that our policy has been vindicated, and, con­sidering the difficulties, that great change-over has worked wonderfully smoothly, thanks not just to the Government machine but to the temper and patience of the fighting men and women, and to the full co-operation of organised labour.

We then had the problem of the change-over from a war to a peace economy. Inevitably you will get some pockets of unemployment, but we have seen a wonderful and orderly absorption of labour into industry where it was most needed. Again, how much we owe to co-opera­tion with the Trade Unions. We have seen a remarkable expansion of our export trade. You can see here, too, plans working out to direct industry to where it is most needed, to see that never again are we left with those special areas which we had before the war, and that we do not over-congest areas like London and other centres.

We have been giving freedom to develop where restrictions are not necessary, but we have kept on restrictions which are needed to prevent exploitation and inflation.

Take another problem: housing. It is an enormous problem that cannot be solved quickly. Some people seem to think that one could build all the houses that one wants m the winter. They do not belong to the building trades. There is a lot of criticism by ignor­amuses, but now, week by week, work is going forward. Houses are being built, houses are in building, houses are being completed. We shall carry out the programme set us, not to solve the problem in twelve months, but, with the resources available, to go steadily ahead on our policy of providing houses for the people.

In conditions of shortage of labour, shortage of materials, difficulties as regards food and transport, to talk of the complete removal of controls is folly. We do not try to keep any controls that are not essential. I think the steadiness of the nation is remarkable, and the demand for the abolition of controls is practic­ally confined to the lunatic fringe, but, actually, we do not want all the time to emphasise restrictions. Actually a new impulse has been, given by the Labour Government over the whole field of governmental activity. In every sphere administration has been given a definite objective. Besides the work of the Cabinet and its Committees in co-ordinating work, there is a wonderful effect from having Ministers who are animated by the same ideals. It helps them to make a co-operative effort. It helps them to take the broad view.

You see, therefore, the Movement going forward, in agriculture, education and every department, and you see it, too, in the fighting services. There has been a new start. For the first time the remuneration of the fighting services has been deliberately equated with that of civilian workers. It is a bigger change, perhaps, than everybody realises.

We are facing difficulties, but difficulties are made to be overcome, but our home problems are affected all the time by the world situation. Our home food troubles have been vastly accentuated by the responsibilities that we have for others. We are holding a firm balance between our responsibilities to our own people and our responsibilities to peoples of the world, and we are striving, and with success, to get the world food problem viewed not as that of a scramble for every country to get its own, but for all of us to overcome these years of dearth and, in the future, to have a world that is free from want.

Coal shortages and transport shortages again are not just home problems. They are foreign problems. I need not tell you what energetic leads have been given by our representatives at international conferences. There are economic matters, monetary matters and social matters. This Labour Movement of ours has never been a narrow insular movement. It has always recognised that the cause of the workers all over the world was one. We have always realised that you cannot build up a little safety zone for yourselves and leave misery in the rest of the world.

In this problem of foreign politics, in the implementation of the great responsibilities that fall on this country – because we were one of the great victors in the war – the Labour Government is resolved to carry out its responsi­bilities. I am not going to say much this morning on foreign affairs because you are going to have a full debate, and you will hear our great Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin. We are carrying out, in foreign affairs, our Party policy, and we bring to foreign affairs, as to other spheres, the touchstone of our Socialist faith. We are seeking to promote world peace by collective security. For many years we have been faithful to that doctrine when others fell away. At the time of the late Arthur Henderson we did our utmost.

We have taken up again the work that fell from the hands of that great man. We support democracy and freedom everywhere. Let me say that we know what democracy means and we know what freedom means, because we have it ourselves. We know, too, that political world settlement is not enough. We must base the peace on economic prosperity and social justice. I say that we know what democracy and free­dom mean. We do not seek to force our ideas on other countries. We recognise that we live in a world of variously organised States, some Socialist, some capitalist, some Communist, and many with mixed economies. We have to live and work in the world with States of diverse characteristics, just as here in this country we live and work with our fellow citizens of diverse characteristics. We believe in the co-operation between peoples of different outlooks, and not the attempt to force a dull uniformit y on the world. We ask for others the freedom that we claim for ourselves.

We proclaim this freedom, but we do more than proclaim it. We seek to put it into effect. Witness India. We have invited the people of India to decide their own destiny. If they will stay with us in the British Commonwealth we shall welcome them. If they desire to go outside, we shall stretch out the hand of friendship to them. Meanwhile, my three colleagues have been labouring over there, not to force something on India, but to help the Indians to solve their own problems.

We have set an example in UNO, where we were the first to proclaim our readiness to hand over our possessions from the last war under a system of trusteeship. In the Colonial Empire also self-government marches on. No Govern­ment has given more complete proof of its desire to follow the path of democracy and freedom. We hear a few voices now, and again mumbling the old shibboleths about Imperial­ism. I must say they seem to me rather second-hand voices.

Well, here is our work at home and abroad. We set this record before you, and this, after all, is but the beginning of things. We have had only just over ten months of Government. The work of a Prime Minister in these days is very heavy. The content of Government has expanded immensely in the last thirty or forty years, and no man can carry the burden of the Premiership without the loyal support and co-operation of his colleagues in the Govern­ment and without the loyal backing of the Party in Parliament and in the country. Let me say how fortunate I am in having such good and loyal comrades – a team of able colleagues working each in his own sphere and co-operating together in the general work of government. If you look around today you will not see any easy jobs in the Government. Every Depart­ment has its hard problems. Every Department needs an active and hard-working Minister, and every Department has got one today. There are Ministers who hold what are called sinecure offices where there is not much to do in the way of a department, but I am not sure that they are not the most hard-worked of all ministers. Let me refer to the Lord President the Council, Herbert Morrison. He does a great work in leading the House of Commons. That is where you see him, on the floor of the House. What you do not see is the mass of work he is doing behind the scenes in co­-ordinating the work of Ministers. Take the Lord Privy Seal, Arthur Greenwood. Our special measures owe an immense debt to his knowledge and hard work. Then, of course, there is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Generally you come up against a Chancellor the Exchequer whenever you want something, and he says ‘No,’ but we have a constructive Chancellor: he is not a ‘Yes’ man and he will say ‘No’ on occasions, but not on every occasion, and that is what you want in a Chancellor of the Exchequer. And, of course, I have got the Foreign Secretary. I cannot run through the list of all my colleagues, but I especially mention another one – Lord Addison, the House of Lords. It is not an easy job to be in a permanent minority, but there are in that House what I used to call the thin red line of heroes – rather more of them now – and they are doing a very good work. The work of a Government is team work, and I want to give my thanks to my colleagues, whether as Ministers or as Under-Secretaries or as Whips; the last-named are people not ways popular, but we have a very good team of Whips. One other Minister I must mention once thought of the Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster as being filled by dear old gentlemen – I filled it myself once – but, I should like to pay a tribute to the present Chancellor, John Hynd, and the difficult work that he has done which lies behind the occupa­tion of Germany.

I wish I could mention all my colleagues, but they know we appreciate their work. We are backed by the finest House of Commons, I think, within living memory. I do not know what the House was like in the eighteenth century, but certainly it is the finest in our time, and much as I love and admire my colleagues of the past, I think that we have now in the House certainly the ablest and youngest, as well as the largest, Parliamentary Party we have ever had. If you look at this Report you will see how active they are, not only on the floor of the House but in Committees of every kind, in which they prepare themselves for work in the House and for bringing to bear that con­structive criticism which all Governments need.

After all, this is only a beginning. I stand here with this experience of Government to reaffirm my faith in democratic Socialism. We will never sacrifice the liberties won by our forefathers. It is social democracy which can set us free from the tyranny of economic power and preserve us, too, from the dangers of the absolute power of the State. The inspiring vigour of Parliament, with its free and open criticism, is the source of strength of this Government, as of all British Governments. We rejoice in the co-operation of the people with the Government. We rejoice in the fact that great organisations like the Trade Unions co-operate with us, as well as scores of voluntary agencies, national and local, bringing to the governmental machine the surge of individual enthusiasm. That is a mark of the British way of life.

No one realises more clearly than I do that we have a long way to go yet to reach the Britain of our dreams and the world of our desires, and we believe that we shall get from all the people of this land hard work and courage to take us through the years ahead. For that hard work men and women need the inspiration of a great ideal. We are not ashamed to proclaim ourselves a party of ideal­ists inspired by a living faith in freedom, democracy, and social justice. Through many years of adversity we have kept our faith, we have striven for the opportunity to translate our Socialist policy into action. That oppor­tunity has now come to us in full measure. We have, I believe, made a good beginning. We shall not falter. With faith in the justice of our cause and our ability to serve the nation we confidently face the future

Leader’s speech, Bournemouth 1946

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