LORD BALFOUR ON IDEALS
Tories would give rewards
Miss Roberts was accompanied at Belvedere on Thursday last week by Lord Balfour of Inchrye, who compared to a crowded meeting the policies of the Socialist and Conservative Parties.
Mr. Hadyn Fletcher presided.
The basic difference between the Conservative and Socialist outlooks, said Lord Balfour, was this—that the Socialists believed in the State as the supreme authority, and the individual had to be subservient to the State; that the State knew best and that the citizen was the servant of the State. The Conservative view-point was quite the opposite. It was that the State should be the servant of the individual.
The old idea that you could tax the rich to make the poor richer had gone; there were no more golden hen-roosts to be robbed. It was only by prosperous industry that they could succeed.
“Socialists believe passionately in nationalisation” went on Lord Balfour. “We reject absolutely the conception that industry in this country can compete with the world's markets under nationalisation.
A Halt to more Experiments
The losses on nationalised industries were piling up Lord Balfour went on. If the Conservatives were returned they would not be able to unscramble the omelettes the Socialists had made in coal, electricity, railways, and gas, but they would be able to decentralise control away from Whitehall. They would call a halt to any more nationalisation.
The Conservatives accepted the profit-motive— “and don't let us be mealy mouthed about it,” he said. Profit was something desirable, it satisfied the human need, and should be encouraged. There should be rewards for extra effort from the humblest to the top.
The Labour Ministers were trying to take all the credit for the fact that unemployment had been low since the war, but the Socialist Party had been in power in a seller's market. To-day, a man's job depended on whether his industry could compete at home and abroad with the goods of competitive nations.
Lord Balfour said they would retain controls on all goods in short supply; that was a definite pledge. What they would not do was to continue controls for control's sake and political policy. To-day there were 12,000 enforcement officers belonging to 18 different Government departments who might look into people's cupboards, and that meant that the Englishman's home was no longer his castle. The Conservatives were determined to get rid of “mumbo-jumbo” and to see that they were once more free citizens, he declared.
‘We Always have the Flag’
When Miss Roberts rose to speak she was greeted by a shout of “Good old Margaret!” Pointing to the Union Jack covering the table, Miss Roberts said they always had the flag at their meetings because they were very proud of their country and of the people in it.
“We cannot do without the talent and ability that is latent in this country” declared Miss Roberts. “Unless you keep the policy of extra rewards for extra work and extra skill you will never better things.”
Referring to trade unions, the candidate said there were perhaps many there who did not attend their union meetings very often. Communists went frequently to the meetings, and that was how they came to control unions and put forward block votes with which many members did not agree. Only 19 attended the last meeting of a local branch of a union out of 50 members. Conservatives, she claimed, believed strongly in trade unions, and had granted the right to strike and to arbitration.
Miss Roberts said the Conservatives believed in the maintenance of Imperial preference to help get this country out of its economic mess. They condemned the Government for not consulting the Empire over the devaluation of the £ and the recognition of China.
The first questioner asked why, if the Socialists stood for equality, Mr. Attlee got £10,000 a year?
Lord Balfour: Actually, he gets £10,000 as Prime Minister and, I think, another £10,000 as expenses …
A voice: What about Churchill?
Lord Balfour: As Leader of the Opposition, he can get £2,000 a year. Mr. Churchill has not drawn that since he has been Leader of the Opposition.