Tory Optimism Runs High
‘Third Defeat For Socialists Will Finish them’
His speech lasting for over an hour, the Rt. Hon. Mr. Iain Macleod, Minister of Labour and National Insurance, felt the healthy pulse of Conservatism in Finchley on Monday evening and went away, a satisfied Cabinet Minister—the first to visit Finchley Tories for thirty years!
Member of Parliament for nearby Enfield West, Mr. Macleod judged his audience well, spoke with an off-the-cuff, cards-on-the-table frankness, and got a warm response from his big audience at Conservative Hall, Ballards Lane.
He confessed later that the stream of questions shot at him after his talk were some of the pithiest, most timely and intelligently posed that he had ever fielded at a public meeting. He answered them well and the audience liked his candour.
Statesmanlike rather than politicianwise the Minister discussed issues of home politics in terms that Finchley understood: from a “door-step” standpoint that the Conservatives will have to adop: in the next General Election.
The visiting Minister, who was accompanied by his wife, was well supported on the platform. Sir John and Lady Crowder were there; Mrs. Margaret Thatcher (prospective Parliamentary candidate) and Mr. Denis Thatcher; Mr. A. C. D. Miller (Divisional President) and Mrs. Miller; local Divisional offficers. Mr. C. H. Blatch (Divisional Chairman) accompanied by Mrs. Blatch, presided and introduced Mr. Macleod.
After referring to the Prime Minister's projected visit to Russia, and the reasons for optimism that this gesture promised, and also discussing the Cyprus problem and the nearness of settlement there. Mr. Macleod then spoke about the great issues that would away the coming General Election.
The first was unemployment in this country, and the economic position. It was worthwhile to examine the economic position of the country as it now was, and to poor into the “cry stal ball” at months to come.
There had been a worldwide recession in trade over the past eighteen months. Some countries have pulled through it and some, hit later, are pulling out of it now.
But, generally, he thought that no country had had such a slight recession as Britain, with which we were dealing with every care. We now had begun to pull out.
He did not think there would be a dramatic rise in production and a dramatic fall in unemployment, but he thought that the figures of unemployment would reduce steadily.
One of the main reasons why he thought that the situation would improve was the health of our trade and currency.
Ten years ago in 1948 there was a slight American recession and what happened? It threw us into devaluation, but what happened when there was another slight American recession in 1958? We have, in spite of that American recession, been able to keep sterling safe, said the Minister.
There was a good deal of unused capacity in Britain today. The same labour forces could be used for a higher rate of production. This rise fright come and take up a lot of the “slack” labour forces.
Mr. Macleod said that he could not have said a fortnight ago that nationalisation was in the news. He was happy to say that it was now in the news, and we have to thank Mr. Morgan Phillips (Soc.) for bringing it into the news. It would be one of the issues before the public at the General Election.
Year after year at Labour Party Conferences, nationalisation plans of the most far reaching kind had been decided upon.
Mr. Macleod then quoted a statement by the Chairman of the Labour Party Executive, saying that 600 great private firms would be nationalised if necessary.
He was not surprised that Labour agents were advising their members not to reply to questions on nationalisation, but everyone of his Conservative audience must see that it was brought before the public, because there was a very wide range of private and business interests in Finchley. It would be one of the great issues at the coming Election.
If the Tories defeated them (the Socialists) for a third time, then it was going to have a tremendous effect on British industry, and would act as a “shot in the arm” to all the other interests in this country.
During coming months, said Mr. Macleod, everyone would be bombarded with literature. When judging parties it was more important to remember what they had done than what they promised to do.
He asked the Tories to recall the Socialists promises to old folk, and then look back to the Socialist years 1945–51, and remember that the average pension was 26/- with 30/- for some special cases. This was a disgusting record.
Now, since Tory government, if was 50/- for all. The Conservatives had raised the pensions five times. This was important to remember when confronted by Socialist promises and was an infallible test.
The Conservatives have built more than five times as many schools than the Socialist's. The Conservatives had produced as many as 300,000 new houses a year and the Socialists had only once reached 200,000. These facts should be remembered when the pamphlets dropped through the letterbox.
He believed that in almost every comparable item that the Conservative record was better than the Socialist's. One could only judge a party in power by what it was doing.
After eight years in office the Conservative government was still as vigorous as ever. Take for instance the new Mental Health Bill that had just gone through, providing for new and saner laws.
At the moment he himself had a Factory Bill going through. The first Factory Bill since 1937.
He did not believe the Conservative Government had ever to deal with such a weak and light Socialist opposition.
The past issues of foreign affairs, disarmament, and the economic position must be kept before the public eye as well as employment and nationalisation.
Another task before the Conservative workers was to convert the “don't knows” into Conservatives and this was a formidable job. Finchley Tories, he knew, were going to get on with this.
Faced with Extinction
Another reason why the Conservatives must win the election was because he did not think that the Socialists would survive a third defeat at the polls. He believed they would split into diverging groups, and the Socialist cause would be “lost for ever.”
He firmly believed that the Socialists would be defeated for the third time at the polls.
The Minister answered questions on the Liberal party in Parliament, on bringing back the ‘cat’ for crimes of violence, the Factory Acts, the cost of living, the European Common Market, the Rent Act and Purchase Tax.
Sir John Crowder proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Macleod, seconded by Mrs. Thatcher, who recalled her past political associations with Mr. MacLeod and referred to his states-manlike qualities. She also moved thanks for the chairmanship of Mr. Blatch, and spoke of Conservatism's buoyant optimism in Finchley.