Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Histomat Exclusive: Brown's speech to conference leaked

[You would have thought with a draft version of Brown's speech to Labour Party conference being leaked to Histomat last year and with this Government's ability to lose data and memory sticks left right and centre they would have kept a tighter grip on things like this year's draft conference speech by the Dear Leader. Especially since this speech is already being seen as a 'make or break' speech for Gordon Brown's career. But anyway, someone has once again sent us a copy and it indeed makes quite astonishing, even controversial reading, and so I have put it up out of public interest, even if I of course don't agree with it.]

National Unity is Strength - National Strength is Unity
Leader's Speech to Labour Party Conference 2008

Brothers, sisters, friends and comrades.

We meet in extraordinarily difficult times. The world economy in is full blown meltdown, and because I was no longer Chancellor over the last year it has meant Britain has also unfortunately been hit by these wider global trends. As the Chancellor responsible for getting us into this mess put it so memorably and eloquently recently, economic conditions in Britain and the world 'are arguably the worst they've been in 60 years' and people are 'pissed off with us'. They might well certainly be pissed off with him. But the history of the our Party is the history of uniting to overcome all manner of adversity and triumphing against the odds. [applause]

Undoubtedly while there has been a media campaign to try and create a political crisis within our Party in the midst of the economic crisis, I personally don't see why anyone in the Labour Party or Labour Government would even consider going along with it. However, while the vast vast majority of the Party remain rightly loyal to me, as we know, there has always been a tiny miniscule self-indulgent tendency in our Party made up of those who prefer the luxury of opposition to the hard choices and grind of government. For them, internal party gossip and politicking is more fun than detailed work to steadily improve the country and the conditions of our people. The media have picked up on the antics of these tiny group of oppositionists in order to try and divert public attention from the great improvements in this country over the last 10 years under the leadership of Tony Blair and myself. And they have been great achievements, achievements so great that they do not even need mentioning here. [applause]

Franklin Roosevelt famously remarked as he embarked on the enormous task of pulling America out of the Great Depression that 'the only thing we have to fear is fear itself'. But the history of our Party and our country is also instructive here - who was it who embarked on the enormous task of pulling Britain out of the Great Depression? For while few remember the details of it today, it was the great hardworking Scottish Labour Leader Ramsey MacDonald - the first Labour Prime Minister back in 1924 - who was in office in Britain when the Great Depression hit. It was back then a Labour Government which had to deal with the economic crisis. It was only a Labour Government that could deal with such a crisis. And we should never forget that it was a Labour Government which first had the vision to impose unpopular but necessary public sector wage cuts to help the British economy come through the crisis. Best when bold - best when Labour - that is our tradition. [applause]



However back then as well as today there were a disloyal minority who argued that it should not be the working class who are made to pay for what they called 'a capitalist crisis'. Just as a disloyal minority within the Party today want us to raise public sector pay and levy a windfall tax on profits, back then there was a disloyal faction who didn't want us as a Party to cut unemployment benefit.

What did the great Ramsey MacDonald do in the face of this discontent? He did what every right thinking Labour Prime Minister and Leader should do - he put the interests of the 'Nation' - Britain - before any kind of sectional 'Party' or 'Class' interest. MacDonald, together with his Chancellor Snowden decided out of loyalty to King and Country to form a new 'National Labour Party' that would not be held back by such disloyal factionalism. It was a brave honourable decision. To put King and Country before Class and Party was a truly courageous decision putting the common good before narrow interest. It showed tremendous foresight and leadership. As MacDonald told the cabinet, 'If we yield now to the TUC we shall never be able to call our bodies or souls or intelligences our own.'

In the ensuing election of October 1931, MacDonald's new National Labour Party in alliance with the other National Parties of the day, swept to power with 554 seats. The tiny rump who still called themselves 'the Labour Party' went from about 288 to 52 seats. They were humiliated as they deserved to be. MacDonald - the great Scottish leader - stayed as Prime Minister for the next four years and it was only his genius that helped Britain get its way out of the Depression.

Today the lessons of our past are clear. Only one person has the experience and the economic expertise to get our country through this crisis. It is obvious who that person is - and it certainly isn't the current Chancellor (sorry Darling). We cannot be in hoc to the trade unions as a Party and a Government. That is why if this Party should ever decide to act the way of the old Labour Party and try and replace me as leader then myself and Darling will lead the formation of a true National Labour Party to put Britain first. British Jobs for British Workers and British Bankers remains our slogan for the coming period. National Unity is Strength - and National Strength is Unity - that must be our rallying slogan as a Party. To quote the great Winston Churchill, 'Let us go forward, together.'[cheers]

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