Wednesday, 13 January 2016

How to win elections on a nuclear disarmament platform: Labour in 1964



The world wants it and would welcome it. The British people want it, deserve it and urgently need it. And now, at last, the general election presents us with the exciting prospect of achieving it. The dying months of a frustrating 1964 can be transformed into the launching platform for the New Britain of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
A New Britain - mobilising the resources of technology under a national plan; harnessing our national wealth in brains, our genius for scientific invention and medical discovery; reversing the decline of the thirteen wasted years; affording a new opportunity to equal, and if possible surpass, the roaring progress of other western powers while Tory Britain has moved sideways, backwards but seldom forward. The country needs fresh and virile leadership. Labour is ready. Poised to swing its plans into instant operation. Impatient to apply the "new thinking" that will end the chaos and sterility. Here is Labour's Manifesto for the 1964 election, restless with positive remedies for the problems the Tories have criminally neglected.

The Labour Party will ensure that Britain is adequately defended. This is manifestly not the position today. In 13 years, the Conservatives have spent £20,000 m. and our defences are weaker than at almost any time in our history. Flagrant waste on missile and other projects has diverted funds and resources from urgently needed defence projects. This is one reason for their failure to obtain on a voluntary, regular basis the required numbers in the Army, to modernise their obsolescent equipment and to give them the long-range mobility needed for our commitments, particularly to the Commonwealth. Mr. Macmillan's decision in 1957 to stake his all on Blue Streak, followed by further costly expenditure on Skybolt and now Polaris, has meant that the Navy too has been run down to a dangerously low level, and is now pathetically inadequate in numbers of ships in commission, in manning and in the most modern types such as nuclear-powered tracker submarines. Many thousands of millions have been spent on the aircraft industry, but because of lurches in strategic policy, wrong priorities, and grave errors in the choice of aircraft, we are now in a position where obsolete types have not been replaced, and for such urgently needed machines as helicopters (which could make a great contribution to the security and effectiveness of our troops in Malaysia) we are dependent on the United States. Tory Nuclear Pretence The Nassau agreement to buy Polaris know-how and Polaris missiles from the U.S.A. will add nothing to the deterrent strength of the western alliance, and it will mean utter dependence on the U.S. for their supply. Nor is it true that all this costly defence expenditure will produce an "independent British deterrent". It will not be independent and it will not be British and it will not deter. Its possession will impress neither friend nor potential foe. Moreover, Britain's insistence on this nuclear pretence carries with it grave dangers of encouraging the spread of nuclear weapons to countries not possessing them, including Germany. The Government bases its policy on the assumption that Britain must be prepared to go it alone without her allies in an all-out thermo-nuclear war with the Soviet Union, involving the obliteration of our people. By constantly reiterating this appalling assumption the Government is undermining the alliance on which our security now depends.

Labour's New Approach
A Labour Government's first concern will be to put our defences on a sound basis and to ensure that the nation gets value for money on its overseas expenditure. In this field, any government has a clear responsibility to ensure the security of its own people and the fulfilment of its obligations to other nations. As a first step, we shall submit the whole area of weapons supply to a searching re-examination in order to ensure that the limited sums available are spent on those weapons best designed to carry out our policies and fulfil our obligations. We are not prepared any longer to waste the country's resources on endless duplication of strategic nuclear weapons. We shall propose the re-negotiation of the Nassau agreement. Our stress will be on the strengthening of our conventional regular forces so that we can contribute our share to Nato defence and also fulfil our peacekeeping commitments to the Commonwealth and the United Nations. We are against the development of national nuclear deterrents and oppose the current American proposal for a new mixed-manned nuclear surface fleet (MLF). We believe in the inter-dependence of the western alliance and will put forward constructive proposals for integrating all Nato's nuclear weapons under effective political control so that all the partners in the alliance have a proper share in their deployment and control. We do not delude ourselves that the tasks ahead will be easy to accomplish. Even now we do not know the full extent of the damage we shall have to repair after 13 wasted years of Conservative government. The essential conditions for success are, however, clear.

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