Government Policy

Part of Orders of the Day — King's Speech – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th October 1947.

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Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot 12:00 am, 29th October 1947

I do not think anyone who has listened to this Debate all through could have failed to notice the great change in tone which two years of their own rule have brought to Government spokesmen and their supporters. Gone are the buoyant phrases, that overweening confidence and cock-sureness, we used to associate with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Lord President of the Council. Today is a day of alibis—Europe has recovered much more slowly than we expected; we did not foresee this; somebody would have done much worse; last winter was much too cold for our plans; the economic winter has been much too cold for our policy; the Press have misrepresented and sometimes gone so far as to misreport. These are all the familiar excuses and whinings of people who know that they have failed the country which elected them.

The Minister for Economic Affairs said last week that the unbalance of world trade—that is to say, the increasing American production, as against the non-increase in the power of the rest of the world to absorb it—was beginning to make itself felt before the first world war. It seems to be 1947 before the Government found this out for the first time. The ancients called the insolence of self-satisfaction, the flaunting of human success in the eyes of the gods, Hubris. They thought it was followed by "Nemesis," and unfortunately the present Government have not escaped the operation of this law. Into the Socialist world of make-believe and cloud cuckooland policies, inexorable facts have made their very unwelcome intrusion. It is rather like what happens in "Macbeth." The inmates of the castle are living in an entirely unreal world, divorced from all ordinary standards of life. Suddenly, there comes a knocking at the gate. It is Nemesis coming in—