Foreign Affairs

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th February 1952.

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Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale 12:00 am, 26th February 1952

I submit to your Ruling, Sir, but will you do the House a favour? Will you tomorrow look at the speeches of the Prime Minister and myself and see whether mine is wider than his? The Prime Minister, throughout a considerable portion of his speech, twitted this party on trying to hide their policy behind a difference of description of the war going on in Korea at the present time.

We are saying, and I repeat this, that what is happening in the Far East and the Middle East is in consequence of all-pervasive poverty. It is the consequence of a revolution that will go on for the rest of this century and will not be contained by the military arms of the United States of America, Great Britain or Western Europe all together. That is why we think that a very great deal of energy, of material wealth, is being thrown away on fighting the wrong sort of war. The war that we want fought is a war against those despairing social conditions that give rise to war.

As a result of pouring out our treasure on a myth, on an assumption that all this is Russian military aggrandisement, Europe has been ruined. That is why I plead for more vigorous British leadership, because nothing that has happened in the last six months can give us any confidence in American diplomatic leadership at the present time.

France is being ruined. We are facing a financial crisis. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] We are not? Then the party opposite should not steal the Health Service. We are facing a financial crisis. All Western Europe is facing grave economic difficulties, largely as a consequence of the fact that all the statesmen in America and Great Britain are becoming the victims of a mythology that they are meeting the Machiavellian plots of the Kremlin where, in most instances, they are meeting the natural rebellion of the ordinary human being against intolerable conditions.

Therefore, I suggest that what the people of Great Britain want to see is not how we can make more effective war against the Chinese. What they want to know is what steps we are taking to make a peace, not how big a gulf we are digging between ourselves and the Soviet Union; and what far reaching plans we are making to pacify the world. It is because they do not believe that the Prime Minister is capable of seeing things in that light that they have no confidence in him in this matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "They sent him here."] If he went to the country tomorrow, he would be handsomely beaten. [Interruption.] That is why I suggest that the time has arrived to state the facts clearly to the Americans as we see them. Do not believe that this will cause so much difficulty as is suggested. Americans like to be told the truth, roughly—they state it themselves.

Do not let us believe that behind the monolithic face of the Soviet Union there are no differences of opinion. That would be a very great mistake. Dictatorship has schisms, as well as democracies; the difference is that they are hidden from the public gaze. There must be inside Russia at present roughly two schools of thought—