Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th October 1976.

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Mr. Heller:

It can hardly be a Socialist crisis when we have never carried out Socialist policies in this country. We have never had Socialism in Britain. What we have got is a Labour Government operating within the context of the capitalist system, and this crisis is one of the failure of the capitalist system, in Britain and indeed in Western Europe. The quicker that fact is understood in this country the better.

It is no good the right hon. Lady looking for Reds under the bed. It is no good her trying to blame this crisis on the left wing of the Labour Party. The left wing of the Labour Party does not control the Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] It is no good hon. Members act- ing like children. They must face the facts. The facts are that we are in a crisis because of the failure of the private enterprise system.

Any Labour Government are always supposed to suffer a crisis of confidence. The reason is that no matter what we do we can never satisfy the international bankers or the friends of the Tory Party. It does not matter what retreats there are or how much we back away from our Socialist convictions, we can never satisfy the Conservatives. The reason is that even the mildest of Labour Governments begin to attack the power and privilege upon which the Conservative Party bases itself.

Last week the Leader of the Opposition referred to when Britain was great. But when Britain was great the working people of this country suffered poverty and mass unemployment. They had not secured a National Health Service or any of the other positive achievements made by Labour Governments. In spite of the unemployment today, and in spite of the crisis, the British people are living better than ever before, thanks to the achievements of successive Labour Governments.

The true aims of the Conservative Party have been revealed by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), who is an honest man. He has suggested that all subsidies on food and housing and all assistance of any form to industry should be cut. That is basic Tory philosophy. It would mean that in the current crisis all these additional burdens would be placed upon the shoulders of the working people.

The right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe) said this afternoon that there should be further cuts in public expenditure. When we ask him what that means, what does he say? He says that as far as he is concerned it means that we should stop the programme on which we were elected from being carried out. That is a smokescreen. He knows that the nationalisation of the aircraft industry, the Dock Work Regulation Bill, and so on, involve no basic increase in public expenditure.

When we ask the Opposition what cuts in reality they would make, they never give us an answer. The real cuts that they would make would fall on the poor, on those who have home helps, for example, and all those who suffer in our community. That is the point that is never made by Opposition Members. It is never made by the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition. The only answer that she has is that the problem is all due to the so-called Marxist subversives, and so on. That will not do.

The reality is that while my Government, of whom I have been very critical, have conducted policies that are wrong in many respects—we have said so—and while we want a change in economic policy, as outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne), what we do not intend to have is a Government dominated and led by the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition. That would mean massive unemployment in Britain and greater burdens on the shoulders of working people. That we shall not have, and the right hon. Lady had better understand it. We shall not support in any way any effort to bring about her type of Toryism, which is a return to the beginning of the century.