Winston Churchill: A FOUR YEAR PLAN FOR ENGLAND….
[A] good many people were so much impressed by the favorable turn in our fortunes which has marked the last six months that they have jumped to the conclusion that the war will soon be over and that we shall soon all be able to get back to the politics and party fights of peacetime. I am not able to share these sanguine hopes, and my earnest advice to you is to concentrate even more zealously upon the war effort and, if possible, not to take your eye off the ball even for a moment. If tonight, contrary to this advice, I turn aside from the course of the war and deal with some post-war and domestic issues it is only because I hope that by so doing I may be able to simplify and mollify political divergencies and enable all our political forces to march forward to the main objectives in unity and, so far as possible, in step.
First of all, we must beware of attempts to over-persuade or even to coerce His Majesty's Government to bind themselves or their unknown successors in conditions which no one can foresee and which may be years ahead….
Nothing would be easier for me than to make any number of promises to get the immediate response of cheap cheers and glowing leading articles. I am not in any need…. It was on a grim and bleak basis that I undertook my present task and on that basis I have been given loyalty and support such as no Prime Minister has ever received. I cannot express my feeling of gratitude to the nation for their kindness to me and for the trust and confidence they have placed in me during the long, dark and disappointing periods. I am absolutely determined not to falsify or mock that confidence by making promises without regard to whether they can be performed or not….
I can imagine that some time next year—but it may well be the year after—we might beat Hitler. By which I mean beat him and his powers of evil into death, dust and ashes. Then we shall immediately proceed to transport all the necessary additional forces and apparatus to the other side of the world to punish the greedy, cruel empire of Japan, to rescue China from her long torment, to free our own territory and that of our Dutch allies and to drive the Japanese menace forever from Australian, New Zealand and Indian shores. That will be our first and supreme task and nothing must lure us from it….
[I]t would be our hope that the United Nations, headed by the three great victorious powers, the British Commonwealth of Nations, the United States and Soviet Russia, should immediately begin to confer upon the future world organization, which is to be our safeguard against further wars, by effectually disarming and keeping disarmed the guilty States by bringing to justice the grand criminals and their accomplices and by securing the return to devastated and subjugated countries of the mechanical resources and artistic treasures of which they have been pillaged.
We shall also have a heavy task in trying to avert widespread famine in some at least of the ruined regions…. One can imagine that under a world institution embodying or representing the United Nations, and some day all nations, there should come into being a Council of Europe and a Council of Asia… it is upon the creation of the Council of Europe and the settlement of Europe that the first practical task will be centered. Now this is a stupendous business. In Europe lie most of the causes which have led to these two world wars. In Europe dwell the historic parent races from whom our Western civilization has been so largely derived. I believe myself to be what is called a good European and I should deem it a noble task to take part in reviving the fertile genius and in restoring the true greatness of Europe.
I hope we shall not lightly cast aside all the immense work which was accomplished by the creation of the League of Nations. Certainly we must take as our foundation of the lofty conception of freedom, law and morality which was the spirit of the League. We must try—I am speaking of course, only for ourselves—we must try to make the Council of Europe, or whatever it may be called, into a really effective league with all the strongest forces concerned woven into its texture with a high court to adjust disputes and with forces, armed forces, national or international or both, held ready to enforce these decisions and prevent renewed aggression and the preparation of future wars.
Any one can see that this Council, when created, must eventually embrace the whole of Europe and that all the main branches of the European family must some day be partners in it. What is to happen to the large number of small nations whose rights and interests must be safeguarded? Here let me ask what would be thought of an army that consisted only of battalions and brigades and which never formed any of the larger and high organizations like army corps. It would soon get mopped up. It would therefore seem to me, at any rate, worthy of patient study that side by side with the great powers there should be a number of groupings of states or confederations which would express themselves through their own chosen representatives, the whole making a council of great states and groups of states.
It is my earnest hope, though I can hardly expect to see it fulfilled in my lifetime, that we shall achieve the largest common measure of the integrated life of Europe that is possible without destroying the individual characteristics and traditions of its many ancient and historic races. All this will, I believe, be found to harmonize with the high permanent interests of Britain, the United States and Russia. It certainly cannot be accomplished without their cordial and concerted agreement and direct participation. Thus and thus only will the glory of Europe rise again….
I personally am very keen that the scheme for amalgamation and extension of our incomparable insurance system should have a leading place in our four-year plan. I have been prominently connected with all these schemes of national compulsory organized thrift from the time when I brought my friend Sir William Beveridge into the public service thirty-five years ago when I was creating the labor exchanges on which he was a great authority, and when with Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith I framed the first unemployment insurance scheme. The prime parent of all national insurance schemes is, of course Mr. Lloyd George. I was his lieutenant in those distant days and afterward it fell to me as Chancellor of the Exchequer eighteen years ago to lower the pension age to 65 and bring in the widows and orphans.
The time is now ripe for another great advance, and any one can see what large savings there will be in administration once the whole process of insurance becomes unified, compulsory and national. Here is a real opportunity for what I once called "bringing the magic of averages to the rescue of the millions," therefore, you must rank me and my colleagues as strong partisans of national compulsory insurance for all classes, for all purposes, from the cradle to the grave….
Here let me remark that the best way to insure against unemployment is to have no unemployment…. There are wasters in all classes. Happily they are only a small minority in every class, but anyhow we cannot have a band of drones in our midst, whether they come from the ancient aristocracy or the modern plutocracy, or the ordinary type of pub crawler….
Next there is the spacious domain of public health. I was brought up on the maxim of Lord Beaconsfield which my father was always repeating: "Health and the laws of health." We must establish on broad and solid foundations a national health service. Here let me say that there is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies. Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have. One of the most somber anxieties which beset those who look thirty or forty or fifty years ahead, and in the field one can see ahead only too clearly, is a dwindling birth rate. In thirty years, unless the present trends alter, a smaller working and fighting population will have to support and protect nearly twice as many old people: in fifty years the position will be worse still….
Following upon health and welfare is the question of education…. In moving steadily and steadfastly from a class to a national foundation in the politics and economics of our society and civilization, we must not forget the glories of the past nor how many battles we have fought for the rights of the individual and for human freedom. We must beware of trying to build a society in which nobody counts for anything except the politician or an official, a society where enterprise gains no reward and thrift no privileges. I say "trying to build" because of all the races in the world our people would be the last to consent to be governed by a bureaucracy. Freedom is their life blood….
It is in our power, however, to secure equal opportunities for all. Facilities for advanced education must be evened out and multiplied. No one who can take advantage of higher education should be denied this chance. You cannot conduct a modern community except with an adequate supply of persons upon whose education, whether humanitarian, technical or scientific, much time and money have been spent….
I have heard a great deal on both sides of these questions during the forty years I have served in the House of Commons and the twenty years or more I have sat in Cabinets. I have tried to learn from events and also from my own mistakes. And I tell you my solemn belief which is that if we act with comradeship and loyalty to our country and to one another and if we can make state enterprise and free enterprise both serve national interests and pull the national wagon side by side, then there is no need for us to run into that horrible devastating slump or into that squalid epoch of bickering and confusion which mocked and squandered the hard-won victory we gained a quarter of a century ago.
I end where I began. Let us get back to our job. I must warn every one who hears me of a certain, shall I say unseemliness, and also of a danger of its appearing to the world that we here in Britain are diverting our attention to a peace which is still remote and to the fruits of a victory which have yet to be won while all the time our Russian allies are fighting for dear life and dearer honor in a dire, deadly, daily struggle against all the might of the German military machine, and while our thoughts should be with our armies and with our American and French comrades now engaged in decisive battle in Tunisia.
I have just received a message from General Montgomery that the Eighth Army is on the move and that he is satisfied with their progress.
Let us wish them godspeed in their struggle and let us bend all our efforts to the war and to the ever more vigorous prosecution of our supreme task.