Macmillan and the Opportunity State

Extracts from a draft for a speech to be given by new Prime Minister Harold Macmillan at Leicester on 18th March 1957 (CAB 21/4767)


Finally, I would like to say a word on what I would call the philosophy of the Opportunity State. I do not know who first invented this phrase. But I think it very well expresses the difference, perhaps the most serious difference, between the two Parties. The Socialists believe, at least I suppose they believe, in the nationalisation of all the means of production, distribution and exchange. That is what Socialism is

The Tory Party does not stand today for collectivism, communism, socialism, the destruction of all private rights of the individual. Nor does it stand for a return to the extreme individualism of the nineteenth century.  The Tory Party stands today, as it has always stood, to block the way to both those extremes and point the path towards moderate and balanced views. Today, it is Socialism that is in danger. This Britain of ours cannot live on a kind of sloppy, socialised basis. It can only live if opportunity is given to the bold, the strong, the adventurous, to make their way in the world and are not ashamed of it. This was the story of the first Elizabethan age. Let it be the story of the second.

I say therefore again as I said when I first took the leadership of the party- and this is the sentence that I would like you to remember-“We believe that unless we give the opportunity to the strong and able we shall never have the means to provide real protection for the weak and old.” That opportunity we are determined to give.

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