Courtesy Reuters

British Labor Looks at Europe

If, as the Labor Party hopes and expects, Britain will soon have its first Socialist Government since 1951, it may be of interest to know Labor's attitude to the Common Market-our attitude to the past negotiations which were suddenly ended by General de Gaulle's notorious press conference, as well as our attitude to the possibility of negotiations after the next general election.

But if I am to make our Socialist view of British relations to Europe intelligible to non-British readers, I must first sketch, in broad outline, the background of party politics against which our great debate on the Common Market has been taking place. In Britain as in the United States, great decisions in the sphere of international relations are not usually taken solely in terms of international relations; normally they are very largely determined by domestic considerations. It should cause no surprise, therefore, to discover the role played by internal political pressures in Mr. Macmillan's sudden decision to apply for British entry into the European Economic Community, and Mr. Gaitskell's decision a year later to oppose the Macmillan terms as completely unacceptable.

It is unnecessary here to resume the case which the Prime Minister, together with Lord Home and Mr. Heath, propounded for breaking the inhibitions of insular and imperial self-sufficiency and declaring entry to the Common Market to be a precondition of British economic and political revival. Since we are seeking to analyze not the Government's but the Labor Party's attitude, what concerns us are not so much the real deep-seated motives of the Government's sudden change of front, but how it appeared to the politicians who faced them on the Opposition front bench. Seen from this point of view, Mr. Macmillan and his colleagues seemed to be still staunchly attached to traditional Conservative policies, even when the Commonwealth Conference was summoned in the early months of 1961. Neither in the published account of that conference, nor apparently in its private proceedings, was any suggestion made that Britain should depart

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