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Film includes CU shots of Wilson and Robin Day, interviewer.
DAY. So long as the Royal Air Force V-bomber deterrent is effective, is it correct that a Labour Government would put it under Nato control.
WILSON. We leave it where it is now, under Nato control. How long it will continue to be effective is a matter for argument and I think the government's own plans never expected it to last much beyond the middle 60's. The Prime Minister in his pre-election period is playing politics with defence, so I don't spend too much time on that kind of remark. The plain fact is, we have in effect virtually no control over the Western deterrent at the present time. I believe the kind of negotiations I was talking about, especially if they were combined with an agreement to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries such as Germany, I believe this will give us more ultimate say in Western nuclear policy.
DAY. (Restarts interview) Mr Wilson, could I start by asking you, what do you think was the main value of your visit to President Johnson.
WILSON. It was fascinating visit. I was able to bring myself up to date with Washington thinking : the President, Mr McNamara, Mr Dean Rusk, on most of the big world issues, and also to answer their questions about where we stood on the same questions. I think we established very good contacts and it was altogether a good trip.
DAY. On basic East-West issues, how close would a Labour government be to American policy.
WILSON. I think since the speech of President Kennedy last year to the American University, last June, which I was able to discuss with Mr Krushchev, I think it is now established policy in the US to try to do everything possible to ease tension between East and West. The Russians blow rather hot and cold on that, but I think we would be as keen as the Americans to work with the Americans in getting some easement. Particularly I think in the field of disarmament and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.
DAY. Going back to last week's clash between you and the Prime Minister, what exactly did you say Mr Wilson or what do you now suggest with regard to the future use of the Royal Navy or our other conventional arms and the United Nations.
WILSON. What I now suggest is what I said. That if Britain is able to cut out all the spending on the pursuit of this so-called independent nuclear deterrent we could ....build up our conventional forces so that we can playmuch bigger role in the world. We are at the moment rather corralled in Europe, and this needs three things : more troops, better equipment for them, because they are not properly equipped, and means of getting them quickly from one part of the world to another which means more transportation planes, but also it means a much bigger use of the navy, because we may be pushed out of some bases and this means that we shall have to have more men afloat. After all we have tremendous naval expertise in the great naval tradition, commonwealth tradition, and I think this means that we can play a big part to help keep the peace for the Alliance, for the Commonwealth and for the United Nations.
DAY. May I put some questions to you to enable you to define or to redefine your policy regarding the nuclear deterrent. The Conservative government retains the right of ultimate control over the V-bombers now. Would you retain that right?
WILSON. No we would leave them clearly in Nato as part of the alliance, because if we are going to be involved in a major thermo-nuclear war between East and West, it's absolute nonsense as the Prime Minister himself said in Ottawa last year, to think we can go it alone, we shall have to do it as part of the alliance.
DAY. The critics have called attention to the fact that you have said that the V-bombers would be unequivocally assigned to Nato. Mr George Brown has said in Parliament that we shall use what we have got as the basis for negotiation with a view to obtaining greater share of control in the Alliance.
WILSON. I think that he was referring of course in the main to the question of Polaris and not to the existing RAF bombers, but I was left in no doubt at all in Washington that there is a very keen desire to get some new set up in Nato in which all of us will have a much bigger say in the question of the use of thermo nuclear deterrent. In the last resort the decisions will be American, that's the position in any case, whether we pretend to have to have a nuclear deterrent or not. We do not want to get some more agreement and consultation about the use of the American deterrent.
DAY. The Prime Minster has described it as puerile to suggest that by abandoning control of our nuclear weapons we should somehow get control of ....(out)... Polaris nuclear submarines which the government wants to buy from America -Labour is charged with ambiguity on this. Is it correct that you would cancel the Polaris agreement.
WILSON. Yes, there is no ambiguity, we have made it clear from 1961 onwards, Hugh Gaitskell said, I've said it, we have all said, that Britain will cease to pretend of being a nuclear power. when we had the possibility of a separate missile and were living in a missile age, Labour went along with that, but Blue Streak put an end to that whole story, and then we had the Skybolt thing, well that broke up too and the government had to face humiliation on that, then of course they cooked up the idea of Polaris, but we have made absolutely clear that the idea of Britain trying to add anything to the Western striking force by buying or hiring Polaris submarines from the Americans is absolute nonsense, in terms of strength its like a dried pea on the top a mountain.
DAY. But you said yes that you would cancel the Polaris agreement, but Mr Healey said last Tuesday, "I cannot yet say whether we will cancel the Polaries submarines".
WILSON. Because what he meant and I indeed have said this myself is that if the Polaris submarines have gone some way in construction - he was talking about the construction in Barrow and Birkenhead and so on - and if they have gone some way we wouldn't just break them up or scrap them we would try to convert them to nuclear powered, through not nuclear missile carrying tracker submarines, because our naval shipbuilding programme is a long way behind owing to the amount of money we've spent on the nuclear question. If it had gone so far, which is inconceivable, that they were incapable of conversion we would have to consider whether to complete them and put them in as part of the Nato deterrent. What all of us have said is that we shall not keep them on as a so-called independent nuclear striking force.
DAY. In the view of your policy on the V-bombers and on Polaris, is it unfair for the Prime Minister to suggest that your policy amounts to the unilateral nuclear disarmament of Britain.
WILSON. Well, it is right to say that was when he was calling Hugh Gaitskell a unilateralist, because as I have made clear after all our defence arguments, and these are big issues on which people do feel differently in every party, we decided that we would not continue with this nuclear pretence. That was Hugh Gaitskell's policy, the policy of the Labour party today. What it is not is a neutralist policy and as for the unilateral disarmament of Britain, it would enable us to play a real part in world affairs, because we would be able to strengthen our navy and other armed forces, and for the first time for some years we would have a real role to play.
DAY. Aside from the arguments you've given, at a time when other powers may be acquiring their own nuclear weapons, do you think that a policy of Britain giving them up will win votes or loss votes.
WILSON. I don't think you've got to look at this in terms of votes, it's a question of what is best for Britain's defence and Britain's position in the world. And this is one reason why we stress the importance of a world agreement under which everyone who has got nuclear secrets undertakes not to help create other nuclear power, because the corollary of the Prime Minister's policy is Germany will be a nuclear power on her own very quickly and so will a lot of other countries. we've got to fight to prevent that with everything we've got. As regards France, I doubt whether the French bombers would ever get through. Do you think that the Russians have not been developing their anti-aircraft defences - they shot down U2 three years ago and they are very well on to this point about the low-flying bombers as well. And if France is going to develop a missile-well we went all through that seven or eight years ago and I think France will go through the same said experience if she even tries it.
DAY. Why, in the House of Commons last Thursday was there no reply from the labour front bench when Mr Thorneycroft asked whether the Labour Party was solidly in support of the American Polaris base at Holy Loch.
WILSON. I guessed they put up so many questions to him, really fundamental questions, that he had dodged, that they didn't feel it necessary to answer him. Mr Thorneycroft knows perfectly well what the answer is, because in this very studio not long ago he put the question to me - the plain answer is as I have said, as George Brown has said - we shall maintain the Polaris base in Holy Loch, but we hope as soon as possible that it can become a Nato commitment and not an Anglo-American commitment.
DAY. Your opponents are saying the silence on the Labour Party front bench was an example of what happens when you are away, because they say the Labour Party under your leadership is a one man band.
WILSON. I think that talk of a one man band comes wonderfully from them remembering the last elections, Supermac, Macwonder and all that kind of thing. My colleagues knew the answer as well as I did, but we don't have to be drawn by every little diversion that they want to put up. After all I put a hundred questions to the Prime minister recently on all sorts, ranging from rent to land prices and I never get a squeak out of him or of any of his colleagues.
DAY. What do you say to those who argue that a Labour government would to a large extent consist of ministers with little or no senior ministerial experience.
WILSON. You realise that if one goes back to the last time we were in office, when some of us were dealing with Russians and Americans, not without success, that at that time no one had ever heard of Mr Maudling, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, MacLeod, Powell or many of them were not even in the House. Now as far as our people are concerned we have people with considerable cabinet and governmental experience, but if there is any doubt about the calibre of my colleagues, well the BBC have the answer, let them respond to my invitation to have a whole series of confrontations in the next 3 months before the election in which you can put our front bench people against theirs, I think in practically every case the country will decide who are the better informed.
DAY. Could we turn to economics. do you think the country is heading for a serious balance of payments crisis.
WILSON. If you mean shall we this year run into serious financial difficulties, I hope we shan't, but the Prime Minister certainly and his colleagues haven't been very clear about this, they've added to the confusion - I wouldn't base any argument of mine on a single month's trade returns, because I've had too much experience of them in the past. I am very worried about the build up of imports,notably of materials, but of manufactured goods, plant, equipment, and I very much fear we are moving into the same situation we've had in each of the last pre-election booms, where the pile up of imports places us in a critical situation - I hope it can be avoided.
DAY. What kind of budget do you think is necessary, taking the situation as it is.
WILSON. I don't think either the budget or movements in bank rate can now do anything to avoid the pile up on the trade gap - the pile up of imports. We need more fundamental, more far reaching measures, not to deal with this year's possible crisis, but to avoid the next one - to increase our export industries, measures to modernise and mechanise more British industries, measures to save imports on an economic and efficient basis. Therefore I would hope that the budget this year would be directed most of all to encouraging modernisation in industry and helping us to build up these industries.
DAY. As regards your long term policy for fundamentally improving the economy, what part would an incomes policy play under your planning.
WILSON. I think it's absolutely essential in any economic policy, because all of us have said that you can't have any incomes rising faster than national productivity. The difference between us and the Conservatives - Sir Alec keeps talking about wage restraint - is that we believe it must be fair or it won't be voluntarily accepted in a free and democratic country. At our Labour Party Conference in October last year all the big unions came wholeheartedly to endorse the policy which we had put forward.
DAY. What does the formula of planned growth mean and does it include wage restraint.
WILSON. It is planned growth of all incomes including wages, to see that none of them run ahead of the increase in our national production.
DAY. Have you any guarantee that under a labour government the unions would be more likely to accept wage restraint even within that context, than they are under the Tories.
WILSON. Within the context, yes. Without that context no one can ask them, but after all under the Tories what have they had. They had the pay freeze, a production freeze, so that they couldn't get planned growth of anything, they had interference with collective bargaining.
DAY. The Conservative candidates are saying that that slogan is a manifestation of popular feeling.
WILSON. I think that's an utterly squalid and degrading thing for any Englishman or any member of the Commonwealth to say. It was said in fact by the Conservative candidate - the Smethwick division, where they are degrading politics to about the lowest level I've known in my lifetime. I would hope that Sir Alec Douglas-Home will issue an immediate repudiation of his candidate.
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