The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

Foreign Secretary (1989)

Mr Major’s Comments on TUC and Labour Defence Policy – 8 September 1989

Below is the text of the press release, 130/89, issued by Conservative Central Office on 8 September 1989 and entitled “John Major Attacks TUC’s Defence Resolution”.


The Rt. Hon. John Major, Foreign Secretary, today criticised the TUC’s contortions over defence, they gave a taste of what’s to come at Labour’s own conference.

Mr Major said: “The unions could have taken the opportunity of a defence debate to set out a clear and coherent commitment to Britain’s security. They didn’t. Instead, they chose to play with words to paper over the differences between multilateralists and unilateralists. The motion they adopted shows that one-sided disarmament by Britain is still very much on the cards of the TUC. It is a triumph of political cynicism over national interest”.

The TUC gave the game away by calling for ‘multilateral involvement’ by Britain, but ‘unilateral initiatives’ as ‘speedily as possible’. Mr Major said: “There’s not much point in Britain turning up for the meeting if it’s just to agree someone else’s agenda”.

“The fact is that we and our allies are negotiating with the Warsaw Pact a series of arms control agreements which will make the world a much safer place. If the TUC had their way, we would have nothing to negotiate with”.

“In their re-write of history, the unions have given all the credit for progress in arms control to the Soviet Union. They are wrong to do so. It was the determination of the NATO allies to deploy cruise missiles which has led to the removal of a whole class of nuclear weapons”.

“The TUC’s debate was a crucial test for Labour’s policy review – and it failed abysmally. They fudged the motion, just as Labour fudged the policy. Until the left comes to terms with the real world, they will be in no position to offer security to the British people”.