Analysis

Hugh Gaitskell and his death - a compilation of information

In October 1962 Hugh Gaitskell made a speech about the European Union, which has been subsequently described for example, as "his passionate anti-EEC speech" ("Where have all the people gone?", John Morgan, Spectator 14 June 1980, page 12). A few months later, Gaitskell was dead, aged 56.

The speech was described in a book by Christopher Booker and Richard North in this way: "Then in early October, the Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell electrified his party's conference at Brighton with a speech wholly dedicated to the Common Market. Lasting 105 minutes, it was arguably the most remarkable speech made to a party conference in the post-war era."

After several paragraphs summarising his speech, Booker and North quote "the most famous passage of his speech" as:

`We must be clear about this; it does mean, if this is the idea, the end of Britain as an independent European state...it means the end of a thousand years of history. You may say "let it end". But my goodness, it is a decision which needs a little care and thought.'
"The great deception the secret history of the European Union", Christopher Booker, Richard North, Continuum, 2003, page 115

They conclude with "His speech received a tumultuous ovation." They cite The Eurosceptic Reader, Holmes, Martin (editors), Macmillan, London, 1966, pages 15-37 for the full speech.

A vitriolic contemporary opinion piece on Gaitskell's speech from a US American magazine called "Time" is apparently here.

Related articles