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The last words in my quotation represented perfectly the situation which we feel, and we regret that that view has been abandoned by the Government and the Labour Party. It seems as though under modern day Socialism we have the trappings of parliamentary democracy, but that we are in danger of losing the substance of it. The Leader of the House would not even allow us to debate the proposed agreement with the TUC, let alone to influence it. The Government are trying to sidestep and debase democracy. I have asked almost every week for a debate and a White Paper. Every week the answer has been "No".
There are many other points that my right hon. and hon. Friends will wish to take up. They will wish to consider questions of defence and security, the pursuit of foreign affaris in areas where we should take an initiative such as Cyprus and Rhodesia, the Government's failure to pursue the interests of our fishermen in the EEC. In all of these, Government actions scarcely give rise to confidence.
If the Liberals wish to abstain rather than risk a General Election in which they might do badly, any claim they have to be a party of principle is destroyed for ever more. A heavy responsibility rests on anyone who chooses to help this disastrous Administration to stagger on for a few more miserable months. If the Liberals wish to endorse more nationalisation, the Dock Work Regulation Bill, the attack on parliamentary democracy, the closed shop, high taxation, perpetual borrowing, higher unemployment than ever before, record inflation and falling living standards, so be it. At least the nation will know where they stand and that when under fire they flee. The nation will also know that the Conservative Party will not flinch or falter and nor does it fear to face the electorate.
People are tired of seeing Britain slipping year by year further behind under Socialism. They know the full extent of our latent talents and abilities and would prefer to use them to forge ahead so that we may hold up our heads with pride instead of just holding out our hands for cash. I believe that the Government are far less ready to face reality than are the people of Britain. I believe that the people have the will and the courage to do anything required of them so long as they believe that it will lead to the rebirth of Britain.
The Prime Minister can hardly be happy with things as they are—devalued currency, devalued standards and a Parliament that his Government disregard when they can and would devalue if they could. In 1967 after his own economic strategy had collapsed the Prime Minister did a very honourable thing and resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He rightly took on himself the responsibility for three years of wrong economic policies, overspending and the decline in the value of the pound. He has not been Prime Minister long, but he has been in the Cabinet since the Government came to office. Now it is he who is presiding over the mismanagement of the economy, the decline in standards and the attack on liberties. Nothing would be more honourable than for him to remember what he did in 1967 and proffer this time not just his own resignation but that of his entire Government. It is time to end this policy of "steady as she sinks."