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Libya

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 16th April 1986.

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Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Chesterfield 5:45 pm, 16th April 1986

I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman because I am saying something that is very painful to the Conservative party.

The British empire ended when the British Government conceded to force. That is what Conservative Members cannot bear. It began as something beyond the pale, but in the end they have to come to terms with it.

The fact that so many speeches today have referred to the right of the Palestinian state to exist is not unrelated to the fact that there has been a great deal of violence around the Palestinian question. It would be nice to think that all arguments could be settled by a public opinion poll and a quick chat in the Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet. The reality is that rights have often been won by force, and none have been readier to use force than successive British Governments. When force is used against what we want to hear, we dismiss it as outrageous—