Confidence in Her Majesty's Government

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:02 pm on 22nd November 1990.

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Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing , Moray 7:02 pm, 22nd November 1990

The hon. Lady, who was not a Member in 1979, may not be aware that the then Labour Administration—this can be confirmed by senior Labour Members who have written about it in their memoris—were not prepared to make constitutional change for Scotland a matter of confidence. They would not exercise a three-line Whip and broke their election manifesto. I have no regret about bringing down a Government who did not fulfil their manifesto commitments. Perhaps the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) has more regrets about the failure of the committee of 100, of which she was a member, to stand up for the poor people of Scotland. I salute the people of Scotland for their dignity, their pride and their determination. By their principled stance, they have brought about the Tory leadership crisis and exposed Labour's weakness. By resigning now, the Prime Minister may have salvaged some of her reputation, but nothing can hide the abysmal judgment and disgraceful role of the Leader of the Opposition and the Labour party in trying to throw her the lifebelt of their motion, which was tabled before voting had finished on Tuesday when it was evident even to the most junior Member that the Prime Minister was finished. It is a sign of the Labour party's desperation that it tried to keep her in office and provided the Conservative party with an opportunity not to show unity but at least to show some solidarity.

I will highlight the Labour party's desperation by quoting comments given by three Labour Members in the past few weeks. In the West Highland Free Press on 9 November, the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) said: It is more certain than ever that it is in the Labour Party's interests that the lady should stay exactly where she is—for a few months! Appearing on "Behind the Lines" on 19 November, the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) said: It is in the Labour party's interests for Thatcher to stay. I am praying for Thatcher to win. The hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) said at Prime Minister's Question Time: May I wish the Prime Minister well in her current difficulty? Although I cannot speak for Conservative Members, many Opposition Members are rooting for her." [Official Report, 14 November 1990; Vol. 180, c. 447.] In the light of that, one must query whether the Leader of the Opposition is serious. Today, he rightly called for a general election—a view which I endorse. The general technique of the Labour party, particularly during by-elections and because of the abysmal standards of its candidates, is to have media hype and to hide its candidate. After today's pathetic performance, the right hon. Gentleman should be taken away and hidden from the electorate. He should be hiding, because if he cannot do better than that he will be in for a hiding.