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Government Economic and Social Policy

Part of Orders of the Day — Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 3:52 pm on 9th June 1993.

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Photo of Mr Tim Smith Mr Tim Smith , Beaconsfield 3:52 pm, 9th June 1993

No. I am dealing with the last intervention.

I thought that Conservative Members might think that this was scaremongering. That nasty Labour party was once again maliciously misinterpreting the honest and decent intentions of these credible and straightforward Ministers. The public know exactly what happened when the Conservatives were returned to office, and they will not be fooled so easily again. VAT went up by 8 per cent., to 17·5 per cent., affecting every family in the land. Gosh, weren't we irresponsible to allege that? Weren't we wicked to make such scurrilous accusations against such honest and decent people?

Let me tell the Prime Minister that what scares the country is not what Labour predicts, because we are quite accurate in our predictions, but what the Government are capable of doing. The Government are prepared to promise anything to get elected and then to betray each and every promise afterwards.

Although the betrayal of election pledges is bitterly resented throughout the country, it is only one of the reasons for the contempt in which the Government are held. Since the general election, we have seen one catastrophe piled on another. Not even the most inventive or ruthless scaremongering among my hon. Friends would have had the audacity to allege that any Government could be so consistently incompetent, so hopelessly accident-prone and so foolishly inept.

I select but a few of the Prime Minister's recent triumphs: the billions of pounds lost in the panic and fiasco of black Wednesday; the grievous damage to our energy resources which the disastrous pit closure programme has inflected upon the country; the shady double dealing in the Matrix Churchill affair; the hopelessly bungled scandal of the education tests; and the disaster waiting to happen in the privatisation of our railways.

In response to the plummeting popularity of the Administration itself, revealed at Newbury and in the shire county elections, we have the Prime Minister's botched reshuffle. If we were to offer that tale of events to the BBC light entertainment department as a script for a programme, I think that the producers of "Yes, Minister" would have turned it down as hopelessly over the top. It might have even been too much for "Some Mothers Do 'Ave Them".

The tragedy for us all is that it is really happening—it is fact, not fiction. The man with the non-Midas touch is in charge. It is no wonder that we live in a country where the grand national does not start and hotels fall into the sea.