[Un-alloted half-day] — Dissolution of Parliament

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 6:33 pm on 10th June 2009.

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Photo of Elfyn Llwyd Elfyn Llwyd Shadow Spokesperson (Innovation, Universities and Skills), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Justice) 6:33 pm, 10th June 2009

I have no time; I am sorry. If the hon. Gentleman had remained in the Chamber throughout the debate, I probably would have given way to him.

The right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks, referred in a very humorous manner to Cardinal Wolsey and to Lord Mandelson [Interruption.]—or Archbishop Mandelson. That was a tour de force. It was hugely amusing and very effective.

I turn now to the contribution of the hon. Member for Cannock Chase. With respect, I do not think that he got things right—unusually for a gentleman who speaks very well on such subjects. He referred to the motion as dishonest and dangerous, but it is neither. It is called for by the people, and we believe that we are responding to what the people want. He said that we play the game, and yes, we do, but he then said that Governments call elections when they think they can win them. That is playing the game, is it not? That is the worst form of game, in my view.

The hon. Gentleman missed the point. The motion is unprecedented. There has never been a motion of this kind before Parliament before. Oppositions have tabled motions of no confidence, but this is a dissolution motion by Parliament and of Parliament, and it is quite different from any previous motion. Unusually, I find myself completely at variance with the hon. Gentleman's normally well-informed views.

In a thoughtful speech, Mr. Heath, mentioned two main reasons why he supported the motion—that Parliament was compromised and the fact we have lost respect, and that we should go back to the people to seek a mandate. He spoke of the collapse of confidence in the Government and in the Prime Minister, and said that the economic difficulties made it even more pressing and more important for us to go to the country. He said that if a timetable were forthcoming for the work to be completed and if the date of an election were announced, that might be better, but he referred to the Government's response to the crisis of confidence. There is indeed a crisis of confidence. There is no doubt that the Prime Minister is failing in leadership.

Mrs. McGuire referred to a poll which supported keeping the Prime Minister in place. It was a poll of fewer than 100 people— perhaps not the most persuasive evidence in support, and not really a poll. She also let slip during her speech that a general election would do for us all. That may be so, but it is not a reason not to go to the country. I am afraid it was rather a self-serving speech, characterised by continuous attacks on the Scottish National party and little else.

Mr. Shepherd made a very thoughtful contribution, as he always does, referring to history—1832, the long march, the fear of revolution, 1865 and so on. He said that if there were a poll, perhaps half the House would go and half would remain, and that in itself would be renewal. That is absolutely right. Neither the hon. Gentleman nor any other Member should fear going to the people, letting them make their voice heard, and reacting accordingly. It was a very good speech.

The hon. Gentleman described the current situation as a busted flush. That is exactly what it is. People out there believe that this institution is badly damaged. As usual, his logic was unanswerable, and the oratory—I call it that—commanded absolute silence in the Chamber. That silence was eloquent.

From Mr. Brown, finally, we had a walk round the trees and the woods, and some insults to the Scottish National party. He came up with several answers to several questions, but one question that he could not answer was that if the Scottish Government, God help them, are so bad, why are they running away with the polls in Scotland?

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