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Government Policy (Publicity)

Volume 13: debated on Monday 23 November 1981

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36.

asked the Lord President of the Council if he is satisfied with publicity given to Government policies.

37.

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he is satisfied with the effectiveness of Government publicity.

Would there not be much more improvement if the Government were headed by someone who would appear far more reasonable and far less obstinate? Would it not be useful for the success of Government publicity if the Government were not headed by someone so closely associated with the return of mass unemployment and misery?

That sounded rather like a prepared personal attack, with which I totally disagree. The Government are headed by someone whose clarity of opinion is clear to everyone who hears her.

Would my right hon. Friend care to comment on the astonishing degree of publicity given to the Social Democratic Party? As its policies are nothing but old wine in moderately old bottles, and ours, on the other hand, are invigorating new wine, would he care to consider whether some degree of change in presentation is needed?

The SDP does not have any policy at all, and certainly not an agreed policy. Each member seems to have a certain view about certain matters, but I do not think that its members have yet reached the point of having an agreed policy. It is surprising that more comment has not been forthcoming in the columns of the press about that. On the whole, it seems that, for one reason or another, the SDP is given an undue and, some would think, an excessive amount of coverage and interest, but I cannot control that.

Would the Lord President like to make some time available for the SDP in the House of Commons? We would be delighted to develop and deploy our policies, to the consternation of both the Government and the Labour Party.

We have just had a question about Opposition time. As the hon. Gentleman knows, Her Majesty's Opposition have made a day available later this week to the Liberal Party. I am sure that if the hon. Gentleman talks nicely to his erstwhile party, it will make a day available to the SDP.