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Example text

But the mere fact of Mr Thorpe's consultations with Mr Heath had contributed to a public idea that the Liberals were closer to the Conservatives than to Labour and had raised deep suspicions among the party activists. Despite the optimism created by the election result and the new workers who had been recruited, the six months that followed were disapppointing. Jeremy Thorpe had increased his standing in the February campaign, but the enlarged number of MPs - fourteen, each with an independent constituency base - meant that the balance of power within the party had shifted politically.

I 2 This move was widely regarded as a reprimand to Mr Benn, though the latter insisted that the Prime Minister's action upgraded the importance of the proposals. However, although Mr Benn's text seems to have been very substantially amended in Downing Street by the Policy Unit, the White Paper that finally appeared on August 15 stuck very close to the manifesto. Phrases that Mr Benn had wanted had been removed and ostensibly he had been slapped down. Planning agreements with companies would be made voluntarily; there was no mention of taking over the pharmaceutical or machine-tool industries, and the programme was less open-ended than the manifesto.

THE SHORTEST PARLIAMENT 23 ments. S Most of the advisers were drawn from the universities but some were imported from Transport House, most notably Tom McNally, head of the International Department, who moved to the Foreign Office, and Terry Pitt who moved from the Research Department to the Lord President's Office. The interchange of personnel contributed to what was in any case a much closer rapport between ministers and Transport House than had been manifest in 1964-70. On taking office the government had sought to create an immediate impression of firmness and decision.

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