Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Who will be impressed by a Lib Dem abstention on Jeremy Hunt?

The answer, I fear, is probably no one.

A story on the Independent website tells us:
Nick Clegg tonight told his MPs not to back the Tories in Parliamentary vote calling for Jeremy Hunt to be referred to the ministerial standards watchdog. 
Labour will tomorrow submit a motion in the House of Commons calling for Mr Hunt to face an investigation by Sir Alex Allen, the Prime Minister’s adviser on ministers’ interests, following criticism over his handling of the BSkyB takeover. 
Mr Clegg’s aides said he had taken the decision not to back his coalition partners after “repeatedly” telling David Cameron that Mr Hunt should face an inquiry by Sir Alex.
That sounds forceful from Nick. But if at the end of it he is ignored and responds by telling his MPs to abstain, he is in danger of looking weak.

I am struggling to see whom this abstention will impress. Certainly not liberal-minder voters who care about the power of News Corp - and you would think they are just the sort of people we would want to vote Liberal Democrat.

At the start of the month I said that we should vote with Labour on this matter, and I still believe that today.

The Independent reports by suggesting:
It is still possible that some Lib Dem MPs might go further and back the Labour motion but senior Liberal Democrats said they were confidence that the majority would obstain.
Some Lib Dem votes for that motion will cheer the party's activists, but now it will do nothing to make our position look coherent.


Simon said...

I think the strategy was inspired by the glorious success of the party's three line whipped abstention on an EU referendum. Not to mention the equal success of our carefully negotiated and then little used abstention over tuition fees.

Presumably the campaign department is planning to run our next GE on the slogan 'We abstain so you don't have to'.

David Blake said...

I don't think the party has had a coherent strategy for the past five years, at least. After 40 years of membership am beginning to wonder whether I have a political home.

Matthew Huntbach said...

David, while the press might like to report the Liberal Democrats as being the personal tool of whoever is the current leader, we need to remember that it is not. The leader is appointed by us to serve our needs, not vice versa. Why should those of is who have been long term members of the party feel forced to resign because of its poor leadership?

Suppose I appoint someone to be my butler, and the person does a poor job. How should I react? Not, surely, by abandoning my house and giving it to the butler.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Matthew, I didn't realise you were posh enough to have a butler!