Adrian Sanders MP writes: Hunt vote – we need to save our energy for the battles that really matter

The vote in the Commons today is the latest highlight of the long running Phone hacking-BSkyB-Leveson saga.  It has been billed as an explosive vote that will tear the coalition asunder.  The Parliamentary party has unanimously decided to abstain, a position I strongly support for very good reasons.  We may well see traditional anti-Lib Dem rent-a-quotes like Peter Bone slamming us for betrayal but this is almost certainly a sign that we are doing the right thing.  Indeed, given our rather shaky performance in how we conduct Government to date, this is a refreshing sign that we might be back on the road to the New Politics we championed so much during the general election campaign.

The crux of the matter is that David Cameron’s decision not to refer Jeremy Hunt to Sir Alex Allan, the independent advisor on the ministerial code is a very Old Politics way of doing things.  Surely we are in Coalition though and should take the rough with the smooth?  That’s the Conservative backbenchers’ argument but luckily invalid; they’ve enjoyed rebelling against the Government even more than I have.  Whether Hunt is guilty or innocent, it is essential that he is subjected to due process, just as Baroness Warsi is at the moment.  There’s no line in the Coalition agreement over how we should protect Ministers who are alleged to have done something questionable.

Why then shouldn’t we support Labour and back up our commitment to New Politics even further?

Firstly, Labour’s approach is Old Politics as well.  Their motion is non-binding.  It’s also political opportunism; their main aim is to destabilise the Coalition and if we voted with them we would have satisfied that goal without achieving anything for ourselves.  Given that the Prime Minister has seemingly made up his mind, using up our political capital on a futile gesture probably isn’t the best idea.  Whichever way we voted, the motion is not going to change things one bit.

This comes down to a misunderstanding of how Parliament works.  An opposition day motion simply won’t yield the result many Lib Dem commentators think it would.  It is a bit disingenuous referring to Labour’s support for Iraq and closeness to the Murdochs as a reason for not supporting their motion; we are a party that believes offenders can be rehabilitated after all.  It’s clear to me that this is an issue that will agitate the membership and the Westminster village but crucially not the public.  In the last week I’ve had perhaps one or two emails and letters on this, dozens on same sex marriage and hundreds on fuel duty.  It’s clear to me that if we had any sense politically, we would be saving our battles against the Tories for issues that really matter and thankfully on this occasion we have; it is perhaps just a shame we didn’t do so on the cut in higher rate tax.

Ultimately, it is obvious that Jeremy Hunt should be referred to Alex Allan and I hope Cameron sees the light.  Our voting for or amending the Labour motion will do precisely nothing to achieve this end and it may even make it less likely.  Undoubtedly this is yet another reminder that how Parliament works is outdated and counter-productive but we should focus on that instead of hand-wringing that our MPs aren’t rebelling for no practical outcome.  As one commenter on a previous LDV article on this said, Parliamentary activity has been reduced to a game designed to protect your own backside.  We should probably change the game, rather than refusing to play by the same rules as everyone else.

* Adrian Sanders is a councillor on Torbay Council, and was the MP for Torbay from 1997 to 2015.

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49 Comments

  • If this is what constitutes new politics then old is better.

    I would honestly prefer you to lie to me than produce a statement such as this.

  • Ah, so it’s not Iraq this afternoon, that was this mornings excuse…

    We all know it’s not binding but it makes a statement, it says. And just when will the battle be important enough ?

    You didn’t think the NHS was (despite the views of your own conference), disabled rights don’t fit the bill, nor did keeping to the tuition fees pledge. Open Government is no longer important, “no more broken promises” turned out to be missing a comma, this list is getting too long for supporters (especially non members) to excuse as the demands of coalition politics. Particularly when coalition politics have been done so much better, notably in Scotland and dozens of local authorities. It’s getting very hard to spot the difference from outside Westminster.

    One day though there will an issue, although God alone knows what it will take, perhaps the reintroduction of slave labour (oh no that’s OK for those one the dole too), maybe when the Tory right try to reintroduce Capital Punishment….

    And Clegg, it appears, doesn’t believe there are questions left to answer “a full, good and convincing account” is how he referred to Hunt’s testimony at Leveson today.

  • Tony Dawson 13th Jun '12 - 1:17pm

    “Why then shouldn’t we support Labour and back up our commitment to New Politics even further?”

    Surely, the backing of the motion should be to do with what it says in its text and nothing to do with ‘backing Labour’? There is nothing at all to stop Lib Dems quietly (or loudly if they prefer) saying they back the intent of the motion, shame about the hypocrites pushing it and voting for it. The whole thing is a PR game and the funny thing is that Ed Miliband probably wants the Lib Dems to abstain or oppose his motion. Even funnier thing is the Daily Telegraph helping the Lib Dems out of Ed’s trap by ‘bigging up’ the gap between the coalition partners over this abstention. It’s a funny old world.

    But I agree with Adrian about the HRT issue.

  • I think the parliamentary party has got this one right. Whatever happens with this vote the coverage will be chip paper soon enough. Either news from the Eurozone will dominate over the next few weeks, or Leveson will give better headlines when Cameron takes to the stand. Hunt will stay in the news whatever we do today.

    To refuse to back a Coalition minister is not a half measure; it’s generating enough headlines and keeps the pressure on Cameron and Hunt more than if we charged in to oppose en masse; this would split the MPs (how could ministers vote against other ministers and stay in Government?) and risk the Tories taking revenge as soon as any Lib Dem got in a spot of trouble.

    I can’t disagree with Steve that we’ve capitulated on too many issues, tuition fees still stands out 18 months later, but we are taking enough of a stand here on an issue a long way from most of our voters’ hearts.

  • Adrian Sanders writes “…. Hunt vote – we need to save our energy….”
    Might I suggest that the difference between abstaining and voting is approximately, 5 calories.
    Can LibDem MP’s not muster up 5 calories, to do the right thing?

  • Adrian, you of all people are closest to this, and so we all need to listen carefully to what you say. I would also like to say thankyou to you for carrying the standard through all the Committee hearings that you have. You have obviously, from your comment, been through the comments made in other threads here.

    However, bearing in mind the media plurality lying as the policy issue behind all this, I find it difficult to believe that any of our MPs would want in any shape or form to support increased concentration, surely the vote in favour of encouraging the PM to refer Hunt would be a stronger message than an abstention. The abstention also sends a message that we cannot get our way on a super-important issue even when we clearly disagree with the Tories about it.

    Importantly – yes, we should try to get proper standards of conduct enforced in an impartial way, not just with the PM doing the referrals. But then what has happened with the abolition of a national code and national bodies on Councillor Standards gives little cause for confidence that a unified line could be marshalled in the case of parliamentary standards either.

  • I think this unintentionally reveals just how weak the Lib Dem position has become in terms of power within the coalition. I hope the Tories aren’t reading this – they might try to do even more dodgy stuff if your ‘energy’ and political capital is in such short supply when it comes to matters of basic principle that don’t even have anything to do with the coalition agreement.

  • Steve Tierney 13th Jun '12 - 2:32pm

    @Aaron – Tories ARE reading this. : ) Me.

    For what it’s worth, I think you should have had a free vote. I don’t agree with (most of you) on Hunt, as you might imagine – but abstention just looks weak.

  • Bill le Breton 13th Jun '12 - 2:35pm

    Adrian is tactically correct. And Aaron, it actually shows how strong our power is.

    You only have to listen to the PM at PMQs today to see the wisdom of the Parliamentary Party’s decision.

    I hold no candle for Clegg. As I have said on many occasions there’s a lot of wisdom available in the PLDP. If Clegg involved them earlier and his team of advisers less (before opening his mouth) we would be in much better shape.

  • Bill, on the tactics of this, sadly I agree with the following plain analysis from Dan Hodges:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danhodges/100164843/examining-the-mysteries-of-nick-cleggs-brain/

  • David Evans 13th Jun '12 - 3:13pm

    Adrian, we need to do the right thing all the time, not to duck out when it involves your coalition partners.

  • Peter Watson 13th Jun '12 - 3:35pm

    “Ultimately, it is obvious that Jeremy Hunt should be referred to Alex Allan and I hope Cameron sees the light. Our voting for or amending the Labour motion will do precisely nothing to achieve this end and it may even make it less likely.”
    So, ypu think that doing nothing will achieve something then? You hope that Cameron will see the light all by himself?
    And you now think it’s a shame that you also did nothing over the higher rate tax?
    This just seems so feeble. The parliamentary lib dems seem to be nothing more than political makeweights. This is not what I have voted for over the years. So next time I’ll let them know how much I disapprove, how opposed I am to what they’ve done, exactly where I stand. I’ll abstain. Yeah, that’ll show them.

  • Farcical and absolutely ludicrous.

    What do you think the public and the media are going to say the next time Nick Clegg OR whoever maybe running the party next stands on a podium telling the electorate, We are different, we believe in {open} {Fairness} {Honest} and {transparent} politics?
    I am sure any speech would be drowned out with roars of laughter and heckling.

    Liberal Democrat MP’s are going to lose all credibility and strength of any argument when it comes to future policies that they “supposedly” care about

    The action and direction you are taken is the worst kind of implosion ever witnessed

  • Adrian Sanders MP………………….Ultimately, it is obvious that Jeremy Hunt should be referred to Alex Allan and I hope Cameron sees the light. Our voting for or amending the Labour motion will do precisely nothing to achieve this end and it may even make it less likely……………….

    Run that by me again. Voting for a motion makes it less likely to happen??????? Now I know why you voted for the NHS reorganisation, Disability Cuts, etc.

  • So basically its inertia and regret. We know we should do something, but we won’t . But rest assured we will be very cross with ourselves and kick up about something a year or so before the election.

  • Adrian Sanders13th Jun ’12 – 4:35pm…

    Adrian; please accept my unreserved apologies; the ‘you’ in question was aimed at the ‘Party’ as a whole.

  • Yellow Bill 13th Jun '12 - 4:52pm

    In politics, as in life in general, one can do the right thing or otherwise. Here the right thing would have been to support the motion. The fact that the motion is not binding is a red herring, the whole point was to send a message. Well, the PLDP sent a message all right, that it values political expediency over doing the right thing.

  • Bill le Breton 13th Jun '12 - 4:55pm

    Aaron, we shall see how things pan out, but the Hodge analysis does not strike me as very sophisticated. He sees politics as a game of drafts (when chess is a better metaphor) and is dumbfounded when a player, to his mind, gets between two kings, and refuses to take either. He hates it when Liberal Democrats do not do the obvious. It blows the circuits in a two dimensional mind …

    And why is Adrian not doing the obvious? He is one of only five MPs who have significantly and consistently and bravely opposed the Leadership’s many follies. HIs voting record is exemplary. So, it is significant that he should express his views here in this way – another reason to wait and see how things pan out.

    If you truly want Hunt to face an inquiry or be sacked or demoted at the next reshuffle, do you make that more likely by voting for the motion? It is first rate dissembling to say that voting for the motion later today will lead to Hunt’s actions being reviewed by the Commissioner.

    The point I made elsewhere is that the Leveson inquiry has shown how endemic this dissembling is to the political process as it is mediated through modern media.

    The political class and the media (with the aid of certain police officers) have played a game to their own rules that has not served the public, the voter, the reader, the view, the citizen because all concerned have done all they can to avoid using the compass of truth. The debate going on now and the false choice on offer is a perfect example of that.

    No one has been exposed as a liar at Leveson, but truth, or the full story, has rarely been told, nor has it been exposed in the process. Hunt told no lies, nor did he tell the truth. Smith told no lies, nor the truth. Campbell similarly, and Blair. Nor Brown. They performed the game with all the skills that got them where they are.

    We must hope that Leveson has not been taken in. (Though good people find it hard to think like rotten people)

    Of course there were deals with Murdoch. Of course he and his employees lent on our representatives Of course phone tapping was not confined to one publication. Of course the police sold information. Of course newspaper proprietors got in the way of people being able to make genuinely free choices.

    That’s the real battle we should be waging. Freedom requires that this system be dismantled.

  • Another angry ex-LD 13th Jun '12 - 5:07pm

    Another betrayal! True, this is a non-substantive motion which, if it passed, would change nothing; and it’s also true that the Lib Dems are basically sending the same message by abstaining in a dramatic tacit no-confidence gambit which is unprecedented in modern politics. Yet this is unimportant; what really matters is political purity, rather than irrelevances like ‘power’ and ‘being effective’, which distract from the real business of democratic government, which is to be incredibly smug and self-righteous. I know that’s why I vaguely liked about the Liberal Democrats. Yet they have thrown it away in pursuit of ‘government’. What a terrible waste.

    Also, as other commentators have already said, there is a real problem with the Lib Dems being so effeminate and feeble by merely abstaining – and if there’s something almost as valuable as unstained political purity, it’s pointless machismo. Nick Clegg MUST transform himself from the quietly effective politician he is now into a hulking he-man macho beast. In order to differentiate himself, perhaps he could punch George Osborne repeatedly in the face while singing The Land, or trip over Tory backbenchers in the corridors and steal their lunch money? True, irritating the Conservatives in this way would make for less effective government and make it less easy to get Lib Dem priorities enacted. But it would be a gloriously pointless show of strength, which is just what our nation needs right now.

    Speaking as somebody who voted for you some time in the mid-1990s and nearly did in 2010 but found my stubby pencil drawn inexplicably towards the Labour candidate, I can speak confidently on behalf of millions of TRUE liberals by saying that, after the disappointments of tuition fees, the NHS, and the cuts, only meaningless symbolic gestures can restore your popularity. A sample of my family, friends, and pets confidently predicts that you will get NO VOTES AT ALL next time unless you follow my advice. Take heed!

  • toryboysnevergrowup 13th Jun '12 - 5:31pm

    “Whether Hunt is guilty or innocent, it is essential that he is subjected to due process, just as Baroness Warsi is at the moment. ”

    Could you please explain the mechanism by which this will now be achieved, now that you have stymied the opportunity for this to happen by your abstention on the Parliamentary vote on this matter. Normally, I expect Parliamentarians to use the Parliamentary processes to achieve what they consider to be essential.

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 13th Jun '12 - 5:41pm

    @Another Angry ex-LD
    ” there is a real problem with the Lib Dems being so effeminate and feeble by merely abstaining ”

    “Effeminate”? That reminds me of puerile insults hurled around at public schools in the 1970s. Are you sure?

    Firstly, quite a few of the Lib Dem MPs are women in the first place.

    Secondly, presumably the male MPs, for example David Heath, will take this as a compliment that they are in touch with their feminine side.

  • Another angry ex-LD 13th Jun '12 - 5:56pm

    @Paul

    *sigh* I hoped that would be a fairly transparent parody. It’s to the (dis)credit of some of the vitriol that’s been thrown at us that it isn’t. I was trying to satirise some of the language, not just on this post but elsewhere, which is incredibly macho and hypermasculine (‘we’ve got the prove it to the Tories! No more weakness! Strength! ‘), and use metaphors for the Coalition relationship which are really gendered or homophobic (Clegg and Cameron as gay lovers, Clegg as Cameron’s bitch, etc.) Clearly I’m not made for satire…

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 13th Jun '12 - 6:02pm

    “Another angry ex-LD”,

    Well, except that you aren’t, of course. You’re a habitual Labour supporter who voted for us ‘at some point in the mid-1990’s’. That’s called misrepresentation where I come from. And you voted Labour in 2010 despite being a ‘true liberal’. No, you’re not, you’re just having a laugh. ID cards, ninety-day detention, illegal wars and all, and you voted for that as a ‘true liberal’?

    And Paul’s right, ‘effeminate’? That sounds a bit misogynistic to me, although I’m sure that you didn’t mean it – you were just a bit angry that’s all, and you’ll apologise later, of course.

    Finally, it isn’t a betrayal, you just don’t like it. Nor do I, but I’m bright enough to know that the whole debate is posturing, when all is said and done. Labour set up the referral system, flawed as it is, and they know that a vote on the question merely gains a few favourable headlines and cheers the troops. That doesn’t make it right not to support it, but as it isn’t binding (and you know it), it’s hardly a betrayal.

    And it’s that sort of mindless hyperbole that coarsens our political dialogue still further…

  • The big battles, over for example, Health, are lost.

  • @Adrian Sanders
    It’s OK to ask Labour to turn up and vote, but when they have no mathematical chance of gaining a victory (accepting your voting record is not as slavish to the government as some) then it is even more pointless then you have portrayed today’s vote. Also were any of those you mentioned paired off or sick etc?

    The point you and your colleagues seem to consistently miss is that for the vast majority of the public who live in the real world outside of Westminster it is the votes where principles are at stake that stick in the mind. I will forever remember Robin Cook for his principled stance (that achieved nothing) I will also take into account today’s failure to vote according to belief when I decide who to lend my vote to at the next election.

    If you genuinely felt that Hunt should be investigated you should have voted that way. People vote for MP’s to act in accordance with their manifesto and their principles. On too many occasions, whether for political expediency or not, both have been ignored.

  • @Another angry ex-LD

    Might I introduce Poe’s Law, which states that on the internet it is impossible to create a parody so ridiculous that it cannot be mistaken for genuine craziness.

  • Simon Bamonte 13th Jun '12 - 7:21pm

    @Adrian Sanders:

    I see you didn’t really address @Steve Way’s points. Especially the one about taking a principled stand, whether it will affect any change or not. Robin Cook was an excellent example. Good men and women stand up for their principles, even if it won’t change anything, because that’s what good people do. Yes, your voting record in this coalition is good, and I assume you stood up and voted against the nastiest of Tory excess because it was what you believed in. Which makes today’s vote even more disappointing. The public rightly think Parliament is full of sleaze and corruption. What better way to send a message to the electorate that “we are different” by voting to refer Hunt to be investigated? Today’s vote simply makes no sense to those of us who are sick of alleged Tory sleaze.

    If our Lib Dem MPs aren’t going to stand up and vote against alleged corruption, then what exactly are they there for?

  • I think Steve Way makes the point entirely when he say’s

    “If you genuinely felt that Hunt should be investigated you should have voted that way. People vote for MP’s to act in accordance with their manifesto and their principles. On too many occasions, whether for political expediency or not, both have been ignored.”

    When the party is judged by its record and term in office i truly believe they will be devastated in the elections. Furthermore, when Liberal Democrats campaign on fairer democracy or “proportional representation” in parliament again, they will be ridiculed and lose the argument on the basis that their party and MP’s failed to act in parliament previously in accordance with their principles and overall parties belief and instead chose to abandon the moral fibre of the party in exchange for partisan politics in order to appease their coalition partners.

  • ““Another angry ex-LD”,
    Well, except that you aren’t, of course. You’re a habitual Labour supporter who voted for us ‘at some point in the mid-1990′s’.”

    If that point of view comforts you, fair enough. But you must realise that there are a hell of a lot of disgruntled ex-Lib Dem voters and members around.

    For my part, I was an active member for more than 20 years. Now I bitterly regret helping to get my MP elected. I wish I had never delivered a single leaflet and never knocked on a single door on his behalf – because I feel a measure of responsibility for the damaging policies he is now helping to support, If only I could undo the work I did, I would.

  • Ah so the way to ensure an investigation is carried out is to refuse to vote in favour of the motion that wanted the investigation.

    Gee, I don’t think I will ever get the hang of having a LibDem mind after all.

    Honestly, I have read the article written here, heard the debate with Jenny Willotts on Sky at lunchtime, read the various comments in the papers and still I don’t understand.

    If you think he SHOULD be investigated by Sir Alex Allen, WHY did you abstain from voting and what purpose did you think abstaining would serve other than to deliver another vote won by the Tories ?

  • Can someone tell us how Liberal Democrat Ministers voted.

    We kn ow that some conservatives abstained or missed the vote due to other commitments and the DUP backed the government.

    It’s widely reported that Liberal Democrats all agreed to abstain, but did that include Ministers and Secretaries?

  • http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/314/

    The list of mps voting each way is at the bottom. I notice at least a couple of DUP with the govt…

  • thanks Paul Walter

  • Peter Watson 14th Jun '12 - 12:31am

    Today I’ve read Adrian’s comments here, watched Jo Swinson on TV this morning, heard Simon Hughes on the radio this evening. They’ve put forward weak and contradictory excuses for abstaining on this matter, trying to explain why sitting on their hands while saying and doing nothing is improving standards in public life, is consistent with their view that Hunt should be referred, and will make Cameron change his mind. Piffle.
    If you believe something, then say so and vote for it. Go on record and make a difference. What we saw today is 252 MPs who thought Hunt should be referred, 290 who thought he should not, and a bunch of Lib Dems who might as well not be there. Were the 35% of the electorate who did not vote in 2010 making a powerful political statement by abstaining, or were they simply not bothered? The result is the same.
    I’m done with it now. I came to this site to help decide if I wanted to remain involved with the party I’ve supported throughout my adult life. I was encouraged, but this small matter about a large principle is the last straw. I’ve lost confidence and faith in the parliamentary Lib Dems. They have become nothing more than an unprincipled makeweight for a conservative party that could not convince the electorate they were a suitable replacement for an unpopular and villified labour party, even against the background of an economic crisis. This is not a new kind of politics, it’s just more of the same. They have categorically demonstrated that in England at least, there really is no point in a third party, especially when it stands for nothing in particular.
    I don’t know if I’ll find a new political home, but my old one has no foundations so is subsiding and leaning perilously to the right. It sways whichever way the wind blows, the windows are boarded up so noone can see what happens inside, it might be haunted because there are lots of whispers and funny noises but no-one knows what is being said, and I think there might be a problem with the drains because something stinks. It’s time to move. Bye bye.

  • Seems to me that abstaining on a meaningless, non-binding party-political points scoring opposition day motion is appropriate. Maybe not short-term approval winning, but appropriate.

  • Peter Watson 14th Jun '12 - 7:57am

    @Adrian and everybody who says opposition day motions are a waste of time
    Before I go …
    So tired of the hypocrisy on this matter.
    In opposition we had a different opinion on so many things. In 2009 a Lib Dem opposition day motion defeated the Labour government over Gurkha rights. We took a stand. We made our point. We voted for something we believed in. We were proud of what we’d done. It made a difference.
    The Lib Dem MPs should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Naomi Long, the Alliance MP from Belfast, voted for the Labour motion.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 14th Jun '12 - 9:45am

    Given that Adrian Sanders has plenty of energy left for the battles that matter perhaps he could do something to get Osborne and Alexander to develop a Plan B for the economy given the further fall in factory output announced this week. Or will he be organising opposition to Teresa May’s email proposals. On the other hand he could just be Government lobby fodder.

  • @TBNGU – if you look at Adrian’s voting record its imbecilic to accuse him of being lobby fodder.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Jun '12 - 11:23am

    It would be nice if there were a single Tory MP – just one, just one single Tory – with the sense of moral integrity to go beyond blind party loyalty be willing to go public on how disgraceful it is that such disgusting, and yes, corrupt, double standards have been operated on this issue.

    The Liberal Democrat minister responsible was forced out of that responsibility following a single intemperate remark. Surely anyone with any sense of decency, with any sense of correct procedure, with any of the sort of quality we would expect from anyone with any sort of legal or public responsibility, should be able to see that the replacement after that needed to be a person who could in no way at all, even inadvertently, be supposed to have any sort of opinions either way, let alone personal links, with Rupert Murdoch.

    The Liberal Democrats have been humiliated by having their man forced to stand down due to accusations of bias and a man with far more bias put in his place. Is there any Tory with any sense of decency who can express the outrage about that which I would have thought anyone who had some respect for fairness and for the partnership working of the coalition would want to express?

    But instead of any Tory showing that sense of decency and fair play – of insisting that equal ethical standards should apply to all government ministers regardless of party – we have Tories howling charges of “treachery” because Liberal Democrats will not let themselves be humiliated even more deeply by going through and voting in favour of the idea “Tory ministers are not expected to operate to the same standards as Liberal Democrat ministers”, which is what this REALLY is about.

    I am able to respect people who have different political views from me so long as I know underneath they have the same standards of fairness – I am always happy to shake hands with someone who is decent but disagrees with my policy views and say “Yes – we agree to disagree”. But after this event, unless I do hear of some single Tory who has the decency to stand up as I suggest – I shall have no respect whatsoever for any Tory MP whatsoever.

  • @Matthew Huntbach
    “It would be nice if there were a single Tory MP – just one, just one single Tory – with the sense of moral integrity to go beyond blind party loyalty be willing to go public on how disgraceful it is that such disgusting, and yes, corrupt, double standards have been operated on this issue.”

    It would be nice if there were a single Lib Dem MP – just one, just one single Liberal – with the sense of moral integrity to go beyond blind party loyalty and vote for the motion.

  • At least something came out of this. Don Foster stated that, “As Labour lied, not just to parliament but to the whole country over Iran, LibDems would not go into the lobby with them”.

    As history cannot be undone I imagine that rules out any future LibDem support for any Labour motion let alone any possible future coalition. Well, we’re stuck with the Tories, so let’s make the best of it; I’m sure Dave will have a few more hoops for us to jump through.

  • Peter Hayes 14th Jun '12 - 7:35pm

    The problem is we in the rural parties are wondering where the HERE WE GO NO FURTHER point is. NHS, well Shirley did well but we still voted to allow it through. The school proposals, well who wants more schools funded by born again Christians if we need a science based industry. Now we see the internet spying / security proposals that both Torys and Liberals opposed when Labour proposed them. Where is our no further line?

  • Agree totally, Matthew.

  • I’ve come to this debate slightly late but two observations/questions….
    1. Does this mean that all the principles we espoused in opposition we’re pointless because they weren’t binding? Is this the same as the ‘you can say what you want because you’re not in government’ accusations we suffered and tried to rebut for years? And does this mean we’ll decline to use opposition day motions when we return to opposition?
    2. Is not supporting Labour because they’ve been untrustworthy in the past and are just being opportunist not an example of being tribal? Putting past differences and political opportunism before principles …. sounds like old politics to me.

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