All the best, Jo…

This afternoon, MPs who really shouldn’t have been in the House of Commons, either through very advanced pregnancy or serious illness, had to go in and vote on that Brexit amendment.

One of them was our Jo Swinson, who is two days past her due date with her second baby. It is entirely unsurprising that she made it in to vote. Anyone who knows how committed and determined she is will know that unless she was in fairly advanced labour, she would made it. She still deserves respect for doing so. Most women have stopped going into the office by due date + 2.

In the 19th year of the 21st century, it is ridiculous that there is no procedure in place to enable MPs to cast their votes by proxy if they are indisposed for whatever reason. The House voted for it some weeks ago, and it is not difficult to set up. I wonder if the Government would have found a greater sense of urgency to do this if the MPs in question had been on the Conservative side.

Jo tweeted about her day and, of course, she had something for us to do too.

To be fair, I really should commend Baby Hames for staying put to let Jo vote. The wee one will be joining the rest of the family soon and we at LDV wish them all the very best as they get to know each other.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Whilst proxy voting would without doubt improve access to parliamentary voting, there are downsides.

    A key part of parliamentary democracy is the debate that precedes votes which voting members are expected to participate in (which can just mean be present and listen)

    Of course members can attend and not listen/play on their phones/fall asleep/vote tribally at the instruction of the whips, but the principle of being exposed to debate from both sides before making up your mind and casting your vote is a powerful one. This might sound highly paternalistic that a member of parliament doesn’t know how they want to vote and must be mentally nursed through it in the debating chamber (Naz Shah’s experience yesterday being a case in point), but on the flip side it’s highly arrogant for a member of parliament to think they know it all already and don’t need to listen to opposing views before deciding. The issues of today are extremely nuanced and not as black and white as our simplistic and partisan media portray them as. Most of us have the ability to change our minds if exposed to something we hadn’t heard of or considered before.

    I have similar views about the widespread use of postal voting (different to proxy voting I know, but have similar problems of principle), which means voters are not exposed to the full election campaign before they cast their vote. I can think of 3 elections where I would have cast my vote differently had I done so 2 weeks before polling day rather than in the polling station.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Jun '18 - 8:26am

    Arrange a pair with Theresa May, giving the PM more time to concentrate on her important work.

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