Syria debate: how Lib Dem MPs voted

Last night, thirty-three Lib Dems voted for the government’s motion; 9 voted against; one abstained and 14 did not vote.

Alexander, Danny: For
Baker, Norman: For
Beith, Sir Alan: For
Birtwistle, Gordon: Against
Brake, Tom: For
Brooke, Annette: Did not vote
Browne, Mr Jeremy: For
Bruce, Sir Malcolm: For
Burstow, Paul : Abstained
Burt, Lorely: Did not vote
Cable, Vince: For
Campbell, Sir Menzies: For
Carmichael, Mr Alistair: For
Clegg, Mr Nick: For
Crockart, Mike: Against
Davey, Mr Edward: For
Farron, Tim: Did not vote
Featherstone, Lynne: For
Foster, Mr Don: For
George, Andrew: Against
Gilbert, Stephen: For
Hames, Duncan: For
Harvey, Nick: Did not vote
Heath, Mr David: For
Hemming, John: For
Horwood, Martin: For
Hughes, Simon: For
Hunter, Mark: Did not vote
Huppert, Dr Julian: Against
Kennedy, Charles: Did not vote
Lamb, Norman: For
Laws, Mr David: For
Leech, Mr John: For
Lloyd, Stephen: For
Moore, Michael: For
Mulholland, Greg: Did not vote
Munt, Tessa: Did not vote (illness).
Pugh, John: Did not vote
Reid, Mr Alan: For
Rogerson, Dan: Against
Russell, Sir Bob: For
Sanders, Adrian: Did not vote
Smith, Sir Robert: For
Stunell, Sir Andrew: Against
Swales, Ian: Against
Swinson, Jo: For
Teather, Sarah: Against
Thornton, Mike: For
Thurso, John: Did not vote
Webb, Steven: Did not vote
Williams, Mark: Did not vote
Williams, Roger: Against
Williams, Stephen: For
Willott, Jenny: Did not vote
Wright, Simon: For

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at

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This entry was posted in News and Parliament.


  • David Becket 30th Aug '13 - 9:47am

    What an appalling performance from our leader. Either he is not up to the job or he did not believe the cause he was defending. If it was the latter he should have had the guts to speak his mind. If it was the former he is should not be in this position. Either way can we continue our downward trend under his leadership?

  • juliet solomon 30th Aug '13 - 9:56am

    I agree with David Becket on the need to change the leader. This has become very clear in the last few weeks. But was delighted to see some kind of democratic challenge to the Government; Clegg should take note along with Cameron.

  • Id like to thank Nick Clegg for voting on the motion to support military action in Syria as he has reaffirmed my view that I will not be voting for a Liberal Democrats candidate at the next general election, His stance will not only cause more suffering to the people in Syria but will further enrage a region which is steadily becoming a haven for extremism and violence, (look at the figures killed in Iraq last month). It would make more sense if Nick pursued an an agenda which called for a ceasefire by all parties in Syria and engaging all factions to convene around a table to resolve their differences and not to support bombing a country further into oblivion.
    Nick Clegg should now consider his position as party leader and resign as I for one cannot support a leader who lacks independent thought, challenge and accountabilty.
    Kind Regards
    Mr Khan.

  • David Wright 30th Aug '13 - 10:08am

    what are we paying politicians for if they do not have an opinion?

    26.3% either did not vote or abstained. (I understand one is due to ill health but this is still very poor)

  • Bill le Breton 30th Aug '13 - 10:13am

    Cronies of the Leader clearly sensed danger when they leaked an interpretation of an away-day meeting of the Parly Party to smear their ‘colleague’ Vince Cable to the Sun of all news outlets! That is the type of leadership we have! Ruthless.

    Apologies for linking to the Sun:

  • Yes. Agree with David and Juliet. And my guess is that 32 the 33 haven’t enhanced their chances of future leadership, especially those who were not bound by the payroll. Meanwhile the other 24, who refused to support the government’s headlong rush, have. Good on ’em, I say.

  • @David Beckett

    When did Nick not speak his mind on this issue? On both the BBC and LBC he clearly set out his position. You may not agree with the position but he did have the “guts” to make his position clear.


    If any of our MPs was last night thinking about a future shot at the leadership they should be utterly ashamed. And no, not “Good on ’em”. Last night our Parliament chose that, in effect, our country has the same position on Syria as Ireland did on the Nazis.

  • David Pollard 30th Aug '13 - 10:46am

    I am really pleased that the ghosts of Iraq have been laid to rest and David Kelly can now sleep easily in his grave. This is a wonderful day for democracy in this country and I am proud to have been here to witness it.

  • Steve Griffiths 30th Aug '13 - 10:52am

    The newspapers this morning are full of opprobrium being heaped on Cameron for being “weak” and “his authority will never be the same again” and “he failed the test of trust and paid the price” etc. However a greater proportion of Nick Clegg’s party voted against the motion than Cameron’s Tories. As the Deputy PM was the final speaker on behalf of the Government, this surely puts him in an even weaker position?

  • I wrote an email to Mr Clegg and my local MP Ed Davey asking them to oppose this.

    To say I’m pretty angry is an understatement.

    Clegg allows himself to be pushed about by the Tories – a sign of weakness.

    We have been severely let down by Mr Clegg and I really think he has to consider his position and either shape up or ship out.

    The UN is there for a reason, we should await their report, we should consider the evidence IN PUBLIC (there is no trust of secret evidence after Iraq).

    Too many LibDem MP’s are becoming part of the whipping boys of Sir Humprey – THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH, after all the stick of tuition fees, how can this happen now?

  • While I like the final outcome I hardly see it as a wonderful day for democracy. The oppositions amendment was broadly the same as the goverrnment’s proposal, so it is hard to believe that most of the Labour members were voting against intervention for any reason other than to defeat the government.

  • David Becket 30th Aug '13 - 12:06pm

    He may have done before the debate, but it was the debate that mattered.

  • @ David Pollard

    Did Iraq ghosts haunt MPs when they voted on military intervention in Libya two years ago? No – they voted 557 to 13.

    I think you have to look at other reasons for last night’s result.

  • Helen Dudden 30th Aug '13 - 2:26pm

    My MP, Don Foster says he is forced to vote for what he does not believe in, my comments were, that I have more right to an opinion that he does.

    How sad, you have to vote to kill badgers, whatever, the bedroom tax whatever, housing whatever.

    As I struggle in my housing and so do others, I ask what is the price of the coalition? the price you pay is to lose the right to free speech and your views and opinions, don’t worry about those you put there. Very hurt, that no one cares about me.

    Well Don, enjoy.

  • Tony Greaves 30th Aug '13 - 2:37pm

    “what are we paying politicians for if they do not have an opinion?
    26.3% either did not vote or abstained. (I understand one is due to ill health but this is still very poor)”

    This is a silly comment. There are often good reasons for abstaining. It does not mean you don’t have an opinion – it’s a way of squaring your opinion with loyalty to the party. You can do what Paul Burstow did and vote in both lobbies which is an indication for posterity that you were present. But some people think that is a daft thing to do.

    I see that the list above does not include the two non-persons, David Ward and Mike Hancock, who both voted against the government. They may have been deprived of the whip (disgracefully in the case of David) but they are still Liberal Democrat MPs.

    Meanwhile let us pay tribute to the Glorious Nine (or Eleven) whose votes really made the difference last night. They are Liberal Heroes. Well done to all of them.

    Tony Greaves

  • Thenmoli Rajendran 30th Aug '13 - 3:24pm

    Hats off to those MPs who voted against (not abstained) the military attack on Syria.

  • “My MP, Don Foster says he is forced to vote for what he does not believe in”

    then why be an MP?

  • It’s a disgrace that 14 of our MPs did not attend the vote. In my view abstaining is cowardly (Paul B) but at least you understood the importance of turning up and record your opinion. I’ve looked at the Twitter accounts of as many of the 14 as have them and many say they abstained, but that appears to not be the case. They all know that in a GE spoiling your paper and not bothering to turn up to the Polling Station are two completely different things – it’s the same here and saying you abstained when you weren’t even in the Lobby is dishonest. From info on the net Nick Harvey has stated that he couldn’t get back from Greece with 2 days notice – hard to believe that. And why wasn’t Charles Kennedy there?

    I’d like to know who didn’t turn up at all & who didn’t attend the vote but if you can’t turn up in the lobby (or at all) to vote on this what on earth are you doing being an MP?!

  • What is depressing about some of the comments is the assumption that one cannot be a liberal and hold a contrary opinion to the writer of the comment on this issue. There are no easy answers to this and any decision will have negative consequences for the people of Syria, including the rather embarrassing failure to make a decision demonstrated by last night’s votes.

  • Hurrah for Mike Hancock and David Ward. We need a few more like them.

  • Frustrated that my constituency, and its representative in parliament – Lib Dem Tessa Munt – was unable to pass an opinion on this historically defining issue. I’m sorry to hear she was unwell and wish her speedy recovery, but today I feel disenfranchised. I’m not saying what my view on the matter is on this website, and also not saying who I voted for at the last General Election, but for the sake of democracy, we need to know what way Ms Munt would have voted in time for the next election. This issue is a defining moment in British history, and all MP’s must be able to confirm their position on the matter – genuine absentees, abstainers, ayes and noes alike.

  • Helen Dudden 30th Aug '13 - 10:46pm

    I am supporting the Yes to Housing with the NHF, it time that we had housing, you see I have just made a comment, nothing to do with the article, but I have said it.

    Why is it that MP’s are so restricted with comments? If it is simply follow the leader, then is is democracy.

    Does as Don says, being a Minister restricts the right to comments and opinions, well that knocks the MP input on the head.

    It seems that your Party has lost something, don’t quite what but something.

    By the way the article was in the Bath Chronicle, just days ago, on the subject of killing every badger out there.

  • Adrian – completely agree that if you are part of a delegation & 2 for/2 against it makes no sense to return. However, I think that is very different from not returning from holiday in Europe or saying you abstained when you didn’t enter the Lobby. For all constituents know their MP could have left the building hours earlier or not bothered to attend at all. Given that one assumes MP’s have a reasonable level of political nouse I don’t understand how they aren’t aware that ‘did not vote’ is very different from ‘abstained’ and if they want to abstain they have to actually take some action and vote in both lobbies. Another PR own goal with lists of those who did not vote being published in the press today making it appear to the general public like 14 of our MP’s didn’t turn up at all.

  • I feel the party should be putting its weight behind moves to find a long term resolution for the governance of Syria. The UN would need to take the lead in this process, which would also involve the main regional powers including Iran. I feel that the timing of debate and vote in the Commons this week should have waited until the UN Inspectors completed their survey of the alleged chemical weapons sites. I also think the wording of the motions (on both sides), were poor and left the public confused.

  • Helen Dudden 31st Aug '13 - 9:10am

    Of course any action should have waited. But then I am not a follower of David Cameron. I dislike his attitude towards the working class in this country.

    I left the Party because of the union that the Lib Dems had made.

    Before we drop anymore bombs on anyone, the consequences of that action should be thought through. We still have ongoing problems now.

  • My Lib Dem MP actively sought the views of his constituents by sending an email to his mailing list asking for comments. After completing his survey I was interested to see how he had voted and came accross this site. I was astounded to see that despite asking for opinions he didn’t vote. He certainly gave the impression that he had every intention of attending the debate and articulating the views of his constituents. I feel that it was just a PR stunt for him and am very disappointed.

  • Ian S – You should write & ask why he didn’t vote. If you see my messages above, it appears that many LD MP’s did attend but didn’t formally abstain by going through the motions in the Lobby, this has left people such as yourself believing that they were absent from the debate. As I’ve already said above, another PR own-goal for us which could have easily been avoided. To be honest, I don’t think this is the kind of debate that any MP should be abstaining from but if that is what they want to do they could at least take the time to register their abstention.

  • @Ian S

    Who is your MP? It might be the case that he didn’t vote (whereas he otherwise would have), because many constituents were against his original position, or it may be a case similar to Mr Sanders where rather than he and a Tory flying back from a conference in South Africa to vote against each other they just agreed to mark each other out of the game and thereby reduced the totals by one ech, but not the final result.

  • Gavin Anderson 31st Aug '13 - 2:29pm

    I just wrote to Charles Kennedy to ask why he didn’t vote. As an ex (very much ex!) Lib Dem voter I am just devastated that I wasted so much of my franchise on voting for a party that I have now so little respect for. Abstaining or not voting is a cowards option. I might be utterly depressed by the 33 who voted for the motion – but at least they voted and hoisted their colours.

    Paddy Ashdown’s comments were also appalling – equating being against this motion as being a small minded isolationist. For the record, I have lived most of my adult life in Africa and Asia and consider myself an internationalist (and am writing this from Kathmandu right now – although I live in the UK with my family). My career is in international development and I know first hand about the local complexities of international intervention and at times the need for intervention- so I find Ashdown’s comments infuriating (and arrogant) to say the least.

  • You have only just realised that Nick Clegg is not the man to lead the LibDems? My, oh my… It seems that many of you have either been sleep walking or not paying any attention to the politics at all. The LibDems have let themselves be trampled on by this tory led coalition. For a long time now you have been foolish to just go with the flow and I’m afraid its about to bite you right back. Talk about not seeing the obvious.

  • Andy S, whatever one may think of Nick Clegg now he was voted in by a majority in the party. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I voted against him although I could see his opponent on the leadership contest being seen as a not worthy leader today after what he has done to himself.
    I am surprised to hear some people say Nick Clegg lacks courage as if I have an ounce of admiration for him is his courage in arguing his corner to the hilt even when most people think he is utterly wrong. He is by far more courageous than Cameron, hence very often the bearer and defender of bad policies.
    Ian S, having sought his constituents’views on the matter, I would quite understand your MP abstaining(by registering his abstention of course) if he/she felt the constituents he represents were equally divided. This would surely be accepted. On this matter I cannot really understand any other reason for abstaining .

  • I am a floating voter but I now have the utmost respect for David Cameron. We do have a democracy after all – MPs were at least able to vote on the issue. Remembering the plight of the people in Iraq I would not wish to see the same thing happening in Syria. We still do not know the exact toll of that bombardment and the devastation it caused. David Cameron no doubt is unhappy with the outcome in Parliament but he is riding high in my estimation and I have heard other people say the same, he did keep his promise. A man to be trusted I think.

  • Helen Dudden 1st Sep '13 - 8:26am

    Well I heard this morning, that Mr. Cameron is going with the idea of conflict on the subject.

    It takes 140 years, so the Stabilization Unit state after, the conflict so called settles. Bombing the innocent is what will happen. Many more die, and are injured, children face further trauma, other ways should be looked for firstly.

    Someone, knew this was going to happen, there is always someone who would disagree.

  • David White 1st Sep '13 - 1:11pm

    It’s interesting that you ‘have the utmost respect for David Cameron’, dear ‘Wendy’? Why? During the deabate, he reverted to his ‘Flashman’ style. Subsequently, the PM has maintained his bad-tempered, spoilt-brat Bullingdonian style, and has also unleashed his fawning ‘Downing Street spokesperson attack dogs.

    Parliament decided that it did not feel able to vote for Britain to bomb innocent Syrian civilians when Syria’s president was already killing plenty of the poor souls with needing any help from the RAF. I congratulate and thank our 23 MPs who voted against the ConDems.

    You, dear ‘Helen Dudden’, have already made the point about killing more innocent people. Well said and well done.

    In any case, why would any British PM want to go war? We almost always lose these ill-considered wars, don’t we? How many colonial or neo-colonial wars have we won since 1945? I shall be grateful If anybody can suggest any winning efforts. In the meantime, here’s a few we failed to win:-

    Greece (winning draw)
    Palestine (lost)
    India (lost)
    Malaya (lost)
    Korea (losing draw)
    Kenya (lost)
    Cyprus (lost)
    Aden (lost)
    Sarawak/Borneo (lost)
    Vietnam (non-starter – thank God!)
    Rhodesia (lost)
    Grenada (lost – against the USA!)
    Falklands (winning draw – but more dispatches to follow!)
    Afghanistan (lost)
    Iraq (lost)
    Libya (lost – and so has Libya!)

    Not a saga of success, is it? However, I’ve just remembered that I’d forgotten about Sierra Leone (won – just)

  • David White 1st Sep '13 - 1:14pm

    PS: Sorry about the typos. Cataracts again, I’m afraid!

  • Wendy, just where do you justify admiration for the PM? What did he do to gain your admiration? I am totally lost in your comment. Either you don’t follow politics or you are one of those who votes for the leader and doesn’t look at the bigger picture. You claim that you are a floating voter, but I have to disagree with that statement.

  • David Wright 3rd Sep '13 - 12:24pm

    in response to Tony Greaves,

    I would say that the decision to militarily intervene in another Country’s civil war is of greater importance than not wanting to upset members of your own political party.

    and as has been pointed out by other comments on here, there is a difference between abstaining and not voting, and it is clear that there are many more who simply did not vote than abstained.

  • Cadan ap Tomos 5th Sep '13 - 11:33pm

    The form of ‘active’ abstention – that is, walking through both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ division lobbies – is frowned upon by the Speaker, which is why lots of MPs don’t do it. This is what Paul Burstow did.

    There are a number of MPs on that list that actively abstained from voting, instead of failing to turn up – including Mark Williams, who voted on the Labour amendment but decided to abstain from voting on the substantive motion.

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