Daily Archives: 6 March 2008

Clegg: more walkouts

I’ll lightly skip over Clegg’s call for recall today (I’ve said what I have to say on that topic here) – I happen to question the practicalities but as an act of symbolism it is good politics. Instead I will concentrate on these paragraphs:

Clegg said Westminster should expect to see more protests from him – last week he staged a walkout from the Commons after he was denied his “in or out” vote.

“The kind of anger, noise, direct protest that you have seen from us recently – whether it is my stance on saying that I would prefer to go to court than give my data to a compulsory government ID card database or Vince Cable’s protest against the visit of the Saudi king, or our walkout of the Commons last week – far from seeing less of that, I think you will see more.”

Which is fine, but he should think about the purpose of all this is. The most dispiriting thing about Ed Davey’s walkout last week was his insistence it was a spontaneous thing. So does this mean the Lib Dem strategy is to just be spontaneous? And how does this square with insisting on having archaic debates over whether or not to have a debate?

By all means be anti-establishment, but that is not the same thing as the mindless activism that was on display last week. And it means no more lectures from front benchers about being against opportunism in future, thank you.

Ming Campbell abstained on his own policy

This has probably been blogged elsewhere, but looking at Public Whip today I was intrigued to note that the Lib Dems failed to get their own MPs out to vote in support of having a debate on the in/out amendment referendum. In a vote which was not likely to get passed and which the Lib Dems are surely planning to use against individual rival MPs, the Tories got 87% of their MPs out, Labour got 88% of their MPs out while the Lib Dems managed a mere 84%. Read into that what you will.

The absentees are an odd bunch. The most notable one is Ming Campbell. However badly Clegg may have subsequently handled it, let us not forget that it was Campbell that got us in this mess in the first place. It’s a shame he didn’t at least vote for his own policy.

Public Whip has not yet published the results of last nights vote. One of its quirks is that it defines a rebellion as a vote against what the majority within that particular party grouping was voting. On that basis, the 15 MPs who voted against the three line whip to abstain will be listed as loyalists.

UPDATE: Just had a look at the Tories who abstained in the in/out vote. They include, not exclusively, the usual Euronihilist suspects such as Bill Cash and Douglas Carswell. Clearly, for all their protestations, a significant number of them would have loved the opportunity to really put this to a vote.