Thursday, March 06, 2008

These are the good guys

There were slightly more MPs in favour of giving their constituents a say than people realise. A few MPs voted for one pro-referendum amendment and not the other last night. Counting the tellers too there were 252 MPs in favor of giving people a say on one or other of the options. There's a list below.

Surprising choices?

Nick Harvey has been pro referendum but sat on his hands last night. We contacted him for a quote.

"Given a free vote, I would personally have supported a referendum on the treaty. But the party line was that an In/Out referendum was a truer representation of our manifesto commitment to a referendum on the earlier Constitution. We were on a three line whip, and I correctly calculated that Liberal Democrat votes were not going to affect the outcome. It would not have served any purpose my resigning if it wouldn't change the result."

It was a shame too that Jon Cruddas didn't vote for a referendum. He has previously called for one, and is a famously principled guy. Maybe he used his "no" vote to wring some kind of concession out of the Government on rights at work, or low incomes, or some other labour issue - which, in fairness, is always his top priority. He is a canny guy and a nice man (maybe even a future Leader?) But it was a still a shame not to have him vote for a referendum, as a lot of others who look up to him would have followed him.

On the heroes side of the equation special mention has to go to the Labour MPs who took all manner of abuse from the whips: Kate Hoey, Gisela Stuart, Frank Field and Graham Stringer.

Ditto Ian Davidson who worked incedibly hard for a referendum. All the others put up with a hell of a lot of abuse for doing the right thing.

Among the Lib Dems Alistair Carmichael, David Heath and Tim Farron all gave up their their jobs to vote for their principles. You really don't get much of that these days. They are all total heroes.

So are the other 13 Liberal Democrats who did the liberal and democratic thing. The mechanics of the house were interesting. As the bulk of the Lib Dems sat there, absurdly, the honourable ones had to literally stand up and be counted. To go and vote they had to push past their colleagues like people arriving late at a cinema. It obviously required a lot of courage and good on them.

The MPs who voted against should be ashamed of themselves, but they won't be. Despite the Governments pompous and hypocritical arguments about how "detailed line by line scrutiny" is far better than giving the plebs a say, most of those trooping through the no lobby have never read the text, don't care about the issue, and are little better than Pavlogs dogs, answering to the beep of a pager. As Iain Martin has pointed out, most of them would just have been thinking about what to have for tea.

There's the list of the good guys in the post below.

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