Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Liberal Democrat MPs have better options than inglorious abstention over Hunt

Imagine if Jeremy Hunt had been a Liberal Democrat & his SpAd's behaviour with the Murdochs had come to light. Nick Clegg would have taken him by the scruff of the neck and sat him on Ministerial Code Adviser Alex Allan's desk. And there would have been no faffing. If he was found in the wrong, he'd have gone. End of.

Jeremy Hunt is not a Liberal Democrat, thankfully. David Cameron seems desperate to protect his troubled minister. And the harder he tries, the dodgier it looks. Failing to subject the minister to the appropriate scrutiny pretty much tells the world the PM is not confident he'd survive it. He's showing a darn sight more protectiveness towards this troubled Minister than he showed his wee girl that day chillaxing in the pub.

Liberal Democrats pride ourselves on being the people who want to clean up politics. To make sure that vested interests are not served. To make sure justice is done.

Being in Government carries with it certain obligations, some of them painful. I don't see anything in the Coalition Agreement that obliges us to cover the backs of Tory Ministers over allegations of wrongdoing. Therefor, we shouldn't abstain. We should vote for the investigation into Hunt. If our backbenchers do, then there's a chance that the motion will pass & Hunt will be investigated.

I loathe and detest abstaining. I think you always need to take a position. We can't back Hunt's behaviour so we must back the investigation for 2 reasons. The first, low political one is that our current position, which effectively lets Hunt off the hook, also cedes the moral high ground to a Labour Party which has spent most of the last two decades pandering to Murdoch and his acolytes.

Secondly, voting for an investigation is quite simply the right thing to do. I wouldn't want to pre-judge it, but it needs to take place for the Government to have any ethical credibility.

But they may not even have to do that. If enough Lib Dem MPs tell that nice Mr Carmichael that they will be voting for the motion, they may never have to. If Nick Clegg tells Cameron his MPs could vote for the investigation, the PM could well decide to refer Hunt anyway. Then the vote will be unnecessary.

So, lovely Lib Dem MPs, especially those not on Government payroll, say you will turn up and vote tomorrow. That is the best option for everyone.


Alex Dingwall said...

Well said Caron and I hope our MPs follow your advice.

Ewan said...

Caron, thanks for posting this, it's exactly what I have been thinking. I have voted Lib Dem here in Argyll but my decision whether or not to do so again depends on how this sort of issue is handled.

Matthew Huntbach said...

The issue here is not just that Jeremy Hunt was the Tory minister responsible for this issue. He was the Tory minister given responsibility for this issue after the Liberal Democrat minister who had responsibility for it was forced to resign that responsibility for having compromised his neutrality on it.

For me, THIS is the reason why our party cannot just let it go or treat it as an internal Tory matter. It is absolutely incredible that after the role was taken from one minister for lacking impartiality every effort was not made to ensure the next minister responsible was completely clean of anything that could be judged as compromising his partiality. If this is not just gross incompetence it is such a massive bias as to call into question the assumptions in which the coalition was formed, which involve some sort of mutual respect between the two parties. Now it seems Tory ministers are not expected to keep to the same standards as LibDem ministers - LibDems have to do what the Tories tell them, Tories can do what they like and if the LibDems don't like it, tough.


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