Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A Plea to Lib Dem Backbench MPs - Keep the Pledge and enter the 'No' Lobby tomorrow

A few months ago I gave my clear views on the whole tuition fees debate as stated here in my blog. My position has not changed now we find ourselves on the eve of the big vote.

It must be said that the package which is being voted on tomorrow has some very good elements to it. But there's one significant part of it of course which is causing great distress to Parliamentarians and grass-roots activists alike - the rise in fees.

It's the fact that a pledge was signed before the election by each of our 57 MPs to vote against a rise in fees that is causing an understandable unease.

I really don't need to re-iterate what I said in my earlier post - it states the position quite clearly.

But to add to that, I felt that of all the talk in the media in recent days, possibly the most measured and balanced response has come from grandee and former leader Paddy Ashdown.

In this interview a few days ago, the point that registered with me most is this one - "Even if we agree to disagree, there has been no rancour, there's been no public splits about this, people's positions have been respected, so the party comes through it".

This is important because we find ourselves on the verge of a 3 way-split in the party as it votes tomorrow. There is a need to admit as a parliamentary party that not all can be won over to the Coalition cause on this issue - Liberal Democrat policy is clearly holding a greater sway for the rebellelious many than the coalition agreement signed in May.

To those who are looking to walk into the 'No' lobby and in doing so, keep to their pledge, I say this - more power to your elbow.

I'm proud that local Ceredigion MP Mark Williams will be one of those and I hope that more than 20 of our backbenchers follow suit. If a greater handful of Tory MPs do the same, it is possible that the vote could fall. If it had been me in that situation, without a doubt it is what I would do.

But having said that, my betting (if I was a gambling man), now that the Ministerial team have all said they will vote in favour, is on a Governmental majority of between 10-15 votes.

We will see and I will report back on the result and the votes of Liberal Democrat MPs.

No comments:

Post a Comment