Sunday, February 25, 2007

Trident......have our MP's been gagged?

Well, by this time next week t'will be all over bar the shouting. But I am still astounded that despite Colin Ross having written to all our parliamentarians regarding their position on Trident, he has had only two sign his petition, MSPs Mike Rumbles (former Army Major) and Mike Pringle and no others come out against replacement. So, for me, it begs the question? Maybe I have missed it, but I haven't heard so much as a pipsqueak from anyone who does not take the Campbell/Harvey line. I am hoping we will hear more on Saturday - but I ain't holding my breath!

Those following the Campbell/Harvey line may well question my loyalty as an FPC member. Let me be clear, my first loyalty is to my fellow citizens, it is my loyalty to them which lead to me being part of a political party in the first place. My second loyalty is to my party, I am a proud member of the party because I am a Liberal Democrat. My third loyalty is to my leader/ship. Leaders come and go, the party, I trust will remain regardless of who has the privilege of leading it. The vote on Saturday as far as I am concerned will not be a test of the leadership, it will be a test of the party and whether as activists we care about maintaining our much cherished tradition of having ultimate responsibility for the policy of the party we all love and all have a stake in. The alternative is to follow the lead of both Labour and Conservative and abdicate that responsibility to the "great and good" in the parliamentary party, (shadow) cabinet, or in Labour's case, Blair and Murdoch.


Bernard said...

Of course it may be that the rest of parliamentarians agree with the FPC's position, or don't think its worth creating a Libdems split story about, rather than them having been gagged.

Just a thought.

Linda Jack said...

With regards to all agreeing with the majority FPC position, I don't think so! And, I suppose there may be some value in postponing a LibDem split story. However, this is a typical bullyboy tactic. State your position first (because you are in charge) then dare anyone to challenge it. Unfortunately the electorate sees through such tactics, potentially one of the nails in the coffin of our democracy. It beggars belief, especially for a liberal party.

Colin Ross said...

I have had some responses from some Parliamentarians saying they agree with the amendment and oppose the motion. However they asked not to be named publicly so I have not done so, at least one plans to speak against at Harrogate.

A couple have responded saying they agree with the motion but most have not responded.

I have also been told the Shadow Cabinet have been told they are bound by collective responsibility. A large number have decided not to be in the hall on Saturday.

Gagging or not - you decide.


expriest said...

There has been no suggestion of any disloyalty against anyone who disagrees with the FPC motion as far as I'm aware. And I've followed the debate quite closely. In fact it has been a refreshingly good debate - undertaken withthe right spirit (ideas not personalities).

Which makes it a bit depressing when you see accusations like 'typical bully boy tactics' being used.

I'll say again here, as I've said on other blogs - what was Ming to do?

The Gov had issued a White paper. He had to respond.

Was it to be at least on the basis of a Lib Dem process and take the position of the working group?

Or go his own way?

Since when has stating your case been bullying?

If he had said nothing, all the blogs would have been asking the valid question, where does Ming stand?

I always find it a bit depressing when the immediate reaction to a announcement of policy that some don't like is to get stuck into what went wrong with the process, rather than tackle this issue.

Refreshingly in this debate it has been the issue that dominated.

Let's hope it stays that way.


Linda Jack said...

Re bullyboy tactics, maybe that was a bit strong you are right expriest, I was in ranting mode apologies! Maybe what would be more appropriate would be emotional blackmail tactics....that is how I have felt, to fail to support the main motion is to be disloyal to the leader. That's what I can't stomach, it happened over the Post Office and Tax and I hope it doesn't happen over Trident. What also sticks in my gullet, whilst I appreciate the argument that Ming had to say something, the opportunity existed to at least get a steer from FPC when we had the presentation, but we were not invited to make comments and were given no indication of where the likely motion was headed. By the time we did discuss it it was a fait accomplis, that feels like manipulation. I hope I have spent more time addressing the issue than the process, but the process is also important for our future credibility.

expriest said...

Hi Linda,

Agreed it looks like the process wasn't perfect. We've all been bounced a bit by Blair, and I've no doubt that campaigning on this issue has included politicing.

The thing about the Lib Dem system is that any leader must choose. Do I lead ignoring the party process and try and get my way. Or do I lead through the system, trying to get the committees on side and the conference etc etc.

At least Ming is engaging with party processes and trying to lead through the system rather than around it.

Linda Jack said...

Hi expriest,

I believe Ming is a very honourable man so none of my criticism is really leveled at him. But others clearly seek to make any potentially contentious issue in the party a leadership issue. This is counterproductive. Ultimately it can and will backfire. i was particularly upset at being vilified by a senior current member of the cabinet, for daring to speak my mind on the post office. I genuinely worry about our party sliding into the undemocratic, stitched up and well spun debacle which is the Labour Party. So, as I continually argue in a council with a directly elected mayor.........scrutiny is healthy and to be encouraged - it helps you make better decisions!