Following the absolute hammering the Liberal Democrats have just had at the local elections (and – rightly or not – deciding that the rejection of AV was more of a rejection of Nick Clegg), the LD leadership have been keen to show what the party really stands for.
Whatever that is.
Clegg has taken issue with the NHS reform bill, insisting
“[Liberal Democrats] are a moderating influence on the Conservatives” and that getting the bill right is his “number one priority”. He clearly feels that it’s important to do this right, adding “no bill is better than a bad one”.
Deputy leader Simon Hughes has had even stronger words about the bill, stating that “there should be no privatisation at all of the NHS”.
This would explain why, when a Labour motion was brought before Parliament calling for the current “Let’s see how much of the NHS we can get away with privatising” bill to be abandoned, NO Liberal Democrat MPs voted with the motion.
Oh, hang on a minute – no it fucking wouldn’t.
Twenty of them didn’t bother to vote at all (because we’re paying them to warm chairs, apparently) and one bravely abstained, but exactly zero Liberal Democrats took any kind of stand against the Tories and their NHS Bill – not even just to register protest.
Not even to make the point that they could vote against the bill in its final form, if they don’t get the concessions they’re supposedly insisting on. Presumably because we all know that most of them will never vote against it, even if the Tories decide to allow corporate sponsorship of abortion clinics (“Would you like fries with that?”)
I shouldn’t be surprised. This isn’t the first time Clegg – and all the other Lib Dem MPs – have claimed to stand for one thing, but voted for another. In fact, they’ve done pretty much this for every single vote of this Parliament.
They can claim that they’re opposing the Tories behind closed doors, they can claim that they want concessions, they can claim that Clegg doesn’t represent all of them – but until they back their words with their votes it’s all meaningless.
Abstention isn’t good enough.
Just like saying you believe in something isn’t good enough – you have to actually do something. Anything.