UK Liberty

Heathrow runway debate – democracy in action

Posted in politicians on liberty by ukliberty on January 29, 2009

Some highlights:

Geoff  (Buff) Hoon (Secretary of State, Department for Licences for Terrorists to Kill People; Ashfield, Labour) 

… the Conservative party’s decision is dictated by political opportunism of the lowest kind. The Conservative party’s decision, on which she admitted that she has changed her mind, was determined by Conservative central office. It was not taken on the basis of any kind of principle; it represents the worst kind of expedient. 

All credit to him, he’s got cojones!

I am sorry that I gave way to the hon. Lady, because she clearly did not listen to the question. The question is straightforward. If a Government take a decision, they have to take similar decisions according to a consistent process. They cannot pick and choose for political reasons the kinds of decisions that they would like to be subject to votes on the Floor of the House. Until she understands that, she will not be fit to be in government.

The first non-political Government!

Edward Miliband (Secretary of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change; Doncaster North, Labour)  said something very odd:

This has been a most illuminating exchange, I must say. The whole country will now realise that the hon. Lady is disowning a statement that she made on 22 November 2007—a statement made 15 months ago. How can we possibly trust what she is saying now?

Um, if it was 15 seconds or minutes ago, sure, I take the point.  But aren’t people allowed to change their minds after 15 months?

Martin Salter (Lab):

When moments such as this happen in Parliament, people ask, “Are you prepared to go into the Lobby with the Opposition?” Normally I am not. I detest the Conservative party as much as anyone on these Benches does. I have spent my life fighting the Conservative party. However, no one political party has a monopoly on truth, and no one political party is always right.

At the end of the day, we cannot look the parents of a young child with breathing problems in the eye and say, “When I had an opportunity to do something about this, I walked away from it; I didn’t walk into the Lobby because my political opponents were in that Lobby.” There comes a point when such an argument carries very little credibility.

And John Grogan (Lab):

I appeal to all Members to remember that there is not a Conservative Lobby and a Labour Lobby, but an Aye Lobby and a No Lobby. 

Many Labour MPs disagreed.

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2 Responses

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  1. Doctor_Wibble said, on January 31, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    No, I couldn’t understand the 15-months-ago remark either. However, it does seem to indicate a dangerous style of thinking – that once you have decided something, you must stay with that decision, even if the basis for that decision no longer exists.

    I’m presumably missing something (has happened before) but I don’t quite get why there was a Bill/Act for the Crossrail project, but there is none for HeathrowR3. The only difference I can think of is possibly in relation to public money being involved.

    It is interesting to note that even supporters of R3 have been unimpressed with the way that this has been handled, and this seems to have got people’s backs up as much as anything else.

  2. ukliberty said, on February 2, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    I don’t know where I stand on Heathrow, but I found myself in agreement with a few MPs who I normally have no time for (e.g. Salter). Some of the arguments, such as changing your mind after 15 months, and not voting for a motion because it’s a Conservative motion (rather than on its merits or otherwise), seem profoundly stupid.

    As for whether there should even be a debate, surely our elected representatives should be allowed to debate and vote on whatever they like? I thought that was what Parliamentary sovereignty was about.


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