7 March 2017

Dubbed up

I've given my MP a hard time previously for how she has voted in parliament and her explanations after the fact. (here, and here). So it's nice to be able to applaud her.

Having not been shy about criticising I should now take the time to say thank you. So, to Heidi Allen, thank you for bringing the recent Dubs scheme amendment before parliament and for voting with it (although it would be odd in the extreme if she hadn't). Despite any other criticisms I have, I genuinely mean that. It is appreciated.

I must wonder whether, with only 2 other Conservatives voting with her, despite 6 signing to support it originally, (and with the government refusing to accept the amendment and opposing it in the first place) she is feeling that maybe the Conservative party is unlikely to be convinced to carry out any kind of compassionate measures, and maybe talking about her role as a Conservative in bringing them to a point of doing so is starting to ring a little hollow.., and especially seeing the 'compassionate conservatism she has espoused previously, take root.

I realise that this sounds like another dig but it isn't, it's a genuine question about values, about how far the actions of the Conservative government, and party as a whole, are from them - and how someone squares their expressed values with the act of providing support for and enabling such a government to continue with actions which are so totally at odds.

What is a criticism is when we view Heidi's stated strategy of being part of the club, of playing the game and not rocking the boat too much so that she can help shape their direction and have influence within parliament. The trouble with this is that:

1) it doesn't appear to have worked - this was hardly a major concession to ask from the gov - to carry on with already made agreement to take a few thousand vulnerable children. It really isn't much at all to ask. But, the government didn't flinch, didn't back down, and employed the usual rods and levers on their MPs to ensure it was defeated.

Which leads us to...

2) this unbudgeable attitude of the government is only reinforced every time someone agrees to be whipped in to supporting something they are uncomfortable with, or standing aside and abstaining. By not standing up to the government when they feel they should, MPs engender an attitude that the government is entitled to MPs support, that they are not accountable to them and do not have to take notice when they express concern - in short to take them, and their support, for granted.

And not just with the government, this view is normalised by the very fact it happens so often, meaning MPs can be more easily convinced not to defy the government. Which, as has been seen, comes back to bite you when it is something you want to get done. If you don't stand up when your fellows ask you to, or when you believe someone else is right, they won't stand up beside you later on.

In other words - obedience breeds obedience.