Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Yesterday I was proud to be a Lib Dem

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Sometimes I disagree with things that MPs and other representatives of my party say. Yesterday's debate in parliament about the dismissal of Professor Nutt from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was not one of those occasions.

Instead as each Lib Dem MP popped up to make their contribution I found myself feeling more and more proud. Alan Johnson the Home Secretary, Chris Grayling his shadow and most of the back-bench Labour and Conservative MPs who contributed were in agreement that Professor Nutt had to go and that the Home Secretary had done the right thing.

Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman led the way by pointing out that the government was as risk of recruiting an "army of nodding yes-men" as the logical conclusion of the latest debacle and suggesting ministers were being ludicrously thin-skinned. Evan Harris asked a very important question about the independence of the advice. For his trouble, Alan Johnson suggested that "A calmer, more rational view, ... may be impossible" from Mr Harris but instead of getting angry about that, Evan simply looked at the Home Secretary expressionless, treating the comment with the contempt it deserves. I have seen few MPs as rational as Evan Harris. Even Phil Willis with whom I have not always found myself in agreement questioned whether Mr Johnson has consulted with the government's chief scientific adviser to which the answer was no. As Mr Willis pointed out later on any notion of joined up government is now out of the window with each department retreating into its silo.

Even when Chris Huhne was rebuked by the Speaker for being a bit too enthusiastic ("uncharacteristically so" Mr Bercow suggested) I thought that was positive. Mr Johnson was talking absolute rubbish at some points and I am glad to see someone was getting annoyed about it!

The Conservative's response to this debacle has been woeful. They are clearly going to be even worse than Labour on the issue of drugs if they get into power next year. It is clear that we are the only major party seriously willing to look at and listen to the scientific evidence without going off on populist rants which utterly refuse to engage with the debate.

You only have to look at this post yesterday from Tory Bear to see how frustrated some in other parties are about this unwillingness. The only person he found himself in agreement with was Chris Huhne.

Yesterday was a good day to be a Lib Dem.

4 comments:

Anthony Burns said...

Whilst it is mildly encouraging to see some cross-party support for scientific truth over scientifically rubber-stamped scare tactics, I am detecting a rather rose-tinted view of the Conservative Party here ...

(Quote from original Tory Bear post)

"It is an embarrassment that a party that should represent freedom and true, not spun lies, but true right-wing values of freedom and personal choice can be so authoritarian ... Cameron must not be afraid to stand up and extol the virtues of individual responsibility, liberty, free choices and fair consequences."

If this is the same David Cameron who rigidly supported the homophobic Section 28 amendment until it became politically expedient to moderate his views, such optimism seems rather misplaced ...

hyena said...

well said.

yesterday's debate said everything about why it's fundamentally inconsistent for a liberal young person to be in the tory party.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

But it is a government that is itself an "army of nodding yes-men". Junior ministers for the most part are there to parrot "news" releases rather than exercise any directive function.

This http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2009/10/drug-laws-cognitive-biases-democracy.html
was a notable contribution, I thought, to the drugs matter.

Tory Bear said...

It pained me to agree with Huhne but he was spot on.