Friday, 10 December 2010

I am a member because...

Why would you abstain if you held a definite view? In yesterday's vote on tuition fees Liberal Democrats voted every way you can think of but I think that all these MPs hold strong views on the subject, so strong that they may have signed a pledge. I also read yesterday that splits weaken parties, and sometimes destroy them. There is a problem here if division weakens the party but the answer lies in the reason why I am a member of the Liberal Democrats.

I am a member because I can participate in forming policy. I am a member because the emphasis on the individual rather than big business or trade union. I am a member because this is the party that most closely fits in with the liberty of individuals including the liberty of MPs to make up their own minds rather than follow three-line whips for things they don't believe in. I am a member because policy comes from the members, not from a top-down leadership.

Some MPs voted with the coalition because they have ministerial responsibility, and maybe they thought the rise in tuition fees was the best choice. Some abstained because they did not want to destroy party unity or they could not break their pledge or they could not support their leader but did not want to vote against him. You can work out more reasons why MPs voted for or abstained or even voted against - something along the lines of voting for pledges. All of them voted decisively. That's why I joined in with this topic. Not because it shows the disharmony within the party but because it shows the diversity.

Personally, I would have preferred a party vote against the motion but that would mean ministers could not have come up with the idea of multiplying tuition fees by three. I would rather find cuts elsewhere. I think that is what the ministes believe too, but they just can't say it, but all the other members can. I have also written a few blogs on how university expectations are far too high. We really shouldn't be funding so many places simply because it is a great experience. Liberal Democrats may be divided but they are not clueless, and this division supports my reasons for membership.

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