All manner of people constantly cite voting records to justify their outrage. In some cases this is relevant, in many other cases it’s not.
Yesterday, not a single Libdem MP voted for PR. You might look at their voting record and think – why would they vote against PR, it’s absurd! The amendment was put forward by Caroline Lucas, who wanted PR on the referendum question. But Nick Clegg had made a deal with Cameron so the only question on the ballot would be for AV. And so you have the bizarre scenario of Libdems voting against the one thing they’ve always been steadfastly for.
Another example. I went to a public meeting yesterday where Caroline Lucas gave a short speech. She said the Westminster amendments and voting system was archaic and confusing (not to her, but outsiders). She pointed out that sometimes people would table amendments to a specific bill. But there was no guarantee it would be debated or voted on – that was entirely under the discretion of the person in charge of dealing with amendments. They could let through completely irrelevant amendments while ignoring important ones, they didn’t even have to give a reason.
Furthermore, she said, you could have several things attached to each other. So a vote on spending more on renewable energy could be coupled with another amendment for investing more in nuclear energy. And so you couldn’t vote for one while voting against the other – you had to vote on them together. And if you didn’t vote, then it looked like you couldn’t be bothered to turn up to Parliament to vote.
The point I’m making here is that people who use voting records as an indicator of what that person thinks, or will do in the future really annoy me. It is embarrassing to watch people make that argument.
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Filed in: Party politics