“Backbench Conservative MP Peter Bone said Mr Clegg had signed off the reforms and voted for them: “Why now is he changing his mind and what’s happened to collective responsibility?
“If it was a Tory minister that was opposing government policy in such a way he would undoubtedly have been fired.”
He added: “If our health service is being held back for party political reasons to shore up Nick Clegg’s leadership of the Liberal party then that’s an absolute disgrace.” “
(extract from the BBC website)
Does it not worry anyone else that politicians don’t understand the meaning of democracy any more?
It can be of no surprise to anyone that Nick Clegg has decided to make a confrontational stand this week. After such a horrible showing for the Liberal Democrats in the Local elections and their disastrous loss in the AV referendum, even the most naive of politicians would have realised that they needed to do something drastic.
The NHS reforms, too, were an obvious target. With demonstrations against the reforms earlier in the year and a lot of concerned murmuring from nurses and doctors bouncing around, it was almost a gilt edged opportunity to make a show of strength. Or rather it would have been if the Lib Dem’s hadn’t been fully backing the same proposals a month ago.
But the Lib Dem’s are in a tricky spot, with most of them possibly facing the end to their political careers, and opposing the NHS Reforms are too good a tactical location to give up. It is their last stand, it is their Thermopylae. If they can hold off the rampaging conservative army that are so intent on destroying the nations jewel, then they could very well be labelled heroes but, more importantly for the Lib Dem’s, if they fail to stop them there is still a chance they may be remembered as the valiant martyrs who died fighting for their nation. I wouldn’t be too surprised if, at his next public broadcast, Nick Clegg decided to be completely naked save for a thick coating of oil and a Spartan spear just to hammer the point home.
However, it’s unlikely it will work. The public are not stupid and they have already tarred the Lib Dem’s and are just waiting for the vat of feathers to arrive. They won’t forget that the Lib Dem’s were despised before their ‘valiant’ stand and so will merely shrug when the battle statistic roll in. The Lib Dem’s are more likely to be remembered as the Thebans, than the Spartans: I.e. not at all.
Yet, they have to try. I don’t think we can blame them for trying and even more importantly, if you believe in democracy, they should not be castigated for trying. I am sure many Spartan’s were at the battle of Thermopylae because their mates were there or they wanted to impress their partner. That doesn’t make their stand any less important to the Greek city states. The fight was a last ditch attempt to defend their culture, their way of life, their nations. Just because they were fighting for more personal or selfish reasons, as well, does not stop the fight being a worthwhile fight.
Just because Nick Clegg is opposing the NHS reforms for selfish or personal reasons, does not stop it being a worthwhile fight. He is only doing it because it will raise his popularity. It will only raise his popularity because the public do not want to see these reforms get pushed through. That is democracy: the rule of the people. It is not “a disgrace” that this reform is being held back for party political reasons, no more than it was a disgrace that Geoff Spartan fought at Thermopylae because his mother told him he had to. It was not the best reason to fight, but the fight itself was still a good one.
The public told the Lib Dem’s that they didn’t like what they were doing. The public told them that if they didn’t change they would be over as a political party. So they are changing, they are doing something that will raise their popularity; popularity that will only be bestowed upon them only if they do something the public wants. If you take the public out of this decision and view it as just as about the party, it not only doesn’t make any sense but it also shows you have not grasped the fundamentals of Democracy. And an MP who doesn’t understand democracy is a bigger enemy to this country than an army of Cleggs, Mr Bone.
Oh, and by the way Mr Bone “collective responsibility” is usually only used when a mistake has been made, and there is a lot more honour in standing up and fighting against what you once said rather than keeping quiet and hoping no one notices your blunder.