This past week has seen a vote in the House of Commons regarding the thorny matter of whether there should be a referendum on the the European Constitution (sorry I mean Lisbon Treaty). Largely due to the majority of LibDems abstaining the government carried the day with a very comfortable majority. Now I know that the LibDems had tried to instigate a referendum on the whole business of whether we should remain in Europe and that proposal had got short shrift but to have a three line whip to abstain from voting is totally unacceptable. Europe of course is a subject that divides all of the parties; in fact I can well remember at the time of Harold Wilson's referendum on Europe that right winger Enoch Powell and left winger Tony Benn were united in their opposition to the European ideal. You can hardly have got two more unlikely bedfellows than them!
To me for an MP not to vote one way or the other on such an important issue is a total cop out, a gross dereliction of their duty to their constituents in fact. Although I'm a pro referendum man I would have preferred the abstainers to have sided with the government rather than not vote at all. In Devon and Cornwall there were just two LibDem MPs who were principled enough to vote for a referendum. They were Richard Younger-Ross representing 'Teignbridge' and Andrew George whose patch is 'St Ives'. Well done gentlemen! You put your westcountry colleagues to shame.