Friday, 25 June 2010

Rebels With Cause

And with causes.

Simon Hughes and David Davis are both said to be "fomenting rebellion", and the line seems to be that they are doing so "from opposite ends" of the Coalition's coalition. Really? They are on the same side on civil liberties. As they could be on other matters, although Hughes has the more consistent record on them.

For example, Hughes abstained rather than vote in favour of Maastricht. The Lib Dems set great store by election, by transparency, and by decision-making at the lowest practicable level. So Hughes should begin a campaign for the United Kingdom to adopt the show-stopping Empty Chair Policy in the Council of Ministers until such time as it meets in public and publishes an Official Report akin to Hansard. He should put down legislative amendments that would require British Ministers to adopt that approach. Diane Abbott would vote for them. So would David Davis. Indeed, who would not, and why?

The Lib Dems are like Labour in that they, and their predecessor parties, voted against the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies year on year between 1979 and 1997. Those Policies are wildly at variance with any sort of historic Liberal principle, and the CFP hits Lib Dem-voting areas particularly hard. So Hughes should begin a campaign, at the very least to reinstate those mysteriously vanished annual votes, and then to use those votes to demand the abolition of those Policies. Diane Abbott would back it. So would David Davis. Indeed, who would not, and why?

And then there is Rupert Murdoch's attempt to obtain the other sixty-one per cent of BSkyB. That highlights the need to ban anyone from owning stakes both in newspapers and in broadcasting, or in more than one national daily newspaper, or in more than one national weekly newspaper, or in more than one television station, including more than one ITV regional franchise-holder. Here is a cause around which to rally an alliance of Lib Dem backbenchers, Labour's Guardian and Mirror Tendencies, and those in tune with the increasing reversion of the Telegraph and Mail titles to High Toryism, or at least to something in that vein. Something, in fact, very much like the position of David Davis.

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