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Henry Smith and his hyperactive abstention

July 14th, 2011 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · No Comments · Politics

Does our MP, Henry Smith, support the increase in IMF lending capacity?  Well the answer is yes. And no.

At the vote in Parliament he voted for it and also voted against, effectively abstaining.   Personally I don’t have a problem with abstention as such.  If you don’t have enough knowledge of an issue to form an opinion, or just don’t have an opinion then why vote arbitrarily, or vote the way somebody else tells you?   I would go further and say that it makes a nice change from MPs having to pretend to know everything and have an opinion about everything.

But why do it that way when staying in your seat would have exactly the same result, why go to all that bother?  I can think of one good reason and one bad reason.  The good reason would be that voting twice at least shows up as a vote, a positive abstention if you like.   When TheyWorkForYou publish their stats of how many votes an MP attends there is no other way to register that you were actually there but didn’t care one way or another whether to spent £9billion of public funds on the IMF while councils are laying off staff.  By just abstaining you are lumped in with those MPs that couldn’t, or didn’t want to, turn up.

The bad reason?  Well when you meet a constituent, journalist or blogger with a stronger opinion than yourself you can, semi-legitimately, say you agree with them to the extent you voted the way they wanted you to.  You just don’t mention that you also voted the other way too.  Whether this was Henry’s intention or not he certainly seems to be exploring the possibilities of it, as Autonomous Mind has pointed out – and pointed out using enough sarcasm that any more would be superfluous.  The EU Referendum version of it is quite amusing too.

As far as I can make out, Conservativehome was running a list of MPs who voted against the increase, hailing them as Eurosceptic heroes.  The EU Referendum site, on the other hand, were listing those who voted for the increase, listing them as traitors.  Henry emailed them, asking to be removed from their list and then… referred them to the the Conhome list as proof that he voted the other way.  EU Referendum, in a masterpiece of understatement called this “a tad disingenuous” when they went to Hansard to double check.

Had he asked to be removed from the list because he effectively abstained that would be fine.  Had he asked to be removed from both lists that would be fine.

It may be a small thing, but if somebody can lie about something so easily checked then what else are they up to?  Is ‘lie’ too strong a word or is it just spin?

Or maybe Henry finally made his mind up on the trifling matter of £9billion and is now regretting and denying his other vote.  Now how about that vote on bringing in legislation for constituents to recall MPs?  I think a few people in Crawley might fancy a go at that if they knew their MP’s statements on even something as straightforward as which way he voted were as trustworthy as a News of the World reporter.

And talking of reporters… maybe those working for our local press will manage to get more of an answer from Henry then EU Referendum did.


Hat tip to Peter for sharing this on his Facebook page.

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