Barry: Fair play to Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney for defying the government over tuition fees
Dec 15 2010 by Barry Gibson, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
I’M not normally convinced when a politician tells me: “I haven’t made my mind up yet.”
The phrase usually translates as: “I have made my mind up, but now’s not a good time to reveal what I’ve decided.”
So when Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney told me last Sunday he was unsure how he would vote on the proposed tuition fees hike, I had my doubts that I was getting the whole story.
As a former media man himself, I’m sure he would recognise this as good old-fashioned journalistic scepticism.
When the Conservative MP told me he hadn’t decided whether to vote to triple tuition fees, I was confident he would end up in the yes lobby with the rest of his party colleagues.
Even if he truly was unconvinced of the proposal’s merits, I was sure that four days of gentle persuasion from the whips would win him round.
We cynics are normally right, but there are rare occasions when our bleak view of humanity is confounded.
And so it was last Thursday evening, when Mr McCartney voted against the tuition fees rise – one of only six Tories who marched through the no lobby.
He had, by all accounts, agonised over the decision, torn between loyalty to his party and the views of many of his constituents.
In his own words, he voted against the Government “with a heavy heart”. And I think all of us – of whatever political persuasion – should say “fair play” to him, because he will pay a price for rebelling.
I don’t know if Mr McCartney harbours ambitions of getting into Government but if he does, he had better be a patient man.
He was one of 148 new Conservative MPs elected in May. And his rebellion last week has installed him around about 148th place in the queue for ministerial promotion.
It is no exaggeration to say that the whips will make sure the honourable member for Colne Valley remains on the backbenches for some time to come.
According to one of his fellow Tory rebels David Davis, party bosses told the tuition fee rebels: “Right, you don’t vote for this, your career is over.”
Mr McCartney is no fool; he must have known the serious consequences of going against his party in such a tight and controversial vote.
But I suppose, if I was being cynical again, I would point out that his vote against tuition fees will do him no harm in the constituency.