By Tim Hardy
As Liberal Democrats go to the main conference hall to vote on the choice of emergency motion, it becomes more and more clear that the leadership is ready to ignore the wishes of their party if members first vote to discuss dropping the bill and then actually vote to do so. A source told the Sun:
Under Lib Dem rules, motions passed at the conference in Gateshead, Tyneside, should automatically become party policy.
But a source close to Deputy PM Mr Clegg last night insisted that did not apply when Lib Dems are in Government.
It means the party leadership will be free to defy the wishes of their rank-and-file members even if they call for the Bill to be axed. The source said: “Any vote will inform and advise policy rather than dictate it.
This is the line already been pushed by Minister Andrew Stunell.
Jeremy Browne has also hinted to the BBC that they have no intention of listening to their members on the bill, trumpeting the fact that they listen more than other parties do, suggesting that they have listened enough:
“I don’t think anyone would want to say we haven’t given our party members a real say on this bill. We discuss policer our conference much more than the other two parties do; we were discussing this a year ago at our conference. Our members have been involved, the Government have looked at the view of Lib Dem members. Actually, the last party that has to answer the charge that we don’t pay attention to members’ views is the Lib Dems, I think we do that to a greater degree than any other party.”
What we see is a leadership preparing to abandon its principles again and betray the rules of its own party if members do not agree to debate the loyalist motion, ironically called “Protecting our NHS: the Shirley Williams Motion” and instead dare speak their minds and call for the government to drop the Health and Social Care bill.