Why does Ed Miliband want to force Chris Huhne out of the climate change talks?

Chris Huhne, who is leading the British team at the Cancun Climate Change Talks, is having to fly home early to take part in tomorrow’s tuition fees vote because Labour is refusing to ‘pair’ an MP with him.

Pairing has been around for hundreds of years for good reason. If two MPs each know they are going to vote in opposite ways then if they both agree not to vote the end result is the same as if they had both voted – but such pairing agreements allow, for example, a seriously ill MP to avoid having to come in to vote in person. They also can cover situations such as MPs being on official business overseas.

As I said on BBC London this morning, if I were an MP (I’ve just got the initials, not the job :-)) I would be voting against the fees increase, but for Labour to be refusing to make the usual pairing arrangements in this case is just the sort of childish politics that makes the public view politicians so lowly and makes the sensible people in politics cringe.

The fact that it would result in Chris Huhne flying (!) back from climate change talks should give saner heads pause for thought. (And yes, the criticism of not making pairing arrangements when they would be sensible is one that can be levied against other oppositions in the past, but with three party leaders now all talking about wanting new politics perhaps it’s about time rather more of it arrived.)

6 responses to “Why does Ed Miliband want to force Chris Huhne out of the climate change talks?”

  1. Surely the real issue is the archaic system of voting using in Parliament.

    I’m not suggesting that Huhne votes by SMS – but it seems absurd that absent MPs can’t vote. After all, it’s not like they often bother attending the debates.

  2. The date of the tuition fees vote was set only last week, even though they knew that they had no agreement in the Lib Dem ranks over how individuals would vote. The Cancun summit was arranged months and months ago.

    A better question would be why did the government arrange this vote on a day when they knew that he would be in Cancun?

  3. Five potential reasons:

    a) Labour thinks its likely to be _that_ close.
    b) Labour aren’t 100% sure that Huhne would vote for rather than abstain.
    c) The NUS pledge means that for all LibDem MPs, quite a lot of Labour and even 4 Tories that the outcome of the vote isn’t just the aggregate votes for and against the Governement policy but who casts those votes ie. will a particular MP do what they pledged to (even if they hadn’t really thought through the consequences of making that pledge)
    d) Labour don’t want to be helpful to the coalition and want to make as many LibDems as possible vote to support higher fees.
    e) Any combination of the above.

  4. He should really be quite grateful to be relieved of the onerous duty of presiding over or even being at the massive FAIL that is Cancun. The Global Warming farce is just about over and the sooner the culprits manage to disengage themselves from the ongoing debacle the better for them. The Cancun conference is a bad joke and has been treated as such even by the usual propagandists in the media. It’s not going to achieve anything at all and will end in ignominy whether Huhne is there or not.

    This will be the next LibDem reality moment. Be prepared — it’s coming.

  5. Why doesn’t Chris Huhne pair up with a Lib Dem that is planning on voting against the bill? There are enough views in the government not to need to involve the opposition. David and Nick can sort it between them, don’t blame Ed!

  6. I agree with Tim.

    Huhne shouldn’t be allowed off the hook when it comes to voting on this bill, and a Labour MP shouldn’t be deprived of his or her right to oppose it.

    David Davis seems pretty certain to vote against – and he’s part of the same government as Chris Huhne. Why won’t he pair?

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