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.)


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