It should have been the end of the political world last Friday.
There was a vote in Parliament about changing a piece of government legislation, and Liberal Democrat MPs – including ministers, such as Vince Cable, who first ostentatiously cleared his diary – merrily walked through different lobbies from the Conservatives. The Conservatives were defeated and… well, government continued, coalition continued, the political world trundled on with Andrew George’s bill to reform the Spare Room Subsidy / Bedroom Tax progressing to its next stage. (For the policy background see Lynne Featherstone’s blog post which contains the email she sent to constituents.)
‘Experts’, especially some in Liberal Democrat government circles, have in the past decried the idea of Lib Dems and Conservatives openly voting differently as an absurd idea that would end the political world.
Well it happened, and the political world didn’t end. In fact, it’s an approach the Liberal Democrats should follow more often for, as Nick Thornsby put it back in 2011:
The Lib Dem strategy must be public negotiation, not internal opposition.
P.S. Ironically, the ‘this would be absurd and the political world would end’ argument was the one used for why Lib Dem MPs couldn’t stick to the Coalition Agreement and abstain in the vote on tuition fees. What happened on Friday – and the lack of resulting political cataclysm – hardly buttresses that argument.