politicians, people, processes, procedures and pain

Labour was recently defeated on a parliamentary motion about the so-called Bedroom Tax.  More background to this story can be found from the Mirror here.

I mention it today because there was a bit of a Twitter scandal (I was watching it unfold even as my pronouncements on the beast have been restricted this week).  The scandal can be fairly summarised if you read the following post:


So tonight the Labour party motion was defeated by 252 to 226 I am still to find a comprehensive list of those who voted yea or nae. But if all 257 Labour MPs had turned up they would have defeated the government. My calculations show around 30 were missing. Who were they and I wonder why they didn’t turn up to vote? Is this embarrassing for ED?

*update* 47 missing elected as Labour MPs as listed below.

Doesn’t look good for the People’s Party, does it?  Below the post in question, there are explanatory comments around what probably happened.  This one, for example, will suffice to give a flavour I think:

Yes, we found out this morning from our local Labour vice chair that it was down to pairing. The whips on both sides have pairing arrangements to suit MP’s who cannot make a vote for some reason. In short if more Labour MP’s who live far from London had voted more Tories would have taken time out from their second jobs to vote also and it would not have changed the result. Which confirms that the Tories new exactly what they were planning and was Rigged from the start. So the pressure stays on we will keep fighting this grassroots. 🙂

For those with busy lives, for those involved in the high-falutin’ mechanics of parliamentary procedure, it’s probably quite a simple thing.  To pair your vote off with another who cannot find it in themselves to bear witness to so many people’s pain really isn’t hard, after all.  But it should be.  And that it isn’t tells the toughest story of all.  Whilst those who are closest to the pain and underbellies of life shouldn’t always take the final decisions – I’m thinking here mainly of victims of truly violent acts, and in particular the families of such victims – in the light of these acts of presence which so clearly fail to consummate themselves, we ought to rethink rather a lot who takes decisions about what and how.

This Coalition government has demonstrated a far wider truth about governance in general than the simple visceral response that Tories are all evil and LibDems are all duplicitous.  Given distance, wealth, power and procedural history, any politician of any political party might be tempted to ignore the people’s pain.

That notable Labour MPs who, as a rule, show a perfectly judged nous and ability to engage cleverly and intelligently on social media (I don’t need to name them – yous all know exactly who I mean) simply didn’t appreciate the social-media impact – or, indeed, the political flak – which might arise from such procedural conveniences … well, it’s clear that even they, even today, are living unhappily cocooned existences.

Which is why finding a solution to this Tory-LibDem government shouldn’t be the only thing that preoccupies us over the next year or so.  As a lady clearly explains in one part of this short video, Labour really must do a better job at convincing the people it obviously wishes to lead that leading the people won’t mean up the garden path.

Bearing witness to a society’s pain was never more needed than now.  And we need politicians, people, processes and procedures all capable of working with this reality.

For it wasn’t the result that really counted here.  It was the solidarity which showing your public face might have inspired and demonstrated.  It was the marker in the sand which you could have chosen to lay down.  It was that “thus far and no farther” spirit so many of those suffering the consequences needed to hear from you.

That’s what was needed – not numbers but empathy.

Not the number-crunching KPIs of professional political animals.

Just the emotional ties of human beings – able to understand exactly how the fate of the poor should lie in their empowerment, not your condescension.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s