Posts Tagged ‘Moss Evans’

Crossman, Etzioni, abstaining and the big society.

02/02/2011, 12:30:45 PM

by Tom Watson

“One of the difficulties in politics is that politicians are shocked by those who are really prepared to let their thinking reach any conclusion. Political thinking consists in deciding on the conclusion first and then finding good arguments for it. An open mind is considered irresponsible – and perhaps it really is”.

It will be sixty years in November since Richard Crossman penned that entry in his diary. I think about that quote a lot; have done ever since I first read his diaries over many hours in the coffee shop of the national film theatre in 1984. It repeats back to me most days, particularly these dark days of opposition. Sometimes it’s the little things that trigger the memory of it.

This week, for example, the Labour party has done a lot of abstaining. The Tories are mired in a long, long internal argument about the European bill. Our corporate view is that much of the discussion, and subsequent backbench clauses to the bill, are private grief for the prime minister. For Labour MPs, the division bells have been closely followed by a text message with the words “we are abstaining”. I hate abstaining on anything. It seems so weak. Last night I cracked and decided to positively abstain, that is, to vote in both “aye” and “no” lobbies. A whip – friendly, polite, gently firm – asked me not to. I obliged. Is my thinking so unclear that I can’t even conclude to abstain right? It’s been a busy, stressful week but I was disappointed with myself for being so compliant. (more…)

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