Some thoughts on the Government's defeat
9 Nov 2005
Waiting for the result of the first vote at 4.45, my neighbour and I agreed that the Government had scraped home. There was not the buzz of excitement that precedes a Government defeat.
But there had been a clue earlier on. At Prime Minister's Questions, Tony Blair had said he would prefer to be right and lose, than win and be wrong (or words to that effect) I thought that strange at the time; normally he is upbeat and confident. But given the scale of the Government's defeat, the Whips must have known they were going to lose and had so informed him.
I was genuinely surprised when the Government lost by around 30 votes - a serious blow to the authority of the Prime Minister who, in retrospect, should have spent more time building up a consensus for 28 days or a similar figure. The judgement they made on Monday to put their heads down and soldier on was wrong; they misread the mood of their own Party.
I asked one rebel why she had not voted with the Government. "I am tired of being treated so badly" was the reply.
Having listened to the debate, I believe we made the right decision. This is an issue we have spent hours debating over recent weeks, and all MP's thought long and hard before they voted as they did. I was at the lunch addressed by Ian Blair yesterday, and heard the police argument at first hand.
But at the end of the day, Parliament must make these decisions and not simply rubber-stamp whatever the police want. And there are other considerations to take into account.
The last time we gave the PM the benefit of the doubt on a security issue, the advice he gave us turned out to be wrong. So this time, in a nutshell, the benefit of the doubt went the other way.
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Copyright Sir George Young Bt. 2015