During the three or four weeks ( Blimey, where did that go?! ) since my last posting, during which time (aside from still wondering when the Curry countenance will be excised from the NN home page wherein the other two columns are seemingly updated without problem) I’ve been tackling my MP over her motivation for signing homeopathy-supporting EDM 284, and playing around with Parliament’s oft unresponsive EDM site a little more, delving into one or two things, which three or four might find of interest.
I found that I was perhaps a little harsh on the deficiency of signatures (71) on EDM 1636 (‘Libel Reform’; tabled 21/3/11). In the previous session (2009-10), Liberal Democrat Evan Harris was still a Member, and had tabled (on 9/12/09) EDM 423 (‘Libel Law Reform’), garnering 249 signatures. So, Julian Huppert wasn’t exactly original, but EDMs do get buried among inane, pointless dross, so good to keep chipping away. Whatever, this particular issue has been persuadable enough to provoke Parliament into debating and moving on it… although it seems that maybe we shouldn’t all start slapping each other on the back just yet. Salute again to Julian Huppert (who happens to like EDMs, having signed 305 in the last session, including tabling 45) in seemingly picking up Evan Harris’s pro-science baton, and particularly for tabling (16/9/10) EDM 767 (‘Science is Vital’), which gained 141 signatures, and might ring familiar to some. With such wide variation in attention to EDMs, we perhaps shouldn’t read too much into absence of signatures. But my anti-EDM, homeopathy-sympathetic MP did not sign EDM 767 (although it was tabled during the time she was still signing some); and neither did David Tredinnick. Coincidence?
The EDM page search engine usefully allows for searching by Member, by EDM number, and – though not so usefully – by alphabetically-listed ‘topic’. For example, if, like me, you are interested in who is signing stuff in support of, say, ‘homeopathy’, the word doesn’t do it. I came upon some homeopathy-sympathetic EDMs by chance – via my own MPs list, which led me onto Tredinnick. (Hours of endless to be had, I can tell you.) I previously alluded to his enthusiasm for the EDM, in having signed 79 in the last session. But such a figure is paltry in comparison to some. There is a small cadre of MPs whose EDM hit-rate has, in the last session, topped the thousand mark, namely: Peter Bottomley (Conservative) 1116, Martin Caton (Labour) 1364, Jeremy Corbyn (Labour) 1253, Jim Dobbin (Labour) 1067, Mike Hancock (Lib Dem) 1371, Kelvin Hopkins (Labour) 1122, John Leech (Lib Dem) 1093, John McDonnell (Labour) 1427, and Alan Meale (Labour) 1135. Might make you wonder whether this identifies a more conscientious politician, or just what else they spend their time doing in London?
Notwithstanding my suspicion of pseudoscience-touting MPs, in fairness to Tredinnick, he does, being a member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Health, apparently devote good time to ‘positive’ health issues, as reflected in his EDM ticklist, such as his laudable support for various medical initiatives and causes. But then, there is all this other stuff. Hats off again to Huppert for tabling the contrary amendments (scroll down, if you’re interested enough to read the links).
This one is interesting: ‘For-Profit Universities’ – surely an example, if there are any to be had, of ideological difference; to date, not one Tory has signed it (although no amendment has been tabled). However, whereas a signature on an EDM obviously implies support and/or sympathy, it doesn’t follow that absence necessarily indicates a contrary stance. I mean, they’re busy, aren’t they? Despite it supposedly being about the motion, I suspect there are a number of
excuses reasons when members consciously (as opposed to ignorantly) do not sign whatever EDM. So there is little point in asking them why they did not sign one. Thus, the failure of the Democratic Unionist Party MP-tabled (15/9/10) and -sponsored EDM 739 (‘Papal Visit to the UK’) to generate interest could be to do with other members’ desire not to be seen as associating themselves with a party that has some pretty wacky ideological stances. (As perhaps recognised by the 86 signatories of EDM 185; ‘Ulster Museum Exhibition’. Again, way to go, Julian! Lucky ol’ Cambridge?) But then other EDMs tabled by DUP members do attract (a modest number of) signatories (and two DUP members did not sign 739). Interestingly, no contrary amendment – ie endorsement of the Pope’s visit – was tabled, despite this having presumably been, if the weasel-wordiness of their big cheeses is a guide, the line taken by the three main parties. But ministers generally do not bother themselves with EDMs. So, perhaps it’s something else…
Reminds me… last year I wrote to my MP on that one also. The reply was another one of those that, because it can’t agree with you, points out the positive things of which you are obviously ill aware. You know, those things couched in language that you can’t argue with, and so must concede your point – that taxpayer’s money ought not to be spent on fawning hospitality to a criminally neglectful homophobe misogynist – to be ignorable/irrelevant/unreasonable. Of course, silly me. I just don’t get it, do I? There’s me thinking that what prevents them from recording any objection to The Pope is the likely affect on the votes of those constituents still beguiled by the dogma of his infallibility.
Sorry, I steered that towards a particular bugbear of mine. Still, no harm done. Neither time nor money wasted. I’m not after your votes.