Tuesday, December 21, 2004

ID cards and the Tories

The government won the vote to secure a second reading of the ID cards scheme by 385 votes to 93. The Liberal Democrats were opposed and 19 Labour MPs - mostly leftwingers also voted for the rebel amendment. I think the Tory response is further evidence of the state the Conservatives have got themselves into: while only 10 actually voted against the government, this number included members of the Shadow Cabinet with John Redwood and Peter Lilley explicitly rejecting Michael Howard's two-line whip. Also, a further 70 Tories went Christmas shopping, rather than support their beleaguered leader.

Further evidence for someone like myself who subscribes to the view that the Tories cannot take their survival for granted. The ID card issue - one would have thought - would be a perfect opportunity for them to embarrass the government by siding with their left wing critics on the backbenches, and could do so by dressing it up in lots of Burkean language about the ancient liberties of freeborn Englishmen. But Michael Howard, as he has done on so many other issues, has demonstrated his unfailing ability to pick up the wrong end of whatever stick happens to be lying about.

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