Last night in the House of Commons, MPs voted to give the government six more months of emergency powers by a tally of 484 to 76. Simple maths will tell you that the Tories could not have achieved this on their own; Starmer whipped the parliamentary Labour party to vote the measure through. It makes one wonder why — or even if — we have an official opposition at all any longer.
The only party that voted as a bloc against the extension of emergency powers was the Liberal Democrats. This followed up on some fiery performances by Ed Davey in the media in the build-up to the vote, asking in stark terms why a government that has laid out a timetable to end all coronavirus restrictions in less than three months needs a whole further half a year of emergency powers to see us safely through to the end of this crisis.
It may have been a case of far too little, far too late, but I have to credit the Lib Dems for being the only party to actually stick up for our civil liberties here. It’s not often — in fact, almost never — that I get to say something nice about the Liberal Democrats, so I’m glad to take the opportunity to do so here. But they really should have come to the fore on the curtailment of our freedoms a lot sooner, particularly seeing as how they are the only supposed liberal party in the country. Instead, they followed Starmer like a sycophantic little brother — at least until last night.
Could this vote be the start of something big for the Lib Dems? Having cheered for them for over a decade at one point, let me strike a note of cynicism here — not bloody likely.