Alex Massie

Responsibility, Duty, Decency

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Mr Eugenides observes that for all the talk - much of it reasonable - that the Tories are soft on liberty and that we lbertarian-types should therefore vote for UKIP (no thanks!), UKIP's only MP, Bob Spink, voted with the government on 42 Days. In the comments, Trixy, of Is There More to Life Than Shoes fame, says this was fine because he wasmerely reflecting the views of his constituents.

Which means it's time to give Edmund Burke's famous 1774 speech in Bristol another airing...

"Certainly, Gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a Representative, to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion high respect; their business unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and, above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But, his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgement, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you; to any man, or to any sett of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the Law and the Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your Representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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