This may be a bit premature, but a blogger never lets a good rant go to waste. The chap who has been arrested for publishing the names of MP’s who voted in favour of the action in Iraq has not, of course, been arrested for any such thing, but for incitement to murder. Whether he is in fact guilty of this is another question entirely, but it is being suggested that Stephen Timms was attacked because of the information provided on the site, not because of the incitement. It is not so far from there to suggesting that votes taken in Parliament should be secret, for security reasons. Someone will suggest it very soon. I would bet a large sum of money. Let us consider this suggestion.
The voting records of MP’s are a matter of public record because anything else would be a negation of democracy. It is utterly inconceivable that, for any reason at all, the public should be unable to know how our representatives have voted and what they have said. Whether, that is, they have in fact represented us (mostly they don’t, of course). If the government is simply going to announce that new laws have been passed there is no point whatsoever in having a Parliament.
A secret vote would mean individual MP’s taking decisions which affect everyone in the country, raising taxes, introducing yet more indoctrination into the education system, determining what we may or may not sell to each other and in what conditions, telling the people of Northern Ireland or Gibraltar whether they can or cannot be British, sending men to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then pretending that they haven’t done it, that it was someone else. The death of democracy has been declared rather too often already, but that would indeed be the end. If our elected representatives are scared to do the hugely responsible job that they have begged to be chosen for, then they must stand down and let someone with a proper pair of cojones do it in their place. As I have said here many times, their security does not matter any more than that of the rest of us; what matters is that they represent us in Parliament and hold the government to account (that is, stop it doing things, in particular taking our money, ans sometimes make it do the right things, whatever they are).
As I said, this may be a bit premature, but I offer these thoughts anyway. And when the idea is mooted, as it will be, I’ll dig it up again, repost it and say ‘Ahaah!’