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Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood: Why I wasn’t present for the equal marriage vote

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  1. Helen Wilson 7 Feb 2013, 1:20pm

    He was meeting with church leaders to discuss bigotry more like!

    He is a coward to not have the courage of his convictions.

    1. pinkpisky 7 Feb 2013, 1:30pm

      What evidence is there for that?

  2. Why can’t absent MPs put in a phone or email vote – we’re in the 21st Century now. [Although it looks like a lot of MPs want to drag us back to the Victorian era.]

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 7 Feb 2013, 1:55pm

      Absolutely agree with that. There is no reason not to be able to have a system whereby MPs who have a genuine excuse to be absent may cast their vote in absentia similar to ex-pat Brits living overseas who can vote in advance of the actual election.

      That said, since Mr. Horwood has indicated he will most definitely vote yes to the next stages of the legislative process, then I won’t have any truck with him on this one. Just because he was meeting with members of a church regarding poverty and homeless doesn’t make him a bigot at all. MPs are supposed to represent everyone without prejudice. A lesson Tory back benchers haven’t yet learned.

      1. bobbleobble 7 Feb 2013, 2:18pm

        I agree Robert on both counts. In other countries MPs are allowed to vote by proxy allowing another MP to cast their vote on their behalf but not here for some reason.

        My MP I have discovered was in a similar situation to Mr Horwood. he supports the bill whole heartedly and will vote for it at later stages but was unable to attend on Tuesday. I sent a rather snotty email upbraiding him which I now regret!

    2. Indeed. When in the past a vote has looked very tight, MPs have been dragged out of hospital and from holidays abroad in order to vote. All at the taxpayers expense of course. And isn’t about time they set up some means of teleconference for holding debates, so that the cost of travelling to Westminster every week – or having second homes down there – as well as pollution, is reduced? If international corporations can do it, why can’t they? The fact is our politicians love to play grandiose games with each other, all at our expense.

    3. I agree, unfornumately our parliament has just not reached the 21st
      century yet.

  3. michael sutherland 7 Feb 2013, 1:35pm

    What a liar!

    Get rid of him and all the other whinge-bags, hand wringing excuse makers.

    Oh, yeah, he had to go for a little natter with his local church, which he could have done at any time, but decided that that was far more important than voting to change a basic fundamental act of parliament that would sweep away hundreds of years of prejudice for a great number of people.

    Go away, go back to your church, and for God’s sake stay there and keep out of politics. You haven’t got the guts for the job.

    Goodbye coward.

    1. I guess you didn’t watch his Out4Marriage video then!

  4. bongobananaman 7 Feb 2013, 1:36pm

    Well I’m no fan of the Lib Dem’s, but I think he’s been very decent about this.

    I do think it’s time we looked at the voting mechanism, it’s so antiquated. I wonder how much time is wasted.

  5. Leigh Hamilton 7 Feb 2013, 1:58pm

    I don’t really see the issue. He opted to miss the vote because he was assured it would be a safe pass, which it was.

  6. As shirkers go, I think I’m prepared to accept Mr Horwood’s excuse (although it might have a bit more punch if his mother had written it). I am much less forgiving of those who showed up and abstained, like Oxford’s Nicola Blackwood. ( Blackwood has taken more positions on marriage equality than exist in the kama sutra and then she wimps out, leaving her constituency’s strong pro- voice utterly muffled in the big vote. People here are really angry that she has made us look so weak.

  7. Garry Cassell 7 Feb 2013, 2:47pm

    This guy is going to get ruptured very soon, trying to straddle the fence…can’t have it both ways…

    1. What fence is he straddling? He is firmly in favour of marriage equality and will enthusiastically vote for it in subsequent Commons votes. He had a prior constituency engagement which had already been postponed once and had received solid assurances that his absence would have no bearing on the vote’s outcome. Get real and stop knocking clear supporters.

      1. How can you claim he is a supporter of gayfolk?

        He ABSTAINED remember.

        If he does not vote in favour at subsequent votes then we must do everything in our power to ensure he is not re-elected.

        1. A non-present is not the same as a registered abstention.

          He will probably be present at the third reading vote, and some MPs who voted ‘aye’ at the second reading will probably be absent from the third reading.

          This is how Parliament works, get used to it.

  8. vversatile 7 Feb 2013, 4:04pm

    It would be nice to see other Lib Dem MPs who missed the vote (Charles Kennedy – I’m looking at you) take an equally strong stance and promise to be present when the bill returns to the commons

    1. If everyone took his line, the vote would not have been passed. All MPs accept invitations subject to parliamentary business. The meeting should have been organised during recess or at a weekend. Irrelevant it had been postponed. I don’t accept absent voting for MPs, they should be in Westminster engaging in the debate. Don’t tell me your views – vote – and make change happen.

    2. Don Harrison 8 Feb 2013, 9:25pm

      I am sure they will be there,

  9. Surely it’s possible to arrange constituency business outwith the working week? The vote was on a Tuesday afternoon, so he’d normally be expected to be in London anyway, not in his constituency 100 miles away.

    So even if this meeting was arranged before the date of the debate & vote was known, why was it arranged for a time when he should be at Westminster?

    I realise MPs have a heavy workload, but arguably their most important duty is to vote for legislation. I know constituents are also very important, but let’s face it, most MPs don’t care one jot about their constituents – except at election time, of course!

    1. I think you will find that most MPs will spend some of the time you would “expect” them to be in London on constituency business. This is not unusual.

      1. Perhaps it’s not unusual, but that doesn’t make it right. If you believe a lot of the MPs who were absent on Tuesday, their other engagements were arranged before the date of the vote was announced and couldn’t be helped. But why arrange other engagements on days there could be a vote in the first place? I realise it’s not an ideal situation as it could mean they’re wasting time at Westminster hanging around just in case there is a vote, when they could be getting on with work elsewhere, but it means the system needs to be changed to avoid this from happening.

        1. Because the vote on the bill was only announced a week previously – after the First Reading when the bill is presented to the House.

          Unsurprisingly, MP’s often have months booked up with local and sometimes national/international matters depending upon their responsibilities. They are usually in the HoC 3-4 days a week.

  10. I’m not quite sure a meeting with the church was more important than a vote on equal marriage.

    Everyone knew it was going to be controversial, everyone knew that how they voted that day would be scritinized by gay people and everyone knew that for a party like the libdems this was a defining moment for them. They could have shined on this with an almost 100% pro equal marriage vote and they chose to be second best to lab or on a par with them. That’s disappointing and not good politics and will be remembered in 2015.

    Sorry when it comes to 2015, Horwood with have a absent tick on his whip/theyworkforyou record. That’s what will be remembered not excuses.

    1. You do know there is a third reading, right?

  11. “I ahd already postponed this meeting once …”

    Could Mr Horwood please explain the reason for which he was willing to postpone his meeting with the church that previous time?

    Obviously something more important than lgbt equality and marriage.

  12. Was this church the Catholic church or the Quakers?

  13. I want specifics.

    Which church meeting was he at.

    At what time was it held.

    Who will vouch for his presence at it.

    If he is trying to squirm his way out of being regarded as a monstrous bigot by making excuses then we need to know, so that we can actively campaign against his re-election.

    1. For pity’s sake! The guy is NOT a bigot. Take a look at his Out4Marriage video before you leap to judge him. If you really want to attack someone, go for the people who actively voted against the bill.

  14. Come off it Martin, you couldn’t possibly have known for sure that your vote was unimportant. You couldn’t be absolutely certain that Labour mighten’d have taken the oppportunity to embarrass the Coalition or know how many tories would vote against. Labour might have opposed the programme motion like they did with Lords Reform and then it would have come down to a very few votes. The opponenentrs might have come up with a legal googly at the last minute that swayed a lot of mps.

    If the vote had been lost then the marriage for LGBTs would have been dead for 10 years plus.

    I’m sure that Cameron, Milliband, Clegg and all the others who did turn up and support this had to arrange things in their diaries – possibly even more important things that your meeting with the Church. But they did it because they knew how important this was and also the significance of getting a massive majority.

    1. He was ASSURED by his party, on the very day of the vote, that his single vote would have no bearing on the outcome. The chances of Labour MPs voting en-masse against a marriage equality Bill simply to embarrass the government is ridiculous – it was NEVER going to happen. For pity’s sake, I can’t understand why people are up in arms over this man’s forgivable absence.

  15. Our MP, Tessa Munt, is also Lib Dem and we’ve been writing to her on this subject for a number of years. In due course she, like Martin Horwood, pledged her support and has consistently said she supported this. When we read the list of MPs who voted for this it gave me a warm moment to see her name included. It felt as if we had played our part and our voice had been heard.

    If we had not found her name on the list and afterwards been told that she’d had another engagement that was more important we’d have been really gutted. It would have been like a kick in the stomach.

    This was the only day in history when Cheltenham’s MP had the opportunity to vote on the 2nd Reading (the main vote) for SSM. We’ve all been lobbying frantically for months and years to try to get every MP’s vote. It’s shameful that he absented himself and treats it like it didn’t really matter.

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