Sunday, 15 July 2012

Quashing Tory Rebels

Rebellion has caused serious ruptures
Somehow, and I'm not sure how my 90 year old Grandfather told me, I am related to "Hanging" Judge Jefferies. As a quick potted history for those unaware of my ancestor's activities he served as King James II's lord chief justice and was fairly brutal in his execution of the law.

Indeed the act that he is remembered for the most was the Taunton Assizes in the wake of the Monmouth rebellion. Lord Jefferies went down in the wake of the King's army to deal with the rebels and what followed was serious oppression; 300 (144 sentenced in 2 days!) were executed (either hanged, hung-drawn and quartered, beheaded and even burnt to death) with their bodies put on display around the country as a reminder of what befalls traitors, another 900 odd were deported to the West Indies as a source of cheap labour and were ultimately doomed to die in transport or from yellow fever on arrival, and many more sentenced to gaol where a good many died of Typhus. It was one of the harshest revolt quashings in England since the War of the Roses and has gone down in infamy.

Needless to say, this is not how to deal with a rebellion.

A good leader needs to be able put down a revolt without causing mass casualties as it only breeds future resentment and enduring hatred. James II was forced to flee England and has never been well loved by her people nor by history, as for Judge Jefferies he died in the Tower of London from Kidney related illness and his name is still hated in the West Country.

David Cameron is in a similar boat following the Lords reform revolt by some 91 MPs. Having had a duly deeply vexed Nick Clegg telling him to get his house in order the Prime Minister has to look long and hard at the reasons for why such a revolt occurred.

In the first instance there are those who genuinely feel that the bill is wrong. They will be the harder ones to reach and it won't be until the bill gets hashed out in Parliament that these MPs may be brought into line in a Hearts and Minds style exercise. Ultimately if they do not agree still, then they don't agree and it is to be expected.

Then there are the others. Lets be honest, there are some Conservative MPs that rightly or wrongly dislike Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats and would happily severe the ties in the Coalition and go it alone - You know who you are...
 When added with trouble makers the whole situation gets exacerbated. These MPs are the ones that Cameron has to deal with strongly. It doesn't matter if they like Us or not they have to look at the Coalition agreement and honour it. If not there will be repercussions.

So far Cameron's handling has been a little reactionary. Some MPs, such as Penny Mordaunt of Portsmouth, who had been pipped for a ministerial position or aide duties have had those doors closed whether long or short term only time will tell. Other aides have either resigned or in the case of Angie Bray been sacked, their positions most likely going to more loyal MPs.

Then on Wednesday it was reported in the Evening Standard that Mr Cameron had an angry exchange with Jesse Norman MP (leader of the rebellion) which one witness described as Verbal Colonic irrigation. This has of course been played down by the PM's office as well as by friends of Mr Norman and the event was described as Mr Cameron being "Testy" rather than livid.

Later on though Mr Norman and Nadhim Zahawi MP were forced to drink up and leave the Commons bar before the chief whip  John Randall arrived. Apparently Mr Randall was effervescent with rage that the line had been defied so strongly even to the point of doing an Eric Joyce! According to the Standard a female MP stated; Jesse has just been bullied off the estate.

Although the rebellion needs to be dealt with for Coalition unity and to quash both sides devolving into a tit-for-tat battle of Well they didn't support us on... it needs to be done so properly and deftly. Throwing weight around a viciously putting down this rebellion will only breed contempt and further problems not only for the Government but also for David Cameron's leadership.

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