Sherryl was elected in 2010 and wasted no time in getting to work, most notably in the Commons bar. The Tories had to apologise after accusations that she drunkenly insulted a doorman before attempting to vote on the minor matter of the 2010 Budget. The media then gate-crashed the party, following which – though I’m sure it’s entirely unconnected – Murray pressed for tighter press regulation.
Lest anyone think this an isolated case of self-interest, in 2016 she was one of the many Tories who rent out properties on the side to vote against making landlords ensure their properties are ‘fit for human habitation’. She’s also voted against limiting letting agents’ fees (to tenants, of course) and more secure tenancies for rack-renters’ victims, and has happily supported both welfare cuts and the ‘Bedroom Tax’. [You can check out her full voting record here.]
Sherryl is an enthusiastic Brexiter and embodies the new, outward-looking Global Britain of which we hear so much, so often. For example, she voted against protecting EU citizens’ residence rights after Brexit, despite Vote Leave’s promise – signed and widely promoted by Johnson, Gove and Patel – that their status wouldn’t change.
Which brings us to the subject of dishonesty in politics and those who practise it.
Following Peter Stefanovic’s and Dawn Butler MP’s recent exposures of the many untruths told to Parliament by the Prime Minister, a friend wrote to Murray asking her to sign an Early Day Motion (EDM) on something that has become a recreational pastime, rather than a matter of censure in the Mother of Parliaments: lying. (You’ll recall that, when Butler accused “Boris” of it, she – not the proven liar – was shown the door – a quite remarkable exhibition of terminal constitutional sclerosis that would fill the streets of a banana republic, but is quietly accepted on sofas up and down what styles itself the world’s greatest democracy.)
An EDM is not, despite the name, the involuntary result of a late night vindaloo. It’s a device to record the views of individual MPs, or to draw attention to events or campaigns and gauge the level of support in the House. Their impact all depends on how many sign, hence my friend’s letter asking her to add her name.
Sheryll replied to my friend’s request in the negative:
“Early Day Motions,” she wrote, or perhaps copied and pasted from a Conservative Central Office template, “have been devalued by the utter ridiculousness of many of them.”
She then gave examples, like EDMs proposing changes in EU regulations about toxins in seals’ eggs, the existence of Robin Hood, and Ann Widdecombe’s dancing abilities (I only made up one of the above). [Sheryll Murray was happy to sign an EDM demanding that Big Ben chime on ‘Brexit Day, so she is by no means wholly opposed to their use! Ed]
Murray’s response was just as shocking as Dawn Butler’s exclusion for stating what everyone already knows: that “Boris” lies in the country’s highest institution and hides behind its privileges to do so. For what Sherryl was saying is that, because EDMs have often been used for trivial purposes, this is somehow a good reason to reject those which are serious, like this one. Which is bonkers reasoning. This awful logic is only exceeded by her political sophistry. What she really means is that she dare not express an opinion on this matter.
MPs can choose either to sign an EDM, in which case we can assume they take the matter seriously, or not to sign it, in which case we can fairly assume they don’t. So when an EDM isn’t about confirming that John Redwood is in fact an alien or that cats have wheels, but is about the acceptability of lying to Parliament (and therefore to us), a refusal to sign is tantamount to saying that lying as a political tactic is just fine.
That, very simply, is effectively what Sherryl Murray told my friend. And the same goes for all those other MPs who turned their cowardly backs on the most pressing issue threatening the democracy to which they pay the thinnest of lip service.
This refusal to sign will almost certainly be replicated by every Conservative MP in West Country Bylines’ region – all 29 of them. It would be good if this prediction could prove to be wrong. Ed
Lying and liars are killing our democracy: help to make it stop
Make lying in the House of Commons a criminal offence “The Government should introduce legislation to make lying in the House of Commons a criminal offence. This would mean that all MPs, including Ministers, would face a serious penalty for knowingly making false statements in the House of Commons, as is the case in a […]