Bob Marshall-Andrews MP is quoted today in the Observer as saying:
"They can't muzzle the whole of the party, and it seems to me foolish in the extreme in the present climate to start describing civil liberties as a stunt,' he told The Observer. 'I have had emails asking, 'Why does it take a Tory to say this'?"
And it's a good question! However, the answer is pretty straighforward, too. Socialists tend to believe that the 'State knows best' and tend to believe that as a result the master/servant relationship between citizen and government would really better be expressed the other way round. Countries all round the world have tried this and failed. People don't like it and, given the free choice, get rid of governments operating under this model.
Normally, open defiance like this of Party policy would lead to the whip being withdrawn, although with over 40 Labour MPs having voted against the Government last week, Marshall-Andrews is in good company. He is also not the kind of man easily pushed around. Can Gordon Brown really afford to take a firm line? I tend to doubt it, but we'll know more after Labour's parliamentary committee meets on Wednesday. Labour has been trying to mock David Davis for his 'maverick' stand, but it seems the smile may get wiped off its face pretty quickly, if this is a guide.