Huhne Dodges Bullet

Chris Huhne met local Oxfam at his office before flying to Cancun but had missed out on meeting students the week before

Eastleigh’s Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne has avoided voting in last night’s controversial and unpopular tuition fees bill which saw widespread rioting around the House of Commons after it was narrowly passed.

Mr Huhne is one of the Lib Dem MPs who had signed a pre election pledge to oppose any rise in tuition fees and student activists have been lobbying the MPs including Mr Huhne to vote against the proposed rise.

The Energy Secretary is currently staying at the resort of Cancun in Mexico for the global climate talks – where discussions are described as deadlocked – so the decision was taken not to fly him back for the crucial vote although the Energy Minister Conservative MP Gregory Barker DID fly back for the vote and is expected to return to the Cancun talks today.

Energy Minister Gregory Barker returned from Cancun to vote

Meanwhile, back at Westminster, Mr Huhne’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, the Lib Dem MP Jenny Willott resigned from her post to vote against the bill.

MP Jenny Willott has resigned as Mr Huhne's PPS

Mr Huhne had been under pressure to honour his pledge and vote down the proposal.

He had previously been confronted by a group of angry protestors at the London School Economics (LSE) and possibly this experience had led him to miss meeting a group of local students who marched on his Eastleigh office last month.

The MP also risked alienating his own constituency party as up to 21 local Lib Dem councillors are said to have contacted him urging him to vote against increased fees.

The Daily Echo reported that there had even been a call to deselect him if he supported the bill.

The Lib Dem leader for Eastleigh and Hampshire County Council, Keith House, had also made a series of public criticisms via twitter over the last few weeks suggesting students:

“Have a right to expect that Lib Dem MPs will honour signed pledges”


“The Coalition is weakened, not strengthened, by Lib Dem Ministers breaking a pledge made to young people, losing integrity along the way.”

For Mr Huhne to honour his pledge and vote against the government he would have had to follow the example of his PPS and resign – which would have cost him his £163,000 a year cabinet post.

Although he could have abstained and retained his post had he wanted to, this could have been embarrassing for Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.

The split in the Liberal Democrats and disaffection among student voters with Mr Clegg has caused bookmakers to start taking bets on the next Liberal Democrat leader.

The current favourite at Betfair is rising star Danny Alexander with Mr Huhne – runner up last time – a close second while Ladbrokes have both David Laws and Tim Farron ahead of Mr Huhne who at 8/1 is a distant third.

I’ve put a tenner on Chris Huhne at ladbroke’s. Do you think my money is safe?


  5 comments for “Huhne Dodges Bullet

  1. Andy Lombardi
    December 10, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Dear Sir,

    Yesterday’s front page of the Echo makes a fine read.

    At last our local Lib Dems are finding some semblance of a backbone in dealing with our errant MP Mr Huhne.

    It reports that Mr Huhne has once again absconded from an election pledge and has wimped out of voting against the proposed rise in tuition fees, choosing, instead, to remain in Mexico rather than return and vote against his party’s puppetmasters.

    The true Mr Huhne appears to be emerging from the charm offensive which fooled so many of us unhappy Labour voters back during the General Election.

    What next? Will he be deposed? Will there be a by election?

    Yours, hopefully,

    Andy Lombardi

  2. Councillor Brian norgate
    December 10, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Dear Sirs

    You must be as angry as I am with our MP over student fees but I am not surprised by his actions which run true to the man.

    For the last six years I have been to many meetings where Chris Huhne has said one thing and not meant it or it was not wholly truthful.

    For example at the Barton peverill Student hustings during the 2010 General Election I witnessed Chris Huhne quote not only would he not have anything to do with raising student fees, he would vote to scrap the fees all together. Chris Huhne asked all the students who supported him to vote for him as the only one who would defend the students, he asked them to get their freinds and familys to vote for him on this election promise.

    Listening to Chris Huhne as a local councillor and the Labour agent for the 2005 General election is different to those young students
    who accepted at face value what Chris Huhne was telling them. so at the Barton peveril hustings Chris Huhne promised not to vote for
    student fees to rise and scrap the fees when he got in to power. Chris Huhne also stated at the BP hustings he would oppose increasing VAT and would not support an increase in nuclear power.

    As the election progressed and after several more hustings we came to the Holy Cross Church hustings and yet again Chris Huhne quoted his deep religous beliefs and family values and quoted he would not put up student fees and would vote to scrap them altogether, again Chris Huhne repeated he would not vote for a rise in VAT and no to the Nuclear industry.

    How funny before the General election we knew Chris Huhne would break all of these election pledges, he was even less than truthful with his own councillors while Chris Huhne quoted that any MP who breaks their election pledges should be recalled.

    Well now is Chris Huhne’s chance to prove what he says is true, Chris I ask you to recall yourself because you have broken 3 of your election pledges, 1 Student fees, 2 VAT and 3 Nuclear power, you asked so many people to tactically vote to keep the tories out is the final nail in your coffin as you let everyone down, your electorate, the floating voters and the students you abused by asking them, their friends and family to trust you would represent them.

    Its time to recall our Eastleigh MP who has broken more than 3 of his main election promises.

  3. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    December 12, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Well Brian, he said:

    “he would not have anything to do with raising student fees”

    and he didn’t.He can face the electorate with a clear conscience on that one, as regards voting to scrap them altogether – there has been no vote to abolish fees. The Lib Dems did not win the election and are unable to implement that policy.

    I must say I’m surprised that none of the local Lib Dems have sprung to his defence here, like they did when Councillor Bloom came in for some criticism.

  4. December 12, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Lib Dems have not come to his defence as his action on this issue are an insult to both the local Lib Dem’s and the very people who were fooled into voting for him and everyone knows it..

    Go on Mr House, prove me wrong..!!!

  5. peter stewart
    January 13, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Many Labour voters now hate Chris Huhne. They hate him for his betrayal (siding with the Tories). But there is plenty of time yet and Chris Huhne is clearly a master strategist. Having said that even a master strategist sometimes finds himself embarrassed by circumstances!

    BEFORE the Election, Chris Huhne promised not to have anything to do with raising student fees. Well he could say that because everybody was assuming that if there was to be a coalition, it would be a Lib-Lab coalition.

    As predicted the combined BNP-UKIP vote cost the Tories around 47 vital marginal seats and therefore the entire Election!!! But lo! To EVERYBODY’S AMAZEMENT Chris Huhne suddenly finds himself in a coalition with the Tories! No wonder many Labour voters hate him now.

    No doubt this coalition surprised him as much as it surprised all those Labour voters who voted for him. If so, he hid his surprise well. His strategy must have been based on participating in a Lib-Lab coalition, not a Tory-LibDem coalition. This brings me back to my opening comment that sometimes even a master strategist finds himself embarrassed by circumstances!

    Speaking objectively, I think Chris Huhne has pulled off a master stroke here, by “abstaining” without abstaining! Who else could have done this and got away with it?

    Goodness knows how events will pan out. But one thing is for sure, if the coalition survives to the next General Election, the Tories will not dare field a candidate against Chris Huhne!

    Furthermore, all those Labour voters who now hate him, will once again vote for him tactically, because they know that otherwise they would let in someone they hate even more than Huhne!

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