A Little Liberal Bother.
I'm not convinced that Alistair Carmichael, Tim Farron and David Heath will be household names any more tonight than they were last night, but these three men - who are all actually Liberal Democrat MP's - have managed to inflict a bit of damage on Nick Clegg, their shiny new party leader. They were members of his shadow cabinet, and therefore in line to be key members of government in the event of a Lib Dem victory at the next election. Today, however, they voted against their party leader's call (ignoring the advice given in Gilbert and Sullivan's peerless "When I Was a Lad" to "always vote at my party's call, and never think of thinking for myself at all"). Nick Clegg wanted his MPs to abstain on the Commons motion for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. They - and 13 others - didn't. 16 Lib Dems voting against the leader across 2 votes counts as a major rebellion in Liberal terms.
Nick Clegg's position is a little obscure, and he has had to vigorously defend his decision to essentially give the Brown government free passage to avoid consulting the British public in a referendum, especially since Clegg is in favour of a referendum on the issue of the (very similar to Lisbon) EU constitution. But that's Liberal politics for you. Even when they're in the limelight we're still asking 'who? who?' and trying to understand their tortuous middle ground.