Sarah Teather: Lib Dem-ery at its worst

November 19th, 2012

It would seem that the scales have finally fallen from Sarah Teather’s eyes.  In an interview with The Observer the Brent Central MP and former minister has denounced her government’s benefit cap, claiming that it is “immoral and divisive”.

Teather is, of course, defending a marginal seat with a large number of people that will be affected by the cap.  But one assumes that this is mere coincidence.

Like many of her Lib Dem colleagues, Teather didn’t go over the top to vote for the Welfare Reform Bill on its second or third reading. 

Instead she is listed as “absent”, meaning that she continued to take the ministerial shilling whilst being able to claim that she’d had nothing to do with the whole sordid business.  Apart from being a fully paid up member of the government that was driving it through, of course.  But as all hardened observers of the Lib Dems know, dodgy Focus leaflets have been conjured up from far less.

Yet if she really was as implacably opposed to the benefit cap as she claims she is, surely the honourable thing to do would have been to resign from the government and vote against the bill?

In the end her ministerial career was cut short not through an honourable act of resignation but through a humiliating sacking from the prime minister (presumably sanctioned by her own party leader).

As her ministerial car drove off into the distance for the last time did she discover her conscience lying by the roadside?

How convenient.

Teather does of course have form on such matters.  She fought her winning by-election campaign in 2003 on an anti-tuition fees platform.  She even dedicated an entire chunk of her maiden speech to an attack on tuition fees, citing fears that it would deter poor students from her constituency from going into higher education.  Seven years later, all it took was a quick chauffeur-driven trip over to Parliament from the Department for Education to vote through the coalition’s tripling of tuition fees.

I can respect politicians that vote through something I disagree with if they truly believe in it.  I cannot respect someone who leaves their sense of morality at the door of their ministerial office only to re-discover it once they’ve been kicked out.

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