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Saturday, 27 September 2014

Iain McKenzie MP "sacked" for voting against ISIL military intervention

Iain McKenzie MP: an unlikely rebel
The Labour MP for Inverclyde, Iain McKenzie, has - according to reports on the ITV and BBC websites - been relieved of his duties as parliamentary aide to shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker.

The justification for his removal from his former post appears to be his decision to vote against military intervention in Iraq.

Mr McKenzie so far has maintained a silence on the matter, but what is clear is that he is no natural "rebel" and that he voted according to his conscience.

The decision to sack him says more about the Labour Party and its requirement for rigid and unquestioning obedience than it does about Mr McKenzie. I expressed some of my own thoughts on the potential intervention two days ago, but while I would have voted the same way as my MP I am more than aware this is a complicated matter and I would not expect MPs to leave their consciences, principles or their individuality behind when they entered the voting lobby.

No doubt Labour will argue that war votes are not an issue of conscience for ministers or their aides. This is an absurd logic: what could be more of an issue of conscience than a decision with the potential to cost thousands of lives?

I am sorry that Mr McKenzie has been treated in this way, but I am pleased he found himself able to vote in the way he believed was right while probably being aware of what the consequences would be. He has earned my respect, and hopefully also that of many other constituents.

On the other hand, the Labour Party I was once a member of deserves nothing other than disdain. It is a party in which individuality is dangerous and morality must conform to the dictates of a rigid orthodoxy.

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