This issue of The Linc was meant to feature an interview with Gillian Merron, MP for Lincoln, on her career as the city’s representative. Unfortunately fate was out to get us, and at the last minute the interview fell through, due to her busy schedule.
So instead we’re bringing you the questions we felt needed answering, and details on some of what she’s done since her election to office in 1997.
The constituency of Lincoln stands out like a bright red buoy in Lincolnshire’s sea of Tory blue, with five of the seven seats represented by Conservatives. The county council elections earlier this year saw Labour lose 14 seats, with eight of Lincoln’s 11 wards now represented by Tories. Merron’s majority is only around 12% — her seat is about as safe as a fox on hunt day.
Merron is not one to dissent against her government. Her voting record, according to the site theyworkforyou.com, shows that since 2005 her voting has been exactly the same as Gordon Brown’s. Before then it was similar. This could be construed as careerist. Is there nothing that she disagrees with her government on? With the number of highly contentious decisions taken by Labour since 1997, it’s hard to comprehend that she never disagreed with any of them.
She also voted “very strongly” for the invasion of Iraq. Given what we know about the sexed-up dodgy dossier, faulty evidence, and that it was an illegal conflict anyway, is this a decision she regrets? Some estimates put the death toll at over 1m. According to Alan Greenspan, an American economist and former chair of the US Federal Reserve: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.”
When speaking in Parliament on October 13th 2008, Merron said: “We in the UK have a mission to promote human rights and democracy not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it is in our interests.” But do her actions reflect this position? She voted fully for Control Orders, which the Law Lords declared breach human rights as the secret evidence involved denies a fair trial.
She also voted to extend the number of days terror suspects can be held without charge to 90 days, another proposal which breaches human rights. Further still, does invading a country to plunder their resources and carelessly bomb civilian areas, soullessly referred to in the US as “collateral damage”, fit in with this “mission… to promote human rights and democracy?” I don’t doubt Merron has only the best intentions, but she is hardly a beacon of hope for human rights campaigners.
She doesn’t seem to want the student vote, either. She recently refused to sign a petition, brought to her by members of the University of Lincoln’s Students’ Union, which sought to stop any future increases to tuition fees. She also voted for top-up fees in the first place. Throw us a bone, Gillian! Or at least some marrow.
Like a lot of MPs, Merron took flak during the expenses scandal. She has since admitted that the system of allowances is not good enough. Why did it take an exposé for her to realise that using expenses funded by taxpayers’ money to buy household items, pay tax bills, buy food, and so on, is ethically questionable?
For the record, she bought pillows, a duvet, paid her council tax, claimed money for food, and more on her expenses.
I wonder that if it comes to next spring and she’s standing on the stage at the general election results having just lost her seat, is there anything she’ll look back on and think “I shouldn’t have done that” or “I should have done this”? Although she might not admit it on the record, I suspect she would have some large regrets.Tweet