SINCE being elected in 2001, I have never, until today, voted against my party on a three-line whip. That is something I’m extremely proud of.
Is that really something of which he should be proud? I appreciate that MPs are elected under a party banner and that they should therefore be expected to follow the party line.
But there is a difference between allegiance to the Labour Party and allegiance to the Labour Government. And I rather doubt if voters expect slavish obedience to either. Perhaps the general lack of respect for MPs is partly attributable to an attitude of 'my government/party right or wrong'.
Is it a virtue for an MP, constantly and unthinkingly, to do what he is told? Is the Government always in the right? Should we not expect our politicians, at least occasionally, to weigh the issues on their merits and exercise an element of independent judgement?
But, now that Mr Harris has popped his cherry, we can welcome him to that small group of widely respected, rebellious backbenchers.