I think the parliamentary party is making a major mistake on abstaining over Hunt tomorrow.
There are only two possible outcomes to this vote:
1. The motion is carried. In which case total credit will go to Labour, we will be ignored. Don't give me any of this guff about 'it is our failing to support him that won it'. It won't be. It will the 279 MPs outside the Tory and Lib Dem parties who will win it, plus any recalcitrant Tories doing the right thing, not us.
2. The motion is lost - in which case we will get blamed (by Labour and all the media) for failing to condemn him.
The ridiculous thing is that there is a perfectly honourable course of action we could take (as outlined here) which would be consistent, fair and show us to be principled. I had heard rumours this was the route which would be pursued. Sadly I was wrong.
Of course, what would be even better would be if our MPs had been allowed a free vote on the merits of the case. too much to hope for.
I am not against abstentions per se. For example I wish we had abstained over tuition fees, as catered for in the coalition agreement. I believe the consequences of not doing that will haunt us for some years to come.
But in this case there is only a downside to abstaining. It is a tactical and political mistake.