A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cracking of whips

Thanks to Tom Watson for posting a link to the latest Nottingham Uni research on whip-breaking by the PLP.

The numbers are here.

The top of the league table - which just covers votes against the whip in 2005-06, reads:

Now I can see that there might be exceptional circumstances where your election address commitments, conscience or the interests of your constituency might make an MP break the whip. Everyone has their political "lines-in-the-sand" that they will not cross. If I'd been an MP in the 2001-05 parliament I would have been very tempted to vote against the governance arrangements for foundation hospitals and against differential top-up tuition fees - though as I wasn't there luckily I wasn't presented with that moral dilemma.

However, breaking the whip dozens of times in one parliamentary session is just sticking two fingers up at the collective decision-making of the PLP. It implies a complete absence of self-discipline, sense of unity and collective responsibility or solidarity with colleagues.

As Tom points out, the chief offender is actually running for leader of a party he failed to vote with 63 times in one year!

It is particularly galling for those of us who are councillors and would be on a short trip to being suspended from our Labour Groups for breaking the whip once, let alone 15 or 63 times.

How did we ever get in this mess? And when are the whips going to start actually implementing the standing orders of the PLP and applying some kind of sanction? Otherwise we might as well not have a "Parliamentary Labour Party" - just 350 odd independent vaguely Labour-ish MPs.


Anonymous Andrea said...

I think 1/3 of McDonnell's and Corbyn's rebellions are just about ID Cards and Terrorism Bill.
Between amendments and ping pong with the Lords, there were lots of votes about them.

7:44 pm, November 15, 2006

Anonymous Adele R said...

McDonnell may say that he was following conference policy.

7:49 pm, November 15, 2006

Blogger Sham said...

I'd actually be interested in knowing what McD had actually voted for, a list of all the times he's deigned to vote with his party, to implement the manifesto he was elected on.

Just a thought!

7:51 pm, November 15, 2006

Blogger Harry Perkins said...

If you look up McDonnell on Public Whip, you will note that his voted with the Government 75% of the time. I can think of quite a few members of the Labour party who have opposed the Government at least a quarter of the time.

I would also point out that McDonnell's campaign is backing the policies of the Labour party as decided by its Conference. If anyone should be leaving Labour, it's those who oppose the policy of their own party.

Furthermore, as we have pointed out on our blog, it's pretty unfortunate that it was Tom Watson who attacked McDonnell for rebelling against the Labour leadership - not least given the fact that Watson led an attempted coup more damaging than all the parliamentary rebellions of the past decade rolled into one.

8:56 pm, November 15, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

"It implies a complete absence of self-discipline,"

if you can feel better, your MP is giving herself a bit of autodiscipline recently...she didn't back the Nats inquiry on Iraq War even if she signed an EDM with the same exact words.
Talking about her, if you look at her 19 rebellions against the whip are about ID cards (7), Terrosism Bill (6) and Education Bill (5) and the final rebellion was to give cash and vouchers for food and accomodation to failed asylum seeker.
So in the end many rebellions are just a limited number of issues.

"he's deigned to vote with his party, to implement the manifesto he was elected on."

IIRC Blair voted against manifesto commitment on the smoke ban. He voted to include puds not serving food and private members' clubs, whilst I think they weren't included in the manifesto proposal

9:35 pm, November 15, 2006

Anonymous Andrea said...

An amusing thing...because of boundary changes, rebel Lynne Jones will fight assistant whip Steve McCabe for the nomination in the new Birmingahm Selly Oak constituency.

I don't hold many hopes for LJ against McCabe, but I hope she can find a winnable seat in the end

11:48 am, November 16, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being very much against whipping as a method of enforcing solidarity, which is something that should come from the heart, I feel that the problem is a lack of progressive consensus. Perhaps if the hard right and the hard left actually comprimised from time to time, things would run a lot more smoothly; to expect widespread policy agreement in other circumstances borders on the naive.

The government and the hard left need to make some token gestures of reconcilliation... but since left-bashing looks good in the Mail and the Sun, I can't see that happening. If the government are happy to bash the hard left, they must be happy for the hard left to bash them.

12:44 pm, November 16, 2006

Anonymous Sam said...

Isn't government policy made by the cabinet rather than by the PLP though? What collective decision making does the PLP actually do?

6:58 pm, November 16, 2006


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