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.