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, March 14, 2007

Let's reimpose some discipline

At some point - maybe once we have a new leader - let's reimpose some discipline in the PLP.

However strongly MPs feel about a subject, it can't be acceptable to keep having these large rebellions.

Let's have proper debates in the PLP - with votes taken - and then the minority accept the PLP majority view and vote the way they are whipped.

And if they really feel they have to break the whip, they are de facto not in receipt of it and get suspended - i.e. are not voting members of the PLP with loss of all committee positions and other offices in the gift of the party - until the PLP choses to let them back in - and if they are still suspended at the start of a General Election, they are not the Labour candidate in their seat.

There has to be some kind of "deterrent" - excuse the bad pun - to breaking the whip - when was the last time anyone was properly punished for breach of discipline?

23 Comments:

Blogger Welsh Spin said...

We've debated this before. There are no shortage of people in the PLP who would likely welcome such martyrdom. Trouble is that as well as the sanctions short of expulsion from the PLP being limited, there's a kind of safety in numbers.

John McDonnell though should face some questioning about what sort of democratic centralism he subscribes to and what he would do about an MP with his record of voting against his own party were he leader!

9:16 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

Luke Akehurst presents his novel ideas on how to combat rising disillusionment with the increasingly unpopular policies of the New Labour Government.

I've got another idea for preventing these large rebellions - stop introducing Tory policies (often on the back of Tory votes), stop alienating Labour supporters and increase democratic participation within the party.

All your Stalinist measures will do is increase disillusionment with Labour and contribute even further to the destruction of our party. But I suppose that's acceptable price to pay in the name of ideological purity.

Oh - and does this mean disciplining your old boss Frank Dobson? After all, he's one of the most rebellious (or indeed principled) MPs in Parliament.

9:22 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

Oh - and how about the Government stop ignoring Labour party policies passed at Conference - such as renationalisation of the railways, direct investment in council housing, an end to private sector involvement in the NHS, an end to PFI, and the immediate restoration of pensions and earnings?

Given it has nothing but contempt for these Labour party policies, it's not really in a position to expel MPs who have the audacity to object to policies cooked up in the PM's living room by a coterie of unelected advisers, is it?

9:25 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you have a word with Hazel about Steven Pound next time you see her, he clearly doesn't subscribe to either her or your views on discipline.

9:25 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Shows how far we have let things slip - that a basic principle of the Labour movement - collective responsibility and abiding by majority decisions - is denounced.

If the cultural change - or rather reversion to basic Labour values - I'm calling for happened - then it wouldn't even occur to the rebels to vote against the whip.

9:39 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

A classic example of dressing up rightwing draconian measures in leftwing language.

Your logic, once again, is embarrassingly poor. These aren't policies that have been democratically decided by the labour movement. Those policies (which I've already listed) are ignored by the Government. Instead, New Labour imposes policies from above which have been cooked up by unelected advisors (such as ex-Lib Dem councillor Lord Adonis).

Why should the PLP take collective responsibility for decisions it's never been party to?

9:43 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Andrea said...

"- when was the last time anyone was properly punished for breach of discipline"

Does it count when Mme Dominatrix reprimanded Alan Simpson just to have his CLP backing him over her. The Chief Whip called him for a "talk" and he apparently told her that he thinks the whole leadership should be brought in front the international court for war crimes.
I think it shows pretty well the problem...when whips call MPs to their office for a "talk", the MPs should be "afraid", not ready to suggest that the Chief Whip should be arrested

"There are no shortage of people in the PLP who would likely welcome such martyrdom"

I think Clare is still disappointed that they didn't expel her

I think today the whips let some PPSs abstain (or accidently missing the vote) without being sacked.

Another consideration...the "hardcore" rebels aren't a problem in the end. If it's just them, divisions are won easily (even if Corbyn has an imminent need to rebel). The problem is when there're large rebellion...but at that point MPs know that if they're many, they can't all be suspended or the government will be left without a majority.

9:51 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Read my post Owen - it says that the quid pro quo for no one breaking the whip is that proper debates and votes must be held internally in the PLP that are then binding on all its members. A Labour majority of 66 should mean all government bills and motions pass by exactly that margin.

In any case what is intrinsically "leftwing" about unilateral disarmament? Nothing. That's why John McDonnell found himself in the division lobbies with Lib Dems.

9:52 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does Luke ignore the important points put forward by Owen?

In particular:

How about the Government stop ignoring Labour party policies passed at Conference?

Why should the PLP take collective responsibility for decisions it's never been party to?

Or have you nothing to say on this point, Luke?

9:55 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Andrea said...

Luke, here's for you the list of all tonight's rebels...if you want to whip them, personally :-)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6452315.stm

9:56 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Andrea, there are about 10 people in that list I am surprised to see in it, about another 20 that I'm not surprised but still disappointed, the rest I am neither surprised nor disappointed and would really rather they weren't Labour MPs. Some I didn't even realise were still Labour MPs e.g. Bob Wareing.

10:19 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Anonymous mcmenamin again said...

Owen doesn't understand the Labour Party constitution - which has *never* provided for conference to set policy for the government and Luke seems to have taken leave of his senses with a call for a return to the politics of the PLP under that "gastly" Mr Wilson - the PLP used to vote on policies then as part of the general self destructive approach.

The government acts to implement the manifesto - which is the only issue over which people have a right to cry "sell out"

10:34 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Tim F said...

Given that some of the MPs I assume you're referring to in the first bracket will benefit electorally from rebelling on this, that they did so in the knowledge that their vote wouldn't have an impact on the decision, and that there is no difference in terms of public perception of unity in the party between a rebellion of 85 and 95, what is your problem with their decision?

I'd also like to point out that if you had your wish and 65 Labour MPs were no longer Labour MPs, we would not be the government.

10:34 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Andrea said...

Luke, can I ask who are the surprising names in your view?
One name that surprised me is Patrick Hall...he voted with the government on the amendment and the against in the motion (strange behaviour)

Tony Lloyd rebelled..not that I'm surprised by him having that view, but he's the PLP Chair...so his rebellion is significant in the light of your post about PLP discipline

and yes, Wareing is still MP...he's not 80 yet, so still young! :-)

10:41 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Tim - I would prefer them replaced by more right wing Labour MPs when they retire - not to lose their seats.

10:51 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Anonymous Duncan said...

The problem with your proposal, Luke, is: would you vote to scrap Trident if you were an MP and the PLP had voted that way? Or - and please don't mistake me asking the question for me proposing it - withdrawal from the EU or withdrawal from NATO or... Or would suddenly it be okay to rebel because it was rebellion in favour of your priniciples rather than somebody else's?

I have to say that were I an MP (don't worry, it's not terribly likely to happen!) I would not be able ever to vote for nuclear weapons, even if I were voting against party policy or against PLP policy or against something that was in the manifesto. I wouldn't lie to anybody about it; I'd make it perfectly clear to my constituents, my local party members, my colleagues, my whips, my leader, etc. that I had to vote that way and that's how I'd vote. I wouldn't feel that that had to disqualify me from the party and would be surprised if others felt that way.

Obviously you don't rebel on everything you oppose, and if you check the voting records of even those MPs who rebel the most there's a good deal of nose-holding going on in the division lobbies. But I can't see any merit in suggesting that the PLP should be a democratic centralist caucus and anyone who demurs should be purged... that doesn't seem terribly healthy at all.

11:13 pm, March 14, 2007

 
Anonymous SWFC said...

As somebody who thinks the Labour party are a bunch of pillocks I highly recomend this course of action as it's the perfect way for the Labour party to lose all it's majority!

9:02 am, March 15, 2007

 
Blogger Sham said...

Owen talking about democracy. Sick, ain't it, coming from one of Saddam's biggest fans?

You wouldn't know the first thing about democracy. Tell me, are there any democratic governments on this planet you support and are there any dictatorships you oppose? (I could list all the abhorrent regimes you've backed, but it probably would run into hundreds ...)

Whatever next, a march in support of Mugabe!?!

12:47 pm, March 15, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

My beloved Sham,

Sorry, what evidence is there for me supporting the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein? Or indeed any other dictatorships? I can't way to hear to your response!

By the way, does anyone remember Dave Spart in Private Eye? If you do, you'll know what I'm getting at.

2:39 pm, March 15, 2007

 
Blogger Sham said...

Calm down Owen! Caaaalm down!!!

As you infer, you've heard my reasons before, so, tempting though it is, I'll refrain from repeating myself! But, off the top of my head, how about Senor Castro!?! ;)

I really can't wait to hear your opinion of him ...

8:27 pm, March 15, 2007

 
Anonymous Gregg said...

In any case what is intrinsically "leftwing" about unilateral disarmament? Nothing. That's why John McDonnell found himself in the division lobbies with Lib Dems.

Erm... you did notice that Tony Blair found himself in the division lobbies with the Tories, didn't you? You might not have - Blair voting with the Tories is only surprising in that he's actually bothering to vote.

And if they really feel they have to break the whip, they are de facto not in receipt of it and get suspended - i.e. are not voting members of the PLP with loss of all committee positions and other offices in the gift of the party - until the PLP choses to let them back in - and if they are still suspended at the start of a General Election, they are not the Labour candidate in their seat.
[...]
Tim - I would prefer them replaced by more right wing Labour MPs when they retire - not to lose their seats.

This is certainly an excellent way of losing Labour's majority in this Parliament and guaranteeing an overwhelming Tory one in the next. The problem, Luke, is the few million voters who only continue to turn out and vote Labour because of the rebels. We've already lost six million voters since 1992. Follow your recommendations and the party is as good as dead - and turnout will drop below 50%, puttng democracy itself on the critical list. I know that doesn't bother you (supporting, as you do, a leader who actually wanted to scrap the party and merge with the Lib Dems, and who has done his best to undermine both party and parliamentary democracy), but some of us don't actually want to see Labour reduced to a laughable rump that competes with the Nats for third party status.

Tangentially: I'm certain someone's hacked Sham's account and is just trying to make him look like an idiot. He can't be doing it himself, surely.

4:08 am, March 16, 2007

 
Blogger el tom said...

"Let's have proper debates in the PLP - with votes taken - and then the minority accept the PLP majority view and vote the way they are whipped."

Lets have some proper debate in the party, where the PLP agrees to be bound by the decision making of our consituent parts... and agrees to vote and act in the way it was lined.

Then we can play nicely.

Democracy is not a top-down and dictatorial procedure.

11:06 pm, March 16, 2007

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

You would be cheerleading for revolts if the boot were on the other foot and a sensible left regime - adored by the people - were in place with fair taxes, £7 minimum wage and growing, UND, equal schools not "choice", public services in public hands, free HE, McDonnell as PM with Cruddas as deputy in the country and Betty Boo back from the Lords as Number Two.

You would consider it your duty to rebel against milk and honey and the internationale at registration every morning along with an oath of allegiance to the Red Flag.

Meanwhile have blogged the end of Meacher HERE. Hope the graphic is forgiven at Meacher Mansions because I have a lot of time for the old chump.

10:50 am, March 19, 2007

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

 
Free Hit Counters
OfficeDepot Discount