Who Saved Blair's Bacon?


One vote... A sure sign that Blair is losing control. But qwghlm has been doing a little digging.

Guess who didn't vote. George Galloway. You couldn't make this up. I wrote to Respect:

I'm writing to you with a simple question. Last night the government won a vote on the proposed anti-terror bill by just one vote. I've looked through hansard and it appears that George Galloway wasn't in the chamber and didn't vote. Could you explain why he decided not to represent his constituents in this important matter, that appears to be a cornerstone of Respect policy? What was he doing that was more important?

i'll let you know their reply, if any. Meanwhile our own Andy has been digging and located the elusive MP: Clive Conway Celebrity Productions presents An Audience With George Galloway MP.

Now that's how to respect your constituents!

Update: No reply to my email, so here's the second email:

I emailed you earlier today asking why your party leader and sole MP had not voted in the anti-terror debate yesterday.

Well, we've found out what he was doing that was so important: Clive Conway Celebrity Productions presents An Audience With George Galloway MP in Ireland.

could you explain why this was his highest priority for his constituents, or indeed, his party?

I also note, on your site that you are asking people to lobby their MP to oppose the terrorism bill 2005:

Why should anyone support your campaign if your party leader, founder and sole MP can't be bothered to attend a vital vote that was predicted to be close.

Anyway, congratulations to Andy, he scooped the Guardian by over seven hours!

He was most likely on tour

He was most likely on tour doing his one man show

Check this link.

Well spotted... I wonder how

Well spotted...

I wonder how many lib dems bothered to vote... After all, thay have got form when it comes to letting this stuff through...

Maybe I am being a little optimistic, but seeing Basher Davies and Mark Oaten standing together as one on the news last night over 90 days makes me think the opposition smell blood, the Bliar's blood...

Thanks for that Andy, well

Thanks for that Andy, well let's see if Respect reply than I'll ask them if a celebrity tour is more important than representing his constituents.

I have also e-mail the

I have also e-mail the respect party with the same questions. Lets see what they have to say.

I willing to accept

I willing to accept correction here but, all other things being equal, if Galloway had been there and had voted, then would not the vote not have been a tie?: 300-300. In which case, the Speaker would have had the the casting vote -which is cast in favour of the Government.

Surely more culpable here are the Libdems, at least two of whom did not vote.

2 Lib Dems absent -- Cable

2 Lib Dems absent -- Cable and Beith. 9 Tories absent. The vote actually lost by 3.

Lib Dem and Tory absentees

Lib Dem and Tory absentees are likely to have been paired, so probably didn't make a difference.

The Speaker almost certainly would have cast a deciding vote in the government's favour (though, AFAIK, this is still just a matter of convention). However, if it the vote had been tied, given Blunkett's resignation and the general thrust of politics, it could well have been taken by the Tories as a good time to introduce a Motion of No Confidence.

I am not aware the speaker

I am not aware the speaker is allowed to vote. I thought if they didn't have a majority on the floor then the bill falls.

Anyhow, even if you are right, it's not at all certain the speaker would have voted with the government - he comes from the old Labour school and has not always been very helpful to the government.

Others are to blame as well, but this was an anti terror bill and Respect are supposed to be very keen to oppose these measures - much more so than any other political party.

Ah great an opportunity to

Ah great an opportunity to be a pedantic know-it-all. I live for moments like this.
The bill is going through the committee stages at the moment. Normally this would mean I supopse the home affairs committee looking at it. However it is going through as a committee of the whole house. Tow reasons for this, 1 - It's an incredibly importany piece of legislation which all members should be allowed to have a say on; 2 - David Davies is the Shadow Home Secretary and his summing up speech this evening will finish in time for the 6 O Clock news and show him looking all strong, tough and libertarian.
All in all, this means if it was a draw then the committee chair would have a casting vote. They would vote with the government, even if it was Eric Forth or Anne Widdecombe in the chair they would have to vote with the government. It may only be convention, but in the palace of Westminster convention is incredibly important.

If a vote results in a tie,

If a vote results in a tie, the Speaker casts a deciding vote. By convention, he will vote in the government's favour (because to do otherwise would risk changing the status quo). He doesn't have to do this, by any means, but I can't imagine Martin or any other Speaker voting against the government. Martin certainly wouldn't unduly favour the government, but I don't think he has particularly strong "Old" Labour credentials and even if he did he's bound the conventions of the Speakership (a vote against the government in circumstances such as these would create two constitutional crises).

I agree that Galloway should

I agree that Galloway should have been there to vote (unless there's an unofficial pairing procedure within parties) but it is the standard convention that the Speaker casts his/her deciding vote with the Government -I certainly don't recall any exceptions to this in recent political history.

As for introducing a vote of no-confidence, I don't recall precisely but I believe that this is only done when a Government loses a bill -any may times not even then (only the loss of a 'supply bill' automatically results in the dissolution of a Government in the UK).

A Motion of No Confidence

A Motion of No Confidence can be introduced whenever the Opposition likes (with the proviso, I think, that you can only have one in any given session of Parliament). What governs its use is purely whether the Opposition thinks there's a serious chance of defeating the government. The Motion of No Confidence that brought James Callaghan down, for instance, was introduced because the referendum on devolution in Scotland had failed to produce enough "yes" votes - the Tories knew believed that this would spur the Scots Nats to vote against the government, and were proved correct. Such a motion does not necessarily result in a dissolution - if the government were to lose such a motion right now, I think it's unlikely that the Queen would grant a dissolution so soon after a General Election, so Blair would be compelled to resign and recommend she call on someone who would have the confidence of Parliament (presumably, Gordon Brown).

I would like to thank you

I would like to thank you all for such excelent comments and debate. I hope we'll be seeing more of your thoughts on Blairwatch in future.

Still no word from Respect, I think I'll drop them another line...

Lib Dems do not pair out of

Lib Dems do not pair out of principle, the whip told me himself.

When a dozen or so of them missed the anti-terror bill earlier in the year, I rang the whip to get his reasons, asking how he could ask for our votes if they cannot be bothered to go to major votes that were part of their election pledges.
He was, ahem, tongue-tied, couldn't explain this at all and trotted out the same lame justifications as today:
"we don't know what the labour rebels are going to do therefore we cannot plan for how many people we need to get to the vote" and "Tories were not there either".

As i pointed out, when casting our votes for prospective MPs, we expect them to represent us in votes in the House of Commons, not to be playing a numbers guessing game based on who hates Tony enough today to vote against a bill. What New Labour or Tories get up to is of no interest to me, if I vote for a Lib Dem MP he should damn well turn up or what is the point in casting my vote for them.

Profuse appologies from Mr Whip, "it'll never happen again. You can safely vote for us, we are going to do everything in our power to defeat this bill."

Well it has happened again.
One MP was at the memorial for a close constituency friend killed in the bombing (fair shout), the other had been called out of the vote to shepherd constituents out of the rain and into the Commons (one of them was so important, because he had something to do with Make Poverty History group). Why did the MP himself have to do this?


Whether the vote was won by

Whether the vote was won by one or ten votes isn't actually the point, though it makes it all the more amusing.

This just points up Galloway for what he is; a preening, self-obsessed Bollinger Bolshevik whose only interest is in self-enrichment (allegedly) and not at all in the mundane business of showing up at Westminster to defeat anti-terror legislation, which is presumably where the bulk of his constituents would prefer him to be.

The sooner the wheels of justice chew this guy up, the better.

Galloway's spokesman said GG

Galloway's spokesman said GG was at an "uncancellable" event and that, being the only member of his party in the Commons, he had a responsibility to promote it as well as doing the normal work of an MP - according to a highly reliable source

It is not convention that

It is not convention that the Speaker votes with the Government in the event of a tie. There are three rules: Firstly, the tie should be broken in a way that keeps the issue still open. Secondly, if the issue is an amendment to the Bill, the Speaker should vote in such a way as to keep the Bill in the form previously approved by the House. Thirdly, any decisions of the House should be taken by a majority.

The sum total of this is that the Speaker would have voted against the amendment if there had been a tie, but not because that happened to be the Government's position. Speakers' casting votes have been given against the Government.

If Gorgeous George and the two Lib Dems had been there the Government would have been defeated fair and square, of course.

> Why did the MP himself

> Why did the MP himself have to do this?

Because he was trying to sort out a mix-up with Parliament's security and a group of his constituents who where there at the time according to the reports I saw. Quite reasonable it seems to me - a better question is to ask why the Parliamentary rules didn't allow him to both do that and vote.

Couldn't resist this... As

Couldn't resist this... As part of their campaign against the Terror Bill, Respect is asking people to sign a petition. One paragraph reads:

We are appalled at provisions in the Bill that make it a criminal offence to give ‘direct or indirect encouragement’ to, or ‘glorify’ acts of ‘terrorism’ – a term whose meaning has been distorted so that it includes acts of resistance to repressive regimes overseas and even includes acts which don’t involve violence to the person. These provisions will demolish the right of free speech and suppress political debate on some of the most important issues of our time.

But not appalled enough to actually turn up and vote against it...

No no no, Erskine May

No no no, Erskine May (spelling?) means that it is ILLEGAL to stop an MP from getting to a vote. MPs also have eight minutes to get into the lobbies before the doors are closed. Westminster Hall is here and the lobbies are ..................... here. The police in the HoC would, I am sure look after guests, no matter their problem, for the 15 minutes it would have taken Vince Cable to vote and come back. Shoddy work. George Galloway is a tit, and I think last night shows that he cares more about his image than his constituents.

i've had no reply from

i've had no reply from Respect to either on my emails.

I dont see why A)the Dublin

I dont see why A)the Dublin event was uncancellable, this seems prepostrous, and B)what exactly GG's collecting speakers fees in Ireland has to do with promoting Respect which doesn't contest elections or organise as a party in the country. It seems more likely that GG was busy promoting himself.