Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Whip This

When a Labour MP was called after an SDLP one, it turned out to be because no one on the Tory benches had anything to say.

Too much to hope, then, that the Labour Whip had finally been withdrawn from a party which, while it has much to commend it (totally non-Marxist Old Labour economics, and Catholic moral and social policy), was created in reaction against a Labour Government, brought down that Government by abstention, and wishes to exclude from British social democracy people who currently benefit from it.

But then, that Whip, itself still in existence despite the historic near-total lack of Commons divisions, is set to extend even to members of a Cameron Cabinet, at least one of whom is a member of the current Cabinet.


  1. How was the SDLP created in reaction against a Labour government?

  2. The Wilson Government sent in troops to protect the Catholics specifically as British subjects (and they welcomed them as such), wrong-footing the fragmentary Nationalist Party, itself a sort of franchise for local Mr Bigs which had pointedly played no formal part in Civil Rights. The SDLP was the attempt at a response.

    And the Callaghan Government ran Northern Ireland just as if it were any other part of the United Kingdom, in Martin Maguiness's words "kicking the sh*t out of" the IRA. Whereas two Unionists voted to save that Government in 1979, both Nationalists, one the Leader of the SDLP, abstained. It fell by one vote.

  3. Not quite sure what youre getting at. The SDLP is allied thru International Social Democracy and that probably trumps the "taking Labour whip".
    They are of course committed to taking their constituents out of British Social Democracy. Their constituents have given them that mandate.
    So as democrats we can hardly de-bar them from the Commons. After all they have taken an oath of allegiance.....admittedly with the same enthusiasm as Dennis Skinner.
    Surely Labour "old and new" is a coalition.
    Labour folks like Callum/Gavin MacDonald and Ruth Kelly (to whom you have a peculiar aversion) are a very different breed (Catholic in Western Isles and Bolton)to the Labour types in bed sit land in London.
    Im not quite sure where that leaves the North East (Blair, Milliband and Mandelson hardly as representaive locally as MacDonald and Kelly.
    And of course Durkan, McGrady and MacDonnell all actually live in their constituencies and appear representative.
    You cannot seriously be suggesting "nationalist" MPs be barred from the House of Commons.
    By the way the SDLP was formed in August 1970 (a Tory Government at Westminster).....Brian Feeneys book on the SDLP is probably better than Ian McAllisters but Gerard Murrays book is better on the specifics of formation).
    You are being selective about 1979. There is no way Fitt could have supported Labour, which was increasingly appeasing the Unionist Party. Some UUP members voted FOR the Labour government in that Vote of Confidence.

    On a side issue the plan to pay expenses for attendance brings up a dilemna. Sinn Féin dont actually attend Westminster but claim expenses. It seems unlikely that agreement will be broken (although Sinn Féin has other sources of income .American friends, the Northern Bank and a fuel smuggling allegedly).
    Not surprisingly the Tories and UUP are agreed on this issue.
    But an interesting dilemna for the DUP ministers of NI Executive.
    Double jobbing means Campbell, Robinson, Donaldson and Wilson cant be in two places at one time.

  4. "The SDLP is allied thru International Social Democracy and that probably trumps the "taking Labour whip"."

    No, it doesn't. Labour can extend, or not extend, the Whip to anyone it pleases. Any party can.

    "So as democrats we can hardly de-bar them from the Commons"

    I don't want to debar them from the Commons. I just wonder why they are in the Parliamentary Labour Party. Or, for that matter, why they turn up, even taking the Oath.

    "You cannot seriously be suggesting "nationalist" MPs be barred from the House of Commons"

    No, but I don't see why or even how they don't just "bar" themselves. Why do they want to be there?

    I have dealt with the history question: the events against which the SDLP was a reaction - troop deployment, the growth of a basically British Labour Civil Rights movement (rightly identifying those Rights as including health care, education, social housing, &c) outside the control of the old Nationalist Party - had happened under Wilson.

    "There is no way Fitt could have supported Labour, which was increasingly appeasing the Unionist Party"

    If that is how you want to put it.

    "Some UUP members voted FOR the Labour government in that Vote of Confidence"

    As I said. And for a good Morrisonian reason: that the benefits of public services and public ownership should extend equally to all parts of the United Kingdom.

    The whole expenses thing illustrates the point that the mainland parties' non-organisation in Northern Ireland has, among its many other wicked side-effects, the wicked side-effect of from time to time making governments dependent on Northern Ireland parties.

    For it seems that, exactly (if not officially) for the reason that you give, the new arrangements will not apply to Northern Ireland members, just in case the Government ever needs the DUP again, as it did over detention without charge.

  5. Oh so much to deal with. The SDLP WANT to be there to represent their constituents.
    Incidently the Tories (with their new friends again UUP) are suggesting that if MPs elected but dont take up seats the seat passes to the second placed candidate. Anti democratic surely.
    The commitment within Socialist International IS deeper than the Labour Whip issue.
    The SDLP have the to speak "Northern Ireland".
    Labour cannot actually organise in Northern Ireland. More wont.
    The Lib Dems are already linked to the Alliance Party. The UUP have effectively agreed to rejoin the Tories.
    Of course SF have taken a stand which you no doubt believe is more principled (sic).....
    1 they have been elected
    2 dont take seats
    3 dont take a salary
    4 they represent their constituents (seemingly actually increasing their seats).
    You have dealt with the history......badly.
    Sources please.
    The SDLP was founded by 6 Stormont MPs (Fitt was also at Westminster) in 1970.
    They were an ad-hoc opposition (1 Republican Lab, 1 Nationalist, 1 NI Labour and 3 Civil Rights Independednts elected in the "Crossroads election of early 1969).
    It was actually a reaction against the incompetence of the Nationalist Party (actually "Party" is hardly the right word for their shambolic state).