Thursday, 7 February 2013

Got Your Mother In A Whirl

She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl.

Most of the Rebel Rebels couldn't care less either way. But they have a Leader to undermine. And they have Constituency Associations to placate. In that order.

Consider that one of the Great Conservative Rebellions of the 1992 Parliament prevented the rate of VAT on fuel and domestic power from being more than doubled, when the (relatively few) rebels voted with the entire Opposition, even including the then considerable Ulster Unionists.

By contrast, there have so far been three Great Conservative Rebellions of the 2010 Parliament. They have involved much larger numbers of MPs than any in the Major years. But within what wider context? And to what effect?

The first was over the mere Second Reading of a Bill which was so badly drafted that it could never possibly have reached Third Reading, and in the full knowledge that Labour was going to abstain, meaning that the Government could not possibly have been defeated.

The second was over a motion which was bound to be defeated, which in fact called for nothing very much in any practical terms, and which would have had absolutely no legislative effect even if it had been passed, as it was never going to be.

When later confronted with the prospect of doing anything halfway practical about the EU, the number of Conservative rebels who voted with the entire Labour Party to call on the Government to reduce the United Kingdom's Budget contributions in real terms turned out to be smaller than the number of Lib Dem MP. It will be interesting to see if there are even that many once an actual Budget has to be voted on.

And the third was this week, again over the mere Second Reading of a Bill which is so badly drafted that it can never possibly have reached Third Reading, and again in the full knowledge that Second Reading was going to be passed, but this time against every principle held by most of the participants in the rebellion.

The rest of the time, day in and day out, they all troop merrily through the Division Lobbies in order to enact the programme on which David Cameron sought the Leadership of the Conservative Party, and obtained with more than two thirds of the vote: Blairism without Labour.

Join UKIP? If it had any self-respect, then it would refuse to have them. Set up a new party? Set it up in the morning, troop it meekly into the Division Lobby behind Cameron in the afternoon. The day that there is a rebellion without oodles of advance publicity, then these people might vaguely deserve to be taken with even so much as the slightest seriousness.

But really only when they vote with Labour against Third Reading of a Government Bill, either defeating it or, at the very least, creating the possibility of such a defeat. And that, as we all know, is never, ever, ever going to happen.

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