It's a peculiar mix of bravery, balls-up and bastardy that makes up the news today. With Blair receiving his second and third defeats
in the Commons last night, lets have a look at the voting records of the three aforementioned MPs, all of them somewhat in the public eye. While we do so, lets remember that the division on the second amendment was lost by the Government by one vote. Galloway, as might be expected, showed strength and indefatagability by voting against the preservation of freedom of speech; Oaten, subject of perhaps the most embarassing scandal in the Commons since Sir John Trevor (the speaker in 1694 who had to read out himself the motion calling for his own impeachment to the House, as any fule kno), did show up and voted for the angels. These two votes therefore cancel each other out as it were for our triumvirate - so the Prime Minister is left with the casting vote. Which he didn't use as he wasn't present in the House. On a division the Labour Party lost by a single vote.
Two points: it has been stated that the Chief Whip, Hilary Armstrong, is not really to blame as it has become "impossible to whip a fundamentally rebellious Labour party, aided and abetted by Tory/Lib tactics"
However, 40 or so MPs were allowed to absent themselves from the division, including the PM. My other recollection of Armstrong was her 'strongarming' of Paul Marsden (a fairly gruesome figure admittedly) by complaining that them southern types talk too posh for a poor northern girl to compete with. Not the sort of thing that you associate with the Whips' Office, going for the sympathy vote isi it?
Second point, I'm pretty sure that Blair has the worst voting record of any modern PM, explained I suppose by his permanently high majorities. Well, I'm delighted that, just this once, his contempt for the Commons has leapt up and bit him on the arse