Wings Over Scotland’s been getting a bit of flak on Twitter for his somewhat relentless exhibition of, well, basic facts in the case of prospective Gordon MP Braden Davy. A lot of people think it’s unfair to juxtapose the silly escapades someone got up to in their teen years with their more mature present. Normally I would agree, if this wasn’t a discussion about someone who seeks to wield enormous power over the lives and livelihoods of the people of Gordon, and by extension, Scotland and even the UK.
I feel compelled to (figuratively, gently and compassionately) slap some bloody sense into these people.
New Labour has turned me into a nationalist monster, and they have only themselves to blame. I spent most of my adult life steadfastly refusing to join any political party, even those I agree with most – I tended to flit between SNP, SSP and Greens since the foundation of the Scottish Parliament, but since it’s only usually the SNP which has stood with any significant chance of entering Westminster, that’s made me a de facto SNP voter. I hated the tribalism which poisons so much of Scottish politics. I couldn’t stand seeing my friends and family arguing about the colour of their rosettes. So I disavowed myself of it. It was only in the aftermath of the referendum where I realised that I could no longer enjoy that selfish reassurance, that I wasn’t like my friends and family, that I only voted for who I felt best represented my political interests. It was only then the penny dropped – just how much was at stake here.
I cannot comment on Braden Davy’s character, either as a human being or a politician. Nor do I intend to, because what matters as a politician is how you vote, and how your party expects you to vote. Unless you’re a significant force of personality with the mettle of a Tyrannosaurus, you are going to be whipped into voting the way your party wants you to vote – if your party wants you to vote at all.
Let’s look at the most recent votes in the House of Commons. Yesterday was the Infrastructure Bill (Lords), or the “Fracking” Bill, which was voted on twice. First was the motion for an amendment:
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
What a joy to perform once again in this theatre of dreams. What an honour to speak for the Government introducing this important Bill. What a responsibility this House has to create the future our nation needs, to build a Britain fit for generations to come and to plant trees for those born later.
I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from “That” to the end of the Question and add:
“this House declines to give a second reading to the Infrastructure Bill because, whilst welcoming efforts to further enable necessary infrastructure projects and acknowledging that long-term strategic planning and investment for transport infrastructure is urgently needed, the Bill fails to establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission to set out an evidence-based analysis of future infrastructure priorities in sectors including transport, waste and energy, and to hold governments accountable for delivery, because the Bill creates a new Strategic Highways Company, which could result in an increasingly two-tiered road system when there is no evidence that a new company is needed to deliver a road investment strategy, because the Bill fails to address the deteriorating condition of the local road network due to the cuts in spending since 2010 on local road maintenance, because the Bill does not ensure that unconventional gas extraction could only happen in the context of robust safety and environmental standards, comprehensive monitoring and strict enforcement, because the Bill fails to give communities new powers so that they can build the homes they need locally in the places they want, and because the Bill fails to include Garden City principles to underpin the next generation of New Towns, fails to strike the right balance between communities and developers in the discharge of planning conditions, and fails to properly plan ahead to ensure that building standards address CO2 emissions and climate change.”
Question put, That the amendment be made.
What a joy, what an honour, what a responsibility it is for me – seriously, this is how they speak in the UK parliament – to note just how the House voted.
Conservatives: 252+1 tell voted No.
New Labour: 187+2 tell voted Aye. (73.3% turnout)
Neoliberal Democrats: 41+1 tell voted No.
SNP: 5 voted Aye. (83.3% turnout)
Plaid Cymru: 2 voted Aye. (66.7% turnout)
Greens: 1 voted Aye.
Alliance: 1 voted Aye
DUP: 1 voted Aye. (12.5% turnout)
Independent: 1 voted Aye.
SDLP: 1 voted Aye. (33.3% turnout)
There were no rebellions.
Result: Ayes 199, Noes 293. (77.4% turnout)
So even though a good chunk of New Labour MPs and just about every other party except the Coalition also voted for the amendment, it wasn’t enough to get the amendment through. The 28 absent New Labour members wouldn’t have been enough to swing it.
Still, we could always stop the bill from getting a second reading, right? It seems unlikely, but since New Labour felt strongly enough to vote for this amendment, it would seem reasonable to assume they would want to stick to their guns, right?
Question accordingly negatived.
Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 62(2)), That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Conservative: 236+1 voted Aye, 1 voted No. (78.5% turnout)
New Labour: N/A. (0.0% turnout)
Neoliberal Democrat: 40+1 voted Aye. (71.9% turnout)
SNP: 4+1 voted No. (83.3% turnout)
Plaid Cymru: 1+1 voted No. (66.7% turnout)
Greens: 1 voted No.
DUP: 1 voted No. (12.5% turnout)
Independent: 1 voted No.
SDLP: 1 voted No. (33.3% turnout)
There was one rebellion.
Result: 276 Ayes, 10 Nos. (45.3% turnout)
Has it sunk in yet? Has the fact that not a single one of New Labour’s 217 MPs chose to vote against a second reading – not a single one of the 189 who we know were present at parliament that day – gotten through? Has the fact that not one of Scotland’s 40 New Labour MPs sought to even try to “stop the Tories” – thus meaning that the SNP, by definition, did more to challenge the Tories on this occasion than the combined might of Scotland’s New Labour despite being outnumbered 5 to 1 – clunked on your brain yet?
It isn’t the first time New Labour abstention has made a mockery of this supposed party of socialists and workers, and the fact that even a 100% turnout wouldn’t have stopped the bill doesn’t provide much comfort when you consider it led to a 0.0% turnout.
Braden Davy seeks to represent the New Labour Party in Scotland. That means that all his promises, all the things he says he will do, all the choices he makes, are completely and utterly conditional on the New Labour whips. The biggest “rebel” in the current opposition is Vauxhall’s Kate Hoey, who since 2010 dared to vote against her party’s stance a colossal 38 times… out of 671 votes. The rest of the time – 94.3% of the time, to be precise – she votes with her party. Scotland’s greatest rebel, Jim McGovern, cannot even match half Kate’s record, with a pitiful 12 votes out of 787, meaning he’ll toe the party line 98.5% of the time.
Are we to expect Braden Davy to put every other New Labour MP to shame by voting against party policy which we know is in direct opposition to the wants and needs to the Scottish people? Would he have turned up to vote on a second reading, or the Welfare Cap, or the Bedroom Tax? You could easily argue the same for the SNP, of course, who have an even more faithful voting record to their party – but then, it boils down to the same question of which party is going to make the decisions that reflect the wishes of the people of Scotland. For all the kvetching the Scottish Greens do about the SNP refusing to openly ban fracking (and thus giving Westminster all the excuse it needs to take away the few powers to stop fracking Holyrood has just as it did with renewables, not to mention inviting Ineos and other pro-fracking companies to wreak havoc yet again by shutting down production – seriously, use your nuts, guys) here we have irrefutable proof of the SNP sticking their necks out, along with Plaid Cymru and the Greens, against environmental catastrophe in the Central Belt.
The SNP voted against a second reading of a bill which edges Scotland ever closer to natural disaster. New Labour didn’t even bother to vote.
Braden Davy is looking to represent the New Labour Party in Scotland.