And so we come to Willie Bain.
There comes a time when you can’t be sarcastic. You can’t muster up anything more than sheer contempt. Mr Bain exemplifies everything that is wrong with New Labour, and why they must not be allowed to represent their constituents any more. Anyone who would vote in favour of nuclear weapons when almost half the children in their constituency are suffering is an enemy of their own constituents. It’s as simple as that.
Mr Bain has a remarkable attendance record for a New Labour MP and an even more remarkable loyalty: of the 1134 votes he has cast in parliament, he has gone against his party exactly once:
Business of the House – Size of the Backbench Business Committee
100 for, 331 against
He was one of 30 New Labour MPs (8 of which were Scottish) who voted against the amendment proposing that the backbench business committee would comprise a chair and fifteen members of whom eight would comprise a quorum, along with 254 (+2 tell) Conservatives, 47 Liberal Democrats
… It’s the same one Margaret Curran and a disproportionately high number of Scottish New Labour MPs rebelled on. He didn’t join his party’s left-wing fringe in voting against air strikes or austerity budgets or military intervention in faraway lands, but he did object to the idea of there being more people in the backbench business committee! I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr Bain’s sole rebellion wasn’t even a conscious action, he just wandered into the wrong chamber. It would be about the level of competence we’ve seen from some MPs.
Public Whip record: 37.9%
Voted against a second reading of the Scotland Bill
Voted for requiring Scottish ministers to order officers to start counting within four hours of polls closing
Voted against devolving regulation of air weapons
Voted against keeping insolvency powers with the Scottish parliament
Voted against keeping responsibility for regulating health officials with the Scottish Parliament
Did not vote on devolving tax quarrying and mining
Voted against code of conduct for Scottish ministers in relation to the treasury
Voted against devolving the Scottish elements of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Voted against devolving responsibility for railways that start and finish in Scotland
Voted against devolving elements of the Crown Estate and accountability of the Crown Estate
Voted against devolving timescales, time zones, and British Summer Time
Voted for devolving food content and labeling
Voted against allowing the Scottish government to tax companies’ profits
Voted for devolving the regulation of shale gas in Scotland
Mr Bain differs from other Scottish MPs in that he seems to have a specific opposition to Scottish devolution, actively voting against the devolution of powers on no less than 10 motions(!), only voting for more devolution 3 times, and managed to miss 1.
Other Votes of Interest
Mr Bain has a lot of explaining to do.
520 for, 23 against
He was one of 202 New Labour MPs (30 of which were Scottish) who voted for a cap on welfare spending, along with 271 Conservative, 41 Liberal Democrats, 6 DUP, 1 Alliance, and 1 Independent
According to End Child Poverty, from October to December 2013, the number of children in poverty in Glasgow North East after taking housing costs into consideration was 37.49% – in Springburn, 43.62%. That’s almost half the children in Springburn. And you, Mr Bain – you voted for a Welfare Cap which Save the Children feared would put thousands more children into poverty.
Charter for Budget Responsibility
515 for, 18 against
She was one of 198 New Labour MPs (28 of which were Scottish) who voted for the Autumn Statement to be approved, along with 263 Conservatives, 49 Liberal Democrats, 5 DUP, and 2 UKIP.
What are you doing, Mr Bain? What are you doing?
Glasgow North East is the worst served community in the UK. Springburn is the place most feared for violent crime in the UK. A third of working age constituents, over 9,000 people, are on incapacity benefits with up to 45% with a “limiting long-term illness.” 7.1% on jobseeker’s – the highest in Scotland in September 2009. Nearly half of Springburn residents claimed no educational qualifications in the 2001 census. Two thirds had no car. And here you are, Mr Bain, voting for George Osborne’s crippling cuts, because “balancing the budget” and “reducing the deficit” is more important than defying a monstrous austerity cult which is murdering your constituents.
Baron Martin of Springburn. One of the most poverty-stricken, deprived, and run-down constituencies in the UK, has voted Labour for decades. They’ve elected what they thought were working-class heroes to fight inequality, to hold the elite to account, to redistribute wealth in a way that benefits all – only to find they now make politicians barons. The feudal connotations are so damning they aren’t even funny.
This is what the New Labour party have become: their politicians perpetuate the poverty of their constituencies while they become lords and peers and barons. Can we expect Mr Bain to follow his predecessor into the House of Lords?
Trident Nuclear Weapons System Renewal
36 for, 364 against
She was one of 102 New Labour MPs (9 of which were Scottish) who voted against the motion “That this House believes that Trident should not be renewed,” along with 254(+2) Conservatives, 1 Liberal Democrat, 5 DUP, 1 independent, and 1 UKIP.
You voted for welfare caps. You approved an Autumn Budget that promised billions of pounds’ worth of cuts to public services. Then you had the audacity to say that a hundred billion pounds should be spent on useless, wasteful, exhorbitant, and immoral nuclear weapons.
This was George Hardie’s constituency, brother of Keir. It has voted Labour practically since its foundation. This is its legacy: one of the poorest and most deprived areas in Scotland. This is your party’s legacy. This is what your party has done for Springburn.
In addition, Mr Bain also…
Voted moderately against the registration of lobbyists
Voted against requiring a more extensive set of conditions be met prior to consent for hydraulic fracturing being given
Voted strongly against making abusive tax avoidance should be illegal
Voted strongly against a referendum on alternative vote for MP elections
Voted strongly for Control Orders, where the government should get all the powers for making Control Orders it asks for against terrorist suspects, with as little judicial oversight as possible would have voted like this
Voted strongly for the deployment of UK forces in Afghanistan
Voted strongly for the mass retention of communications data
Voted strongly for nuclear power
Voted strongly for UK government’s terror laws
Again, this isn’t unusual.
The Bain Principle
You might have come across this term before, but what does it mean?
@seanair_iain There is a long-standing PLP convention that we do not support SNP motions – we will oppose the Finance Bill & lay amendments
— William Bain (@William_Bain) March 27, 2012
This single tweet exemplifies so much seemingly nonsensical and counter-productive New Labour party behaviour so succinctly that the MP’s name was adopted and codified the phenomenon.
You see it everywhere. When New Labour decided not to devolve Air Passenger Duty , a big reason was simply because Alex Salmond proposed phasing it out in the event of independence. When the SNP tabled a motion to abolish the Bedroom Tax, New Labour abstained from it rather than oppose the Tories. The the SNP tabled a motion to cancel Trident Renewal, even New Labour MPs who opposed Trident on principle refused to support the SNP.
This could well be Mr Bain’s lasting legacy: the confirmation that New Labour not only oppose the SNP out of spite, but have gone so far as to make it an official rule. Even if it is their own party’s policy, even if they agree with it, even if it would improve the lives of their constituents, New Labour would oppose it if the SNP got any credit.
This party is insane.
That’s former Glasgow Lord Provost Michael Kelly and East Kilbride West councillor Alan Scott* all unanimously condemning Mr Bain’s defense of Unite’s actions during the Falkirk scandal – and magnificent Indy supporter Citizen Smart going so far as to suggest he resign entirely. This has been a disturbingly common refrain throughout New Labour’s Scottish contingent: the knives have been out for Margaret Curran and Jim Sheridan too.
“Politicians have to keep in touch with the people who elect them, and that’s why I’m working hard in the constituency too. I will never claim lavish expenses and never milk the system.“
– Mr Bain might well have a different definition of “lavish”
“These are tough times, but I was enormously encouraged by what happened last week. We have come through a lot as a party and as a nation with the recession, the expenses scandal and a breakdown of trust in politicians. But if you think about what happened last week, we won in the working class areas, the aspirational working class areas and the middle class areas. We won in every single ballot box last week – the message is that the people believe we are the party that will do most for the area and the party with the best policies on jobs.”
– Mr Bain in November 2009 was hopeful that his barnstorming by-election victory would be a good sign for the 2010 General Election. Just what is the “aspirational” working class?
“People across Glasgow and the rest of the UK struggling to pay the bills, meet high childcare costs, or deal with surging rents will feel outraged that in the week after bankers were handed a huge tax cut, that George Osborne is cutting benefits in real terms for 5.1m working-age households”
– Mr Bain in April 2013. Apparently voting for George Osborne’s Autumn statement or the Welfare Cap which would also devastate the vulnerable is entirely different.
“I was at Downing Street on Wednesday and the Prime Minister and I agreed the big issue is about jobs. We discussed the need to get more jobs investment in Glasgow in particular. Once my office is up and running I’ll be working with people from the council, voluntary groups and local businesses to set up the jobs summit. There is money at Westminster, but we need to bring the bids together to allow the money to be released. Unemployment is at 12% in this constituency so it’s so important that we get in there in the next six months and make sure that the money is spent.”
– Unfortunately for Glasgow North East, the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer (Alistair Darling, who also represented a Scottish constituency, and was in the same party as Willie Bain, and even visited the constituency in 2009) disagreed, and didn’t seem to think the unemployed of Springburn were worth the UK’s money. Friends like these, eh?
Mr Bain’s naturally been out and about scrambling to save New Labour in Scotland like a toddler desperately trying to stop their sandcastle from collapsing in the tide: futile and almost sad to watch. Which makes it all the more remarkable that Lord Ashcroft’s poll places Glasgow North East as one of the few red sandcastles to survive the Nationalist Tide in May…
Can It Be Done?
I spoke strongly about Glasgow North East, particularly Springburn. Yet even with severe poverty, there is always hope of regeneration: just as we’ve seen hope return to Inverclyde, it can happen in Springburn with the new North Glasgow College building and Keppochill Road. And God Almighty, do the people of Glasgow North East deserve better.
|General Election 2005: Glasgow North East|
|Socialist Labour||Doris Kelly||4,036||14.2||N/A|
|Scottish Socialist||Graham Campbell||1,402||4.9||-3.2|
|Scottish Unionist||Daniel Houston||1,266||4.5||+0.3|
|Glasgow North East by-election, 2009|
|Liberal Democrat||Eileen Baxendale||474||2.3||N/A|
|Scottish Green||David Doherty||332||1.6||N/A|
|Jury Team||John Smeaton||258||1.2||N/A|
|Scottish Socialist||Kevin McVey||152||0.7||-4.2|
|No Label||Mikey Hughes||54||0.3||N/A|
|Socialist Labour||Louise McDaid||47||0.2||-14.0|
|The Individuals Labour and Tory (TILT)||Colin Campbell||13||0.1||N/A|
|Labour gain from Speaker||Swing|
|General Election 2010: Glasgow North East|
|Liberal Democrat||Eileen Baxendale||2,262||7.7||+5.4|
|Scottish Socialist||Kevin McVey||179||0.6||-0.1|
|Socialist Labour||Jim Berrington||156||0.5||+0.3|
Michael Martins was standing as Speaker for the House of Commons, which meant the NeoLibs and Tories didn’t stand in Glasgow North East in 2005: when he resigned in disgrace following the expenses scandal in 2009 (he’s now Baron of Springburn, by the way, which is so evocative of poverty-stricken feudal age it’s simply not funny) Willie Bain won in the lowest turnout in Scottish history after the longest period a constituency went without an MP in history.
2005: 15,153 (53.3%, -13.8, majority 35.7%)
2009: 12,231 (59.4%, majority 39.4%)
2010: 20,100 (68.3%, +9.9, majority 54.2%)
The SNP were stuck in the doldrums:
2005: 5,019 (17.7%, -0.5)
2009: 4,120 (20%, +2.3)
2010: 4,158 (14.1%, -3.6)
A 54.2% & over 15,000 vote majority is highly formidable, which is why the fight is going to be hardest of all in Glasgow North East. How do you convince people who are struggling with poverty the most that their “friends” in New Labour are little better than the Tories they claim to despise? How do you convince them that the party they supported for decades simply doesn’t exist any more- if it ever did in the first place?
It doesn’t help when the Greens’ Zara Kitson and TUSC’s Jamie Cocozza are also contesting, where they threaten to split the left-wing vote among themselves and also with the left-centre SNP. Mr Bain doesn’t have much to fear from the NeoLib’s Eileen Baxendale or the Conservatives’ Annie Wells: on the other hand, Glasgow voted Yes, by 57%. Could the Yes Movement be enough to scale the walls of Castle Bain?
I have something of a personal investment in Anne McLaughlin: she contested Inverclyde in 2011, the election which saw Iain McKenzie “begin Labour’s fight-back” – where a collapse in the New Labour vote and rise in the SNP vote by a third was spun into a heroic victory for New Labour. I feel it would be a personal vindication if the SNP won not only Inverclyde – which was, after all, also considered to be a New Labour chiefdom for eternity not too long ago – but Glasgow North East, too.
Best of luck, Anne – we’re all going to need it.
*Thanks to Oneironaut for reminding me that Ian Smart and Citizen Smart are not, in fact, one and the same, and I must lash myself ten times as penance, as well as offer a link to his fantastic Bedroom Tax. Take it away, Citizen!