Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Will You Still Vote Me, Tomorrow

There has been a rush this afternoon to get through the unfinished business of the House of Commons on the last day of the parliamentary session. Snuck in the middle of that was a SNP attempt to move the writ for the Glasgow North East by election.

Many people including Scottish Unionist (I kid you not) were rooting for the SNP.

Harriet Harman as Leader of the House moved an amendment opposing the writ being moved today. Saying that she wanted a by election when most people have the chance to vote. But wasn't it only last year that they rushed the Glasgow East election through just so that there would be less people able to vote as it was scheduled during the Glasgow fair period (something Angus Robertson pointed out shortly after I tweeted it). I guess having lost then the Labour Party aren't trusting their own voters to be around in the summer.

Patrick Cormack of the Conservatives did point out that Harriet Harman suggestion that the speak was last elected as a Labour MP was in error as in 2001 and 2005 he stood as the speaker. As one of this colleagues pointed out that effectively made him an independent as he represented no party. This was part of the crux of the SNP argument for Parliament to be able to move this writ not a particular party.

David Heath of the Lib Dems pointed out that there was an issue with the system (yes another one) in that the majority party could use this situation for political gain rather than for the good of the people.

But Jim Sheridan did shot a hole in another thrust of the SNPs case that the people of Glasgow North East would be unrepresented in the House until November. When he raised that with the exception only of the Sinn Fein member the members of Banff and Buchan had the MP with the worst voting record in the commons going on for far longer than the time Glasgow NE would be without an MP.

In the end the amendment passed 238 - 127 so we still have to wait for a Glasgow by election. As Paul Waugh of the Evening Standard pointed out with that figure is the SNP had tipped off the Conservatives and Lib Dems with a little Matt Santos-esque heading to Norwich subterfuge they may well have pulled it off.

Tom Harris, who contributed to the debate, Tweeted:

SNP motion defeated. They complained that the Glasgow East by-election was in the summer, now moaning that North East will be Nov. Lambs!

A speakers conference was mentioned during the debate. The issue of replacing a speaker may be an issue to be discussed for reform. But well done for the SNP for having the cajones to challenge convention and Parliamentary procedure in this way. Shame on Labour for being the only obstacle.

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