Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Labour’s “Tuition Fees” moment?

Do you remember about five years ago when another party’s spokesman said he was for a policy opposite to that in their manifesto, then against the policy, then reversed his position again and then his party got in a shambles – some voting for a policy they said they were against, some abstaining, and a few voting in accordance with their previous manifesto? It really pissed off a significant portion of their supporter base.

Is it hyperbole to suggest that the recent Labour shambles over the Welfare Bill equates to the Lib Dem’s gyrations over tuition fees?

At least no Labour MP actually voted for the Welfare Bill – although some of the headlines look as if some spokesmen now support savage welfare cuts, justifying it by saying Labour supporters now seem to be intolerant of those on welfare.

But abstaining on something so very critical to your traditional supporter base is arguably on a par with the Lib Dem’s betrayal of those students who may have switched from Labour to Liberal in response to pledges about tuition fees.

The impact of course will not just be felt in five years time – when Labour hope it will be forgotten, but the Liberals will be doing their best to remind the electorate of the “Labour betrayal”. (They after all have suffered the effects of that tactic from the Labour playbook at the recent general election – so one can expect they will have learnt how to make that play themselves.)

The impact will be felt in Scotland next year at the Holyrood elections. So I thought I would scan the list of Labour “rebels” to see what proportion of Labour’s Scottish MPs rebelled and voted “with Labour values” against the welfare cuts. Then I remembered; I only had to look to see how one MP had voted. (He abstained along with the majority of his UK parliamentary colleagues.)

Has the Labour leadership in London once again kicked their own Scottish Party in the bawbag and gifted an even greater majority to the SNP at the next Holyrood Elections?

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