03 June 2007

The Sunday Whip

I had hoped for controversy this week, but the SNP's decision to accept Des McNulty's amendment to the motion on the abolition of bridge tolls did sweep the rug from under the opposition's feet somewhat, though it did render the subsequent vote somewhat pointless. In any case, the amended motion, calling for the abolition of bridge tolls, but without any 'arbitrary' decisions to scrap major projects passed by 120 votes to 0 with two abstentions.

The entire SNP group was present to support the amended motion.

42 of the 46 Labour MSPs were present to support it: George Foulkes was away, again, and the House of Lords was in recess so that doesn't explain his absence. It's worth mentioning at this stage that since the Parliament reconvened, his vote has only registered twice according to the Official Report, and both times were in the First Ministerial election. He has missed the vote on Ministerial appointments and the vote on the Corporate Body. Now none of the votes have yet been crucial, but Foulkes is flying Labour's flag in the five Lothian Constituencies held by other parties (i.e. Edinburgh East & Musselburgh, Edinburgh Pentlands, Edinburgh South, Edinburgh West and Livingston), the motion would have an impact on his Constituents, and he would be wise to avoid getting a reputation as the posh silverware of Holyrood - only getting brought out for special occasions. Peter Peacock did not register a vote, and neither did Elaine Smith or David Stewart. Seeing as David Stewart is a Labour Whip, this is a bit naughty.

All 16 Tories were present and voted in favour.

14 of the 16 LibDems made it: Mike Pringle was absent (a bit off for an Edinburgh MSP, but as I outlined yesterday, the trams and EARL don't come into play in the South), as was Tavish Scott. Seeing as Tavish Scott is shadowing John Swinney, whose department is in charge of policy on the matters of the tolls and the trams (although Stewart Stevenson is the Transport Minister, and so responsible), this absence is a little baffling.

The two Greens were the abstainers, and Margo MacDonald voted in favour of the motion.

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