17 June 2007

The Sunday Whip

Well, the first thing to note is that despite the intervention of Huffy Helen Eadie, the motion proposing the membership of the new Committees passed by 112 votes to 1. Michael Matheson (Falkirk West) was the only SNP absentee. Cathie Craigie (Cumbernauld & Kilsyth) and Charlie Gordon (Glasgow Cathcart) missed the vote for Labour, and we know about Huffy Helen's quixotic rebellion. It's actually easier to name the Tories who were present than those who were away, so here we go: Bill Aitken (Glasgow), Derek Brownlee (South of Scotland), Alex Johnstone and Nanette Milne (both North East Scotland), John Scott (Ayr) and Liz Smith (Mid Scotland & Fife) voted in favour. The rest were absent. Mike Pringle (Edinburgh South) was the LibDems' absentee, both of the Greens were present, but Margo MacDonald was not.

Anyway, on to Thursday. First was Patrick Harvie's motion calling on the UK Government to abandon Trident. First up came the vote on Michael McMahon's amendment, which basically called for Holyrood to shut up on this as it was a reserved matter. It fell by 66 votes to 60. The opponents were the entire SNP, LibDem and Green groups plus Margo MacDonald. Those in favour were all the Tories plus 44 of Labour's 46 MSPs. Frank McAveety (Glasgow Shettleston) was absent for Decision Time, as was Huffy Helen (Dunfermline East).

Murdo Fraser's amendment said that 1) this was a reserved matter, and 2) the UK Parliament as a whole voted in favour of Trident. It fell by 68 votes to 16, with 42 abstentions. The whole Tory group supported it. Out of the 44 Labour MSPs present, 42 abstained, but the Shadow Enterprise Minister Iain Gray (East Lothian) and Shadow Health Secretary Andy Kerr (East Kilbride) broke ranks and voted against the amendment. They were joined by all the SNP, LibDem and Green MSPs, and Margo.

Then came the LibDem amendment from Mike Rumbles. This kept the original wording, but added a recognition that this was a decision for the UK Government and Parliament. The amendment was passed by 65 votes to 18 with 43 abstentions. All the SNP, Green and LibDem MSPs were present to vote for it, with the Tory group voting against plus Iain Gray (again) and Shadow Education Secretary Hugh Henry (Paisley South) voting against. The remaining 42 Labour MSPs abstained, along with Margo MacDonald.

The amended motion went on to pass by 71 votes to 16, with 39 abstentions. The 16 Tories voted No. 39 Labour MSPs abstained, with five breaking ranks and supporting the motion along with the SNP, LibDems, Greens and Margo. The five were Bill Butler (Glasgow Anniesland), Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North & Leith), Marlyn Glen (North East Scotland), Cathy Peattie (Falkirk East) and Elaine Smith (Coatbridge & Chryston).

The next debate was on Robin Harper's motion Carbon Offsetting, which was largely sceptical of the idea, and calling for transport policy to lead to emission reductions. First up was the SNP amendment, which widened the scope of the motion, saying all policy should lead to reductions. It passed by 65 votes to 60 with one abstention. The SNP, Tories and Greens all voted in favour, while the 44 Labour MSPs present and the LibDems all voted against. Margo abstained.

Sarah Boyack's amendment focused solely on transport, proposing extra public transport as well as extra support for cycling and walking (How do you support walking? Free shoes?). It fell by 44 votes to 81. All the Labour MSPs present supported it, while the entire SNP, Tory, LibDem and Green groups opposed it, with Margo abstaining again.

Alex Johnstone's amendment for the Tories proposed that not only should carbon offset schemes assess the impact on emissions, but also the impact on the taxpayer. It passed by 65 votes to 60, with one abstention, with the SNP, Tories and Greens voting in favour, Labour and the LibDems voting against, and Margo abstaining.

Alison McInnes put forward the LibDem amendment which said that the last Executive was wonderful on environmental policy and critised the SNP's 'opposition to public transport plans' (i.e. the Trams and EARL). It fell, by 109 votes to 16 with one abstention. Only the LibDems supported it, the one abstention was Margo (the Abstain button on her console must be worn down by now), and everyone else in the chamber (the entire SNP group, the 44 Labour MSPs, the whole Tory group and both Greens) opposed it.

This took us to the amended motion, which passed by 66 votes to 60. Labour and the LibDems supplied the opposition, with the SNP, Tories, Greens supporting. Even MArgo came off the fence to vote in favour.

1 comment:

Richard Roe said...

What your report on the Trident debate does not say is that the Green Party motion was not a clear anti-Trident position. It merely proposed that Trident renewal should not take place "at this time", leaving open adoption of Trident at a later date, and conceding the principle of renewal.

The call for "Trident: Not Now ... maybe tomorrow ... " was designed to get support from the Liberals, but was counter productive for the anti-Trident campaign. Since Holyrood has no power to delay matters, would it not have been better to vote on a principled position of "Trident: Never!" ?

The five Labour MSPs were not allowed to move an amendment to delete the words "at this time". The Green Party should have allowed more time for the debate, and taken a principled stand rather than using it as a party political football. Without the party political posturing, there might well have been more Labour rebels (albeit at the expense of a few pro-Trident Liberal votes).