24 June 2007

The Sunday Whip

Two Tory-led debates were at issue this week: the first was Murdo Fraser's motion on the Olympics, which suggested that the Scottish team at the Commonwealth Games did well in 2006, wished them luck for 2010, but then said that a British team was still the right way forward for the Beijing Olympics. No direct mention of London 2012, interestingly.

The SNP moved an amendment which deleted the reference to the British team, criticised the spiralling costs of London, and set out opposition to a single British football team at the Olympics. It fell, by 49 votes to 78, with one abstention. Everyone was present in the Champber for this one, so it was the SNP and Greens who were in favour, and Labour, the Tories and LibDems against. No prizes for guessing who abstained.

Labour's amendment inserted references to the Paralympics and called on the Executive to work with UK Sport. This produced the first tie since the election, with 62 votes on each side and 3 abtentions. The entire Labour and Tory groups voted in favour, while all the SNP Members except Bill Kidd, who missed the vote, and the whole LibDem group voted against. The Greens and Margo abstained. The Presiding Officer used his casting vote to reject the amendment, a matter of relief to Kidd, no doubt, who would have been on the wrong end of a bollocking had his absence allowed Labour's amendment to pass.

The LibDem amendment made direct reference to London, saying that 1) Scotland should be in a UK team there, and 2) the rising cost of hosting the games was hurting grassroots sport in Scotland. This passed by 65 to 62 with one abstention (Guess who?), with the whole SNP and LibDem groups supporting, and Labour and the Tories opposing. The amended motion, however, fell by 45 votes to 79, with two abstentions. The Tories and LibDems were agreed in voting yes. The SNP voted no. Labour showed a significant split: thirty two Labour MSPs voted no, including the Leadership. Two were absent: Cathie Craigie (Cumbernauld & Kilsyth) and John Park (Mid Scotland & Fife). Twelve voted Yes: Patricia Ferguson (Shadow Culture Minister), Cahty Jamieson (Labour Deputy Leader and Shadow Parliamentary Business Minister), Lewis Macdonald (Shadow Public Health Minister), Paul Martin (Shadow Community Safety Minister), Duncan McNeil (Labour Group Convener), Mary Mulligan (Linlithgow), Elaine Murray (Dumfries), Peter Peacock (Highlands & Islands), Cathy Peattie (Falkirk East), Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland & Fife), Karen Whitefield (Convener of the Education Committee) and David Whitton (Strathkelvin & Bearsden). Basically, these were key figures, voting in direct opposition to what appears to be the policy of the group. This is a major problem for McConnell. The Greens showed a split too, with Robin Harper voting for the motion and Patrick Harvie abstaining with Margo.

The next debate was on Council Tax. The Tories' motion was simple: 'That the Parliament does not support the introduction of a local income tax as a replacement for the council tax.'

Labour's amendment called on the Executive to put forward proposals for alternatives before Stage 2 of the 2008-9 Budget Process. It fell, by 62 votes to 65, with one abstention (you know who). Labour and the Tories joined to voted Yes, while the SNP, LibDems and Greens voted No.

The LibDems put forward an amendment with called the Local Income Tax a fairer model of local taxation than Council Tax, and noted the Green support for land value taxation. It passed by 64 voted to 62, with two abstentions: the SNP, LibDems voted in favour, along with Margo, who came off the fence. Labour and the Tories opposed, while the Greens abstained.

Robin Harper had an amendment too, which pointed out that the Parliament voted to consider Land Value Tax in greater detail (it never was, so that undermines Labour's demands that the Government listen to Parliament on the trams) and asked the Government to at least consider the option before making any proposal. It fell, by 49 votes to 78, with Labour, the Greens and Margo supporting it, and the SNP, Tories and 15 LibDems. Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) missed the vote.

The amended motion passed, by 64 votes to 62, with two abstentions. The SNP, LibDems, and Margo supported it, Labour and the Tories opposed and the Greens abstained, so Parliament is now on record as supporting Local Income Tax.


Anonymous said...

Ridiculous from the Greens, they had the chance to stop a local income tax, something in their manifesto they were opposed to, but instead abstained. Their two votes would have made it 64 64 and with the PO voting for the status quo that would have defeated the Nats. The Greens are being taken for a ride by the Nats

Richard Havers said...

If I'd voted Green I'd be ticked that they abstain so often. Is it that only issues that directly concern them cause them to vote? It's why they can never be taken seriously as a party.