05 July 2007

The Summer Whip

Now that Holyrood is in recess, I thought I'd look at the voting records of the parties, and collate my notes from the Sunday Whip posts that I've made.

Firstly, the MSPs most likely to miss a vote: Helen Eadie (Lab, Dunfermline East) has missed the most votes of any MSP, having missed 14 divisions. Frank McAveety (Lab, Glasgow Shettleston) has missed 10. Tavish Scott (LibDem, Shetland) has missed 8 and George Foulkes (Lab, Lothians) has missed five. Three MSPs have missed three divisions: Cathie Craigie (Lab, Cumbernauld & Kilsyth), Liam McArthur (LibDem, Orkney) and Margaret Smith (LibDem, Edinburgh West).


42 of the 47 MSPs have made every division since the Election, and the five that have not have only missed one vote each. They are Bill Kidd (Glasgow), Michael Matheson (Falkirk West), Gil Paterson (West of Scotland), Shona Robison (Dundee East) and Dave Thompson (Highlands & Islands). Also, there have been no rebellions.


It will be a point of concern to the Whips that four of the top seven absentees are Labour members. But in total, 17 Labour MSPs have missed at least one division. In addition to the four I already mentioned, three MSPs have missed two votes: Charlie Gordon (Glasgow Cathcart), John Park (Mid Scotland & Fife) and David Stewart (Highlands & Islands). A further ten have missed one: Wendy Alexander (Paisley North), Claire Baker (Mid Scotland & Fife), Rhona Brankin (Midlothian), Iain Gray (East Lothian), Ken Mcintosh (Eastwood), Michael McMahon (Hamilton North & Bellshill), Peter Peacock (Highlands & Islands), Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland & Fife), Elaine Smith (Coatbridge & Chryston) and David Whitton (Strathkelvin & Bearsden).

A more serious problem is the lack of discipline. Labour have suffered six rebellions, though one was accidental, and the other was Helen Eadie's Committee-related strop. Twelve MSPs rebelled in one vote on the Olympics, including four frontbenchers and the Convener of the Labour Group. Iain Gray, the Shadow Enterprise Minister, rebelled twice over Trident, while Andy Kerr, the Shadow Health Secretary rebelled once, as did Hugh Henry, the Shadow Education Secretary. Kerr voted to oppose a Tory amendment on Trident rather than abstain as the others in the Group did, Henry did the same on the LibDem amendment, while Gray did so on both. On the actual motion regarding Trident, five MSPs rebelled. This is the biggest threat to Jack McConnell's Leadership.


Only five of the Tory Group have voted in every division, so I'll name them rather than the absentees: Bill Aitken (Glasgow), Derek Brownlee (South of Scotland), Alex Johnstone (North East Scotland), John Scott (Ayr) and Elizabeth Smith (Mid Scotland & Fife). The rest have missed one vote, with the exception of Ted Brocklebank (Mid Scotland & Fife), who has missed two.

Liberal Democrats

While Labour supply us with four of our top seven absentees, the LibDems provide us with the other three. In addition to those already named, Mike Pringle (Edinburgh West) and Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross) have been absent twice, and five LibDem MSPs have missed one vote: Ross Finnie (West of Scotland), Jim Hume (South of Scotland), John Farquhar Munro (Ross, Skye and Inverness West), Nicol Stephen (Aberdeen South, and the Party's Leader for now) and Jim Tolson (Dunfermline West).


Both Greens have missed one vote, while the two MSPs differed on one vote. Much has been made about the Greens being serial abstainers, but in this case, Robin Harper has only abstained four times, and Patrick Harvie five. It has been Labour Party policy to abstain on six occasions (though Iain Gray only abstained on four, while several only abstained on five), and Margo MacDonald has abstained sixteen times!

Margo MacDonald

Or "Margo MacDonald-Abstained" as she ought to be called. She has missed two votes, but the abstain button on her keypad probably needs replacing.


Lord Straf-Dresden said...

Should MSPs who miss the vote be put in stocks, perchance and pelted with rotten tomatoes until they're red in the face?

Will said...

Well, that hadn't initially crossed my mind, your lordship, but what a good idea!

The SPCB could operate a premium phone line whereby members of the public could dial in to enter a competition to have the honour of pelting fruit at the absentee members, and the TV rights could be sold to one of the main terrestrial channels, with a view to a slot in primetime.

I estimate that the phone-in alone would generate £5 million per week for Scottish public services, and that's before TV rights are sold, which will make a fortune as well, with high levels of public interest likely and massive advertising revenues as a result... the move could probably pay for three new schools and their teachers each year! :D