30 March 2008

The Spring Whip

With Parliament now on what would ordinarily be termed its Easter break - though Easter has been and gone - let's look back at the last three months and 92 divisions.

This term, we have a Top 6 absentee list (there's a tie for fifth place): Marilyn Livingstone is a new entrant to the list (Lab, Kirkcaldy) has missed 44 votes out of 92, making her the most absent MSP in the from January to March. Tavish Scott, the LibDem Finance Spokesman and MSP for Shetland is another new entrant with 25. Murdo Fraser (Tory Education Spokesman and MSP for Mid Scotland & Fife) has been on paternity leave, so it's no surprise that he missed 21 votes. Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians) missed 19 votes, placing her fourth (she was second last time, missing 26 votes out of 72). Fifth spot was shared between Labour MSPs Cathie Craigie (Cumbernauld & Kilsyth) and Elaine Smith (Coatbridge & Chryston), who both missed 14 votes.


Of the Big 4, the SNP have the best attendance rate - 98.98%. Roseanna Cunningham (Perth) missed 12 votes, making her the Party's worst abesentee, though in fairness to her, they were all on the same day. Alex Salmond (First Minister and MSP for Gordon) missed 11 votes in all, while Angela Constance missed eight. Brian Adam (Aberdeen North) missed six, while Parliamentary Business Minister and MSP for Stirling Bruce Crawford missed two. Five MSPs missed one vote: Joe FitzPatrick (Dundee West), Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North), Christine Grahame (South of Scotland), Tricia Marwick (Central Fife) and Shona Robison (Public Health Minister and MSP for Dundee East).

Also, four MSPs have gone against the Party line once, though at least one of those instances can probably be put down to error: Angela Constance, Christine Grahame, Christopher Harvie (Mid Scotland & Fife) and Jim Mather (Argyll & Bute), who would have had to resign as Enterprise Minister if he had meant it.


Labour's attendance rate is up on last term, increasing to 95.51%, though three of the Top 6 absentees are theirs (Livingstone, Craigie and Smith), compared with one in last term's Top 5.

Aside from those three, Michael McMahon (Hamilton North & Bellshill and ironically, the Chief Whip) has missed eleven votes, Patricia Ferguson (Glasgow Maryhill) ten, Cathy Peattie (Falkirk West) and Richard Simpson (Shadow Public Health Minister and MSP for Mid Scotland & Fife) have missed nine. Rhona Brankin (Shadow Education Secretary and MSP for Midlothian) has missed eight votes, as has Karen Gillon, the Shadow Minister for Rural Development and MSP for Clydesdale. Lewis Macdonald (Shadow Tourism Minister and MSP for Aberdeen Central) and Duncan McNeil (Greenock & Inverclyde) have missed seven votes, while Group Leader Wendy Alexander (Paisley North), George Foulkes (Lothians) and John Park (Mid Scotland & Fife) have all missed six. Shadow Justice Secretary and MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Pauline McNeill has been missing five times, while four MSPs have missed four votes: Trish Godman (West Renfrewshire), Iain Gray (Shadow Finance Secretary and MSP for East Lothian), Hugh Henry (Paisley South) and Jack McConnell (Motherwell & Wishaw). James Kelly (Glasgow Rutherglen) and Irene Oldfather (Cunninghame South) have missed two votes. Six Labour MSPs have missed just one vote: Richard Baker (Shadow Higher Education Minister and MSP for the North East), Marlyn Glen (North East Scotland), Rhoda Grant (Highlands & Islands), Johann Lamont (Shadow Communities Minister and MSP for Glasgow Pollok), Tom McCabe (Hamilton South) and Des McNulty (Shadow Transport Minister and MSP for Clydebank & Milngavie).

Of greater concern, however, is, once again, the number of rebels: Frank McAveety (Shadow Sports Minister and MSP for Glasgow Shettleston) rebelled three times since January, and ten MSPs have rebelled once: Cathie Craigie, Helen Eadie (Dunfermline East), Marlyn Glen, Andy Kerr (Shadow Public Services Secretary and MSP for East Kilbride), Johann Lamont, Paul Martin (Shadow Community Safety Minister and MSP for Glasgow Springburn), Pauline McNeill, Elaine Murray (Shadow Enterprise Minister and MSP for Dumfries), Elaine Smith and Karen Whitefield (Airdrie & Shotts).


The Tories retain their number 2 status, with an attendance rate of 97.08%, despite Murdo Fraser's paternity leave. Aside from him, Nanette Milne missed nine votes, Jackson Carlaw (West of Scotland), and Jamie McGrigor (Highlands & Islands) have missed two, while MSP for Ayr and Rural Affairs Spokesman John Scott has missed one.

Also, three Tories have gone against Party lines this term: Justice Spokesman and Glasgow MSP Bill Aitken, Mid Scotland & Fife MSP Ted Brocklebank, and Central Scotland MSP Margaret Mitchell.

Liberal Democrats

This has been an awful term for them, and for the Chief Whip the Recess can't come soon enough. Of the parties, they once again have the worst attendance record, with 94.23%. Aside from Tavish Scott's 25 absences, John Farquhar Munro (Ross, Skye and Inverness West) missed 13 votes, while Liam McArthur (Orkney) and Jim Tolson (Dunfermline West) both missed 12. The Chief Whip himself, Robert Brown (also MSP for Glasgow) missed eight votes while Health Spokesman and MSP for West of Scotland Ross Finnie missed seven. Jeremy Purvis (Education Spokesman and MSP for Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale) and Mike Rumbles (Rural Affairs Spokesman and MSP for West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine) missed two votes, while four MSPs missed one: Mike Pringle (Edinburgh South), Iain Smith (North East Fife), Margaret Smith (Justice Spokesperson and MSP for Edinburgh West) and Party Leader (and MSP for Aberdeen South) Nicol Stephen.

Rebellions have also been a problem, though part of this was more cock-up than conspiracy. Nevertheless, Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross) has broken the Session 3 record for breaches with the Party line in a Parliamentary sitting, with five rebellions since January - one during the Great Home Detention Vote Fiasco and four on energy policy, with Stone pursuing a line of persistent abstention. John Farquhar Munro has rebelled three times, while four MSPs have broken with the Party once: Ross Finnie, Alison McInnes (North East Scotland), Iain Smith and Jim Tolson.


I have very little to say about the Greens, mainly as they, for the first time since the election, are the first Group to hold a 100% attendance record over a season. And the two MSPs have voted the same way each time, something that can't always be taken for granted.

Margo MacDonald

Although she's missed 19 votes - giving her an attendance rate of 79.35% - this is fewer absences than the autumn when there were far fewer divisions, so she is improving. Her abstention rate is pretty large though - out of the 73 votes she's attended, she's pressed the Abstain button a staggering 24 times - that 32.88% of all the votes she's been to!

No comments: