07 September 2008

The Sunday Whip

Ah, it's good to be back after a long Summer break. You've missed this, haven't you?

Anyway. Wednesday was fairly non-controversial: the only motions to come before the Parliament were the Business Motions and the changes to the LibDem line-up on the Committees. They passed on the nod.

Thursday, meanwhile, was ugly, mainly on account of the vote on whether or not Wendy Alexander ought to be punished for breaking rules. Absenting themselves for Decision Time were Patricia Ferguson (Lab, Glasgow Maryhill), Green Co-Convener Robin Harper (Lothians), former First Minister Jack McConnell (Lab, Motherwell & Wishaw), Mike Russell (Environment Minister and South of Scotland MSP), First Minister Alex Salmond (Gordon), new LibDem Leader Tavish Scott (Shetland) and Shirley-Anne Somerville (SNP, Lothians).

They missed the Parliament vote against the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointmnets Committee's motion to suspend Wendy Alexander from the Chamber for one day, by 70 votes to 49 with two abstentions. Most of the SNP voted in favour of the motion, with the exceptions of Christine Grahame (South of Scotland) and Tricia Marwick (Central Fife) who abstained. The Labour members present all rallied around their former Leader in voting against the motion. The Tories all voted against the motion. The LibDems were split: Jim Hume (South of Scotland), Hugh O'Donnell (Central Scotland), Mike Pringle (Edinburgh South), Chief Whip Mike Rumbles (West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine), Culture Spokesman Iain Smith (North East Fife) and Jim Tolson (Dunfermline West) all voted in favour.

Justice Spokesman Robert Brown (Glasgow), Health Spokesman Ross Finnie (West of Scotland), Environment Spokesman Liam McArthur (Orkney), Local Government Spokesperson Alison McInnes (North East Scotland), John Farquhar Munro (Ross, Skye & Inverness West), Finance Spokesman Jeremy Purvis (Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale), Education Spokesperson Margaret Smith (Edinburgh West), Nicol Stephen (Aberdeen South) and Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross) all voted against. Patrick Harvie (Green, Glasgow) voted in favour, while Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians) voted against.

Following that, the Government had a torrid time on the Getting it Right for Every Child motion. A Labour amendment passed by 76 - Labour, Tories, LibDems, and Patrick Harvie - to 44 (SNP) with one abstention (Margo). The amended motion then passed by 75 - Labour, Tories, LibDems (minus Jeremy Purvis) and Patrick Harvie - to 44 (SNP) with Margo once again abstaining:

That the Parliament welcomes the continuing support for the Getting It Right For Every Child programme, initiated by the previous administration; acknowledges the significant progress in pathfinder activity, both in Highland and for children and young people experiencing domestic abuse, exploring how best agencies can work together to record and share information as necessary to inform effective decision making around children's needs and to redesign services to reduce overlap and bureaucracy; welcomes progress in developing the eCare Framework to support positive practice change across all services and the plans to develop a safe and secure environment for exchanging information where necessary and for a particular purpose, respecting both data protection legislation and the privacy of individuals; supports continuing activity to develop understanding and awareness of implementation of Getting It Right For Every Child and how services can best work to improve outcomes for children and delivery of the national outcomes and therefore voices its concern at the impact on vulnerable children of rising class sizes, cuts in the number of health visitors and cuts in the number of teachers of children with additional support needs, and calls on the Scottish Government to honour its pledge to pay kinship carers allowance to grandparents.

Once that was over with, consensus once again broke out on the Obesity Action Plan motion. Labour and LibDem amendments were both deemed acceptable by the entire Chamber, as was the Government's amended motion:

That the Parliament welcomes the commitment of the Scottish Government to tackle obesity as highlighted in the recent publication, Healthy Eating, Active Living: An action plan to improve diet, increase physical activity and tackle obesity, and further welcomes the £56 million over the next three years, which the Scottish Government has made available to build on the existing good work in support of the Scottish Diet Action Plan and the National Physical Activity Strategy as outlined in the action plan; calls on the Scottish Government to bring forward to the Parliament details on how it intends to meet its commitment to two hours per week PE tuition in schools by specialist teachers and guarantee five days' outdoor education for every school pupil, and believes that progress in tackling obesity should be assessed and reported on a regular basis according to the 10 measurements set out in chapter two of the action plan.

It's like we've never been away...


Julie said...

Hi Will,

Good to see you back, and I know that you won't believe me, but I did miss your round up of Holyrood business; it saves me looking it up! Congrats on getting into the top 100 as well.

Blagger1 said...

McConnell's absence for the Wendy vote was a shock, eh?

Slightly surprised there weren't more Labour absentees, or abstentions.

Perhaps there's a Pavlovian reflex kicks in, when one of their own is about to get punished for sleaze. No matter how much they dislike the Labour member in question.

Will said...

Julie, thanks for the good wishes (and believe me, I'm surprised at the ranking) but this is why I stick with the Whip... no one else does it! And also, with 129 MSPs, one and a half sitting days for the full Chamber, and a set Decision Time, it's relatively easy to compile. You wouldn't get me destroying my Sundays doing a Westminster version!

Blagger1, I'm sure Jack had an alibi. And I suppose there is an instinct to circle the wagons at work - understandable, I suppose. It's not right, but you can understand it.