09 April 2009

The Spring Whip

MSPs are, of course, in recess now (what do you mean, you hadn't noticed?!). So, as always, it's time to go take the register, as it were. Starting with the Top 5 absentees:

Labour's Shadow Rural Development Minister Karen Gillon (Clydesdale) retains her most absent MSP title with sixty absences, down in no small part to the pitter patter of tiny Gillons. Elaine Smith (Lab, Coatbridge & Chryston) retains her second place with fifty absences. Margo MacDonald (Ind, Lothians) is third, with 25, Cathie Craigie (Lab, Cumbernauld & Kilsyth) comes fourth with 24. Fifth place goes to Nicol Stephen (LD, Aberdeen South), who has missed 21 votes.


The SNP have the highest attendance rate in Parliament: SNP MSPs are present 96.89% of the time. This is down slightly on the September-December period, but the party still keeps its Number 1 status.

External Affairs Minister Mike Russell (South of Scotland) is the party's main absentee, with 14 missed votes. Alex Salmond has missed ten; former Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell (West of Scotland) has missed nine. Parliamentary Business Minister Bruce Crawford (Stirling), Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead (Moray), Gil Paterson (West of Scotland) and Deputy FM Nicola Sturgeon (Glasgow Govan) have each missed eight votes, while Finance Secretary John Swinney (North Tayside) and Andrew Welsh (Angus) have missed seven.

Enterprise Minister Jim Mather (Argyll & Bute), Public Health Minister Shona Robison (Dundee East) and former Schools Minister Maureen Watt (North East Scotland) have missed six votes; Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill (Edinburgh East & Musselburgh) and Alasdair Morgan (South of Scotland) have missed three votes, while Angela Constance (Livingston) has missed two.

The following MSPs have missed one vote: Brian Adam (Aberdeen North), Nigel Don (North East Scotland), Joe FitzPatrick (Dundee West), Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North), Bill Kidd (Glasgow), Tricia Marwick (Central Fife), Anne McLaughlin (Glasgow), Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson (Banff & Buchan) and Bill Wilson (West of Scotland).

In terms of cohesion, the SNP is the most united party of the Big 4, with a 99.94% rate: only Chief Whip Brian Adam (!) and Richard Lochhead have departed from the party's line.


Labour's attendance record is up from the last period, but that's like naming Elgin City's Player of the Year: it has achieved the dizzying heights of 89.23%, making them the most poor attenders of the five parties. Of course, Karen Gillon's maternity leave and Elaine Smith's health do tip the balance somewhat, but nevertheless, the list of absentees is rather long. Beyond the three Labour entries in the Top 5 we have:

19 Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton)
16 George Foulkes (Lothians)
15 Shadow Education Secretary Rhona Brankin (Midlothian), Shadow Finance Secretary Andy Kerr (East Kilbride), Marilyn Livingstone (Kirkcaldy)
13 Marlyn Glen (North East Scotland)
12 Highlands & Islands MSPs Rhoda Grant, Peter Peacock and David Stewart, along with Hugh Henry (Paisley South)
11 Margaret Curran (Glasgow Baillieston)
10 Tom McCabe (Hamilton South)
9 Shadow Public Health Minister Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland & Fife)
8 Duncan McNeil (Greenock & Inverclyde)
7 Former Labour Leaders Wendy Alexander (Paisley North) and Jack McConnell (Motherwell & Wishaw)
6 Charlie Gordon (Glasgow Cathcart) and Shadow Schools Minister Ken Macintosh (Eastwood)
5 Shadow Further and Higher Education Minister Claire Baker (Mid Scotland & Fife), Deputy Leader Johann Lamont (Glasgow Pollok), Shadow Culture Minister Pauline McNeill (Glasgow Kelvin)
4 Trish Godman (West Renfrewshire), James Kelly (Glasgow Rutherglen), Shadow Enterprise Minister Lewis Macdonald (Aberdeen Central) and Shadow Children's Minister Karen Whitefield (Airdrie & Shotts)
3 Shadow Health Secretary Cathy Jamieson (Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley) and Shadow Housing Minister Mary Mulligan (Linlithgow)
2 Helen Eadie (Dunfermline East) and Deputy Shadow Finance Secretary David Whitton (Strathkelvin & Bearsden)
1 Shadow Environment Secretary Sarah Boyack (Edinburgh Central), Shadow Parliamentary Business Minister Michael McMahon (Hamilton North & Bellshill), Shadow Transport Minister Des McNulty (Clydebank & Milngavie), Shadow Environment Minister Elaine Murray (Dumfries), Shadow Economy Minister John Park (Mid Scotland & Fife) and Cathy Peattie (Falkirk East)

Meanwhile, Labour is the second least cohesive group, though a 99.69% rate is hardly a harbinger of disunity and it's an improvement on the last period. Marlyn Glen and Elaine Smith have rebelled three times, while Wendy Alexander, Johann Lamont, Mary Mulligan and Cathy Peattie have departed from the rest of their group on one occasion each.


The Conservatives' 96.63% attendance rate puts them mid-table. Alex Johnstone (North East Scotland) has missed ten votes; Jamie McGrigor (Highlands & Islands) has missed nine; Environment Spokesman John Scott (Ayr) has missed seven. Ted Brocklebank (Mid Scotland & Fife) has missed six votes, while Jackson Carlaw (West of Scotland) has missed five votes, possibly as a result of being a setting for an episode of Midsomer Murders. Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland) ahs missed two votes, while Gavin Brown (Lothians), Annabel Goldie and Nanette Milne (North East Scotland) have all missed one.

The Tories' 99.83% cohesion rate is decent as well: Justice Spokesman Bill Aitken (Glasgow) and Alex Johnstone are the only MSPs to break from the Party line.

Liberal Democrats

The LibDems' 94.87% attendance rate is an improvement on last period, but they rank fourth once again in the party league table, with only Labour (and Margo) sparing their blushes. Aside from Nicol Stephen, John Farquhar Munro (Ross, Skye & Inverness West) has missed 13 votes, Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross) has missed 11, Health Spokesman Ross Finnie has missed nine and Environment Spokesman Liam McArthur (Orkney) has missed seven. Justice Spokesman Robert Brown (Glasgow), Local Government Spokesperson Alison McInnes (North East Scotland) and Education Spokesperson Margaret Smith (Edinburgh West) each missed one vote.

Further, the party is the least cohesive, with MSPs staying in group 98.9% of the time, mainly as a result of the party being more willing to hold free votes (or more willing to dissent in them): Jamie Stone has departed from the majority LibDem view on three votes, Robert Brown, Hugh O'Donnell (Central Scotland) and Culture Spokesman Iain Smith (North East Fife) all dissented twice, while Jim Hume (South of Scotland), Alison McInnes, Nicol Stephen and Jim Tolson (Dunfermline West) all departed from the rest of the Group once.

The others

The Greens rarely trouble the Whip pages: they have had no 50:50 splits and their 96.79% attendance rate is down to Robin Harper (Lothians) missing five votes.

Margo, of course, cannot rebel against herself, but her 25 absences give her a 67.95% attendance rate. She's a little like the good cutlery, in that she only seems to come out on the big occasions, and while a lot of the votes she misses aren't all that major, and her presence wouldn't have changed things, I do have to wonder what people who voted for her must think.


Anonymous said...

Of those who have missed most votes, I suppose Karen Gillon is understandable having given birth recently, and Elaine Smith has not been well. Margo I suppose can do as she pleases being an independent, but what do you reckon is the cause of Cathie Craigie's regular absences?

Will said...

Anon, I'm at a loss to explain it: even Nicol Stephen's absences can be explained - he resigned as LibDem Leader so he could spend more time with his family so that means that he's likely to spend more time in Aberdeen than previously and that's a bit of an ugly commute just for Decision Time - but unless Craigie has also been unwell, I don't get it: she's 55, so maternity leave isn't likely, and she's not all that far from Edinburgh to rule out travel just for the vote.

Frankly, I was hoping someone out there knew where Cathie Craigie was.

Anonymous said...

"That's like naming Elgin City's Player of the Year"

Ha-ha-ha!! Excellent.