Heading to London today will be the nation's Labour MPs ready, it is claimed, to do battle on the budget which the government has made clear it will not change. One reason for refusing to change it is the simple fact that it is now in operation. Political journalists have focused entirely on the Finance Bill which is coming up for debate this week. They have overlooked the budget resolutions which were passed by Parliament last month. As these were voted through (by Labour MPs many of whom are now complaining about what they voted for), the Finance Bill is simply to give legislative effect to a change that has already been implemented. In other words, the Finance Bill is a rubber stamp for the already agreed and implemented budget. The loss of the bill, or the passage of amendments hostile to it, will simply be a vote of no confidence in the government. I somehow doubt that Labour MPs will opt to be turkeys voting for an early Xmas by precipitating a collapse of the government and a possible general election. And as I have said on a number of occasions recently, backbench Labour MPs like to posture against the government (typically by signing early day motions) but then vote for the measure they claim to oppose.
So expect lots of talk of rebellion this week, particularly from journalists, and then watch as the government spins some utterly insignificant concession - such as "looking at" concerns about the low paid at some nebulous date in the future - and then watch as the budget legislation is passed and the government survives to die another day.
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