Friday, April 18, 2008

Resignation unlikely

I noticed this afternoon that Blaydon Labour MP David Anderson was saying on the BBC website that he was not resigning over the doubling of the 10p income tax rate. The headline seemed to give the opposite impression, suggesting the PPSs were considering packing in their unpaid position. Mr Anderson's resignation would, after all, be odd, given that he has voted for the budget resolutions that brought in the change.

To be fair to Mr Anderson, he did highlight the impact of the scrapping of the 10p rate when he spoke in last year's budget debate. He even pointed out that it was the Lib Dems who had raised the damaging impact on low income earners. So resigning after having voted for the changes, even if he had to do it through gritted teeth, would achieve nothing.

Yet as I said in my earlier blog today, the government can push through unreasonable policies against vocal opposition from Labour backbenchers, knowing that with the vast majority of Labour MPs, there is a great deal of talk but little action to inflict changes on the government's programme. There are the usual suspects who make the effort to vote against but the typical tale to tell about Labour MPs is one of slavish support for the government, as long as they have the opportunity to posture against the government. And it is that that irritates me so much.

Mr Anderson has repeatedly attacked the government but has never once voted against it (and to give him his due he turns out for most Parliamentary votes). Putting aside the anti-government noises to which he is prone, he is one of many backbenchers on whom the government can rely to get its legislation passed. My advice to him would be to do one of two things: either turn his words into actions by voting against the things he opposes in public (and I accept that means resigning as PPS) or stay as a loyalist but argue the case for, rather than against, what he has voted to implement in Parliament.

Your trouble Mr Anderson, is that, at the moment, you are trying to have it both ways.

Anyway, enough politics for the moment. Having just paid an arm and a leg for a cup of tea on the train, I want to spend the rest of the journey home (I'm on the train heading for Newcastle) sipping my drink and reading the book I brought along for the journey (Peter Hennessey's 'Having it so Good'.) The 1950s is after the period I researched for my doctorate. So it's still unfamiliar territory to me. But history is one of the loves of my life so I expect to be totally engrossed by the time I get home!

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