Labour went hard last night attacking Tory MPs for not backing their non-binding motions on universal credit and education support, despite both motions passing with no opposition from Conservative MPs. In order to force a division and score social media points, Labour submitted two of its own MPs to be Tellers for the Noes, and had whips vote No by acclamation. Meaning that Labour MPs pretended to vote against their own motion by acclamation, only to then abstain or vote for it in the division.
This led to the bizarre situation whereby an uncontentious matter went to a division. Divisions are ordinarily only called if there’s dissent. Multiple co-conspirators have confirmed to Guido the names of the Labour MPs who shouted “NO”, manufacturing dissent and forcing the division. Two shadow ministers and the Opposition Deputy Chief Whip…
Whilst not a single Tory MP even briefly voted against the motions last night, three Labour MPs did.
Labour MPs are technically within the rules when shouting No, however Erskine May makes clear, there are rules on “voice and vote”. Whilst MPs can shout and then not vote, they cannot shout one way and vote another. Neither Gill Furniss nor John Spellar voted for either motion, so they are in the clear. Whip Alan Campbell, however, voted for Labour’s motion in the division despite having voted against it by acclamation. That is disorderly.
Deputy Speaker (and former Labour Chief Whip) Rosie Winterton, however, who presided over the first vote, claimed she did not see anything disorderly. One Tory MP tells Guido “Once a Labour chief whip, always a Labour chief whip”. Tory Chairman Amanda Milling said “If you wanted evidence that Labour were playing games this proves it”.