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Will welfare cap vote be Miliband’s biggest rebellion?

25 March 2014

2:43 PM

25 March 2014

2:43 PM

So Rachel Reeves confirmed in the Commons today that Labour will back the welfare cap when it comes to a vote. Tory MPs cheered her as she announced this.

There is a rebellion brewing on the Labour benches on this, which party sources are saying they remain ‘vigilant’ about. Some claim that this will be the biggest revolt of Miliband’s leadership. If it is, then it will have to surpass the 40 Labour MPs (39 and one teller) who rebelled against their party’s official position on welfare sanctions just over a year ago. The then Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne instructed Labour MPs to abstain on a bill which enabled the DWP to avoid repaying benefits to people sanctioned for refusing to take part in the government’s work experience programme. But those 40 MPs chose to vote against the emergency legislation.

Labour does expect the numbers in this week’s rebellion to grow a little, but the list of names circulating only reaches around 20. Some of those who rebelled on 19 March 2013 have told me that they will support the welfare cap, including John Healey and Paul Flynn. Others have joined – Diane Abbott abstained in the sanctions vote but has said she won’t support the cap this week. The full list of sanctions rebels is below:

Name Party
Anderson, Mr David
Brown, rh Mr Nicholas
Burden, Richard
Connarty, Michael
Corbyn, Jeremy
Crausby, Mr David
Davidson, Mr Ian
Dobbin, Jim
Esterson, Bill
Flynn, Paul
Glindon, Mrs Mary
Godsiff, Mr Roger
Goggins, rh Paul
Havard, Mr Dai
Healey, rh John
Hoey, Kate
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr George
Lavery, Ian
Lazarowicz, Mark
Mactaggart, Fiona
McDonnell, John
McGovern, Jim
Meacher, rh Mr Michael
Mearns, Ian
Mitchell, Austin
Moon, Mrs Madeleine
Morris, Grahame M.
Osborne, Sandra
Pearce, Teresa
Riordan, Mrs Linda
Rotheram, Steve
Sheridan, Jim
Skinner, Mr Dennis
Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry
Twigg, Derek
Walley, Joan
Winnick, Mr David
Wood, Mike

Teller for the Noes:
Katy Clark

But what this does show is that there is already a hardcore of MPs who won’t necessarily support Ed Miliband on the difficult decisions he has to make on welfare if he does become Prime Minister in 2015. These rebellions at the moment seem to be fairly disorganised, unlike Tory uprisings which have always had a key backbencher acting as agitator and whipping operations of varying quality. The difference for Labour is that personal hatred does not act as a yeast to swell the rebellion as it does with Conservative uprisings against Cameron. But it will still be interesting to see whether this is a bigger revolt, or whether Miliband can claim that he’s taking more MPs with him as he does along.

P.S. Reeves also mocked Liberal Democrat pensions minister Steve Webb for agreeing that pensioners could spend their money on Lamborghinis if they wanted. Tory Mark Pritchard butted in at one point to remind her that not everyone on his side of the House was from a wealthy background. Reeves’ response was not particularly classy: she joked ‘well I’m sorry if the honourable gentleman can’t afford a Lamborghini with his savings’. Pritchard grew up in an orphanage and then foster care in a council house.

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