Labour's rebels: Principled and old join usual suspects

Even the most hardened rebels were surprised by the size of Wednesday night's Commons revolt over lone parent benefits. Fran Abrams, Political Correspondent, asks if the new Labour worms are starting to turn.

Even this week they were being dismissed by party hacks as a handful of Trots. But while most of the "usual suspects" were among the 100 or so who failed to support the measure, there were others who had been totally loyal until now.

Of the 47 who voted against, 14 were newly elected in May this year. Some of those, such as the former GLC deputy leader John McDonnell and both Ann and John Cryer, widow and son of the former Labour MP Bob Cryer, were known to be left-wingers. Others, such as Martin Caton, MP for Gower, and Ian Gibson, MP for Norwich North, had not been picked out as potentially disloyal. Their whips' office files will have been marked.

Some were prepared to sacrifice their careers, including Malcolm Chisholm, who resigned as a Scottish Office minister, and Gordon Prentice, a Parliamentary Private Secretary. His colleague Alice Mahon, deeply loyal since being made a PPS this year, was previously known as a left-winger.

There is always a balance to be weighed between ambition and principle, of course, and the list of rebels is heavily peppered with those whose career prospects were slim.

Half were more than 55 years old and therefore regarded as being on a downward slope towards retirement. Then there were the "unlikely lads and lasses", whose slim majorities rendered their prospects of surviving the next election almost non-existent. In that category were Hilton Dawson, the Lancaster MP with a majority of just 1,295, and Jonathan Shaw, member for Chatham and Aylesworth with a majority of 2,790.

Perhaps even more interesting is the list of those who did not vote. Fourteen abstained in person, while another 38 stayed away. The abstainers included George Galloway, colourful MP for Glasgow Kelvin, and Julie Morgan, new MP for Cardiff North.

Many previously deeply loyal Blairite new MPs stayed away. Some may have had genuine reasons, but others will have had permission to be absent because they would not vote with the Government. Among the absentees were Oona King, from Bethnal Green and Bow, who was in Bangladesh, and Claire Ward, the 25-year-old from Watford, who was said to have had an important meeting to attend.

Paul Flynn, member for Newport West, said in his recent book, Commons Knowledge, that backbenchers were much more difficult to control than they used to be. After telling the whips he would vote against the Government on Wednesday, he was in the event unable to attend. A large number of MPs were too old, too left-wing, or simply too damn independent to be controlled, he added.

"Backbenchers are no longer disciplinable in the traditional way, but the party thinks they are. There are lots of groups that just can't be pushed around," he said.

New Labour's edifice remained intact this week, but for those who care to look closely, the cracks are beginning to show.

the 47 dissidents

Diane Abbott (Hackney N and Stoke Newington), John Austin (Erith and Thamesmead), Harry Barnes (Derbyshire NE), Tony Benn (Chesterfield), Dr Roger Berry (Kingswood), Harold Best (Leeds NW), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Dennis Canavan (Falkirk W), Martin Caton (Gower), David Chaytor (Bury North), Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh N and Leith), Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley), Frank Cook (Stockton N), Jeremy Corbyn (Islington N), Ann Cryer (Keighley), John Cryer (Hornchurch), Hilton Dawson (Lancaster and Wyre), Jim Dobbin (Heywood and Middleton), Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich), William Etherington (Sunderland N), Maria Fyfe (Glasgow Maryhill), Dr Ian Gibson (Norwich N), Dr Norman Godman (Greenock and Inverclyde), Bernie Grant (Tottenham), David Hinchliffe (Wakefield), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton N), Brian Iddon (Bolton SE), Dr Lynne Jones (Birmingham Selly Oak), Terry Lewis (Worsley), Ken Livingstone (Brent E), John McAllion (Dundee E), John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington), Kevin McNamara (Hull N), Alice Mahon (Halifax), Dr John Marek (Wrexham), Bill Michie (Sheffield Heeley), Gordon Prentice (Pendle), Brian Sedgemore (Hackney S and Shoreditch), Jonathon Shaw (Chatham and Aylesford), Alan Simpson (Nottingham S), Dennis Skinner (Bolsover), Llewellyn Smith (Blaneau Gwent), Ian Stewart (Eccles), Robert Wareing (Liverpool West Derby), David Winnick (Walsall N), Audrey Wise (Preston), Mike Wood (Batley and Spen).

Lawrie Quinn (Scarborough and Whitby) was recorded as voting both for and against the amendment despite having backed the Government. So the total was 47 and not 48, as reported in yesterday's Independent.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam