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Parliament at its most ridiculous and shameful: McDonnell bill falls

The Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) bill introduced by John McDonnell, backed by the TUC, has fallen, not because it was carefully considered and rejected, but because of the filibustering by a tiny number of Tory MPs. If we needed an indication of how much more reform of parliament is needed, this was it. For example, the hour-long vacuous self-parodying speech of Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, member of the backbench business committee whose role is to ensure that Parliament sets its own agenda, made a ridicule not only of himself but of the House of Commons. John McDonnell, speaking in the chamber immediately after the vote, described the process as a “shame and disgrace” and called for a review of the standards of democracy in the House.

When the procedural motion was eventually put to proceed to a vote, only 87 MPs voted in favour. It requires 100 MPs voting in favour of the procedural motion (plus two tellers) so the motion fell, and so too in effect did the bill. Although Friday is normally a day that most MPs spend in their constituencies, it is seriously disappointing that more did not make it. The names of the honorable members that did will be published when they’re available.  As Len McCluskey said in moving support for the bill at TUC last month:

we need to get behind John McDonnell’s bill to end the scandalous legal interference in the right to strike but this should not be John McDonnell’s Bill. Why isn’t it the Shadow Cabinet’s Bill? Why not the Labour Party’s Bill? (Applause) Never again should we have 13 weeks of a Labour government, never mind 13 years, which leaves the anti-trade union laws in tact and our movement still at the mercy of the worst employers. I hope whoever is elected Labour leader will take that on board.


The votes on the procedural motion on the bill were as set out below.  The Ayes included one each from Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Greens plus two conservatives – the Labour turnout was therefore 84 (including two tellers). The Noes consisted of 27 Conservatives (including two tellers) and two Liberal Democrats.


Abbott, Ms Diane

Alexander, Heidi

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Berger, Luciana

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bone, Mr Peter (C)

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Clark, Katy

Connarty, Michael

Crausby, Mr David

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Dobbin, Jim

Doran, Mr Frank

Dowd, Jim

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Elliott, Julie

Farrelly, Paul

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Gapes, Mike

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Havard, Mr Dai

Hilling, Julie

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollobone, Mr Philip (C)

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

Jamieson, Cathy

Jones, Susan Elan

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keen, Alan

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Lloyd, Tony

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline (Green)

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan (SNP)

Mactaggart, Fiona

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonnell, John

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Mearns, Ian

Michael, rh Alun

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Morrice, Graeme (Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M. (Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Pearce, Teresa

Pound, Stephen

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Rotheram, Steve

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheridan, Jim

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Spellar, rh Mr John

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Stephen

Walley, Joan

Wicks, rh Malcolm

Williams, Hywel (PC)

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Wood, Mike

Tellers for the Ayes:

Jeremy Corbyn and

Kelvin Hopkins


Bacon, Mr Richard

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Bridgen, Andrew

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Burns, Mr Simon

Davey, Mr Edward

Davies, Philip

de Bois, Nick

Ellison, Jane

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Damian

Greening, Justine

Harris, Rebecca

Heath, Mr David (LD)

Hendry, Charles

Jackson, Mr Stewart

Kelly, Chris

Menzies, Mark

Mundell, rh David

Nuttall, Mr David

Penrose, John

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Teather, Sarah (LD)

Watkinson, Angela

Tellers for the Noes:

Miss Chloe Smith and

Jeremy Wright


  1. Alex Snowdon says:

    I watched some of it earlier – an awful, appalling spectacle. The contempt for democracy of those Tories who droned on endlessly was shameful – it was such blatant filibustering, encouraged by a deputy speaker who clearly considered it her job to humour those responsible.

    Any normal person from outside the Westminster bubble watching it – even most Tory voters – would have been horrified. I felt great admiration for John McDonnell – not only for pushing for the bill, but for restraining the urge to punch any of those opposite him!

  2. Jon Lansman says:

    A list of Labour MPs who did not vote may be found on the LRC website at There may, of course, be good reason for any individual MP not to be present. However, it is perfectly reasonable for anyone, especially a constituent or member of the local party, to ask what that reason might be.

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