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Libya: Opponents and abstainers

The Government won the vote on the Libyan intervention last night with a colossal majority of 544. This vote may well understate the level of concern on both sides of the House of Commons, as suggested by what MPs said in the debate and privately, and it certainly understates the concern amongst the public which is greater than at this stage of the Iraq war. However, on the Labour side in particular, the tiny number of rebels (eleven including two tellers) compares with 33 on the Falklands, 55 on the invasion of Kuwait and 139 on Iraq — “the largest backbench rebellion on any issue, by any party, since modern British party politics began” according to Nottingham academics, Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart. Only on Afghanistan in 2001 were there as few Labour rebels. However, excluding the Speaker and his deputies, tellers and four Sinn Feiners (and allowing for one vacancy), there were also 67 abstentions or absences.

As well as the three largest parties, both the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru supported the Government as did the Democratic Unionists. Only the Green Party and SDLP opposed, with the one Alliance MP and the independent Ulster Unionist, Sylvia Hermon, abstaining.

Those opposing the Government motion were:

John Baron

Graham Allen, Ronnie Campbell, Katy Clark (teller), Jeremy Corbyn, Barry Gardiner, Roger Godsiff, John McDonnell, Yasmin Qureshi (teller), Linda Riordan, Dennis Skinner, Mike Wood

Caroline Lucas

Mark Durkan, Margaret Ritchie

Those abstaining or absent (perhaps with their Whips permission for absence) included:

Henry Bellingham, Peter Bone, Douglas Carswell, Edward Leigh, Charlotte Leslie, David Lidington, Peter Lilley, Jack Lopresti, Jesse Norman, Owen Paterson, Mark Reckless, John Redwood, Laurence Robertson, Mel Stride, Hugo Swire, Martin Vickers, Gavin Williamson, Tim Yeo

Liberal Democrat
Andrew George, Mike Hancock, Mark Hunter, Andrew Stunell

Joe Benton, Hazel Blears, Chris Bryant, David Cairns, Michael Connarty, Rosie Cooper, Frank Doran, Angela Eagle, Caroline Flint, Paul Flynn,. Fabian Hamilton, Tom Harris, Stephen Hepburn, Jim Hood, George Howarth, Tristram Hunt, Glenda Jackson, Siân James, Alan Keen, Margaret McDonagh, Alison McGovern, Denis MacShane, Alan Meale, Austin Mitchell, George Mudie, Fiona O’Donnell, Chi Onwurah, Marsha Singh, Graham Stringer, Tom Watson, Dave Watts

Naomi Long

Jim Shannon, David Simpson

Alasdair McDonnell, Margaret Ritchie

Eilidh Whiteford

Sylvia Hermon


  1. andy newman says:

    I am not sure that Roger Godsiff counts as a “usual suspect” for opposing the Labour front bench on foreign policy.

    I suspect that the make up of his constituency, and worry that some of the declining Lib Dem support might go to Salma Yaqoob might be his consideration.

  2. Jon Lansman says:

    Roger Godsiff is a conundrum. He is politically a right-winger, in the mould of John Spellar with whom, as Political Officer of APEX, he organised the St Ermin’s Group of union fixers that masterminded the rightward-shift of the Labour Party in the 1980s.

    He is, however, a persistent rebel as you can see here, especially on issues related to counter-terrorism and Iraq, which are no doubt related to the make-up of his constituency.

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