Tuesday 15 July 2014

The 51 MPs who opposed DRIP

It is quite extraordinary that the majority of parliament have decided to vote in favour of allowing the security services to continue dredging the private communications data of millions of completely innocent people. The Edward Snowden leaks showed the alarming extent of the security services violations of our right to privacy, their collusion with foreign powers and their evasion of democratic oversight, so it would have been no surprise at all had parliament decided to introduce emergency legislation to bring the security services back under control, however they didn't do that at the time.

Instead they have waited over a year since the Snowden leaks became public, and several months since the EU declared the mass retention of data unlawful to suddenly launch their "emergency legislation" to protect the invasive powers of the security services.

Here are a few quotes from the debate.

"If the Bill is so urgent, will the Minister explain why it was not introduced three months ago, as soon as the European Court of Justice judgment was announced? Why are we debating it in one day, just before the recess?" Caroline Lucas (Green)

"Why was there no discussion with parties other than the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Conservatives, even on Privy Council terms? For heaven’s sake, if there is an urgency, why keep most of the Opposition in the dark? It is absolutely disgusting, disgraceful and undemocratic." Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid Cymru)

"I consider this to be an outright abuse of parliamentary procedure. I will certainly vote against the motion, and I hope that a number of hon. Members will do so as well.  Even if one is in favour of what the Home Secretary intends to do, to do it in this manner—to pass all the stages in one day—surely makes a farce of our responsibilities as Members of Parliament. When one considers the issues that are involved, how can one justify saying that the Bill must pass every stage by 10 o’clock? Does that meet our duty and responsibility to our constituents? ... There has been no pre-legislative scrutiny by the Select Committees—none at all. This is the sort of issue that the Home Affairs Committee and other Select Committees that consider human rights should look at in detail. None of that has been done." David Winnick (Labour)
"Most reasonable people will conclude that Parliament has been insulted by the cavalier way in which a secret deal has been used to ensure that elected representatives are curtailed in their ability to consider, scrutinise, debate and amend the Bill. It is democratic banditry, resonant of a rogue state. The people who put this shady deal together should be ashamed." Tom Watson (Labour)
"What the coalition could not decide in three months, this House has to decide in one day. That seems to me entirely improper." David Davis (Tory)

The List

The majority of Tory, Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs voted in favour of this appalling abuse of the democratic process. Here is a list of the tiny minority of honourable MPs who voted against

Diane Abbott (Labour)
Steve Baker (Tory)
Clive Betts (Labour)
Brian Binley (Tory)
Peter Bone (Tory)
NicK Brown (Labour)
Jeremy Corbyn (Labour)
Jim Cunningham (Labour)
Philip Davies  (Tory)
David Davis (Tory)
Nick de Bois (Tory)
Nadine Dorries (Tory)
Mark Durkan (SDLP)
Jonathan Edwards (Plaid)
Robert Flello (Labour)
Hywel Francis (Labour)
Roger Godsiff (Labour)
Duncan Hames (Lib-Dem)
Dai Havard (Labour)
David Heath (Lib-Dem)
John Hemming (Lib-Dem)
Kate Hoey (Labour)
Philip Hollobone (Tory)
Kelvin Hopkins (Labour)
Stewart Hosie (SNP)
Ian Lavery (Labour)
Mark Lazarowicz (Labour)
Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid)
Naomi Long (Alliance)
Caroline Lucas (Green)
Angus MacNeil (SNP)
Alisdair McDonnell (SDLP)
John McDonnell  (Labour)
Michael Meacher (Labour)
Nigel Mills (Tory)
Grahame Morris (Labour)
George Mudie (Labour)
Linda Riordan (Labour)
Margaret Ritchie (SDLP)
Angus Robertson (SNP)
Adrian Sanders  (Lib-Dem)
Dennis Skinner  (Labour)
Andrew Smith (Labour)
Andrew Turner (Tory)
Tom Watson (Labour)
Mike Weir (SNP)
Eilidh Whiteford (SNP
Hywel Williams (Plaid)
Sammy Wilson (DUP)
David Winnick (Labour)
Pete Wishart (SNP)

Party by Party breakdown

If we break down this vote by party we can see which the true opposition parties are, and which are the parties of the establishment with just a tiny minority of non-conformist MPs.

The representatives of five parties voted unanimously against these measures. All six SNP MPs voted against, along with all three Plaid Cymru MPs, all three from the SDLP, and the only Alliance MP voted against, as did Caroline Lucas of the Green party, making them the only party which stands representatives in English constituencies to vote against this bill.

If anyone needed more evidence that the Liberal Democrats are offensively misnamed, then the fact that just 4 of the 56 Lib Dem MPs (7%) bothered to vote against this grotesquely illiberal and blatantly anti-democratic travesty of a bill.

10 of the Tories 304 MPs (3%) rebeled, including David Davis (probably the only half-decent Tory MP) and right -wing blowhard Peter Bone.

Some might have expected the Labour party to put up a bit of a fight over this, but only if they were completely ignorant of other examples of Labour complicity (such as allowing Iain Duncan Smith's retroactive Workfare bill to be rushed through parliament in a single day back in March 2013). There were a total of 22 Labour party rebels including the ever reliable Dennis Skinner, John McDonnell and Michael Meacher.

The fact that just 8.6% of Labour party MPs bothered to vote against this bill just goes to show that their is barely a fag papers' distance between the three establishment parties when it comes to protecting the powers of the establishment.


It is quite astonishing that such a contentious piece of legislation could be passed by 438 votes to 51 (including tellers). If your MP was one of the 438 who voted in favour, perhaps you should consider writing them a letter of complaint, or at the very least voting against them at the next General Election.

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Update: I removed a sentence questioning George Galloway for having not voted against this, because I was unaware that his wife had just had a baby. I do not accept the allegation (in the comments) that questioning his absence from the debate constitiutes a "slagging off" as accused, especially given the fact that he has a long history of not bothering to vote or participate in parliamentary debates.

The "Making Work Pay" fallacy
The economic case against tax-dodging
A letter to fans of Workfare

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