Our project monitoring the behaviour of MPs makes it six Tory backbench rebellions out of the first 25 divisions since Andrew Mithcell, the new Government Chief Whip, began in post at Westminster. That is a roughly rate of one rebellion in every four votes, which is a lower rate than seen under the previous Chief Whip – although the number of divisions so far is so low as to make any comparisons pretty meaningless. Of the six rebellions, most are small, involving one or two MPs – although the largest, on a deferred division, involved 16 Conservative MPs, and came over the EU Commission’s regulations on the sulphurous content of marine fuels.
Ironically, the very first rebellion to occur under the new regime came during the Report Stage of the Defamation Bill on 12 September. It is, given the issue that has caused the Chief Whip so much grief since his appointment, ironic to note the definition of defamation: ‘attacking the good reputation, or speaking ill, of another’.
Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart