Cambo Chained

coming-soonWe’ve been producing end-of-session reports detailing the rebellions of government backbenchers for several years now, and last year’s was a whopper: the largest number of rebellions faced by any Prime Minister in any post war session, the largest rate of rebellion to boot.  Without pre-empting this year’s report (and not least because the session is not yet complete), the one we are preparing for this year tells a more nuanced story – but still with plenty in it to worry the whips.

Mark Stuart and I are drafting the final report now.  It is due out in mid-May, and will be available free for download from this blog.

Above is the working title and cover.  Before anyone points it out: yes, it should, technically, be Dcambo (‘The D is silent’), but there’s a limit to how many pop culture references I can face explaining to my mum in one go.

Philip Cowley

 

Are rebellious MPs more effective?

Image by Steve Punter

Image by Steve Punter

This post originally appeared on politics.co.uk.

As someone who’s spent a long time – and probably far too long – studying the willingness of MPs to vote against their party line, I’m often asked the question: is it effective? MPs who rebel, especially those who rebel a lot, claim it is: that only by voting against their party line can they make their party leadership listen. But others, especially those who rebel rarely if at all, will tell you that it is possible to work perfectly effectively within the confines of the party system; indeed, they will claim that by rebelling MPs often diminish the clout they can have with the leadership and that working behind the scenes is more effective than going public with disagreements.

This poll of ‘experts’ (I was one of them, so I put the phrase in quotation marks advisedly), measuring the effectiveness of MPs, offered a chance to get to grips with this question. At least that was the hope. The problem is that by producing such a mixture of types of people and behaviour, it is no helpful at all!

For sure, top of the list comes Douglas Carswell, who has rebelled on 32 occasions so far this parliament, making him one of the more rebellious Conservative MPs.  But right behind him comes Robert Halfon, who has rebelled only very infrequently (just twice this parliament), and he’s followed by Stella Creasy, who has been 100% loyal to the Labour line.

Joint fifth you have two Labour MPs with very different types of behaviour: Frank Field, rebellious on a relatively high number of occasions (17 so far this parliament) but very far from the most rebellious Labour MP and Margaret Hodge, steadfastly loyal to the party whip, but who uses the select committee system to great advantage.

Add in the three names who were on the shortlist but who just failed to make the top five – Ken Clarke, Graham Allen, Zac Goldsmith – and the picture gets even foggier. Clarke was a leading Conservative rebel during the last parliament, before being invited back onto the frontbench, where he is loyal in vote (if not always in voice). Zac Goldsmith has rebelled on 28 occasions thus far this parliament and is one of the more rebellious Conservatives.  Graham Allen, however, will vote against the party line, but only does so rarely (just six times so far this parliament) and is another who is currently utilising the select committee system to good effect.

We can, probably, claim two things. The first is that, whilst being willing to vote against the party line isn’t a requirement to be seen as effective, it does help. Of the eight names on the short list, all but two had rebelled in this parliament or the last. But equally, being seen as a serial rebel does not help. It is striking that none of the top five Conservative rebels – Philip Hollobone, David Nuttall, Philip Davies, Peter Bone, Christopher Chope – made the shortlist. Or indeed none of the top five Labour rebels – Dennis Skinner, Kelvin Hopkins, John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn, or Paul Flynn.

There is also not a single Liberal Democrat on the list, whether rebellious or not, but that may be another story.

Philip Cowley

A blog post about Conservative press regulation rebellions written in the style of a Royal Charter

revoltstitle2TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME, GREETING!

AND WHEREAS most people on Monday were interested in press regulation, we were interested in Conservative rebellions on press regulation.

AND WHEREAS the vote would have been very tight anyway, the chances of a Conservative victory in the division lobbies had become impossible once a half-decent number of Conservative MPs declared their intention to rebel and back a Labour amendment.  Had he pushed it to a vote, the Prime Minister would have lost.

AND WHEREAS the agreement placated these pro-Leveson Conservative MPs, it infuriated the anti-Leveson ones. As Tracy Crouch wrote, ‘I hate going to bed a loyalist and then wake up a rebel’.

AND WHEREAS the first rebellion came on the programme motion (16 Conservative MPs, 8 Labour and a mix of others), 14 Conservative MPs then voted against the clause on exemplary damages – including Richard Bacon, doing so for the first time.

AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister – for reasons no one has been able to explain to us – said during the debate ‘this is a matter on which people should feel absolutely free to express their opinions and to vote according to their conscience’, this was a whipped vote – and we’re treating it as such.

AND WHEREAS a subsequent Labour amendment on the same Bill, not related to Press Regulation, saw Sarah Teather add to her small, but growing, tally of post-ministerial rebellions, it also saw Danny Alexander voting in both lobbies (we assume as a result of a mix-up rather than intentionally), and on the Labour side, Alan Whitehead is recorded voting with the Conservatives.

AND WHEREAS everyone was interested on Monday’s votes, there were also cracking Labour rebellions on Tuesday, largely overlooked by the media; Labour’s frontbench abstained on the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill, but 40 Labour MPs defied them on second reading, and 35 did so on third reading; these included five Labour MPs rebelling for the first time this Parliament, most notably Nick Brown, the (twice) former Chief Whip who rebelled on both second and third reading.

NOW KNOW YE that we are putting together our end of session summary document, for publication when the session is over, and it would make our life a lot easier if people could now calm down a bit.

Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart

Ten years ago today: a record-breaking rebellion in the House of Commons over Iraq

revoltstitle2Ten years ago today, a record-breaking rebellion took place in the House of Commons. It was the largest backbench revolt, by members of any political party, on any subject since Sir Robert Peel’s administration repealed the Corn Laws in 1846, at a time when the franchise was enjoyed by just 5% of the population, and before anything which resembled today’s political parties had been formed. In other words, it was the largest rebellion since the beginning of modern British politics.

The subject was Iraq, and the rebellion involved 121 Labour MPs. It held that record for just a under a month, until the (more famous) rebellion on 18 March, when 139 Labour MPs (mostly, but not entirely, the same ones) took part in an even larger rebellion. Whereas we suspect the March rebellion – which triggered British involvement in the war – will be marked with lots of coverage, the rebellion of a month before has been almost entirely overlooked.

But the two rebellions of February 2003 – in addition to the 121 Labour MPs rebelling on an amendment, some 60 also voted against the government motion – deserve remembering. They were not the first rebellions over the issue but they formed the first real indication of the scale of opposition on the Labour benches to the Iraq war.

The debate took place on a government motion. Both the Government’s motion for discussion and the rebel amendment were carefully framed. The government motion supported UN efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein without even mentioning the possibility of war, in order to rally support from as many pro-UN and anti-war MPs. The rebel amendment – moved by the former Labour Cabinet Minister Chris Smith – was deliberately cast in such a way as to generate the maximum possible cross-party support, not just from those opposed to war outright, but also from those in the ‘not yet’ camp; it argued that the case for military action against Iraq was ‘as yet unproven’.

Smith’s amendment was defeated by 393 votes to 199. The Government motion backing UN efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein was then carried by 434 votes to 124.

There was a gasp of disbelief in the Chamber when the result was announced. It was not that the vote was particularly close – the support of the Conservative frontbench meant that the Government won both votes easily – but the size of the Labour rebellion stunned many observers.

In addition to the 121 who voted against the government, just over 20 Labour MPs abstained. Most absented themselves or by ostentatiously remained seated in the chamber during the vote. Andy Reed, the MP for Loughborough, had voted in both lobbies in order to register his abstention. Reed was a Parliamentary Private Secretary and was expected to back the government in the division lobbies. Normally he would have been sacked immediately. It was a sign of the difficulties that the Government were in that he was allowed to remain in post for a few days, before he resigned.

The previous weekend the Chief Whip had warned the Prime Minister that the rebellion over Smith’s amendment could involve as many as 100 Labour MPs. But armed with the amendment, it had taken Peter Kilfoyle, a former Defence Minister, just an hour to gather sixty signatures in support of it. By the Tuesday morning, the day before the vote, more than 116 Labour backbenchers had already signed it, with every indication that the numbers could rise yet further. But up until lunchtime on the day of the vote the Labour whips were still expecting 145 Labour MPs to back Smith’s amendment, and were pleased at having contained it as well as they had done.

The Iraq rebellions – both those in February and those in March – were key moments in the history of the Blair government. Despite their record-breaking size, the real damage caused by Iraq lay not in the numbers. The problem came in the effect that the issue had on the Parliamentary Labour Party. Immediately following March’s record-breaking rebellion, one whip was definite: ‘Once CNN start beaming up the pictures of Saddam’s torture chambers and the stockpiles of chemical weapons that he claims he does not have, you won’t be able to find anyone who remembers voting against Tony Blair’.

Although the torture chambers and mass graves were found, the stockpiles never appeared – and it was because of the stockpiles that many in the Parliamentary Labour Party thought they had voted for war. For some, those who had already been critics of the government before, this was the factor that destroyed their already weakened faith in the Government’s judgement and direction. For others – especially those who had stuck to the party line, in many cases against their better judgement, because they had put their faith in Tony Blair and his arguments – this was a defining moment. They felt let down, betrayed even, by what had happened. As one concerned minister put it immediately after March’s rebellion:

We’re not only facing the danger that Iraq will give some MPs a rebellion habit, it’s also that they are not giving us the benefit of the doubt any more. People are asking us questions about where quite ordinary policies are going as if we have a hidden agenda.

Just as with much of the electorate outside the Palace of Westminster, so too inside: Iraq was the moment when many Labour MPs stopped trusting Tony Blair.

Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart

Five more things about the boundaries vote

revoltstitle2The media caravan has already moved on, but for the record here are five more observations about the boundaries vote, in increasing order of importance.

1. Not that it really matters but we think the Commons authorities have miscounted.  The result was announced as 334 noes (to which need to be added the two tellers), but we count 335 in the noe lobby (plus two tellers).

2. At 98%, overall turnout of MPs was very high, as you’d expect on a vote that was expected to be close (even if, in practice, it turned out to be less close than rumoured).  All 57 Liberal Democrat MPs turned out to vote against the Conservatives and there was a very healthy turnout of the minor parties (only the DUP were understrength, with six of their eight MPs), and all bar one of these, the Alliance’s Naomi Long, voted against the Government. There was an almost full Labour turnout.  Conservative turnout was marginally lower, suggesting both a handful of abstentions and that not every minister was called back to vote. The latter, in particular, indicates that the whips would have known they were going to lose.

3. There were four Conservative MPs voting with Labour: John Baron, David Davis, Philip Davies and Sir Richard Shepherd.  Rumours that there would be a Full House of the four Conservative Davis/Davies (Davii?) proved unfounded, as David Davies voted with his whips, although Glyn Davies was one of those not to vote.

4. One of the curiosities of this Parliament has been the high level of rebellions seen on both the Lib Dem and Conservative benches. In one sense, this is easily to explain but one aspect of coalition governments is supposed to be that they increase the cohesion of parliamentarians.  After all, if two parties do a deal, but they cannot control their backbenchers to deliver on the deal, what’s the point of the deal?  The Parliament’s early rebellions might, conceivably, have been dismissed as mostly sound and fury, given that none resulted in a defeat. This is not a view that we took – nor, we suspect, one that would have been taken by many of the party whips – because once MPs have developed a habit of rebelling on minor matters they find it much easier to rebel on major ones too, just as they are now doing.  All of this has occurred because of backbench behaviour, because Conservative MPs were not willing to follow their party line in the votes over Lords reform.

5. Part of the point of the Coalition – from the Liberal Democrats’ perspective, at least – was to try to show that hung parliaments were not a bad thing, to get the British used to minority and coalition government.  Liberal Democrats would routinely point out that much of Europe manages perfectly well with coalitions.  True, but in most (all?) of those coalitions, a coalition partner voting against the government and defeating something that was in the coalition agreement would have signalled the end of the coalition.  That we appear to have just carried on, almost as if nothing has happened, indicates that we may still be some way away from having got used to coalition government.

Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart

Backbench revolts are in decline but party whips shouldn’t start celebrating just yet

Parliament resumes today, after the Christmas recess – and we have a rare piece of good news for the government whips. Having just updated our data on rebellions up until Christmas, we have been struck by the decline in the level of backbench revolt on the government side of the House.

The current session has been dominated by two major Conservative rebellions, one on House of Lords reform and one on Europe. In July, 91 Conservative MPs voted against the Second Reading of the House of Lords Reform Bill. The scale of the rebellion was such that the government realised that it would not be able to win a vote on the Bill’s programme motion, and thus the legislation was dropped.  In October, 53 Conservative MPs joined the Labour Opposition in supporting a motion calling for a freezing of the EU Budget. The resulting defeat was the first Commons defeat to be suffered by the Coalition as a result of backbench dissent. David Cameron thus becomes the latest in the line of Prime Minister dating back to Edward Heath to have at least one Commons defeat inflicted on them by their own backbenchers.

But apart from these rebellions, there has been little to cause the whips too much trouble (although we are aware that this may be a little like the apocryphal question ‘apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?’). There have been a total of 27 separate Coalition rebellions so far this session, which as a percentage of the total number of divisions amounts to a rebellion rate of 21%. This figure is roughly half the rate (44%) seen in the preceding session of 2010-12.  Split by the Coalition’s component parts, the Conservative rate of rebellion is running at 17% (21 rebellions out of 127 divisions) whereas in the last session it was 28%, with the Lib Dem rate even lower at 9% (11 out of 127), down from 24%.

Unlike the preceding session – which set post-war records – these are much more ‘normal’ rates of rebellion for parliamentary parties in the modern era, although they are still towards the high end.  A rate of 21%, for example, is higher than in all but 15 post-war sessions of the Commons. But it is no longer quite so exceptional: in the last 20 years, there have been eight sessions with rebellion at this rate or higher.

In total, 179 Coalition MPs have defied the whip in this Parliament thus far: 144 of these are Conservatives, 35 are Lib Dems. On the Lib Dem side of the House only one Lib Dem MP has rebelled for the first time this session – the ex-minister Sarah Tether – although on the Conservative side more than two dozen new rebels have rebelled for the first time (the majority doing so over Lords reform), bringing to 144 the number of Conservative MPs to have broken ranks since the Coalition was formed on May 2010, some 47% of the parliamentary party. Of these, 89 (or 62%) are new MPs, elected for the first time in 2010. All but one of the 10 most rebellious MPs is a Conservative.

That said, it would be wise for Sir George Young not to get too excited by this drop in the rate of rebellion. For one thing, the rate of rebellion is still high. Moreover, the decline is in large part a consequence of the large Lords Reform shaped hole in the government’s legislative programme. Were it not for the government pulling that bill, we would now be waist-deep in multiple rebellions, with another record-breaking session possible. Plenty of Conservative MPs will complain about the lack of legislation coming forward right now, as the government struggles to change the legislative agenda to compensate for the absence of Lords reform. And there’s plenty coming down the tracks with the potential to reignite things; it is striking that even having granted a free vote, the issue of gay marriage is causing real problems for the Conservative side. But when you are in trouble, you should be grateful for small mercies.

Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart

The Bumper Book of Coalition Rebellions

We’ve been producing end-of-session reports detailing the rebellions of government backbenchers for several years now – but we’ve never had to produce one quite so large before.  The Bumper Book of Coalition Rebellions is available free of charge in pdf format (at the end of this post). It details every rebellion and every rebel. How much more fun could you want on a miserable Tuesday morning? But in case you don’t have the time, or the inclination, to look at more than 100 pages of info, here’s 20 key points about the behaviour of Coalition MPs in the last session.

1.      The last session saw 239 rebellions by Coalition MPs.  This is higher than the number of rebellions by government MPs in any other session in the post-war era.  Indeed, a figure of 239 is higher than in all but three entire post-war parliaments.  And there were more rebellions in the 2010-12 session than in the period from 1945-1966 combined, taking in 21 years, six parliaments and six Prime Ministers.

2.       In relative terms, measured as a percentage of the divisions in the session, there were rebellions by coalition MPs in 44% of divisions – also without precedent in the post-war era. By party, Conservative MPs broke ranks in 28% of votes, Lib Dems MPs have done so in 24%.

3.       Even these separate figures are very high by comparison with historic behaviour of government backbenchers.  The Conservative figure is higher than the rate of rebellion by government MPs in all but eight post-war sessions.  The Lib Dem rate of 24% is higher than that seen by government MPs in all but eleven post-war sessions.

4.       And compared with behaviour in other first sessions, the differences with this session are even more obvious, especially when compared to the first sessions of parliaments following a change in government.  Between 1945 and 1997, the six sessions immediately after a change in government saw rates of rebellion between zero (1964) and 6% (1979).  The current rate of rebellion is therefore more than seven times what had until now been the post-war peak for a first session after a change of government.

5.       A total of 153 Coalition MPs have voted against their whip thus far.  Most (119) of these are Conservatives, but this is not surprising, given that there have been more Conservative rebellions and there are anyway more Conservative MPs.

6.       Eight out of the top ten Coalition rebels are Conservatives.  The most rebellious Liberal Democrat MP is Mike Hancock, whose 44 rebellious votes place him sixth. Andrew George is the only other Lib Dem MP in the top ten.

7.       As a percentage of the total number of votes, the rates of rebellion of the most rebellious MPs are very high in relative terms: Philip Hollobone has been rebelling at a rate of roughly one rebellion in every five votes.  This is a much higher rate than, say, Jeremy Corbyn or Dennis Skinner, during the Blair or Brown premierships, and represents a serious fracture from the party leadership.

8.       What will especially concern the government whips is the behaviour of their newer MPs.  Of the 119 Conservative rebels, 71 (or six in ten) are from the new intake, and between them the newbie Tory rebels have cast a whopping 401 rebellious votes.

9.       Whilst numerically smaller, rebellion is much more widespread amongst the Lib Dems.  Whereas nearly one in four (39%) of Conservative MPs have rebelled, a total of 34 Lib Dems, or 60% of the parliamentary party, have now done so.

10.   The largest rebellion came in October 2011, over a motion calling for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.  A total of 82 Coalition MPs (81 of them Conservatives) defied a three-line whip to vote for the motion, another 14-19 abstaining.   It was not the largest backbench revolt since 1945, but it was one of the largest, topped on the Conservative side only a handful of revolts over gun control at the fag-end of the Major government.  It was also the largest rebellion on the issue of Europe of the post-war era.

11.   The largest Lib Dem rebellion came in December 2010 over the issue of university tuition fees. Twenty-one Liberal Democrat MPs voted against their whips, a further five Lib Dem MPs abstaining. It was the largest Liberal Democrat rebellion since the formation of the merged party in 1988-89 and as a proportion of the parliamentary party constituted a larger rebellion than did the Conservative rebellion over the European referendum.

12.   Yet although the frequency of rebellions is alarmingly high, the average rebellion is small, comprising just seven MPs. (The average Conservative rebellion is eight MPs, the average Liberal Democrat revolt is even lower at just three MPs).  This is one of the reasons why the government’s majority has not yet been seriously threatened as a result of a rebellion.

13.   The other reason is that these two groups of rebels rarely coalesce.  Almost half of rebellions (46%) have seen Conservative MPs rebel alone; just over a third (36%) have seen Lib Dem MPs rebel alone, and less than one in five (18%) have seen a rebellion by both Lib Dem and Conservative MPs.

14.   This is because the two groups generally rebel on very different issues.  Just over seven in ten (71%) of Lib Dem rebellions have been on social policy (broadly defined).  But nearly half (49%) of Conservative rebellions are on constitutional policy (broadly defined). Of this last category, a big chunk (nearly one in five of all Conservative rebellions) has been on Europe (18%), rebellions which are more than double the average size of all Conservative rebellions.

15.   The size of the Government’s majority is often not appreciated.  Even its formal majority of 76 is substantial.

16.   In reality, because of divisions in which Labour vote with the government or abstain, the average majority in practice has been an even larger 123.   In the majority of votes (411), Labour oppose the government, and when they do the government’s average majority has been 86.  But when Labour abstain (50 votes), the majority averages 268; and when Labour support the government (30 votes), the average majority rises to 392.

17.   There are plenty of issues on which 39 Conservative MPs might rebel, but there are fewer on which the Labour party would be willing to join them.  Overall, 21% of coalition rebellions occurred when Labour was not voting against the government – and when there was therefore no chance of a defeat.  But that figures rises to 31% of Conservative rebellions.

18.   The hurdles in overturning a large in-built Coalition majority are even more acute for the Liberal Democrats.  Lib Dem rebellions were more likely to take place when Labour was opposing the government, but because their backbench MPs number only 35, even if all of them vote against the Government with all the Opposition MPs, that would still not be enough to defeat the Government.

19.   Parliamentary ambushes (like the one that caused the Coalition’s only defeat in December 2011) aside, for the Government’s majority to fall much below 50, both Conservative and Liberal Democrats need to rebel in decent numbers, with the support of the Labour frontbench and the minor parties. This has happened rarely since May 2010, and the Government’s majority has only fallen below 50 on only 22 occasions in its first 24 months in power.

20.   But the Coalition’s two wobbly wings will require careful handling – with plenty of issues in the immediate future that will ensure continued high levels of Coalition dissent.

Bumper Book of Coalition Rebellions

Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart

Gay Marriage, Conservative Divorce?

‘Prediction is very difficult’, said Niels Bohr, ‘especially if it’s about the future’ – and it’s always potentially embarrassing when you revisit things you wrote and in which you had confidently predicted what was to come.

Take, for example, this 2009 article, looking at the likely state of the Conservative Parliamentary Party after the election.

It argued the party would look very different: lots of new MPs, more women, more from ethnic minorities, although no less middle class than before.  That was at least right, if fairly easy to predict.  It went on to argue that in the short term this would be good for the whips, because new MPs are less rebellious, but that balancing their demands with those of the more established MPs  would cause problems of party management. That was (at best) only half right, with the new MPs being far more rebellious than expected.

It also argued that there was a group of existing rebellious Conservative MPs whose behaviour was unlikely to change, and of those it identified almost all have indeed continued to cause trouble for the whips (save for the most rebellious of the lot, Ken Clarke, who finds himself in the Cabinet – but let’s see how long that lasts…). And it argued that whilst there would be backbench trouble ahead, there would at least be a short honeymoon. That one proved almost completely wrong; the honeymoon was so short as to be non-existent.

When it came to the issues that might trigger discontent, it argued that predicting which issues would cause difficulties for in government was ‘a bit of a mug’s game: too much depends on the circumstances in which legislation is introduced, how it is handled by ministers and so on’. But it argued there ‘are several issues where at least the potential for trouble is clear’, of which ‘the most obvious’ was Europe.  So, again, correct, if fairly obvious.

The other area highlighted was issues ‘such as abortion, Lords reform and homosexuality’.  Whilst not traditionally high politics, these issues can often be defused at least in part by allowing backbenchers to vote as they please, but as the example of fox hunting showed after 1997, such issues can matter to backbenchers more than some traditionally important ones.  And (as the 2009 piece noted), based on their voting thus far, ‘David Cameron, and especially George Osborne are much more socially liberal than much of their parliamentary party, and that split will need to be handled carefully’.

Abortion has already caused some headaches.  The vote on gay marriage – which has been promised before the next election – will be another good test of this thesis.  Whilst the Conservative Party’s relationship with the issue of gay rights is more complicated than it first seems – as the excellent new book Tory Pride and Prejudice shows – the stance of the majority of Conservative MPs over the last few years has been predominantly hostile to moves to liberalize the law, whenever they’ve been given a chance.

In March 2007 for instance, 85 Conservative MPs voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, which brought into force provisions for gay adoption. This dwarfed the 29 Conservative votes for, on a free vote, which included David Cameron.

It is true that the majority of those Conservative MPs to vote – again on a free vote – backed the Civil Partnership Bill itself in 2004 at both Second and Third Reading, but on a lowish turnout in both cases, and when it came to the detail of the bill many dug their heels in.  By Third Reading, the division was 43 Conservatives for, 39 against, with the rest absent.  Our suspicion is that there will also be a lot of convenient absences over gay marriage.

Much will depend on how the mass of new MPs behave.  Conventional wisdom is that they are more socially liberal than those they replaced.  Maybe so, but by how much?  One other point made in that 2009 paper is that it is not easy to read directly across from attitudes claimed when outside the Commons to those inside, and we’ve so far had relatively little hard evidence on which to judge claims about the new intake.  There have been just over 40 free votes since the 2010 election, but many have not been on issues that would provide much or any insight into how the new MPs will vote on an issue like gay marriage.  Until they vote, like everyone else, we’re just guessing.

Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart

Parliamentary nerds! Here be more facts for you!

Last night saw 81 Conservative MPs rebel against the Government, making it not only the largest ever Tory rebellion on Europe in Government, but very nearly twice as large as the previous biggest Tory rebellion suffered by David Cameron in Government.

The 81 Conservatives were joined in the aye lobby by 19 Labour rebels, eight DUP members, one independent unionist, one Green, one Liberal Democrat (Adrian Sanders), along with two Conservative MPs – Iain Stewart and Mike Weatherley – who cast deliberate abstentions by voting in both lobbies.

Previous rebelliousness on Europe proved an astonishingly good predictor of last night’s voting patterns, as the table below shows. Of the 78 Conservative MPs to have cast dissenting votes on Europe so far this Parliament, 62 (80%) voted against the Government last night. The rebels found safety in numbers. Moreover, as the table shows, there was a clear relationship between previous propensity to rebel and behavior on Monday. Of the 39 who had rebelled on at least two occasions before over Europe, all but one did so again last night.

(Similarly, of the 60 Conservative MPs who signed the rebel motion last week, 56 went on to dissent last night. Only two Conservative backbenchers – David Mowat and Ian Liddell-Grainger – who signed the motion voted with the Government, while one – Mike Weatherley – cast a deliberate abstention by voting in both lobbies).

What is most striking however, about last night’s rebellion is that of the 81 Tory rebels, 49 were drawn from the 2010 intake. In other words, very nearly six in ten of the rebels (59%) were new MPs. New MPs are usually disproportionately loyal. Not this lot, as we’ve noted before. One frustration – though only one – is that the whips cannot offer them jobs in Government because there simply are not enough to go around given the need to satisfy the Liberal Democrats.

Of the 81 rebels, 64 already had form from this Parliament, having defied the whips at least once. But that still leaves 17 new rebels. With the exception of the two PPSs who resigned – Adam Holloway and Stewart Jackson – together with the Monmouth MP David TC Davies (all three of whom are drawn from the 2005 intake), the remainder of the new rebels were first elected in 2010: Stuart Andrew; Dan Byles; Lorraine Fullbrook; George Hollingbery; Marcus Jones; Andrea Leadsom; Karen Lumley; Anne Marie Morris; James Morris; Stephen McPartland; Neil Parish; Priti Patel; Julian Sturdy; and Heather Wheeler

Taken together, the addition of these 17 new rebels bring the total number of Conservative MPs to have defied the whip so far this Parliament to 116.

There have now been 121 Conservative rebellions so far this Parliament, representing 32.5% of divisions – in other words, almost one third of all divisions have seen some Conservative dissent. Relationship between previous behavior on Europe and referendum vote

Name Previous rebellions on Europe, 2010-2011 Vote on Referendum, 24 October
Hollobone, Philip 22 For
Bone, Peter 21 For
Nuttall, David 19 For
Cash, William 17 For
Carswell, Douglas 16 For
Turner, Andrew 16 For
Chope, Christopher 15 For
Davies, Philip 15 For
Main, Anne 15 For
Clappison, James 14 For
Reckless, Mark 14 For
Jenkin, Bernard 12 For
Shepherd, Richard 11 For
Lewis, Dr Julian 10 For
Baker, Steve 9 For
Percy, Andrew 9 For
Redwood, John 9 For
Davis, David 8 For
Goldsmith, Zac 8 For
Henderson, Gordon 8 For
Drax, Richard 7 For
Binley, Brian 6 For
McCartney, Jason 6 For
Tapsell, Sir Peter 6 For
Walker, Charles 6 For
Baron, John 5 For
Bridgen, Andrew 5 For
Gray, James 5 For
McCartney, Karl 4 For
Vickers, Martin 4 For
Stuart, Graham 4 Against
Leigh, Edward 3 For
Rees-Mogg, Jacob 3 For
Bingham, Andrew 2 For
de Bois, Nick 2 For
Kelly, Chris 2 For
Stewart, Bob 2 For
Blackman, Bob 2 For
Reevel, Simon 2 For
Brady, Graham 1 For
Dineage, Caroline 1 For
Field, Mark 1 For
Mercer, Patrick 1 For
Mills, Nigel 1 For
Mosley, Nigel 1 For
Offord, Matthew 1 For
Pritchard, Mark 1 For
Smith, Henry 1 For
Tomlinson, Justin 1 For
Whittingdale, John 1 For
Wollaston, Dr Sarah 1 For
Bebb, Guto 1 Against
Bottomley, Sir Peter 1 Against
Cox, Geoffrey 1 Against
Eustice, George 1 Abstained
Freer, Mike 1 Against
Halfon, Robert 1 Against
Heaton-Harris, Chris 1 For
Latham, Pauline 1 Against
Lilley, Peter 1 Against
Raab, Dominic 1 Abstained
Stanley, Sir John 1 Against
Stephenson, Andrew 1 Against
Crouch, Tracey 0 For
Davies, David T C 0 For
Dorries, Nadine 0 For
Liddell-Grainger, Ian 0 Against
Morris, Anne Marie 0 For
Mowat, David 0 Against
Murray, Sheryll 0 For
Nokes, Caroline 0 For
Patel, Priti 0 For
Robertson, Laurence 0 For
Rosindell, Andrew 0 For
Spencer, Mark 0 Abstained
Weatherley, Mike 0 Double vote
Wheeler, Heather 0 For
Whittaker, Craig 0 For

Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart