We are experiencing turbulent times in our Westminster bubble – the good ship ‘coalition’ is experiencing an increasing number of rebels at an unprecedented level. Everything from the EU through to Legal Aid is causing MPs to walk away from their whips.
47% of the 2010 ‘new intakes’ of Conservative MPs have now rebelled against this government. They constitute 59% of all Tory MPs who have rebelled.
Yet, what is striking is that we are also seeing unprecedented numbers of Lib Dems rebelling. 40% of Lib Dem MPs voted against various aspects of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill at the beginning of this month. With Tom brakes and Simon Hughes voting against government, we now have EVERY backbench Lib Dem voting again this government, with the only exceptions being Lorely Burt and David Laws.
Significantly, history tells us that ‘rebellion is like your virginity’ – once you’ve lost it, your not getting it back. MPs who rebel once tend to go to rebel time and time again. Having 116 Conservative rebels this early on in a parliament is a worrying sign for Cameron et al. This is before you begin to consider the ongoing difficulty of getting the Lib Dems on board.
The next 3 years are going to be tricky for this government. This level of mutiny is going to do nothing to steady this boat as it continues to sail through the choppy waters ahead.