Labour rebellions indicate growing independence

The Telegraph highlighted new research showing backbench Labour MPs rebelled in almost 1/3 of votes last year. New data show it is part of a long-term trend.

The Daily Telegraph this morning highlighted new research showing that backbench Labour MPs rebelled in almost a third of Commons votes last year. Data, published exclusively by Left Foot Forward, show the increased insurgency is part of a long-term trend.

Research by Professor Phil Cowley and Mark Stuart of the University of Nottingham outlines that:

“Each of the four sessions of the 2005 Parliament, therefore, has now seen a rebellion rate of between 20 and 30 percent, and the Parliament as a whole is currently averaging a rate of 27 percent, on course to become the most rebellious in the post-war era.”

On their website, Cowley and Stuart outline that, “The Parliament as a whole has now seen six defeats, caused by backbench dissent, on whipped votes. No Parliament with a majority of over 60 has seen this many defeats in the post-war era.”

Data provided exclusively to this blog by Professor Cowley show that the volume of rebellions has increased over an extended period of time. In the last 20 years, the only time that a Prime Minister had faced a 20 per cent rate of rebellion before Blair’s second term was 1992-93 when John Major was defending the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty.

Cowley explained to Left Foot Forward, “MPs are definitely becoming more independent.” He drew attention to figures from 50 years ago. In 1956-57 (the year of the Suez Crisis) there were no rebellions at all and in the period 1954-59, the highest rebellion rate in a single year was 5 per cent.

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