Wednesday, March 15, 2006
How the Conservatives Could Cause Chaos over the Education Bill
I shall be at Upton Park, preparing to watch the Hammers (hopefully) progress in the FA Cup tonight when the Education Bill vote takes place - at least I have got my priorities right. But fear not, ladies and gentleman, I have now worked out how to Blog by email. So if you see a new post on tonight between 7pm and 10pm you can imagine me freezing my knackers off singing about Alan Pardew's Claret & Blue Army while typing away on my Blackberry. How sad is that? But I digress. I think tonight's vote might be more interesting than some think. The only way the Labour rebels can defeat the vote, it seems to me, is if there are a significant number of Tory rebels too - by that I mean Tory MPs who vote against the Bill. I think that is unlikely, although I shall be interested to see if my old friend Eric Forth can bring himself to hold his nose and troop into the Aye lobby. I suspect an urgent shopping trip might be on the cards! But what no journalist has picked up upon is that following the Second Reading vote there is a vote on the Programme Motion. A Programme Motion sets out the timetable for the Committee Stage etc. What I am hoping is that the Conservatives vote against this, which then means there would be an open ended Committee Stage and an opportunity to exploit the undoubted divisions within the Labour Party on this subject. It also gives us further opportunities to explain the benefits of school freedom and parental choice. If the Programme Motion is lost the PM suffers a double blow - his authority is undermined by having to rely on Conservative votes in the first place and secures his Ramsay MacBlair place in history, but to lose a Programme vote would be almost as serious and provide further evidence of his administration being on a slippery slope. Lovely jubbly.