By Paul Goodman
Bernard Jenkin, the
1922 Committee's point-man on the AV referendum, is collecting
signatures for an Early Day Motion. The EDM apparently questions the
proposed timing of the poll. Jenkin's not been backward in coming forward on the
matter: he recently explained why, in his view, there should be a turnout threshold when the vote's held,
and why holding it on the same day as the Scottish and Welsh elections
would distort the result.
So far, so unexceptional: EDMs are the
lowest form of Parliamentary life, and one more doesn't usually make
much difference to anything (even when it's right, as this one seems to
be). But I gather from a furious member of the new intake that this one
has seriously disturbed the Whips – who are trying to get MPs who've
signed the EDM to remove their signature before it's tabled.
The Party machinery's view is understandable. EDMs can show splits,
and splits make negative stories – from the Government's view, that is –
and such stories make trouble. It's been a wearying couple of days for
the Coalition. MPs are voting later than in the last Parliament. Some
are getting tired and, er, emotional. (My source, by the way, was
entirely sober.) Best to keep calm, carry on, and not let things get
out of proportion.
All the same, I can't help thinking that the
Whips may have a tough time in the autumn. Ben Brogan wrote a perceptive piece this morning about
rising anger among MPs about IPSA. It's an ominous background
against which to set a Parliamentary Party half of which is brand new,
much of which hasn't been in government before, and none of which has
previously worked in a coalition with Liberal Democrats… with a huge
scale-back in public spending coming.
> The Coalition yesterday published the wording of the AV referendum.