The first ever backbench rebellion against a Labour government took place over defence policy. The Rev Herbert Dunnico, the then Labour MP for Consett, voted against the government’s programme of light cruiser construction – the Trident of 1924.
Here, in anticipation of Wednesday’s vote, is a short briefing paper (pdf, 71k) analysing the current rebellion. It discusses the scale of the likely rebellion facing the Government and explains some of the background. It also identifies a list of likely rebels and gives some simple historical comparisons.
Amongst other things, we point out that if – as we all expect – Wednesday’s vote is only carried thanks to support from the Opposition, it will then mean that the Prime Minister has enacted his key foreign policy decision (Iraq, in 2003) thanks only to the votes of the Opposition; he has enacted a key plank of his third term domestic agenda (schools reform, in 2006) thanks only to the votes of the Opposition; and he will have enacted his key defence policy decision (Trident, 2007) thanks only to the votes of the Opposition. This, despite enjoying comfortable to landslide majorities for his entire time in office.
NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: This is the way to do it! Note the copious references to the source…