Past behaviour, current behaviour

We’ve published thoughts on last night’s vote at the Nottingham University Ballots and Bullets blog – along with an analysis of the Conservative rebels. We were struck there by the relationship between past rebelliousness over Europe and behavior last night.

That relationship held just as strongly on the Labour side. Sixteen of the 19 Labour rebels had previous form on Europe during this Parliament. Indeed, the top 13 Labour EU rebels so far this Parliament all defied the party whip by supporting the referendum: Skinner, Dennis (11 European rebellions before Monday); Hopkins, Kelvin (8); Hoey, Kate (7); Corbyn, Jeremy (6);Davidson, Ian (6); Campbell, Ronnie (5); McDonnell, John (5) Cryer, John (5); Field, Frank (3); Mitchell, Austin (3); Stringer, Graham (3); Stuart, Gisela (3); Wood, Mike (3).

Compare that to the 19 least rebellious on the issue, from whom just three rebelled over the referendum: Godsiff, Roger (1); Cooper, Rosie (1); McCabe, Steve (1).

The three others not on that list are Jon Cruddas (pro-European, but someone who supported a referendum on Europe in March 2008), Natascha Engel (the new chair of the Backbench Business Committee, on whose watch last night’s vote was taken) and Andrew Smith, a former member of Gordon Brown’s notoriously sceptical Treasury team in the 1990s.

So in general – as we’ve noted before – past behaviour explains current behaviour. If you’ve ever wanted to know why whips try so hard to stop people rebelling for the first time, and getting into the habit, this is why…