Still out of love with Labour

Anyone with nothing better to do than read the Guardian letters page over Christmas might have seen this slightly nerdish exchange between one of us and the Lib Dem Chief Whip – an exchange that was probably won by the latter. He’s quite right to observe that there are very few dissenting votes cast by Lib Dems against their whip. We currently make the running total just 40 rebellions since 2001, compared to over 200 by Labour MPs; and the 18 votes cast against the whip by the most rebellious Lib Dem, Mike Hancock, pale by comparison to Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell. On free votes, though, as we’ve pointed out before, there is much more evidence of division. Free votes tend to produce splinters amongst most parties; amongst the Lib Dems they can produce real splits. Of even more interest, though, is the way that the party votes en bloc. This short briefing paper (pdf, 32k) updates the figures we gave in an earlier paper on Lib Dem voting (published in The Journal of Liberal History). It shows how the Lib Dems have continued to vote against the Government roughly three times more often than they vote with it – a dramatic transformation on their behaviour in the first Blair Parliament.