Michael Gove must be a genius. In the last session, the government’s majority averaged 102. In the five Commons votes since Gove became Chief Whip it has averaged 416. It has never fallen below 387, and has risen as high as 467. In his first day in office, he appears to have multiplied the government’s majority by a factor of four.
It is (of course) nothing to do with Michael Gove – who may turn out to be a great Chief Whip, or he may turn out to be a lousy one, who knows? – but because those five votes have all involved the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill, rushed through the Commons in a day, enjoying support from the Official Opposition., and with only very limited backbench and minor party opposition. Most of the names of those rebelling will not come as a surprise to many observers, although we note that Labour’s (twice) former Chief Whip, Nick Brown, voted against the Bill’s programme motion, and then appears to have abstained in all subsequent votes.
Still, for all that, Michael Gove can’t claim the government’s largest Commons majority of the parliament. That took place in 2011, on Security Council Resolution 1973. The government then enjoyed a majority of 544.