Corbyn’s Voting Record: My Party Right Or Wrong?
by Dick Barry
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour opponents have accused him of voting against the Labour government (1997-2010) on 500 occasions, thereby absolving themselves of acts of disloyalty to their party leader. But did Corbyn vote against the Labour whip on 500 occasions? And if he did, how many of these defied a 3-line whip which compels MPs to support the government? Unfortunately, we do not know the definitive answer to that, but the website of ‘the public whip’ appears to point to a 3-line whip being a minority of Corbyn’s votes against.
The website of ‘the public whip’ which monitors the voting record of every MP shows that over the period of a Labour government between 1 May 1997 and 12 April 2010, Corbyn rebelled on 487 occasions. This represents 18.97% of a total of 2567 divisions (out of 3807) in which he voted. The break down is as follows:
Between 1 May 1997 and 14 May 2001 Corbyn voted in 889 divisions out of 1273 (69.8%). In these 889 divisions he voted against Labour on 77 occasions (8.7%). Between 7 June 2001 and 11 April 2005 he voted in 729 divisions out of 1246 (58.5%). In these 729 divisions he voted against the government on 172 occasions (23.6%). And between 5 May 2005 and 12 April 2010 he voted in 949 divisions out of 1288 (73.7%). In these 949 divisions he voted against on 238 occasions (25.1%). During the period of the Con/Lib Dem coalition from 6 May 2010 to 30 March 20-15, Corbyn voted in 909 divisions out of 1239 (73.4%). In these 909 divisions he voted against the Labour whip on 46 occasions (5.1%). It should be stressed that the majority of the votes against the Labour government were against aspects or clauses of legislation and only rarely against a second or third reading of a government bill.
Most of Corbyn’s 77 votes against Labour between 1 May 1997 and 14 May 2001 follow a pattern which became clearer as the Labour government’s programme rolled out. Issues that mattered greatly to him included immigration, internal security, terrorism and foreign policy. It is these issues that tended to dominate his opposition to Labour over the 13 years in government. In September 1998 he rebelled against the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Bill 4 times. And against the Immigration and Asylum Bill on 3 occasions in November 1999. In April 2000 he voted against the Freedom of Information Bill 5 times and in July he rebelled against the Football Disorder Bill also on 5 occasions. Between February 1999 and May 2001 the pattern was broken somewhat when he voted against the City of London (Ward Elections) Bill on 10 occasions.
Corbyn’s 172 rebellions against Labour between 7 June 2001 and 11 April 2005 reveal a man who thinks deeply about human issues. Many of his votes against continued to focus on foreign policy, internal security and the treatment of immigration. For example, in November and December 2001 he voted against aspects of the Anti-Terrorism and Security Bill on no fewer than 28 occasions. And in June and November 2002 he rebelled 17 times against the Nationality and Immigration Bill. In April, May and November 2003 he voted against the Criminal Justice Bill on 10 occasions. In 2003 his opposition to the invasion of Iraq prompted him to vote against that and related issues on 12 occasions. In 2004 and 2005 he opposed the Identity Cards Bill 5 times. And in February and March 2005 he rebelled against the Prevention of Terrorism Bill on 24 occasions.
Corbyn’s 238 rebellions against Labour between 5 May 2005 and 12 April 2010 continued to follow a distinct pattern. These acts of ‘disloyalty’ included 31 votes against prevention of terrorism legislation. They also included votes against a Freedom of Information Bill, identity cards, again, and the Lisbon Treaty. In addition his votes were against biometric registration of immigrants, the retention of Trident, control orders, aspects of the Iraq inquiry and a third runway at Heathrow. His views on most of these issues were and are well known. For Corbyn they were, and continue to be, matters of conscience. To expect him to fall into line and vote contrary to his deeply held beliefs would be an act of personal betrayal.
Note: A one-line whip means attendance is requested but it’s not a problem if the vote is missed. A two-line whip requests attendance unless it has been cleared with one of the whips to be absent. A three-line whip is essential, an MP has to attend and vote with the party. (see http://www.w4mp.org)