From the Mail on Sunday, on Harriet Harman's tactics at the Embrology Bill vote last week:
When Ms Dorries addressed the House and urged Labour MPs to support her, Ms Harman arrived, apparently to ‘spy’ on her. She stood by the Speaker’s chair, hands on hips, watching MPs like a hawk – exactly how Labour’s Whips operate.
Moves to cut the abortion limit to 22 or 20 weeks were rejected by much bigger margins than had been expected. Ms Dorries believes that Ms Harman’s campaign was one of the main reasons for the surprise result.
‘The tactics used to defeat my proposals were disgraceful,’ said Ms Dorries. ‘Ms Harman ran a fully-fledged whipping operation in all but name. This was supposed to be a non-political debate but she has politicised it.
‘The case for reducing the time limit for abortions to 20 weeks is irrefutable both on moral and scientific grounds. We are not giving up on this. From now on, the gloves are off.’
Ms Harman last night denied she had acted improperly. ‘It is deplorable that people who lost the argument now attempt to cry foul,’ she said. ‘It was a free vote and I worked with others to ensure that as many MPs as possible voted for the status quo.
‘We won because we had the most persuasive arguments. It is totally untrue that there was any kind of whipping operation.’
"I worked with others to ensure that as many MP's as possible voted for the status quo"
"it is totally untrue that there was any kind of whipping operation."
How can both those statements be true? Whipping is working with others (the team of whips) to ensure that as many MP's as possible vote for the governments line. Which was the status quo - Gordon Brown said so a couple of days before. It was their bill, for goodness sake.
Picked up elsewhere: Nadine Dorries, Cranmer, Peter Ould, all comment on this story. (also a v interesting post on the abortion topic at Transfattyacid) The stats show that 80%+ of the Labour party were persuaded to vote one way and 80%+ of the Conservatives were persuaded to vote the other. I can also never work out why 500+ people get to vote on a debate that only 100 of them were present at - when you see the debates on this bill, the chamber is mainly empty, yet everyone gets to vote. What if we did general elections the same way: don't bother listening to the arguments, just turn up on polling day. That's democracy!