Last Tuesday, the Labour Party in Westminster tabled a motion to kill off the bedroom tax.
(Labour brought forward a motion to abolish it, having abstained from the one the SNP and Plaid Cymru filed back in February.)
The motion was defeated by a margin of 26 votes.
47* Labour MPs didn’t turn up and vote on it.
It includes the deputy leader of Labour in Scotland and MP for Glasgow Central, Anas Sarwar, who made a big fuss recently in a televised debate with Nicola Sturgeon about the subject, going so far as to wave a draft bill in her face, theatrically offer her a pen and demand she sign it.
Labour whips, explained that 'pairing' was the reason for the absence at the vote.
‘Pairing’ is an informal pact between Labour and Tory (or Lib-Dem) MPs on how they vote, so as to allow them a – sort of – clear conscience if they don’t turn up.
All sounds pretty democratic. If you like you like your MPs to make deals with their opponents to ensure their own policies get defeated that is.
That niggle aside, the House of Commons’ own rules say that “Pairing is not allowed in divisions of great political importance”.
So, by definition, the Labour Party do not consider their motion to end the Bedroom Tax as politically important.
NB: money claimed for accommodation (specifically for second homes so that MPs can be close to Parliament and attend votes there) last year by the 47 Labour MPs who couldn’t be bothered to turn up and vote to abolish the bedroom tax: £387,439. An average of £8,243 each. It would pay the bedroom tax for a year for 532 people.
What the wtf?
*Here's the list:
Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington)
Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)
Bob Ainsworth Coventry North East)
Douglas Alexander (Paisley & Renfrewshire South)
Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South)
Ed Balls (Morley and Outwood Clp)
Hugh Bayley (York Central)
David Blunkett (Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough)
Gordon Brown (Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath)
Chris Bryant (Rhondda)
Ann Coffey (Stockport)
Huw Irranca Davies (Ogmore)
Geraint Davies (Swansea West)
Gloria Del Piero (Ashfield)
Jim Dobbin (Heywood and Middleton)
Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras)
Brian Donohoe (Central Ayrshire)
Frank Doran (Aberdeen North)
Clive Efford (Eltham)
Frank Field (Birkenhead)
Paul Flynn (Newport West)
Mike Gapes (Ilford South)
David Hamilton (Midlothian)
Margaret Hodge (Barking)
Jimmy Hood (Lanark and Hamilton East)
George Howarth (Knowsley)
Siân James (Swansea East)
Alan Johnson (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle)
Tessa Jowell (Dulwich and West Norwood)
Gerald Kaufman (Manchester Gorton)
David Lammy (Tottenham)
Ian Lucas (Wrexham)
Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden)
Ann McKechin (Glasgow North)
Alan Meale (Gateshead)
Meg Munn (Sheffield Heeley)
Jim Murphy (East Renfrewshire)
Pamela Nash (Airdrie and Shotts)
Dawn Primarolo (Bristol South)
Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford)
Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central)
John Spellar (Warley)
Gerry Sutcliffe (Bradford South)
Chuka Umunna (Streatham)
Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent North)
Dave Watts (St Helens North)
Alan Whitehead (Southampton Test)
Shaun Woodward (St Helens South and Whiston)