Fees vote to go ahead after Labour filibuster fails

Fees vote to go ahead after Labour filibuster fails

Bit will the government have enough votes?

A last ditch attempt by Labour MPs to stop tonight’s controversial vote on university fees going ahead broke down late last night after government whips manage to round-up hundreds of coalition MPs to stop a filibuster attempt.

The plan had to keep the Wednesday sitting going by prolonging debate until 7am this morning. If they had got to that stage then today’s business would have had to be abandoned under the the procedures of the house.

One MP was on his feet for more than two hours and more than 30 others were waiting in the wings to make their contributions. The only way of stopping this was for there to be enough coalition MPs in the house after 11.15pm for them to move a closure motion. That duly happened and the government had a majority of about a hundred.

Where Labour made their mistake, I suggest, is letting news of their plans seep out and this was being widely reported late last night. For these to work there has to be total secrecy and that didn’t happen.

Government whips saw what was happening and got more than 300 Tory and Lib Dem MPs into the chamber to thwart the plan. All good fun and a throw-back to the final years of the Callaghan government when such tactics were common.

The big questions now are whether the measures are going to go through and if that will draw a line under the matter. Nick Clegg, who saw his party’s share down to 8% in a YouGov poll last night, must be hoping for that. It has been hugely damaging.

Betting on the vote: Several bookies have these up include Smarkets. All have different options so it’s hard to compare.

Mike Smithson

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