Thatcher tried 5 no-confs before succeeding on 6th. Corbyn is putting nation first


Margaret Thatcher took six attempts to dislodge a government as opposition leader

On Monday, Theresa May ran from Jeremy Corbyn’s no-confidence motion – first literally and then by refusing to allow parliamentary time for it.

At the same time, leaders of other parties attempted to hijack it by turning it into a full motion against the government in a transparent attempt to force Corbyn to contest an unwinnable motion so they can move to what they think is the main course – pushing for another referendum, which they arrogantly call a “people’s vote”, as if people didn’t vote the first time.

To underpin these blatant tactics, the Establishment media and centrist politicians have attempted to create an impression that a no-confidence motion is a ‘once and done’ affair – that Corbyn only has one shot at it and his determination to wait until after the vote on May’s dismal excuse for a Brexit deal is a sign of weakness, prevarication or selfish politics.

But this is simply untrue. Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (FTPA), there is no limit to how many times the Opposition can table a motion of no confidence in the government.

Nor is there any convention or precedent that an Opposition can only do so once.

In fact, contrary to the image painted by the Establishment that she was some irresistible political force in her time, Margaret Thatcher contested no fewer than six confidence motions against the Labour government as Opposition leader in just three years,  before she eventually won one:

And she only won the sixth because PM Jim Callaghan refused to allow a dying MP to attend the Commons to vote. Callaghan’s government lost by a single vote – 311 to 310 – and resigned.

Corbyn can bring as many such motions under the FTPA as he wishes. He is not hiding from a vote – he is rightly timing it for the optimal chance of victory at the first attempt.

The UK doesn’t have three years for no-confidence motions before Britain is condemned to a dire Tory Brexit. The millions of people suffering poverty and despair under Tory policies cannot bear three more years of attempts.

By timing his move for the maximum chances of success the first time, Corbyn is doing his duty to the country, rather than taking the easy route.

Those trying to force his hand prematurely – and May running scared – are playing politics at the expense of the nation for the sake of their own careers and agendas.

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  1. The Daily Telegraph the Times are doing their best to spin this as May being some sort of valiant hero. I suspect they may have overreached themselves this time, you can only stretch credibility so far before it snaps. The rest of MSM appear to be either studiously ignoring events or are broadly neutral (at least on their front pages)

    “May dares Corbyn to call vote of confidence,” says the lead headline in the Daily Telegraph.

    The same headline appears on the Times’ main story, which also says that the Prime Minister has secured the backing of Conservative Brexiteers and the Democratic Unionist Party if the opposition takes up her offer.

  2. Yeah, Theresa of Arc, Our Maiden of Head will save us from those evil Frenchies.

    1. 19/12/2018 1pm
      I definitely wouldn’t call her a “stupid woman.”
      That would be to dishonour “stupid” and “woman” – and anyway – anything said under one’s breath is unsaid.
      Jeremy’s lips appeared to shape those words but “flippin’ panto” couldn’t be definitely excluded.
      Not in court anyway 🙂

  3. Excitement is a little premature. Bears shit in the woods.:

    “I will not vote a Conservative government out of office …”

    … Rees-Mogg

    Meanwhile, I’ll stick to reading Fintan O’Toole’s entertaining analysis of the sheer ludicrousness of the spectacle of the UK at the present time. It’s more in touch with reality than anything in parliament.

  4. “I will not vote a Conservative government out of office …”

    … Rees-Mogg.


    Is it the same Rees-Mogg?

    1. “Is it the same Rees-Mogg?”

      Indeed ’tis. You don’t expect rationality or consistency from such as he, do you?:-) By definition.

      The one thing that is a consistent as the old bear shit in the woods, however, is the Tory talent for survival.

  5. “And she only won the sixth because PM Jim Callaghan refused to allow a dying MP to attend the Commons to vote. Callaghan’s government lost by a single vote – 311 to 310 – and resigned.”

    Not really!
    Given that the vote was lost so narrowly, many things could have flipped it.

    For example, Gerry Fitt of the SDLP abstained in protest at the use of torture in Northern Ireland.

    311+310=321. But the House of Commons at that time had 635 members. So 14 did not vote.

    John Golding put the number of Labour MPs voting at just 303 in his fascinating book ‘Hammer of the Left’.
    What he does not point out is that that means that 6 Labour MPs did not vote.

    Labour had started off with 319 MPs and lost 6 by elections plus 3 defections. One seat was vacant. So that means there were 309 Labour MPs at the time.
    Although his book is called ‘Hammer of the Left’, Golding never had any qualms about attacking the right as well (of which he was a part).

    He claims in his book that Callaghan could have done much more to win the vote. I endorse his analysis.

    He puts the breakdown of the vote as: 303 Labour, 3 PC, 2 Ulster Unionists and 2 Scottish Labour (defectors). Total=310.

  6. “He claims in his book that Callaghan could have done much more to win the vote..”

    An unlikely scenario. Believe me, if a more significant figure, Walter Harrison, didn’t see a way forward, there wasn’t one. He did more than snipe from the right hand touchline.

    1. The fact that 6 Labour MPs did not vote proves that more could have been done.

  7. Corbyn has played this exactly right and he will be vindicated.
    We will leave the EU, that is set in stone. However, there will be a deal, “no Deal” is a lever. The deal will most likely be Norway+ and Corbyn will force it through. This is common sense and what he is waiting for. People who voted leave will get to leave and those voted remain will keep the economic benefits, at a price. This is the best we can expect and the country will have a decade to heal the rift, during that time I expect the decision to leave will be vindicated but reaminers will be able to say “at least we didn’t jump off the cliff edge” and claim a victory of sorts.

    1. Regardless of whether we somehow manage to engineer a GE I still remain firmly convinced that we should have a PV using STV with 3 options 1.Remain, 2.Whatever deal has been agreed by the government in power and 3.Leave on some sort of WTO deal.
      This would be inclusive for everyone and would tend to give a conclusive result.

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