James Forsyth

First Commons rebellion against the Coalition a small affair

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In the last few days, there’s been much speculation about how many Lib Dem MPs would vote against the VAT rise. In the end, only two did—Bob Russell and Mike Hancock.

I suspect that the Lib Dem whips will be quite happy that the rebellion was so small. Other Lib Dems with misgivings about the policy are clearly not yet prepared to cross the Rubicon of rebellion.

One thing we know is that once an MP has defied the whip in government once, they find it much easier to do it again. Few in Westminster would be surprised if Russell and Hancock began regular rebels. But it will be a relief to Nick Clegg that others are not yet prepared to join them.  


Another poll, ComRes for the Indy, has Lib Dem support falling post-Budget. If this trend continues, there’ll be a feeling that the Coalition needs to produce some quick Lib Dem wins.