One in five members of the Parliamentary Labour Party voted against the party whip last night. Although the second reading of the government's Welfare Bill passed, it shows that the party is divided. I've been through the list of the 48 rebels are there are two trends amongst the rebels: many nominated Jeremy Corbyn for leader and the majority entered Parliament in the last few years.
In the leadership contest, 18 of the rebels backed Corbyn for leader, compared to 15 for Andy Burnham, nine for Yvette Cooper and just one Liz Kendall supporter. Five of the rebels didn't back anyone. Burnham is clearly spooked by this, judging by a statement posted on his Facebook page about how 'we cannot simply abstain on a Bill', despite abstaining on the vote last night:
'Whilst we may have lost the vote tonight, that doesn’t mean the battle has to be over. Tonight I am firing the starting gun on Labour's opposition to this Bill. If I am elected leader in September, I am determined that Labour will fight this regressive Bill word by word, line by line.'
But what is most significant is how many of the rebels are newer members of the Commons. 21 of the Labour MPs who voted against the bill entered the Commons either at the 2015 election or through by-elections preceding it. 18 alone were elected at the most recent general election. The 2010, 2005 and 1997 intakes all brought in roughly half a dozen rebels, while nine came from elections before that -- notably including Jeremy Corbyn in 1983, the only leadership candidate to break the party whip.
This shows what might be termed the 'Miliband effect' on the Labour Party -- something that could turn out to be his most damaging legacy. By encouraging a more left-wing cohort to join the parliamentary Labour Party, his term as leader has made the task of holding the party together for his successor much harder.
David Blunkett, the former home secretary, said on the Today programme this morning that Labour is in 'emotional trauma' and it is a party 'divided, bewildered what to do next.' The makeup of the rebels who went against the party whip last night proves his point.