Can’t vote, forget to vote?

I began Business of the House Questions this week by discussing the urgent question to the defence secretary on the current situation in Mali. As my colleague Jim Murphy said in response, we support the decision to send troops to Mali and neighbouring countries to help train the Malian army. But the deployment of troops to conflict areas raises important issues that members wanted to question the defence secretary on. I highlighted that it should not have taken an urgent question to force the defence secretary to the House. I asked the leader of the House if the government would grant a general debate on the developing situation in west Africa but I got no commitment from him to hold one.

Last Friday’s GDP figures were terrible. After two and a half years in government the chancellor has presided over a double-dip recession and a flatlining economy. Once again on the his watch the economy is contracting. We warned that the government’s economic strategy – if you can call it that – was damaging the economy. I noted that while the economy has nosedived the part-time chancellor has been filling up his time with pizzas in Davos and not one but two dinners with Rupert Murdoch. With all these dinners I fear that the only thing now growing is the chancellor’s waistline.

I also welcomed the cross-party decision on Tuesday on the electoral registration and administration bill. The Conservative party’s attempt to gerrymander parliamentary boundaries was rejected by members from across the House from all political parties – an alternative coalition you might say.

Later on in business of the House questions I raised the news reports of tensions within the Conservative party. There was even a suggestion of a plot to depose the prime minister, though the accused Adam Afriyie wasn’t in the chamber while I was speaking. But the way things are going we don’t want to lose the prime minister and his chums.

Finally, I’ve been looking at the voting record in Hansard and have learnt this week that in a brilliant whipping operation two Conservative cabinet ministers and a junior missed Tuesday’s crucial vote. To sum up: can’t vote, forgets to vote, can’t be bothered to turn up.

They really are a shambles.

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Angela Eagle is MP for Wallasey, shadow leader of the House of Commons and writes the weekly Business of Parliament column for Progress. She tweets @AngelaEagle

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