By a Newsnet reporter
An SNP MSP has today accused the Labour party of downplaying the importance of the Bedroom Tax after forty seven of the party’s MPs, including ten from Scotland, stayed away from a vote calling for the legislation to be scrapped.
Mark McDonald has today revealed that he is writing to Ed Miliband asking if the Labour leader in Scotland was consulted on the decision to allow ten of her MPs to miss the crucial vote that had been organised by her own party.
The House of Commons debate which was held last week, saw calls for the Bedroom tax to be scrapped lose by 26 votes. However it subsequently emerged that 47 Labour MPs had not appeared.
Following the backlash to their failed vote, Labour’s no show was defended by party chiefs who claimed the MPs had been ‘paired’ with those of the coalition. Pairing allows MPs from both sides of the House to miss votes by cancelling out one another’s vote.
However pairing in Westminster is not allowed in matters of “great political importance”. The SNP has said it is now “vital” to clearly establish who in the Labour Party made the decision.
Mr McDonald, SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside, said questions needed to be answered over whether Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont was aware several of her MPs would miss the vote.
“When Ms Lamont was appointed leader of the Labour Party in Scotland she claimed that the Labour party in Scotland was now to be run, by her, in Scotland.” said Mr McDonald.
“Given that Johann Lamont supposedly attends meetings of Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet, and given the number of Scots Labour MPs involved, it would stand to reason that she knew about the decision of 10 of her MPs not to turn up and vote against the Bedroom Tax.”
News that nearly fifty Labour MPs had not attended their own party’s motion caused outrage amongst anti-Bedroom campaigners in Scotland, with one leading figure describing the absences as “treachery”.
On replacing Iain Gray as leader of Scottish Labour, Johann Lamont claimed she would be the first leader in Scotland to lead “all sections” of the party in Scotland.
In her acceptance speech she said: “It is a huge privilege for me to be elected the first leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
“The process of change has started with my election. I am the first leader of the Scottish Labour Party and I will lead all sections of the Scottish Party remembering always that it the people of Scotland we serve and not the institution in which they ask us to do service. Whether in your trade union, the Co-op party, your community every part of this movement has a part to play.”
Mr McDonald added: “If the decision of 10 Scottish Labour MPs not to show up to vote against the Bedroom Tax was made without Ms Lamont’s knowledge, then it only highlights that Labour in Scotland is run from London. If Ms Lamont was party to this decision then she has to explain herself.
“It is now clearer than ever before that only with a Yes vote will we be able to get rid of the unjust Bedroom Tax, and have a welfare state that reflects the views and votes of the people of Scotland.”