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Wings Over Scotland

The Abstainers

Posted on March 22, 2013 by

We already know that Labour, particularly in Scotland, have no policies on just about anything. But in the light of the past week’s glut of abstentions, we decided to see if we could find out if the party had any remaining principles either. The results were startling, by which we mean not startling in the slightest.


Below are just a few of the votes that Labour has abstained on, at both Westminster and Holyrood, in recent memory. What, we ponder rhetorically, is the point of having an Opposition that doesn’t ever actually oppose anything?


On retrospectively depriving workfare victims of compensation

On the right of civil servants to strike

On rejecting the siting of nuclear weapons in Scotland
(see also the renewal of Trident, in both 2010 and 2007)

On condemning the Iraq war

On free tuition for students

On minimum pricing of alcohol

On opposing the 50p-rate tax cut

On opposing savage cuts to public-sector pensions

On stopping fuel-duty increases

On maintaining concessionary bus travel for the elderly

On massive pay rises for councillors

On the criminalisation of squatting

On reducing VAT from 20% to 17.5%

On the Scottish budget


(Of course, other people abstaining is still wrong.)

Anyone got any more? (Guts, we mean.)

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86 to “The Abstainers”

  1. Craig Munro says:

    Don’t forget Apprenticeships!!

  2. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    That one comes under the “budget” entry, doesn’t it?

  3. Juteman says:

    The right to abstain?

  4. Craig Munro says:

    Possibly right Rev … 

  5. Aplinal says:

    But they DO oppose things … anything that the SNP proposes.   Not what Scotland actually needs, but when was that even on Labour’s agenda?

  6. Adrian B says:

    Labour Abstained on 45 pence tax rate – although Ed Balls claimed there was no vote Hansard says otherwise……….

    Page includes links to Hansard and Ed Balls in HoC

  7. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Labour Abstained on 45 pence tax rate”

    Yeah, got that one in already, seventh entry down.

  8. Arbroath1320 says:

    Didn’t Labour abstain from the bed room tax as well?
    What exactly is the purpose of the Labour party?
    Vote Labour and get……..SCREWED by the LabLibCon party!

  9. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Didn’t Labour abstain from the bed room tax as well?”

    No, they did actually vote on that one – just totally hypocritically, as they refuse to say they’ll repeal it in power.

  10. Doug Daniel says:

    Say what you will about Eric Joyce, but no one could accuse him of abstaining.

  11. Adrian B says:

    “Labour Abstained on 45 pence tax rate”
    Yeah, got that one in already, seventh entry down.
    Arb – Nice to have you back – I hope you are well.

  12. Arbroath1320 says:

    Oops sorry about that thanks for correcting my solitary brain cell Stu! 😆

  13. Tim says:

    In Douglas Alexander’s own words: “a sign not of influence but of irrelevance.”

  14. muttley79 says:

    @Rev Stu
    I know it is not abstaining in a vote, but was it not recently that Labour councillors voted to have a status of Margaret (Milk Snatcher, manufacturing/industrial wrecker) Thatcher in her constitutency?  Coming on the heels of Lamont’s “Something for Nothing” speech last year, it is indicative of British Labour’s moral and political direction.  There appears to be no point in both British and Scottish Labour existing if they do not want to fight injustice and Tory rule.

  15. Juteman says:

    The point that needs to be driven home, is that there is no such thing as ‘Scottish Labour’, no matter how loud they squeal.
    They are the northern branch of the British Labour Party, and do what their masters in London tell them to do.

  16. ron17 says:

    O/T Just watched STV news,Ally Mcoist interview.In the backboard it has Together we are Rangers,WTF does that mean.I have been a supporter for over 40yrs,got ripped of for my Bond seats and now this shit.No more not a penny more will i spend,it breaks my heart  but My Country comes first.

  17. Geoff Huijer says:

    I gave up on the Gers years ago when I got abuse for
    wearing my kilt to a game v PSG in Paris.

  18. creag an tuirc says:


     SNP PPB

  19. Bill C says:

    Just watched the SNP PPB, thought it was a lot better than the ‘Let’s Work Together’ video, much more professional.

  20. Stevie says:

    They are the abstention specialists.  Especially in Scotland — see the Iraq war debate in the scottish parliament this week.  That’s only one example — I thoroughly expect them to abstain on the same sex marriage vote when that eventually takes place.  They are a bunch of gutless blow up doll politicians of no use to anyone other than serious wnkrs.

  21. Indy_Scot says:

    Yip, the SNP PPB, good stuff. Just hope a lot of people get to see it.

  22. CameronB says:

    @ Doug Daniel
    You’d better watch yourself. Nuff said?. 🙂

  23. Boorach says:

    @ Creag an Tuirc
    Thanks for that link.
    Man, that young Kirsty’s going to have a long gestation….. much about the same as a proud and newly independent country I’d say.

    Here’s health to her!

  24. Boorach says:

    Vote YES for Kirsty

  25. Inbhir Anainn says:

    We only need to look back the MEETING OF THE PARLIAMENT 18th May 2011 to see Labour the party of abstention in full flow, FOR 68 AGAINST 0 ABSTENTIONS 57.
    Of course it was for the nomination of one Alex Salmond for appointment as First Minister and they have been bitter ever since and voted accordingly.

  26. AnneDon says:

    If they actively opposed legislation at Westminster, some of the LibDems with principles (I imagine there must be some) might think there was a point in opposing their own leadership. Who knows, they could actually have an impact.
    Harold McMillan said the point of opposition was to have fun, didn’t he?  At least they could throw a spanner in the works.  Instead of being Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

  27. scottish_skier says:

    In case you don’t have one of those smart phones like I don’t (I have a motorola razar vintage 2007 which is never turned on unless the car breaks down), here’s the poll from better together.
    I presume it works and you can have your say without Alastair Darling spam calling you. Thanks to LSS at NW.

  28. Albert Herring says:

    Apparently the true url is
    You don’t even need to put a number in.
    It’s a complete joke. They really don’t have a scooby!

  29. Yesitis says:

    Thanks Scottish_Skier for the link. It worked for me.
    I voted for Better Independent 🙂

  30. Jeannie says:

    I notice that by taking part in the poll you’re giving your consent for them to contact you.  Can’t wait for them to contact me,  I’ll use the same technique I use for unwanted sales calls – I tell them it was very kind of them to call me, that I don’t actually need their service or product, but while the’re on the line anyway, I’d like to talk to THEM about Scottish independence. 

  31. Arbroath1320 says:

    Did any one have a magnifying glass to hand to read THIS underneath the submit button?
    It is print so bloody small it is almost invisible!
    By submitting your opinion, you consent to Better Together contacting you with important information relating to Scotland’s referendum on Independence. This may be via Telephone, Mail, SMS and/or by E-Mail. You also agree to the terms and conditions of the Privacy Policy that govern how your information will be processed.

  32. Alastair wright says:

    Rev a few labour abstentions you missed – thier principles and ideologies, representing those who voted for them,  being a credible opposition

  33. scottish_skier says:

    Fitch likely going to downgrade the UK in April
    Fitch says UK downgrade more likely

  34. CameronB says:

    I ask then to hold the line for a minute, Jeannie. Childish but fun.

  35. Albert Herring says:

    “I ask then to hold the line for a minute”
    I hope you put some really crap music on too.

  36. Yesitis says:

    I never thanked you for sticking up for me on another thread recently. So, thanks man, you`re a good guy.

  37. Arbroath1320 says:

    SS how can Fitch be considering LOWERING Britain’s “highly prized! AAA rating?
    Is this NOT the cornerstone of Darling’s WHOLE argument for Scotland remaining within the union?
    How on earth is Darling going to sell this argument now?
    Are we going to get a Darlingesque equivalent of Alexander’s response of “Credit Ratings are not the be all and end all” of the argument?

  38. ianbrotherhood says:

    I don’t suppose many of us had heard much about these ‘ratings agencies’ until recently, then we hear about ‘Moody’s’ etc and wonder who these people are, why they have so much clout. 
    If they really are as important as they’re made out to be, it would seem fair to assume that they have all kinds of experts on global trends etc, and folk specialising in areas of flux. Are they abreast of what’s happening here? Do they have anyone looking at the potential break-up of the UK, perhaps with an eye to establishing a preliminary rating for an independent Scotland?
    If they do, it would be interesting to see what data they use in their deliberations. It’s hard to imagine them basing their analysis on the BBC’s output. If we could find out what they’re looking at, those sources might be of value to the undecided. (Another good reason to get someone like Max Keiser to give our situation the once-over…anticipating a money-trail rather than following it?)

  39. The Man in the Jar says:

    While we are all waiting around can I make a recommendation. Link over to the Rev’s post “The voice of a person” sometime over the weekend.
    I listened to the podcast today. (First time I have listened to one) I enjoyed it very much indeed. A pleasant change from reading script. I recommend you listen with your feet up and a cup of tea.
    So far the podcast has had 606 Plays and 372 Downloads so plenty of Wings readers have not as yet had a wee listen. It is good to put a voice to Stu`s words.
    Thanks Stu I hope you get the chance to do another one.

  40. Thomas Dunlop says:

    Craig Munrosays:

    22 March, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Don’t forget Apprenticeships!
    Would that be the modern variety or the Londonderry type?


  41. CameronB says:

    Albet Herring says;
    “I hope you put some really crap music on too.”
    When were you looking through my music? I don’t think it falls in to the crap category, far from it, but here is one for folk trying to sell you stuff; (helps if your from Dundee :))
    Or if you are of a more traditional mind, but want to confuse the hell out off them; (helps if you are under 40 :()

  42. ianbrotherhood says:

    I’m going to keep banging on about this – Rev could well end up on the box.
    RT, Al-Jazeera are years ahead of our MSM in using alternative media as sources, and they rely heavily on popular bloggers to provide the kind of content which clearly appeals to their viewers. It’s a no-brainer when you think about it – a massive pool of well-developed talent just waiting to be asked.
    If The Keiser Report (just an example I’m familiar with) could be persuaded to come to Scotland, he’d surely have researchers on the case well beforehand – they’re not going to waste their time asking for some well-kent BBC presenter. They’ll go online, see what’s happening, and inevitably encounter this site. The rest follows…
    Going from blog to podcast to the telly is, in the media scheme of things, as natural as the development of butterflies, frogs, and other creatures which change shape radically according to the environment.
    Of course, it’s all hypothetical, but – I’m being serious here – would you be up for that Rev?

  43. the bunnyman says:

    could be a nice wee line in merchandise there.
    coming to you:  scottish labour in………..The Abstainers

  44. douglas clark says:

    Kate Higgins appears to be the ‘go to’ person at the moment.
    This is a niché market, but, given his fluency and wit, it would be a shame if Rev Stu wasn’t given an opportunity by the media.

  45. Albert Herring says:

    LOL I wouldn’t dare impugn your obviously impeccable taste!
    ps I haven’t been under 40 for quite some time – not sure if that’s good or bad.
    pps That Marra track is brilliant.

  46. douglas clark says:

    Absolutely agree.

  47. CameronB says:

    douglas clark says:
    “This is a niché market, given his wit, it would be a shame if Rev Stu wasn’t given an opportunity by the media.”
    The Rev wouldn’t be the first blogger to add podcast and then co on to videocast. It doesn’t take long for more MSM to pick up on this and invite you to comment, but then you are playing with the sharks. Not that I am urging the Rev to even greater effort, as there are only so many hours in the day.
    The BBC are corrupt, but what makes anyone think any other MSM outlet plays by a more honest play book? Sorry Ian, I’m not necessarily disagreeing with your suggested commentators, just urging cation in who we invite as our supporters.

  48. Albert Herring says:

    @douglas clark
    Kate Higgins is only the ‘go to’ person because she attacks the SNP at virtually every opportunity. Can’t imagine why.

  49. douglas clark says:

    Absolutely. Rev Stu on TV would be a breath of fresh air.
    There have been several examples of ‘pulling up the ladder’ after having used it oneself. I am reminded of an apparent leader writer for the ‘Times’, a certain Oliver Kamm. I do not like Oliver Kamm.

  50. Jeannie says:

    Now we’re into the last few days of fundraising I was trying to think of a fun way of raising a few more pounds.  So, I’ve sent Rev Stu another tenner under the guise of Her Majesty The Queen.  Thought it would be fun to see a list of famous people donating to the campaign.  So, even it’s just a pound or two, think of a famous person whose name you’d like to see on Stu’s donation list and send the donation under their name.  Doesn’t have to be a living person – could be a fictional character, a character from a film or tv or a historical figure.  Would just be fun to see them on a list of donors.  Anyone care to join Her Majesty?

  51. CameronB says:

    douglas clark
    I’m tempted to Godwin this thread, but won’t.

  52. Indion says:

    Rev Stu,

    Along the lines of Juteman’s suggestion, I reckon the following is a ‘must add’ to the list:

    ” Abstaining from turning up to vote on matters that effect all their constituents and not only the one’s who misguidedly voted for them out of habitually misplaced loyalty to the just causes Labour left and people left labour for. ”

    BTW, there’s some questions from me for you on ‘The Final Countdown’ post.

  53. ianbrotherhood says:

    Understood, but I’m only suggesting Keiser as he’s one of the few voices I hear via the digi-box (I’m not on Sky or anything else) who sounds fairly radical compared to the pish we have to endure via our own State Broadcaster.
    I know you don’t have a telly, but I’m one of those news-junkies who (very sadly) kept watching the BBC throughout the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, the resignation of Cook, kept watching throughout the Select Committee grilling of David Kelly, kept watching through the coverage of the Hutton, Leveson and sundry other inquiries, always hoping, hoping, hoping that just once, maybe, pray-to-god, the whole fucking facade would crumble and we’d get to see, LIVE, the rotten core exposed.
    I still watch it, but in very small doses, and am much happier and healthier as a result.
    Fifteen minutes spent here is worth ten hours of gaping at ‘Breaking News’ on BBC/Sky. I’ve no doubt at all that RT, Al-J and many other global outlets are every bit as biased and partial as the BBC, according to their outlook and funding, but I’d like to think that watching the BBC for so long, and so closely, has taught me how to watch everything with a critical eye, regardless of whether or not I agree with what’s being shown, or who’s showing it.
    IMO, we should invite everyone, anyone, to view what’s happening here, be appreciative of any interest they show, and take their findings/analysis very seriously, however unpalatable it may be – I can’t imagine that any broadcaster would be able to insult the people of Scotland more than the BBC already has.

  54. Albert Herring says:

    Brenda’s hubby’s just donated.

  55. CameronB says:

    ianbrotherhood says (amongst other stuff);
    “I still watch it, but in very small doses, and am much happier and healthier as a result.”
    I am far from a paragon in any respect, but I think getting rid of your TV is the easiest and most beneficial step one can take to improving your health, both mental and physical. Long-term exposure to propaganda can lead to long-term psychological damage. Proven medical fact, though I don’t have an appropriate link to back this up. You are also not being constantly reminded of the pressures we live under, in our consumerist society. Not having a TV also saves you the license money.
    I don’t eat meat either :).

  56. ianbrotherhood says:

    Aye. Very good. But you’ve still got to do something about that hair!
    Cheers mister. (Big Lambrini Smiley)

  57. Indion says:

    Jeanie at 11:34 & Albert at 11:54

    A wee suggestion: stick to the right post!

    It’s bad enough when I do it even when abstaining, but there is no need for you to follow my piss-poor example and lead Albert astray even when not 🙂

    Right now I’ve got my butter fingers crossed Rev Stu deletes my 11:30 entry post at The Final Countdown as requested and not the previous one before he’s read my questions.

    As penance, I’m sin-binning myself in the glasshouse for 10 minutes.   

  58. Indion says:

    That’s me ‘undefined’ again, but if our entries don’t get others to check ‘The Final Countdown’ for developments Jeannie, could you do a sponsored pole dance over there or something? I’d offer if I didn’t think it would be f’ off putting.

  59. CameronB says:

    More about me, from Michael Marra ;).

  60. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Its interesting that Ladbrokes have taken down their odds on the Referendum. They were offering a very generous 5/2 (ie you get £3.50 returns on a £1 bet) on a YES vote.
    They’ve replaced that bet with a 4/5 offer that either more than 35% of voters will vote YES or the same 4/5 that less than 35% of voters will vote YES.
    That is quite a significant change.  
    They will be ultra cautious having got seriously thumped at the 2011 election. They were offering 7/1 and then 11/2 an SNP victory until quite late in the campaign and I think they lost the best part of £1million.

  61. Megsmaw says:

    The PPB got me greeting like a baby. They’ve done well with it.

  62. benarmine says:

    that PPB is the best one they’ve made yet, get it shown and get the team that made it fired up for more. People must want this hope in their lives. Vote Yes.

  63. douglas clark says:

    You might like this:

  64. Macart says:

    A cowards way of saying I’m voting with the chamber on how to screw over the electorate.
    Good to see you back Arb. 😀 Big smiles.
    I would have posted a welcome back yesterday but power and comms. were down all day due to the blizzards in my neck of the woods. Desperately playing catch up on the news now.
    Hope things are going well.

  65. mato21 says:

    Re Rev being a star on wireless I know Radio Free Scotland would be keen to have him
    Have they been in touch Rev? If not I’m sure they would appreciate a call from you They have said they would like to get you on (they call you a good guy) They are admirers of your work and quote articles often 

  66. CameronB says:

    @ douglas clark
    I’m in bits after watching that. Thank you.
    I am sure there are tons of songs from all over the world, “celebrating” the wars that just keep on giving. Probably enough for a treble album, or even a twenty disc box set. Helps make sure war doesn’t get forgotten and could raise a shed load for good causes.

    It would never sell though.

  67. Barbara Gribbon says:

    Crying my eyes out @douglas clarke
    A bit of light relief, helps if you liked They Might be Giants

  68. Juteman says:

    AVG notified me of a virus on your link.

  69. Vronsky says:

    Avast reports no problem.  Other security gizmos I have in Firefox also report nothing.

  70. KraftyKris says:

    “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
    – Desmond Tutu
    Abstaining is equivalent to accepting whatever the opposition votes for, which in most (all?) of the cases above are tory choices.

  71. Juteman says:

    The virus was called JS/Dr. I’m no techie, so don’t understand what that means.

  72. mato21, Radio Free Scotland? Where do I get that?

  73. ziggy1010 says:

    @ tree of liberty
    right here, mate.

  74. ewen says:

    Thanks stu,
    Hope you don’t mind but I’ve used your list for a bit of Terry Kelly baiting……………if he publishes the comments.

  75. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    The more Terry Kelly baiting there is the happier I am 😀

  76. ziggy1010, thanks……..The Tree. 

  77. Barontorc says:

    It’s all so pointless to abstain. I’m recalling what another poster said some time ago that opposition MSPs had the cushiest little earner in the world; they had no pressure of government, they sat and did nothing if that’s what suited them – no questions asked, they could tell as many porkies as the like in Scotland with nary an investigative question coming to slap them on the wrist, if they reach the heady heights as spokespersons they can enjoy complete freedom to trash the Parliament and other MSPs with gay abandon and ne’re a threat of any action for slander, what a waste, what a jolly!
    On the other hand, if by abstaining you let your opponent carry the day, that’s a big no-no and there lies the truth of it – it’s deceitful, anti-democratic, parasitical and oh so typical of cynicism-personified Labourites and second nature for flippy-floppy Libdems.
    Scotland deserves much, much better than this bunch of overpaid third-rate wasters. I wouldn’t be happy to give them even the minimum wage for what they contribute.

  78. Jeannie says:

    I did consider your suggestion of a sponsored pole-dance but unfortunately have been unable to locate a pole strong enough to take the strain.  We’ll just have to hope Plan A works!

  79. Jeannie says:

    Re the SNP PPB, a friend noticed a few f/b posts from people she knows saying they had seen it and were outraged, ashamed, etc – it was a blatant attempt at persuading young voters to vote yes.  She also thought these people voted Tory.  Well, if the PPB got them rattled……….it’s probably because it’s effective!

  80. Albert Herring says:

    Not even this one?

  81. The Man in the Jar says:

    @ Jeannie. They did this deliberately??? 🙂

  82. mato21 says:

    The Tree
    Tuesday from 9pm-11pm though it sometimes goes on a bit after 11pm if they have a busy night Boy can they take a strip off the usual suspects They also have well informed studio guests and had expressed a wish that they could get the Rev after refering to one of his articles that is why I posted earlier
    Wee linkie

  83. Jeannie says:

    @Albert Herring
    Well, when you put it like that……I suppose I could give it a go!

  84. velofello says:

    Jeannie: Abstain from this pole-dancing lark, you being a mammy an all that. And in response to your appeal to the toffs, Lord Lucan is donating a tenner. Nice of him after all these years in limbo – ever tried it? Jings its sair on the knees.

  85. Jeannie says:

    I suspect I’d find myself in a different kind of limbo if I tried that! I knew that Lord Lucan wasn’t all bad.

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