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Bernard Jenkin tries to gather MPs' signatures on AV. The Whips try to stop him.

By Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2010-07-22 at 21.41.06 Bernard Jenkin, the 1922 Committee's point-man on the AV referendum, is collecting signatures for an Early Day Motion.  The EDM apparently questions the proposed timing of the poll.  Jenkin's not been backward in coming forward on the matter: he recently explained why, in his view, there should be a turnout threshold when the vote's held, and why holding it on the same day as the Scottish and Welsh elections would distort the result.

So far, so unexceptional: EDMs are the lowest form of Parliamentary life, and one more doesn't usually make much difference to anything (even when it's right, as this one seems to be).  But I gather from a furious member of the new intake that this one has seriously disturbed the Whips - who are trying to get MPs who've signed the EDM to remove their signature before it's tabled.

The Party machinery's view is understandable.  EDMs can show splits, and splits make negative stories - from the Government's view, that is - and such stories make trouble.  It's been a wearying couple of days for the Coalition.  MPs are voting later than in the last Parliament.  Some are getting tired and, er, emotional. (My source, by the way, was entirely sober.)  Best to keep calm, carry on, and not let things get out of proportion.

All the same, I can't help thinking that the Whips may have a tough time in the autumn.  Ben Brogan wrote a perceptive piece this morning about rising anger among MPs about IPSA.  It's an ominous background against which to set a Parliamentary Party half of which is brand new, much of which hasn't been in government before, and none of which has previously worked in a coalition with Liberal Democrats... with a huge scale-back in public spending coming.

> The Coalition yesterday published the wording of the AV referendum.


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