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Labour fail to vote against a cut in the 50p rate

By Paul Goodman
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5.45pm Update: Guido has the story of how Labour messed up and pretended they hadn't.

A vote on the proposed cut in the 50p top income tax rate took place yesterday evening.  Labour didn't vote against it.  Conservative MPs were all over Twitter in an instant.

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Baldwin's is the first MP Tory I can find to have tweeted.  She was swiftly joined by others, including Greg Hands, formerly George Osborne's PPS and now the Treasury whip.

Screen shot 2012-03-27 at 00.58.08

So what happened?  The explanation lies in the tablers of the motion.  The Scottish Nationalists put it down, and Labour wouldn't vote with them.  The Nats made hay with this:

Screen shot 2012-03-27 at 04.24.11
Ed Balls's explanation is that Labour voted against the whole budget yesterday and that there will be a vote on the 50p rate during the finance bill next month:

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These claims are mutually contradictory: if Labour have voted against the whole budget, there's no need to vote again against the 50p rate.  He is also wrong: there was a chance to vote on it.

The essence is this: Balls didn't want to follow the Nats into the lobbies on a Nat motion.  So Labour ducked the chance to vote against the 50p rate.

Could it be possible that these Commons fun and games matter more to the Shadow Chancellor than putting his vote where his mouth is?