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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Three key days

Following his Party's humiliating defeat at the Dunfermline by-election on Thursday, Tony Blair faces three key days that will make or break his premiership.

On Monday, there is a vote on the use of compulsory rather than voluntary ID cards and the use of a central database of biometric profiles of everybody in the UK, which is not kept in any other country or required by the USA for passports. When the Commons last voted on this in October 20o5, thirty two Labour MPs rebelled in six votes and the government's lowest majority was 25. What will happen now that the Government has been defeated twice within the last few weeks will be of interest to everybody.

On Tuesday, the Commons will be voting on the smoking clauses of the Health Bill. The issue here is whether smoking should be banned in all clubs and bars. The Government has pre-empted a defeat by granting a free vote and I believe that this applies to all parties. It is therefore impossible to predict how this vote will turn out.

Finally, on Wednesday the Commons will be deciding whether to accept the amendment inserted by the House of Lords to the Glorification of Terrorism Bill. The Lords have inserted the so-called weaker phrase of 'indirect incitement to terrorism'. When the House of Commons last voted on this in November 2005 the Government majority was cut to one.

Suddenly, we are living in interesting times.


ID cards - Probably done enough to get the majority of what they want through, may lose minor technical votes.

Health - As you say impossible to predict as it is a free vote, but I predict a total ban will be imposed.

Terrorism bill - Government will squeak it.
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