The Steamie

Friday, 26 March 2010

David Maddox: The rise of Willie Bain

I had coffee with Willie Bain (pictured right) recently down in the Commons, one of many I've tried to cram in with MPs before they are fully distracted by the need to persuade people to vote for them.
While I met Mr Bain during the autumn campaign for Glasgow North East, it was difficult then to weigh him up, largely because Labour kept him so well protected and the only quality they highlighted of his was his "localness" as opposed to the outsider SNP candidate David Kerr.
So it was a bit of a relief to find out that Willie Bain appears to be a capable and articulate politician, which is not something you can say about all MPs.
And since he came down from his parents' high rise in Springburn to help save Labour in Glasgow North East, Willie's stock appears to have risen.
In a very short time he has become the parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to transport minister Sadiq Khan. Being a PPS - or bag carrier as it is more disparagingly known - is the first step to becoming a minister.
His swift elevation is certainly partly due to the fact that he is relatively young, 37, and, unlike many of the younger up and comers standing in safe Labour seats in Scotland, actually has a hinterland outside party politics, having worked as a lecturer in public law in London.
There is no doubt he is one to look out for in the future depending on Labour's fortunes at the election, although he will certainly be coming back.
However, there is actually a more serious issue going on with the way Gordon Brown tries to control the Chamber highlighted by a recent report by the Public Administration Committee in the Commons.
It has raised concerns about the size of what is called the payroll vote which represents 40 per cent of the Labour MPs. These are the MPs who have a government job, including the lowly PPSs who are not actually paid a ministerial wage, and who then have to resign if they vote against the government.
By drafting in as many MPs as possible on the payroll vote Gordon Brown can limit any potential rebellions. MPs within the payroll vote are not even able to go against the government line in less strict one or two line whipped votes, let alone three line whips.
The committee actually agreed with one of Mr Brown's predecessors, Sir John Major, who said last year that the size of the payroll vote was leading him to have doubts about the first past the post voting system. He suggested it should be halved.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Observer said...

I have been reliably informed that the SNP have selected Billy McAllister as their candidate to oppose Willie Bain.

They should have selected him in the first place and not David Kerr in my view.

It will be a very interesting campaign as Mr McAllister is not one to shy away from difficult issues. Like organised crime.

That is something of an issue in North Glasgow.

26 March 2010 15:07  
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27 March 2010 15:28  
Blogger Not the Messiah said...

"...actually has a hinterland outside party politics, having worked as a lecturer in public law in London...."

Yes three days a week infact.

He's very 'local'.

Did Willie ever think of asking his boss Michael martin to setup a constituency office in the Glasgow North seat all these years?

Willie is voting fodder, it's hihgly unlikely he;d ever oppose the government, Maddox hits the nail on the head in his last paragraphs, this is about having 'placemen'.

27 March 2010 18:55  

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