Yesterday there was a two and a half hour Committee debate on the Northern Ireland Education order. I can hear you yawning already, but stick with it. That's an order! At the end of the debate, thirteen Labour MPs plus Lembit Opik and the SDLP voted for the Education Order to prohibit academic selection in Northern Ireland. The Conservatives, DUP and UUP voted against. Kate Hoey, though not selected by her Party's whips as a Committee member, attended and spoke against the Order. Frank Field, originally named as a Committee member, was replaced at short notice after telling his whips that he would not support the Government.
Of the 13 Labour Members, 10 had voted on 24 May (Hansard volume 446, number 157, cols. 1575-1579) against a Labour backbench amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill to end all academic selection in English schools. Hypocrisy rules, eh?
The 10 guilty of double standards were: Mike Foster (Worcester) Bruce George (Walsall South) Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) David Hanson (Delyn) Jane Kennedy (Liverpool Wavertree Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith) Sandra Osborne (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) Mark Todd (South Derbyshire) Linda Waltho (Stourbridge) and Alan Whitehead (Southampton Test). Two MPs, (Ronnie Campbell and Helen Southworth) had not voted on 24 May. One, David Drew, was consistent and voted against selection on both occasions.
Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary David Lidington then invited all ten to intervene to explain the justification for their double standards or to admit that on 24 May that had not realised what they were voting for. Do you know what? None of the blighters accepted his invitation. Nothing like a bit of courage under fire, is there?