There has been chaos this morning at the Education & Skills Standing Committee. The job of the government whip on the committee is to ensure there are enough Labour MPs there to form a quorum and then to win any vote. Sadly, the Labour whip on this committee was derelict in her duty. The hapless Dawn Butler failed to ensure enough Labour MPs were there and as a consequence, the Tories and LibDems combined together to win four different votes, removing a whole clause from the Bill.
Remember, it was Dawn Butler who was at the centre of a little skirmish a couple of months ago when she claimed a personal endorsement from Barack Obama. Well, in terms of whipping, it's clear that No She Can't.
I guess it's another sign of the gradual decay of this administration when its own MPs can't be bothered to turn up for a committee and the whip is completely useless at her job.
But the big question is: what is the chief whip, Nick Brown, going to do about it? In other times, he would have summarily sacked her. But no doubt the sisterhood, in the form of Harriet Harman, will come to her rescue.
I suppose if Brown did sack her she could always run off to one of her two homes - both located nine miles from Westminster, and one paid for by you, the taxpaper.
UPDATE: This just gets better and better. One of the Labour MPs who turned up late was none other than the Minister who defines the word 'hapless', none other than Sion Simon. And I hear that the Deputy Chief Whip (who Chris Mullin calls the 'Lance Corporal') Tommy McAvoy has been up to the Committee Corridor to deliver an interview without coffee to Simon and Butler. Apparently, it wasn't pretty.