The Government suffered a defeat yesterday (appropriately, the 1st of May) brought about by the creative actions of two former ministers.
The vote was over the proposed measures against money laundering by the Government, and considered by opponents to be weak on disclosures from well-known territories including the British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands. This in turn followed revelations in what became known as the Panama papers.
The leaders (or ring-leaders, from another perspective) of the opposition were an unlikely couple, a former labour cabinet member, and Andrew Mitchell, a former conservative international development secretary. Both are currently out of favour.
Both have reputations of independence of thought and strong enough characters to take on all-comers in causes they believe in. However, without context, it is hard to imagine them plotting together.
The context, and the creativity of their actions deserves study. According to The Guardian, [May 2nd 2018] Mitchell ‘has frequently worked across party-lines’ , requiring independence and resilience in bucketloads. Hodge was a powerful and outspoken chair of the publics account committee for five years.
The strategy they adapted was aimed at protecting recent back-bench MPs from rebelling, as they were easier targets for political influences from the Government heavies (aka Whips). Instead, they concentrated on influential former ministers who were less vulnerable, and some with experience as members of the awkward squad opposing government policy. Mitchell was able to deploy an extra argument, that their proposals were a reviving of plans under preparation in 2015 by the former conservative leader (David Cameron).
In a nutshell, this was no knee-jerk reaction by two discontinued ex-ministers. It was a well-thought out plan which required both creative thinking and a lot of grunt work in the background.