In the United Kingdom, a government welfare bill was supported by the Conservative party, opposed by the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats, and others, while the Labour Party, forming the official opposition, mostly abstained (with some MPs opposing).

What rationale does the UK Labour Party leadership have to instruct its MPs to abstain rather than oppose the Conservative welfare bill? Surely it contains a lot that Labour opposes?

1 Answer 1


There are some possible reasons listed here.

We could do with an official explanation from Labour HQ. So far all I've been able to interpret from various soundbites and putting 2+2 together is that:

  • they are desperate to win
  • they think the bill contains some items that the public would agree with
  • they are scared their reasons for opposing would be misrepresented in the press as being anti-{insert items public agrees with}
  • they don't back themselves to be able to counter this misrepresenation
  • so they think opposing will harm their chances in 2020

Similar justifaction was given for abstaining from workfare vote in 2013, I'm not sure it went in their favour in the end, it certainly didn't make them win in 2015.

Andy Burnham apparently abstained because collective responsibility is important, why those that lead Labour thought abstaining was the best response is something that, for now, only they know. I repeat that an official explanation of their stance is required.

  • Short version: Because it's "new labour" )))
    – Quandary
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 13:14

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