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It appears that Mr Blair will, this evening, get his education reform bill through the Commons. Lucky him. He’s also not going to see anything like the huge rebellion some think he will – as far as I can see, he’s not going to have any huge haemorrhage of support. That seems hugely unlikely. He’ll certainly still get a majority of his party – more like two-thirds, if not more.
Of course, if David Cameron wanted to play nasty, he could have some sudden epiphany, and do a complete U-turn, and not support the bill. Then there’s a reasonably high chance that it would not be passed (though that would still take a Labour rebellion of 35), and Blair would pretty much be forced to resign. It’d do some damage to the Conservative party temporarily, but a limited amount, especially as it would barely make it into the news cycle if Blair resigned. But I very much doubt he’d ever do that, or even that he could – a lot of Conservative MPs are very much in favour of the Bill, and probably wouldn’t stick with a change in party line.
So this crucial vote isn’t really so crucial. Only if forty or so Labour MPs rebelled would it cast doubt on Blair’s leadership, and that’s not going to happen. At least, I highly doubt it. We’ll find out in a few hours, I guess.
Heck, I didn’t think he’d get 40 MPs rebelling, and it turns out he had 51. Shows how much I know. But he did get his timetable proposal through, so that somewhat lessens the blow. Probably not in the Mail, though, I’d imagine.