WELL, well, well… after just 74 days, Red Tulip has broken the Labour whip at the House of Commons already and done her own thing on the welfare bill. Abstention apparently too meek, she was among the 48 Labour MPs who went further and opposed the caps.
Of course, seeing just how red Red Tulip Siddiq is, will be one of the interesting things of this parliament, and whether this whip-breaking will be a regular occurrence or not. Her colleagues were suggesting last night that she was simply following in the traditions set by her predecessor, Glenda Jackson.
Why did she do it? To abstain may not have been an outright broken pledge to do otherwise, but it would’ve gone against the grain of her election campaign and some of the things she said along the way. Although early in the piece, the issue was, friends say, a ‘red line’ vote for Tulip.
She is not the only member of the 2015 new intake who decided to oppose rather than abstain, and the word at the Commons last night was that a share of them felt indignant, if that’s the right word, that Harriet Harman had announced the party supported the two child tax credit policy without speaking to them first. Not just newbies, there is a large share of women on that rebel list, a reflection on the view that the welfare bill’s stiffest components will hit women worst. Again, given Harman’s track record, a few were puzzled by the lack of combat in her stance.
Tulip still has her sceptics among her local colleagues. Some of the people she left behind on the council see her as all things to all people and laugh at the idea that the supporters should see her as a natural heir to the borough’s retiring left-wing MPs. This, they say, is the perfect time to charm those local members who have loved being represented by a contrarian over all these years without having a leader to disappoint. She might not have been so rebellious if she had one to look in the eye, the cynics say.
Whichever way you look at it though, Tulip’s reach is quickly widening. It broadened further last night with her welfare vote; she is quickly becoming a recognised face at Westminster, and a go-to person for TV cameras. She was prime time Channel 4 News yesterday And there she was later in the evening, two months and 13 days into the job of MP, held up on Twitter as some sort of golden conscience by those Labour members who were seeking greater resistance.
We wait to see what Red Tulip’s other red lines will be..