Feeds

Labour MP quits over McKinnon extradition vote

Disillusioned, done in

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

A decision by Labour supporters of Gary McKinnon to back down in a recent parliamentary vote has proven the breaking point for MP Andrew MacKinlay, hastening his decision to retire.

MacKinlay, an independent-minded Labour MP who has represented the parliamentary constituency of Thurrock in Essex since 1992, announced last Friday that he would not stand at the next general election.

Exhaustion and disillusionment with the role of backbench MPs as lobby fodder for the government are the main reasons behind MacKinlay's decision to quit. But the politician also cited disappointment at the willingness of his colleagues to cave in to party pressure rather than sticking up for their beliefs.

The final straw came with the failure of 74 Labour MPs who had previously signed motions in support for Gary McKinnon, who is fighting against extradition to the US on hacking charges, to vote in favour of an opposition motion to review the extradition treaty.

The review was defeated by 290 votes to 236, after 59 Labour MPs who previously supported McKinnon voted with the government and a further 15 abstained. Only ten Labour supporters of McKinnon stuck by their principles and voted in favour of the review in defiance of government whips. MacKinlay criticised his colleagues' lack of resolve in a Daily Mail article (here).

"Lack of conviction, weasel words, submission to the party whipping machines and a reluctance to abide by previous pledges have all played their insidious part in undermining the reputation of the Commons," MacKinlay wrote.

"MPs must, of course, be allowed to change their minds as a result of genuine debate, but this sort of enfeebled wobbling is bad for Parliamentary democracy. It is precisely this kind of vacillation, saying one thing and doing another, that has caused widespread disillusion with the political process."

Tory political blogger Iain Dale, a friend of MacKinlay across the political divide, broke the news of his decision to quit last Friday. Dale explains that the McKinnon vote was the final straw, but MacKinlay's decision to retire from politics came months ago, and is not related to recent controversy over MPs' expenses.

Although he made the decision to quit some months ago, the debate on the Gary McKinnon case appears to have served to strengthen his resolve. I get the feeling he has grown increasingly disillusioned with the direction in which parliament is headed and has become frustrated at the inability of his fellow MPs to hold the executive properly to account.

Janis Sharp, McKinnon's mum, reacted to MacKinlay's decision to resign with gratitude tinged with regret. "Very sad that a good Lab. MP Andrew Mackinlay felt compelled to resign as so few Lab. MP's had the guts to be true to their principles," she said.

McKinnon's four-year fight against extradition faces a key test this Friday (31 July) when two senior judges rule on decisions by the Home Office to disregard McKinnon's recent diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome in allowing extradition to proceed and a decision by the DPP not to initiate a prosecution of the self-confessed hacker in the UK. Failure in these proceedings would remove the last remaining legal obstacle against McKinnon's extradition currently in play while success on either point would remove the threat of extradition, perhaps permanently. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.