Feeds

Labour MP quits over McKinnon extradition vote

Disillusioned, done in

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

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. ®

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.