In the biggest reverse for a government on a whipped vote since James Callaghan's administration, Mr Blair was defeated comprehensively by 322 to 291, with 49 Labour backbenchers, including 11 former ministers, defying a three-line whip. Thirteen others abstainedEven the Unioists, hardly noted for taking a principled stand against repression, deserted Tony Blair:
Mr Blair's position weakened during the day when he discovered that the nine Democratic Unionist MPs were going to vote against the government, angry at a separate bill published yesterday giving an amnesty for terrorist on the run in Northern Ireland. The forecast revolt of Conservative dissidents evaporated, leaving Mr Blair hoping that his basic appeal to loyalty would save him. But the rebellion spread beyond the usual suspects.A couple of years ago, Richard Ingrams in the Observer, said that Blair will manufacture an excuse to resign to appear as a man of principle before the lies surrounding the war on Iraq catch up on him. Perhaps this 90 day detention proposal is that excuse. Here's hoping.