Labour records MPs’ meetings to enforce party discipline (update)

Labour party leader Diederik Samsom has denied the party is trying to ensure MPs toe the party line after the Telegraaf said tape recordings of meetings are being used to exert party discipline.

The Telegraaf says MPs who oppose government plans to make it a criminal offence to live in the Netherlands without proper papers are being confronted with recordings made of their earlier support for the plan.

Six oppononents of the illegal immigrants bill have been summoned to meetings to listen to the recording, sources have told the Telegraaf. The recording was made at a parliamentary party meeting last October when the MPs agreed to back the coalition agreement.

Samsom told RTL news the recordings are made to act as minutes of meetings not to put pressure on MPs. Debates are often difficult, the party leader said, adding that hard choices have been made in the coalition agreement.

‘Sometimes political ideals clash with reality,’ Samsom is quoted as saying.


The effort to keep MPs in line comes as a second Labour parliamentarian stepped down, citing the lack of room for personal views as an issue.

Earlier this week, Myrthe Hilkens said she was leaving parliament because she could not campaign for her ideals within the constraints of being an MP. ‘I have chosen to continue to campaign on socially-relevant issues outside parliament,’ she said in a statement.

In mid June Désirée Bonis quit parliament, saying there was no room for her to express her own opinions on foreign policy.

A third Labour MP, Pierre Heijen, will leave parliament in September to become head of the Mondriaan College in The Hague.


Efforts to maintain discipline within the ranks of 38 Labour MPs emphasise the difficulty of being in a two party coalition government with the right-wing Liberals.

Support for both coalition parties has plunged since last September’s general election but Labour has been particularly hard hit.

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