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How Westminster Works . . . and Why It Doesn't

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The parties organise little training. MPs are given no instruction in how to scrutinise or even read legislation, let alone introduce it. Most remain largely ignorant of parliamentary procedure throughout their time in Parliament, no matter how long they’re there. And this is not a failure by the political parties. It is a choice. If there is something they want, like support in a Commons vote, they make sure they get it. But it is simply not in their interests to tell MPs how Westminster works or what they’re supposed to do. Because if MPs are ignorant, they will rely on the whips to explain everything to them – to tell them where they need to be and what they need to do. If that happens, an MP is said to have “lost the whip”. This means that they can sit in Parliament as an independent, but are no longer representing the party. Electorally, it is the kiss of death – independent candidates almost never succeed in elections. As well as enforcement, the whips deal in intelligence. One of their chief roles is to gather information on the mood of the parliamentary party and then pass it up to the leadership, so it can assess the threat of rebellion. But information is also itself a form of enforcement. It is the whips who explain parliamentary procedure to MPs.

Westminster is broken - New Statesman Westminster is broken - New Statesman

Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell resigned in 2012 after an altercation with police in which they reported he had called them “plebs”. Officers involved later issued a statement in which they apologised for misleading the public, but a subsequent libel trial saw the judge rule that Mitchell had said “the words alleged or something so close to them as to amount to the same”.You’re humiliated by the whips, who force you to vote on the party line day in, day out,” Rory Stewart says. “There’s barely any point reading the legislation. It becomes clear your promotion has nothing to do with expertise. It’s about loyalty and defending the indefensible. The culture in the tearoom is very gossipy and trivialising. You can’t earnestly grab someone in the corridor and try to talk seriously about a policy issue. It’s not the done thing. It’s a very unserious culture. It doesn’t reward earnestness in any way.” Whip scandals It’s changed enormously,” veteran Tory rebel Peter Bone says. “When I first came in in 2005, it was very much ‘you’ve got to do what you’re told’. I remember being summoned in with Brian Binley by the senior deputy chief whip about some abstention we made and being talked to like we were schoolboys by the headmaster. They would threaten you with your career. I’ve been sworn at. All that sort of stuff.” When new members of Parliament enter the building, they are suddenly presented with an impossibly complex web of rules, conventions, precedents and demands that they have no experience of nor any training for. Former Special Advisers – spads – have an advantage, in that they know how Westminster works and how to navigate it. Former lawyers do too, because they can at least read legislation. The rest have no experience of what is happening at all.

Ian Dunt - Wikipedia Ian Dunt - Wikipedia

Dunt began his career as a journalist for PinkNews. He then switched to political analysis for Yahoo!, before becoming Political Editor of Erotic Review, a position he held until January 2010, when he became editor of politics.co.uk. He regularly appears on TV, commenting on political developments in the United Kingdom. [7] Here and there Dunt finds reason to be cautiously cheerful. The House of Lords has shown remarkable independence, a real ability to affect the outcome of legislation by managing its own timetable and contributing much-needed expertise (the cross-bench system, he argues, works particularly well). And select committees turn out to offer a model of how things should be done – listening to the evidence and privileging cooperation and compromise over crude partisanship.In May 2017, Dunt was part of the team that launched Remainiacs, a political podcast about Britain's departure from the European Union, as seen from a pro- Remain perspective. In January 2020 the same team launched The Bunker, a podcast similar in format that discusses political issues other than Brexit. [8] In October 2020, Remainiacs was renamed Oh God, What Now? [9] Bibliography [ edit ] For many MPs, the moment of rebellion (during a vote) is traumatic. “It was horrible,” Lisa Nandy says. “You’re walking through the division lobby and your colleagues are swearing at you. These are people I’d been mates with.”

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