David Cameron speaks during PMQs

Job-sharing PMQs

As expected, Jeremy Corbyn easily won the Labour leadership vote. As part of his plan to “shake up politics”, we also learned that Corbyn plans to step aside during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) and let other MPs question the PM. I have written frequently about how oral Questions work in the UK House of Commons. PMQs differs from the other departmental questions in one important way: it is the only oral questions session where two specific Members are allotted a fixed quota of questions. The two members in question are the Leader of the Opposition, who gets to ask six questions of the Prime Minister, and, since 1997, the leader of the next largest party, who is allocated two questions. In […]

To ensure effective governance in the transition period, it is essential that the Prime Minister and government do not resign until the next regular government has been formed.

Dr Petra Schleiter and Valerie Belu

Remedial Tutorial on Government Formation

Quite dishearteningly, the leaders of the three main federal political parties have made erroneous statements regarding government formation following a hung parliament result. All three have stated that the party with a plurality of the seats gets to form the government: In an interview with the CBC, Conservative Party leader and current Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the following comments: Q: HERE’S THE QUESTION THOUGH. UM IS IT A CORRECT ASSUMPTION TO MAKE THAT WHICHEVER PARTY ENDS UP, IF WE’RE IN A MINORITY SITUATION, WHICHEVER PARTY ENDS UP WITH THE MOST SEATS SHOULD FORM THE GOVERNMENT? A: Yeah that’s my – that’s I think how conventionally our system works and for good reason and that’s – that’s my position. Obviously […]

The more the whip disempowers individual MPs, the weaker the party looks collectively. Hence the whole will be much stronger if it exerts less control over its parts, enabling members to show their individual strengths, troublesome though they may sometimes be.

Julian Baggini

Rebel with a whip

Author Julian Baggini wrote an op ed for the Guardian in which he calls on Jeremy Corbyn, should he, as expected, emerge as the winner of the Labour leadership contest, to ban the use of the whip. The whip is the official in a parliamentary party caucus who purpose is to ensure party discipline. The degree of whipping varies from one legislature to another. In the UK, whipping is mostly limited to ensuring MPs are present to vote and that they vote according to official party policy, while in Canada, the powers of the whip are far more extensive — many would say even excessive. There is a lot that I could comment on in Baggini’s piece — which I […]


In case you missed it

UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow gave an interview at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival earlier this month in which he provides insight into the role of the Speaker and why he was attracted to the position. The University of Edinburgh Business School have very helpfully provided a recording of it free of charge should anyone be curious as to what was said at the event. The UK Labour Party is in the midst of a leadership contest which has not been going to plan. The most left-wing candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, looks set to win on the first ballot, if recent polls are accurate. The Telegraph has a very helpful explanation of who’s who in the race, what some of […]


Canada Votes October 2015

This blog has been getting quite a few hits lately from people looking for information about the platforms of the federal parties contesting the October 19 2015 Canadian general election. During past election campaigns, one or more media sources have, at some point, produced a handy comparative chart outlining each party’s stance on various issues. I expect that once the parties have released their manifestos, someone out there will produce a comparative chart. I will also provide links to other useful resources. This post will be updated throughout the campaign period, whenever something useful comes to my attention. Platform Comparisons From the National Post: Everything you need to know about the parties’ platforms The Toronto Sun compares party stances on […]

What we have today is a grubby piece of schoolboy intrigue that Michael Dobbs would have been ashamed to have dreamt up for one of his novels. These are matters for the House to deliberate on properly and initiate, not the Executive. These are matters of due process and due thought.

Mr Gordon Marsden, MP

Procedural Passion

In a 2010 speech to the Oxford Union Society, UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow stated: “I appreciate that the words “parliamentary procedure” are not necessarily the most exciting in the English language. Yet, as I have indicated, parliamentary procedure matters.” Speaker Bercow is not the only Member of the House of Commons who feels that way; two of the most passionate debates in the UK Commons in recent months occurred over proposed changes to the House’s Standing Orders. Contrary to what one British journalist believes, the Standing Orders are not “an obscure parliamentary procedure“, rather, the Standing Orders are the rules which guide procedure in parliament. And on two occasions recently, the first on the very last sitting day […]