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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Ranked ballots won’t elect “grey” candidates

I have written a large number of posts about preferential voting (aka ranked ballots or the Alternative Vote) over the course of this blog’s existence. During the UK campaign leading up to the referendum on AV back in 2011, I tried my best to clarify some of the misconceptions surrounding AV. One of the most common objections to AV (other than the fact that it’s not a proportional system) is that it results in the election of bland, middle-of-the-road, “grey” candidates. The argument is that first preference votes will be split between two more polarizing candidates, for example, a right-wing candidate and left-wing candidate, and so voters’ second and third preferences would go to more moderate (i.e. bland) candidates since […]

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Baby steps on parliamentary reform

The Liberal Party of Canada released a plan for political and parliamentary reform this week and many, if not most political commentators seemed quite enthusiastic about much of what the party proposed. I must admit that I was somewhat underwhelmed. The proposals for parliamentary reform were at best minor tinkering. Maclean’s Aaron Wherry provides a much more comprehensive overview of parliamentary and political reforms that have been, or could be, proposed. It’s much more interesting. The Liberals’ proposals for parliamentary reform address Question Period, Committees, prorogation and omnibus bills, free votes and changes to financial procedures. I’m going to focus on only on the first four. Question Period The Liberals propose to restore relevance to Question Period by establishing a […]