If it is clear that the government has the support of its backbenchers, the Lords will be more willing to give in on certain points. If, however, it is clear that there is dissension in the backbench ranks, it is ministers who will be compromising with the House of Lords.

Meg Russell on “Does Parliament Matter”

Professor Meg Russell of UCL’s The Constitution Unit delivered a talk today on the topic of “Does Parliament Matter?” The event was live-streamed, and the podcast will be available on iTunes U late next week. I was trying to take notes while watching the live-stream, and was rather less successful at that than I might have hoped. However, I did managed to jot down a few key points that she made, and after debating whether to wait until the podcast was available so that I could re-listen to her talk to make sure I didn’t miss something, I’ve decided to go ahead and share some of the points she made. The theme of the talk, “Does Parliament Matter” in part […]

The 1922 Committee

There has been a lot of discussion among Canadian political pundits of caucus-driven party leadership challenges. I thought it might be a good idea to explore how that happens in practice by looking at procedure followed by the UK Conservative Party. The UK Conservative Party is interesting to me because it uses a hybrid system to select a new party leader. The caucus will narrow the choice of candidates down to two, and only at that point will the party’s wider membership vote to select a leader from those two candidates. Everything begins, however, with the very important 1922 Committee. The 1922 Committee, also known as “the 22”, is a committee of backbench Conservative MPs. The committee was formed in […]

Some final thoughts on the Reform Act

In my first post on the Reform Act, I addressed the proposal of allowing a caucus to implement a leadership review upon a petition of 15% of the elected members and a secret ballot vote garnering over 50% support. This was complemented by a brief look at how this process has worked in other jurisdictions. My second Reform Act post focused on the proposal that we remove the party leader’s veto over riding nominations. This last post will focus on Chong’s proposal that caucuses elect their chairs and admit and eject caucus members based on the 15%/50% rules employed to trigger a leadership review. I will start by saying that I honestly have no real opinion concerning the matter of […]

Despite leadership spills, party discipline in Australia is still strong

Back in 2012, I wrote a post about an attempted leadership spill in Australia, as former Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd challenged, unsuccessfully, the leadership of Julia Gillard, who herself had challenged – successfully – Rudd’s leadership prior to the 2010 general election. Of course, if you follow the news at all, you will know that Kevin Rudd again challenged Ms. Gillard’s leadership at the end of June, this time successfully, and is now, again, both leader of the party and Prime Minister. Such leadership changes are possible in Australia because it is the party caucuses which choose their leaders, as I explained in that 2012 post. Because the caucus can withdraw its support from the leader and cause a […]

Holding ministers to account

Continuing on my recent post regarding ministerial statements, an interesting exchange occurred in the UK House of Commons today following a ministerial statement by the Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. Phillip Hammond. Hammond delivered a statement on the future of the UK’s reserve forces. He announced that the government was publishing a White Paper setting out its vision for the reserve forces and the detail of how it will make reserve service more attractive. An important part of the announcement was that the overall number of Army Reserve bases will be reduced from the current total of 334 to 308. Hammond then said: “With your permission Mr Speaker, I will distribute a summary sheet that identifies the reserve locations […]

Faint signs of democratic awakenings

I have written a number of posts on how whipped Canadian backbench MPs are when compared to their counterparts in other parliaments. In recent weeks, it would seem that some backbenchers have maybe had enough of this situation. One MP raised a question of privilege to argue that prevented by his party whip from delivering a statement in the House during “Statements by Members”, a 15-min period each day during which backbenchers can deliver one-minute statements on matters of international, national or local concern. As per the Standing Orders, any MP can be recognized by the Speaker to speak during this time, but, in practice, the Speaker is guided by lists provided by the respective party whips. The Member, Mr. […]