I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy. We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country.

Jeremy Corbyn after losing confidence vote

Leadership Selection – A Cautionary Tale

When Conservative MP Michael Chong brought forward his Reform Act, which, before it was diluted to the point of irrelevance, would have codified in the Elections Canada Act how parties could trigger leadership reviews by giving party caucuses the right to set such an event in motion, many pundits were appalled by the notion that the caucus alone could do such a thing. It was “undemocratic” — the leader was elected by the party membership at large — how dare a handful of MPs go against the will of the membership! Other political observers, myself included, argued that Chong’s bill didn’t go far enough. How party leaders in Canada (both at the federal and provincial level) are selected may well […]

UK Houses of Parliament

On Brexit and parliamentary power plays

Following the victory of the “Leave” side in the referendum on the UK’s status in the EU, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would resign as PM and leader of the Tory party in October — to give the party time to choose a new leader in time for their October Party Conference. For Canadians, if that seems like a really fast time frame in which to have a leadership change, they do party leadership properly — it’s largely in the hands of the party caucus. The party’s 1922 committee, a committee of all backbench Conservative MPs that meets weekly when the Commons is sitting,  will oversee the contest, most likely using the same rules used in the 2005 leadership […]

The premise on which it is based is that the job of a party leader is to lead his party in Parliament. That presumes that what goes on in Parliament matters, but what goes on in Parliament matters, in large part, to the degree that party leaders are answerable to its members.

Andrew Coyne

A tale of two leaderships

Over the past few days, there have been two quite momentous events in terms of political party leadership. In the UK, under new leadership selection rules, a candidate with virtually no caucus support was the overwhelming choice of the Labour Party’s membership in their first-ever One-Member-One-Vote (OMOV) leadership vote. Meanwhile, in Australia, Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister Tony Abbott was tossed by his party caucus, and replaced in that role by leadership challenger (and former party leader who himself was tossed in favour of Abbott) Malcolm Turnbull. All in the space of a matter of hours. Turnbull is now leader of the party and Prime Minister. On Twitter, Canadian political commentators have been pondering these two events, particularly the […]

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. [pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#336699″ class=”” size=”5px”]”Labour made a deadly error when during the last Parliament it removed the institutional say of its MPs in its own leadership contests, as we are now seeing.”[/pullquote] The UK Labour Party is in the midst of a leadership contest which has not been going to plan. The […]

OMOV can co-exist with stronger caucus control over the party leadership; the two are not mutually exclusive. What is being proposed in the much-watered down Reform Act does not go anywhere near as far as what either Labour or the Lib Dems do; indeed, it isn't even mandatory for parties to adopt any of its proposals. Would Canadian parties be willing to move in this direction? That, sadly, is doubtful, despite all of the extremely good reasons for why they should.

Some thoughts on party leadership

Is the use of One-member-one-vote (OMOV) incompatible with a parliamentary party’s caucus having a degree of control over the party leadership? This is a question that surfaced as MP Michael Chong’s Reform Act faced opposition in the Canadian Senate. One Senator explained his opposition to the bill on the grounds that it would (potentially) give sitting MPs the right to ditch the party leader, which would upset the party membership which had elected said leader. Maclean’s Aaron Wherry has an excellent piece dissecting this point. On Twitter, Will Murray (@Will_Murray) tweeted the following: 1. Whether people like it or not, the Canadian political/parliamentary system has moved beyond the idea the caucus picks the leader. (link) 2. Each party now uses […]