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.
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.
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 […]
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.
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 […]