Party Whips or Enforcers?

"The Party Whips are MPs or Lords appointed by each party in parliament to help organise their parties contribution to parliamentary business. One of their responsibilities is making sure the maximum number of party members vote, and vote the way their party wants".

"This system would be acceptable if parties still maintained a large member base, but unfortunately the membership of all major parties has diminished over the years to very small numbers. The result of this shrinkage of members leaves our democracy locked into a situation where a very small elite of party activists control the parties and the government".

When we elect a new Member of Parliament we hand them the power and responsibility to use their own "unbiased opinion and mature judgement", to make decisions on our behalf in Parliament. It is not acceptable that this [very small elite] are then able to use the party whips to take away this power from our elected MPs immediately after the election.

The following quotations from serving Members of Parliament confirm that the Party Whips in Parliament can very effectively stop our elected MPs from properly representing their constituents and the country.

"There is no mechanism that allows voters to sack their MP. An MP can switch to an extreme party, systematically break each and every promise that they made before the election, refuse to turn up in Parliament or refuse to engage in any meaningful sense with their electorate, but unless they are jailed for more than 12 months an MP is effectively unmovable. It is therefore no surprise that, from the moment an election is over, the pressure is all top-down from the party, not bottom-up from the constituents."
Zac Goldsmith MP

Parliament was originally intended to act as a check on the Executive and to hold it to account, yet with the advent of the Party and such concepts as party loyalty and party manifestos, Members of Parliament have put their individual judgement to one side increasingly frequently and more often than not, are treated by the Whips as little more than sheep. In fact, the Whips even divide Members into groups which they call flocks. These flocks are then blindly herded into Division Lobbies and told to vote a particular way on a subject that they know nothing about. Many Members of Parliament today go through the Lobby not even knowing what part of the Bill they are voting on.
Peter Bone MP

"One of the key problems in Parliament which is little understood, but which hugely undermines its effectiveness, is the Whips' stranglehold over the scrutiny of Government bills" ............
"the electorate expects Bills which will become the law of this country to be examined critically by Parliament - that is indeed one of the central raisons d'etre of Parliament itself - and it sends to the House as Parliamentarians many MPs who have a wealth of experience and knowledge across almost the whole range of the nation's activities. To block that repository of skills and intelligence in the interests of the Government's convenience is a public scandal".
Michael Meacher MP


“I have seen whips literally pushing people through the aye lobby and the no lobby, even if they are remonstrating and saying ‘I don’t want to vote this way.’ They are pushed over, and once you go over the entrance way, you can’t come out again. You just have to hide in the toilets. People don’t know what they’re voting on, and I think that’s shocking.”------------------------“Often, whips will deliberately assign MPs to work on committees where they have no expertise, so they pose no threat. There is a lot of bullying.” ------------“We pride ourselves on our democracy but when you see how it actually works---------MPs should be doing a hell of a lot more to reduce the power of the whips and to increase the power of backbench MPs.”
Caroline Lucas MP copyright Guardian News & Media


When parties in Parliament use their Whipping system to control how their party members vote in divisions of parliament, they very effectively prevent our Member of Parliament from using their own knowledge and experience to properly represent us all in parliament.
It is time for our MPs to claim their voting power back from the party Whips.