Tuesday, 25 October 2011

now here's a top wheeze

the lovely Hopi Sen has posted on whips and rebellions, and I reproduce part of his post here as follows:

Here’s my suggestion: Abolish the Chief Whip, and introduce a Parliamentary Maitre’D instead.

I don’t mean abandon parliamentary discpline, or abandoning the Three line whip, but changing the way Government approach discipline. The role of the Whips office at the moment is confined to arranging parliamentary business and ensuring people turn up and vote the right way. There’s little or no attempt to manage the general happiness of individual MPs, or of understanding when or how they might be allowed off the leash in order to impress the punters.
If the whips were abolished, and a PM created a ”Parliamentary Affairs Department”, a powerful PM could fold in the Leader of the House and Whips office with parts of the Cabinet office, and by giving the job to one of the big beasts of the government, not an anonymous fixer, they’d create a department whose job it was to ensure that all other departments were alive to the concerns of the backbenches. Ideally, that big beast would be a leader loyalist – whoever had managed their leadership campaign, say, so someone known to have the Leaders’ ear.

Excellent notion.  I remember a number of conversations with parliamentary colleagues from about 1999 onwards on these lines - the whips never took a human resources role, and I suspect some breakdowns, slides into alcoholism, and even early deaths, might have been averted if the whips had engaged in rather less psychological torture and rather more of a pastoral role.  Srsly folks.  In My Day we were (almost) never at risk of losing a vote, not even in the Iraq debate in March 2003, it is clear now, so all the more reason I fancy.  But no.


Anonymous said...

To refine this - I have always felt that there should be a Personnel Department - and that this should be the function of the Whips. And that the name should be changed altogether.

And - why not have job applications for promotional roles and proper selection tasks rather than the way it operates at the moment? ie - who are you screwing in the Cabinet? Or did? Or who Daddy was? Applies just as much - if not more so to Labour as Tory.

Anonymous said...

MPs should also have a proper trade union representing them, not ones they join for political reasons, and not because they work in the appropriate industries.

Anonymous said...

I agree with last Anonymous as well.