Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The dreaded three-line whip

Two details to note in this BBC report (besides the debate over UK membership in the EU): most government MPs have public jobs besides their Parliamentary posts and the party order on how to vote underlined three times (usually called the three-line whip).

We should note that this issue is one of the things that brought down Margaret Thatcher's government.

EU referendum: MPs told to vote against Monday's motion
The three big parties at Westminster have told their MPs to vote against a motion calling for a referendum to be held on UK membership of the EU…

The BBC's Iain Watson says the government, seeking to find a compromise, had asked MPs seen as usually loyal eurosceptics to table an amendment instead committing the government to producing a white paper on renegotiating the terms or EU membership.

But that request has been refused by the MPs who want the word "referendum" included in any amendment…

The government would not be bound by the result of the vote, based on a motion by Tory MP David Nuttall, but it could prove politically tricky for the Conservative leadership…

Conservative MPs are expected to face a three-line whip - not yet confirmed - which would require any in government jobs to follow the party line and vote against the motion or to resign their posts…

But the UK Independence Party, which campaigns for the UK to leave the EU, said the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem leaders were "out of step" with the British public.

"By forcing their MPs to vote against an EU referendum, they have set them on a collision course with the electorate. It has become the people versus the politicians," their leader Nigel Farage said.

A petition signed by more than 100,000 people, including Conservative and Labour MPs, calling for a referendum was handed into Downing Street last month...

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2 Comments:

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Alan Carter in Oxford clarifies one of my comments.

I said, "We should note that this issue is one of the things that brought down Margaret Thatcher's government."

Alan Carter adds, "Yes, except that was the other way round(!) the 'eurosceptic' Thatcher out of step with the pro-Europe party..." of that time.

 
At 8:33 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

The division within the Conservative Party over the EU persists.

Cameron Faces Internal Revolt Over European Policy

"After being berated by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France at a rancorous European summit meeting over the weekend, Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday faced an all-out rebellion from members of his own party over whether Britain should even be part of the European Union...

"At issue was a motion calling for a referendum on whether Britain should withdraw from or renegotiate its relationship with the European Union. The government opposed the motion...

"After a debate that lasted late into the evening, the motion was rejected on a vote of 483 to 111... the exercise exposed a potentially lethal schism within Conservative ranks...

"Internal battles have long divided Britain’s fractious Conservative Party. Sometimes the party has kept them private; other times it has been unable to discipline its ranks..."

 

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