Elections - The party system in Parliament

5 important questions on Elections - The party system in Parliament

What is a Whip?

It is a 'party boss' that tells normal party people what to do, or rather to vote according to party policy. it is their job to inform all MP's in their party how they should vote. They also act as intermediaries between the backbenchers and the frontbench of the party. they are very powerful because they 'have the ear' of the party leaders and can therefore influence which backbenchers get promotion.

Who/what are the Whips?

During divisions, MPs vote the way their party tells them to. The Whips are the people whose job it is to make sure MPs do this, and they also tell them how they should vote. 

They are very powerful people, because they have the ears of the party leaders and they can influence which backbencher gets promoted to the front bench. Therefore, rebellions (= people who vote against the will of their party) under a group of MPs are very rare.

How come MPs always vote, even though they were not present during the debate?

They always vote because there is a tradition that if the government loses a vote on a very important matter, it has to resign.
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Why are their almost no signs of 'rebellion' during votes in the House of Commons?

The Whips might report the rebels, and the Whips can influence which backbencher gets promoted to frontbencher.

What is a free vote? Give some examples.

MPs can then vote according to their own beliefs instead of party policy. Examples of decisions which have been made this way: 
  • Abolition of the death penalty;
  • Allowing TV cameras in the Commons;
  • Banning of foxhunting.

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