Monday, 17 October 2011

Three line whip

A three-line whip is a strict instruction to attend and vote, breach of which would normally have serious consequences. Permission not to attend may be given by the whip, but a serious reason is needed. Breach of a three-line whip can lead to expulsion from the parliamentary political group in extreme circumstances and may lead to expulsion from the party. Consequently, three-line whips are generally only issued on key issues, such as votes of confidence and supply. The nature of three-line whips and the potential punishments for revolt vary dramatically among parties and legislatures.

It seems quite curious to me that people still regard representative democracy with such fondness. Any representative has to balance the aggregated wishes of his community with his own beliefs, at the very best of times.

And here, in a matter where there is a broad belief in the "community" that the EU is not something we have universal love for, we encounter the true balance of power in the sham of our "representative" democracy. David Cameron has ordered a three-line whip to deny the British people a referendum on something that affects our lives every day, often in ways that British people do not want or agree with. I understand that Ed Miliband has done the same. The largely Europhile LibDems will be pretty much in the bag anyway.

This means that a handful of politicians effectively do get to decide things on our behalf, expressly rejecting the "democratic wishes" of the majority of the population. Cameron was democratically elected, and now has the ability to be a dictator on things that matter to him.

Even though a number of MPs will ignore the three-line whip, Cameron can be quite sure of his team of lobby-fodder sheep backing his wishes, and with the Labour Party whipped to deny us the referendum as well, he can be quite relaxed about those who disobey the whip. It all makes it look like there is actually democracy in action and the will of the majority has prevailed.

Cameron clearly has no desire to do anything to rock any boat, even though getting us out of the EU would probably get him re-elected by a landslide. He is clearly hoping to follow Blair into some other, grand, post-PM role and as an urbane member of the social democratic group, he probably quite likes the idea of having some grand political folly. Hence his three-line whip, hence his denial of a perfectly reasonable referendum. Behind that bland face and enormous forehead is the mind of a typical authoritarian cunt who knows better than all of us and is prepared to blatantly fuck us over to keep us in line.

Three-line whips are a test of the mettle of our politicians. I am quite certain that they will be found wanting. Again.

Update: I've just heard that the LibDems will be imposing a three-line whip. Why are our politicians so terrified of the will of the British people regarding the EU?


Richard Allan said...

The thing that annoys me is the number of people who smugly say "Shouldn't have voted against AV then" as if it would have made a blind bit of difference.

John James said...

I think you're dealing with two separate but related issues here.

The first one is the issue of referenda. Historically the British ruling elite has had a certain fear and loathing of the 'fickle masses' having the last word on their pet projects - look what happened to AV. The principle of popular sovereignty has never held traction in this country. In the minds of our rulers the 'seething mob' (i.e. the rest of us) are not to be trusted with issues that are best left for 'great men of affairs' to deal with. For the record I personally am in favour of an in/out referendum on Europe. If you join a club you adhere fully to the rules of the club, no cherry picking, no if's or buts. If you can't accept that then the simple answer is to leave. End of.

Which neatly leads to my second point, namely the imposition of a three line whip. It is a pretty harsh form of party discipline with it's image of cattle being whipped into line. Now if you have a problem with party policy then by all means debate it out vigorously but when the party leader says fall into line then you do it. Party members and MP's know that before they sign up. If you cannot follow the rules then you are free to leave.

Unity in the Conservative Party is pretty threadbare I suspect. If anti-EU members really do hold a firm principle on the matter I would suggest they leave. I think financial self preservation will most likely leave their 'firm principles' in the gutter. Same for Labour and the LibDems.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

"I think financial self preservation will most likely leave their 'firm principles' in the gutter."

No shit?

Infidel753 said...

The party leader can simply order MPs to ignore their constituents' wishes and vote a certain way? Odd sort of democracy.

Richard Boyd said...

Any MP who votes against a EU referendum is...simply voting against democracy. And they wonder why no one trusts them...!

bella gerens said...

"attend and vote"

Where in that definition does it say that three-line whips ensure that people vote in a particular way?

Bayard said...

"It seems quite curious to me that people still regard representative democracy with such fondness."

Possibly because it is not something we have had for a long time, if ever. What we do have is not democracy, but an elected dictatorship, as these actions by Cameron et al show. If we had representative democracy, MP's would vote according to the wishes of their constiuents, not, ever, according to the wishes of the leaders of their political parties, unless the two happened to coincide. When was the last time that happened?