It may just be me but I detest the idea that party whips should be able to force party members into line. It’s something all the more relevant today following last night ‘rebellion’ (for want of a better word) of 116 Conservative MPs who expressed ‘regret’ at the lack of EU referendum legislation in the Queen’s Speech. Now, we know the landscape of the EU argument is shifting daily so I don’t want to focus on that. What ignited my fury was James Kirkup’s blog in The Telegraph entitled ‘Nadine Dorries has taken a week to prove that David Cameron needs a new Chief Whip’.
Now, Dorries is hardly my favourite MP. Jaunts to the jungle aside, her stance on gay marriage and her scare tactics about abortion are not to my tastes. But I can’t fault her for having a mouth and using it, whether I like what she says or not. The fact is, she causes such a problem to the Tory high-command because she refuses to keep her opinions to herself. I would love to have an MP willing to speak out against their leader in my constituency. At least it would convince me they were human and not some zombie able to be manipulated by one word from their leader.
Nigel Farage has made the point quite frequently in recent weeks that the country is ready for a new type of politics. I think that, more than ever, citizens want to be able to hold their MP to account. They want their MP to be able to justify themselves to their constituency and not just to their parties. I would respect my MP if I believed her opinions were her own and not just those she trots out to ensure her place in the Shadow Cabinet.
As I see it, whipping has no place in modern politics. The party system is fast losing its grip on reality. The internet has enabled people to check up on their representatives, social media has helped those representatives to connect with the people. If you want to run an effective party these days, you need to work from the ground up in individual areas. Yes, you need to generally have a right-leaning or a left-leaning consensus but you do not need to dehumanise MPs by making them part of a herd to be controlled. The public should control their politicians, not David Cameron or Ed Miliband. I actually have respect for a party that is divided, like the Tory party at present. It means that there are people within that party who have their own opinions, who listen to the concerns of their constituents. Go on, Ed Miliband, tell me why that’s wrong.