Skip to main content


I'm reposting this from another blog - it was originally written after a Facebook conversation. I think there is a general misunderstanding of what the whip system is, and how much of an impact it actually has on an individual at council level.  

How the Whip System Works

Well, the first question is, what is a whip? 

Both are whips, but only one is the Labour MP for Doncaster Central. 

Wikipedia's definition serves as well as any when it tells us:

"A whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party's "enforcers", who typically offer inducements and threaten punishments for party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy. A whip's role is also to ensure that the elected representatives of their party are in attendance when important votes are taken. The usage comes from the hunting term "whipping in", i.e. preventing hounds from wandering away from the pack."

At parliamentary level in the UK 'whipping' can be serious business. The whip keeps members informed of forthcoming business, in addition to relating the group recommendation on upcoming votes. On the schedule the vote will be underlined once, twice, or three times depending on how much of a big deal it is that members toe the party line. A single-line whip is basically saying, 'we'd like you to turn up and vote this way, if you get chance'. A two-line whip means you have to turn up - unless you get permission from the whip - along with a recommendation on which way to vote.

It only really hits the news when it's a three line whip. Three underscores is essentially a nice way of telling you you had better turn up and vote if you like your job - in some circumstances a failure to vote with the party can result in the removal of the whip. I.e. Being kicked out of the party's parliamentary group, or even out of the party itself. Three-line whips are relatively rare; they tend to be used for issues that would be an embarrassment to the party if its members weren't seen to be singing from the same hymn street. For example, David Cameron got a lot of stick for not being able to make his backbenchers follow a three-line whip to vote for House of Lords reform. 

TL;DR, what does it mean for Torfaen?

As is undoubtedly obvious to anyone who has ever attended a council meeting, councils are not the same thing as parliament. Now, that's not to say parties don't employ the whip system at council level. Some get whip happy, as this article on Bracknell Forest Council shows us. Sometimes there is good reason - during the last Torfaen administration, for instance, the Labour Party was heading a minority administration. If Labour councillors didn't toe the line on some issues, chances are policies wouldn't make it through. Therefore I'd imagine the whip would sometimes have had to try and raise assurances that people would turn up and vote.

That just isn't the case this time around. Labour has a comfortable majority with 30 out of a possible 44 seats. There has yet to be a whipped vote, meaning the role of the current whip is to ensure everyone is up to date with what's happening, and that if they're not going to be at a meeting they send apologies. Not the cut and thrust of Westminster, but admirable all the same! Decisions made at Labour group meetings constitute the party's recommendation, but you are not obligated to follow that decision if you feel strongly about it.

Joining - or indeed, affiliating - with a political party or group is a recognition that you broadly agree with their beliefs, aims and ideals. It does not mean you are enslaved to every viewpoint the party or group ever puts forward.

And then the fun began...


  1. Strange to think of the who system being used at council level. It's archaic enough being used at Westminster! #truthabout

    1. I used to think it was awful, but seeing it in practice at a closer level has shown me some of the plus sides. I think it's especially useful if you're in opposition - you can have the in-fighting at group meetings, then present a united front when you get into the arena proper.

  2. Hi Jess! Interesting post - I have to admit that I never really knew for sure what all the whipping was about :-) Could government function without it? Is it really a democracy if you are being coerced into voting against your personal feelings? Questionable. Thanks for finding and joining in with #thetruthabout this week!

    1. I don't know - I mean, nobody really has complete free reign to vote with their personal feelings because you're completely reliant on keeping the goodwill of your constituents... You see people break whip most often when it will mean local electoral suicide. Then again, most people are elected based on the colour of their rosette, so you could argue that the majority would expect them to toe the party line. It's a difficult one!


Post a Comment

I love to hear from you, so please don't be shy!

Popular posts from this blog

Over 200 UK Refer and Earn Offers for 2022

So many stores and services offer special rewards and discounts for recruiting them new customers. No matter what you're into, there's a refer and earn offer for you! Some of these translate to straight up free and easy money through cashback or reward sites, others require you to be an existing customer or jump through several hoops. There are over 400 offers listed on my Codes, Coupons and Discounts Pinterest board, and I am (slowly) working on updating this post to reflect the cream of the crop! CASHBACK, SURVEYS, REWARDS & DEALS 20 Cogs . Get £20 when your friend completes 20 cogs (i.e. offers), and 5% of their earnings for life. You also need to complete 20 offers yourself before you can cash out. Airtime Rewards . Get up to £1.50 bonus credit for each person who signs up with your referral code. Mine is 9CKQXLH8. Cashback Earners . Earn 5.00 CashCoins and 10% of their earnings from purchases. 20 CashCoins minimum payout. Cashback Kingdom . Both get a bon

British Food

A/N: On a previous blog wrote a whole series of posts on British life, explained for American fiction writers. This week I'm reposting the entry explaining British cuisine... Britain is world renowned for its stodgy, uninspiring cuisine. (Which should explain the deep suspicion Britons have of most foreign cuisine, unless it's been suitably adapted for the British palette.) BBC sitcom Goodness Gracious Me explains it best via the 'going for an English' sketch - a play on the popular British past time of 'going for an Indian (i.e. curry)'. " What's the blandest thing on the menu? " asks one character, later encouraging another, " Just have something a little bland, huh? Waiter, what have you got that is not totally tasteless? " Because, the truth is that traditional British fare is far from a taste sensation for those who haven't been raised on the stuff. Still, read on, and you can judge for yourself... Breakfast  The be

Free Magazine Scans

Click the pictures below to find full cover guides to various teen magazines (primarily collated to make scale miniature magazine covers but I figure they'll also be useful for collectors and anyone into media history) and scans from my own magazine collection. I've also got a couple of kids' books I didn't want to part with - The Squirrel and Little Owl Book of Pets . The unwieldy size of my bookmark folders convinced me I needed a reference post for online magazine archives. Or, more accurately, free online magazine archives. Whether you're looking for leisure reading or research avenues, you're bound to find something useful in this list. :) ☆ Archive for the Unexplained - UFO mags galore. ☆   The Magazine Rack - over 140,000 digitised magazines! ☆   Lantern - thousands of vintage film magazines. ☆ FANZINES  - a number of online archives now exist for these including  FANAC  (SF), ScoTpress  (Trek), Sandy Herald Collection  (media fandom, major

Simply Cook Review

I kept seeing ads and deals for Simply Cook everywhere, so as there was a special offer on at OhMyDosh! Rewards (£3 for the box and £3.50 cashback) I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a try. What Is It? Recipe kits packed into boxes which fit through your letterbox. The usual price is £9.99 for a kit of 4, with each one serving 2-4 people depending on your serving sizes. All you need to do is buy the fresh ingredients required and follow the instructions. Here is Simply Cook's own helpful diagram: Does It Work? For me, as the person just eating it, it was awesome. Everything tasted great - the mushroom penne in particular was so good I went back for seconds - and I liked that the sauces weren't as rich as Anthony would usually make them. For Anthony, who cooked them, they weren't as impressive. He complained that the food was bland and that it was actually quite a lot of faff, as Lidl didn't stock everything we needed which meant another trip ou

Free Fabric Samples x 200

Choosing upholstery and soft furnishings can be a nightmare - especially if it arrives and isn't quite what you expected. Fabric samples are a great way to avoid costly mistakes, as well as providing a fab source of material for your crafts box. Here are over 200 places offering completely free fabric samples in the UK: