Ok, maybe I am rather peeved over the government's 316-311 voting in of "top up fees" for university entry, but... In the UK, there is an agent known as a parliamentary whip in each party. His role is to enforce solidarity when the party votes in parliament, threatening dissenters with various punishments unless they abstain instead of voting for the other side, or so on. The issue is, do such whips even have a place in a democracy? A typical argument used in the run-up to the actual vote today was that rebels should vote for the proposal because it would strengthen Blair's leadership in preparation for wednesday's hutton report. In essence, the plank of the whip's argument lies not on the strength of the actual policy, but on avoiding granting the opposition a success! Of course, it is very easy now to ruminate on what might have been... If 5 of those MPs did not abstain... If some of the rebels did not switch at the last moment... Am I missing something?