Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News Fear the Whip!

  1. Jan 27, 2004 #1


    User Avatar

    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?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 28, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    We have whips in the US Congress too, they are the second most powerful members in each party, after the party leaders (the leader of the majority party is the Speaker of the House). I think they are a legitimate part of politics. If you didn't have some way to ummm, encourage members to vote with the party, then there just wouldn't be any party, and that way lies chos. 500 representatives, each one a party unto himself/herself? Why it would run like the Senate!
  4. Jan 28, 2004 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    If the whips go beyond reason, the congressmen will switch parties. It does happen. How common is it for an MP to switch parties? Are they allowed to, or would they lose their seat?

    I imagine it's a little more nasty in Britain. When someone votes for their MP, it is also their vote for which party will run the country. In the US, it is not too uncommon for someone to split their votes. So, a congressman knows his people want him, but an MP doesn't know if the voter likes him or Tony Blair. It makes the MP a little more beholden to the party.

  5. Jan 29, 2004 #4
    Expling the "top up fees" to me please :)
  6. Jan 29, 2004 #5


    User Avatar

    Well, University education in the UK has long been run out of public funds. Prior to the labour government, most university tuition was free. However, the issue that this is is now not enough, and to stop falling behind additional funding must be found. Top up fees are then additional payments required of the student for some courses. The government intends this to be done with a student graduate tax, but critics have said that this would discourage students from some courses or universities.

    The real big danger for the government was that the party was elected on a manifesto which contained a promise not to introduce such fees, and to "legislate to prevent them". Thus, many of the rebels have talked of the proposal as a betrayal of the labour voters.
  7. Jan 29, 2004 #6

    jimmy p

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    i think the whips should be given whips. That will stop Tony Blair making foolish decisions. OR do what Andy does and smack people who make stupid comments with a rolled up newspaper.
  8. Jan 29, 2004 #7
    I have started using a large stick now.
  9. Jan 29, 2004 #8

    jimmy p

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    fair enough, rolled up newspapers dont cause enough damage...maybe you should use a hot glue gun or a staple gun...they hurt. i know. [b(]
  10. Jan 29, 2004 #9
    Lol, you crazy fool, anyway back to the subject. Top up fee's are wrong i have many friends at University now and they are struggling to get by on the little money that they have, let alone having to pay another £3,000 a year on top of that. One of them is even considering quitting if it goes ahead.
  11. Jan 29, 2004 #10

    jimmy p

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    yeah my brother wants to do a post-graduate vetinary degree. All universitys have quoted £15,000 tuition per year(!!!!) for 5 years. With extra £3000 on top of that PER year, plus inflation, he has had to quit his dream... for now.
  12. Jan 29, 2004 #11


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Though its probably nastier in the UK than the US, I'd still like to see more Congressmen voting their conscious (and constituents) and not their party. Idealistic and unrealistic, mabye - but thats my opinion.
  13. Jan 29, 2004 #12

    Are loans not available?? Is it still free if your grades suck?

    I am presently having to work to put myself through school, but I could make it easy and just take loans if I wanted.
  14. Jan 29, 2004 #13
    Again I ask, no loans?
    I will be taking about $160,000 in loans for my years in med school (by today's number), and even though only a very small percentage of my loan is subsidized (not from a private lender), I wish NONE of it was. Why should it be? I mean, I have to pay it back anyways - why do the tax payers have to take the burden of me as an economic risk on not paying it back?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook