Meanwhile, in Britain... - Macleans.ca

Meanwhile, in Britain…

A familiar noise around the mother parliament

by

It would seem Conservative government backbench angst transcends the Atlantic Ocean.

Yet the old way of handling backbenchers, a mixture of benign neglect and an occasional whipping, appears unsustainable. The vigour of the Tory 2010ers is no coincidence. Nor is their independent-mindedness merely a matter of indiscipline. Rather, they denote structural changes in British politics, which Parliament is lagging. The vim displayed on the backbenches reflects a move to full professionalism: until a few years ago most Tory backbenchers had second jobs, but tougher rules on disclosure have made this almost impossible. Independent-mindedness is similarly entrenched, being a response to closer ties between MPs and their constituents—partly wrought by new media—and to the ideologically-chastening reality of coalition government, which Britain is likely to see more of. “Is it a bad thing to have MPs voting for what they think is right?” asks Dr Wollaston, reflecting the view of many newcomers. “Isn’t that Parliament working well?”