Parliament

Cutting the size of a parliament: we should consider process and resources not just numbers

Cutting the size of a parliament: we should consider process and resources not just numbers

When political leaders say we should cut the number of politicians, what are their motives? Alex Marland found that the rationale is largely symbolic, rather than grounded in any considered approach to legislature size, and used as a populist framing for more general cost-cutting. A more coherent approach should include attention to the process of cutting, and to overall resources for backbench politicians.

After the prorogation coup, what’s left of the British constitution?

After the prorogation coup, what’s left of the British constitution?

The contemptuous ease with which the Johnson-Cummings regime has attempted to cripple parliamentary consideration of alternatives to a no-deal Brexit by proroguing parliament raises serious issues about the remaining value of the UK’s ‘unfixed constitution’. This controversy comes after a prolonged period in which the executive under Theresa May used every micro-institutional weapon to blackmail MPs into accepting its deal. Patrick Dunleavy argues that the UK has slipped into having a failed constitution, where core democratic institutions are contaminated by rigged micro-institutions. The control of power has become dominated by a bunch of executive tricks, and an uncodified ‘constitution’ no longer provides any predictable or worthwhile constraints on government action. Yet it may be only a small step from creating a failed constitution to becoming some version of a failed state.

Threat of prorogation: what can the Commons do?

Threat of prorogation: what can the Commons do?

The Prime Minister has requested and received consent for the current parliament to be prorogued, and plans to introduce a new Queen’s Speech before the Brexit deadline of 31 October. David Howarth assesses the options available for those wishing to oppose this and enable the Commons to prevent a no deal Brexit.

Who is the Leader of the Opposition?

Who is the Leader of the Opposition?

David Howarth explains the legislation and parliamentary rules that determine who is recognised as the official Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. The political implications of these procedures are significant, given current discussions about who would form a government if the current one were to lose a vote of no confidence.

Brexit and parliamentary legitimation: beyond constitutional minutiae

Brexit and parliamentary legitimation: beyond constitutional minutiae

David Judge writes that, while much of the discussion around Brexit and Parliament is about procedure and conventions, it should also be about the bigger picture: what does Brexit tell us about the fundamental principles of the UK’s parliamentary state and representative democracy?

Criticisms of the Westminster model of politics are not new: can the system survive the latest  wave of anti-politics?

Criticisms of the Westminster model of politics are not new: can the system survive the latest wave of anti-politics?

Criticisms of the highly centralised, elitist, top-down Westminster model are by no means new. Consecutive Prime Ministers – from Blair to May – vowed to take on vested powers and interests, challenge the status quo, and change the way politics is conducted. Yet, as Patrick Diamond, David Richards, and Alan Wager show, they have all failed to deliver their promises. While another wave of anti-politics is looming, they ask how the established parties will accommodate it.

Brexit has shown the limits of Britain’s broken ‘Westminster model’ of politics

Brexit has shown the limits of Britain’s broken ‘Westminster model’ of politics

The results of the recent European Parliament elections demonstrate how the traditional model of UK politics based on two ‘main’ parties is fracturing under the pressures of the Brexit process. Jess Garland sets out some proposals for reforming the system in line with voters’ wishes for a more cooperative style of politics.

When will the government respond to the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report on UK lethal drone strikes in Syria?

When will the government respond to the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report on UK lethal drone strikes in Syria?

It is two years since the Intelligence and Security Committee published its report into UK lethal drone strikes in Syria. Despite a commitment to ‘respond substantively to any report by the ISC within 60 days’ the government has yet to produce a detailed reply to this report. Andrew Defty examines the government’s record in responding to ISC reports and the changing nature of its commitment to doing so.

Does the House of Commons have power without influence?

Does the House of Commons have power without influence?

The impasse over the Withdrawal Agreement has highlighted the inability of the House of Commons to shape the substance of the Brexit deal. There is a growing sense of frustration at the apparent unwillingness of MPs to face up to the limited choices before them, writes Jack Simson Caird. A key lesson from the Article 50 process is that the UK needs a parliamentary system which is more oriented towards consensus and that is less adversarial, he concludes.

Unpaid internships in Parliament are a barrier to widening political participation

Unpaid internships in Parliament are a barrier to widening political participation

Many people who work in Parliament have previously worked unpaid for MPs, or found their current job through personal connections. Rebecca Montacute argues that to create a Parliament that is trusted and better represents the electorate, it is time to change these practices to ensure people from less privileged backgrounds have equal opportunities to pursue a career in politics.