THE AGE: A headbutt and a putdown: why British politics is in such a mess

Press/Media: Expert comment

Release date: 23/2/2019

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But Louise Thompson, senior lecturer in politics at the University of Manchester, warns there are significant hurdles the group must clear before they get to that stage. For a start, she says, the group is not likely to change the parliamentary arithmetic on Brexit because they have already been voting according to their beliefs.

“They keep saying ‘we’re not going to vote any differently’,” Thompson says. “In a lot of ways they are in a much weaker position. Without that party label they are pushed down to the bottom of the pecking order in the [House of] Commons. In a debate they could have to wait three hours to say anything.”

If they form a party – at the moment they are just a private grouping – they will get stronger rights in parliament, but until they face an election they will struggle with fundraising, as they will not have access to the money provided by the state to political parties that is used to pay for staff.

In the meantime, says Thompson, “they’ve got to try and function without any of that structural support from a party that has been telling them how to vote, what the business is, briefing them on amendments and so on”.

When the Scottish National Party suddenly grew its Westminster numbers in 2015, it took them two years to build a proper research and support team, Thompson says.

But TIG does have one very useful asset, one that the SDP didn’t have, she adds. Tory defector Sarah Wollaston is the chair of the Health and Social Care select committee in parliament, and since 2017 the chair of the Liaison Committee of all select committee chairs.

The Liaison Committee summons the prime minister twice a year to quiz her, and the chair is basically in charge of questioning. And according to precedent Wollaston should keep that role, despite leaving her party. “It’s good for the group she moved early, she’s the most significant person you could get,” Thompson says.

Media contributions

TitleA headbutt and a putdown: why British politics is in such a mess
Media name/outletThe Age
Media typeWeb
CountryAustralia
Date23/02/19
DescriptionBut Louise Thompson, senior lecturer in politics at the University of Manchester, warns there are significant hurdles the group must clear before they get to that stage. For a start, she says, the group is not likely to change the parliamentary arithmetic on Brexit because they have already been voting according to their beliefs.

“They keep saying ‘we’re not going to vote any differently’,” Thompson says. “In a lot of ways they are in a much weaker position. Without that party label they are pushed down to the bottom of the pecking order in the [House of] Commons. In a debate they could have to wait three hours to say anything.”

If they form a party – at the moment they are just a private grouping – they will get stronger rights in parliament, but until they face an election they will struggle with fundraising, as they will not have access to the money provided by the state to political parties that is used to pay for staff.

In the meantime, says Thompson, “they’ve got to try and function without any of that structural support from a party that has been telling them how to vote, what the business is, briefing them on amendments and so on”.

When the Scottish National Party suddenly grew its Westminster numbers in 2015, it took them two years to build a proper research and support team, Thompson says.

But TIG does have one very useful asset, one that the SDP didn’t have, she adds. Tory defector Sarah Wollaston is the chair of the Health and Social Care select committee in parliament, and since 2017 the chair of the Liaison Committee of all select committee chairs.

The Liaison Committee summons the prime minister twice a year to quiz her, and the chair is basically in charge of questioning. And according to precedent Wollaston should keep that role, despite leaving her party. “It’s good for the group she moved early, she’s the most significant person you could get,” Thompson says.
URLhttps://www.theage.com.au/world/europe/a-headbutt-and-a-putdown-why-british-politics-is-in-such-a-mess-20190222-p50zkv.html
PersonsLouise Thompson

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