An English In Kentucky


















Monday September 2nd 2019Tim Candler9


     Whips in politics are senior people in a political party who have the role of maintaining a keen interest in the mood of the party they belong to and reporting back to the party leadership. An ambitious politician, one who is so totally devoted to his political career that nothing else really matters, doesn't like to get into a whip's little black book more than just a couple of times. He wants to be known as a force to be reckoned with, certainly not a wimpy Yes-Man, he's possessed by strong and very reasonable opinions, he's a standard bearer of justice and decency, without coming off like too much of dangerous rebel. But if he crosses his party whip too many times, he might indeed come off as far too ambitious and a danger to the stability of party leaders, who themselves are rather passionate about retaining as many reins of power as they can. When it comes to party votes the whip's job is to persuade party members who might be a little reluctant to vote in favor of this or that issue to pull themselves together and stick to the party line, otherwise they might fall into disfavor and never find themselves with an import role in one or other committee. As well, on something deemed an "essential" vote, a recalcitrant party member might see his chance to trade his vote for an important role in one or other committee. It does go on a bit, and it's a truly vile and unattractive process, but never forget one of the prime objectives of democratic process is to keep the innate megalomaniacal impulses of the political class well engaged with each other by occupying them with something that better reflects a really absorbing eight dimensional, never ending game of point scoring bridge.


     The word whip in politics, comes from that odious occupation the wealthy get dressed up for called Fox Hunting. The whip is the chap who keeps the hounds from getting side-tracked, doing things like chasing ice cream vans, or school children, or paupers. In the US Congress whips have a few ways of punishing their more disobedient members, which are all about who does and doesn't get a seat on a committee. In the UK Parliament whips have a whole set of possibilities available to them, but keep in mind that in the British Parliament you're not really allowed to come right out and tell someone to get stuffed, you're only allowed to insinuate it in as round about and elegant a way as you possible can, it's a whole word usage art form. Nor are you allowed to tell a party member how to vote, it's supposed to be entirely their own decision. Yet the UK Parliamentary whips have three ways of telling people how to vote, each one comes as a memo with a title. The title reflects the matter to be voted on, and the number of times the title is underlined tells the recipient how upset leadership will be should a member decide to vote against the wishes of the party leadership, or do something like call in sick. The most dread filled memo is one that has its title underlined three times. This is the Three Lined Whip, and if you decide to disagree with one of these the party whip can basically kick you out of the party. This doesn't mean you lose your seat in the Parliament, that's for the voters to decide, but it means you are no longer a party member with all the rights and privileges and election support that go along with it and henceforth you should consider yourself one of those vile creatures, an isolated and lonely, mumbling Independent.


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