If you have no whip your promises mean nothing
January 17, 2014 1 Comment
The Independent Group attempts to make a virtue out of having no whip whereas I see it as a vice. UKIP are now following suit, unsurprising I guess that they should ape their buddies. Even the local Conservatives claim they are without a whip.
Labour has a whip, and this year that role falls to me. So far we have not used the whip – any vote where we all go the same way merely shows that on many issues we think alike. Of course, we have informal discussions where we tentatively agree a line, and sometimes this is in the chamber after hearing the debate. We call ourselves comrades because it actually means something to us. We nearly had a whipped vote, until a U-turn by the administration made a vote unnecessary.
Whipping ensures a couple of things. Firstly it guarantees that any manifesto promises are adhered to. It also means that democratically arrived at decisions made in Group meetings are followed through. It also gives our Group strength; seeing the Independents all over the place on some issues is seen by us as a weakness. It is not unknown for them to cancel each other out, effectively making their votes wasted.
Whipping the Independents may be akin to herding cats, and perhaps that is why they have decided against it. In a group where there are so many egos on display getting them to cooperate with each other is a step too far. They advertise this as a bonus, and it would seem that many voters agree. But, it also means that you do not know what you are getting when you elect them.
When Cllr Velmurugan declares his love for the Tories (after the votes have been counted) we should not be surprised. When Cllrs Stafford and Woodley have a memorandum of understanding with the Tories we should not be surprised. When Cllr Kaye joins the Tories from the Independents we should not be surprised. Whether this is what those who elected them expected is another matter; I suspect most will be rueing that particular choice.
And so to election promises. These are mere ephemera if they cannot guarantee the support of those elected because of them. This is what no whipping really means: I can make promises, you can elect me on those promises, but no-one is going to ensure I stick to those promises, and my colleagues in any case are free to ignore me and them anyway. They may as well state on their literature “vote for me and I will make it up as I go along”.
“You did not want your library closed? Sorry, but me and my colleagues voted in different ways”. “I opposed the budget, but some of my colleagues supported it, and others abstained. This is what you voted for, so I thought you would be pleased.”
Discipline, cohesiveness, teamwork, and being an effective and strong voice. This is what whipping delivers. If you want a strong and effective group running the town then you will have to figure out how that is achieved. You could vote for someone who disdains party discipline, but don’t wave their literature in their faces when they vote – they are answerable only to their own sense of self-importance.