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In the News

Record rebellion under Starmer

Mike McCartney

23rd November 2023

A great example of the independence of MPs

It is frequently said that MPs are mere lobby fodder, and don't exercise a great deal of independence of thought or action. This kind of portrayal of MPs as noting more than sheep is lazy and inaccurate.

A feature of parliamentary government in the UK over recent decades has been an increase in the rate of intra-party rebellion.

Questions and suggested answers on the video

1. What decision did the MPs vote on inside Parliament?
2. Why did some Labour MPs defy their leader?
3. According to one of the MPs, what are people watching in their living rooms?
4. How did the rebellion by junior positions challenge Keir Starmer's authority?
5. What is the UK government's stance on Israel's actions?
6. What date did the atrocities mentioned in the video occur?
7. How did the MPs who voted for a ceasefire feel about their decision?
8. What consequences did the Shadow ministers and aides face for voting for a ceasefire?
9. What did the MP who called for a ceasefire mention about babies in incubators?
10. What does the video suggest about the impact of Labour MPs' vote on the battlefield?


1. The MPs voted against a ceasefire.
2. They believed a ceasefire was the right decision.
3. People are watching stories of babies dying and horrors unfolding.
4. The sheer numbers of the rebellion posed a challenge to Keir Starmer's authority.
5. The UK government and Western allies have backed Israel's right to go after Hamas.
6. The atrocities were carried out on October 7th.
7. They felt intense pressure but received supportive emails.
8. The Shadow ministers and aides who voted for a ceasefire had to resign their posts.
9. Premature babies in incubators were mentioned as not having oxygen and dying.
10. The video suggests that the vote may not change much on the battlefield, but it signals the need for caution in foreign policy.

While we’re here it is worth considering again the question as to why MPs are more rebellious.

One explanation for the increasing independence of MPs is that party loyalty among the electorate is no longer as high, i.e. partisan dealignment has occurred so that voters no longer vote blindly according to previous psychologically based attachments. We could add that the rise of the career politician also helps us understand this trend. This runs contrary to a great deal of media criticism, which contends that those who have entered the Commons without real-world experience, or a profession, to fall back on are more likely to do what their respective party whips command of them because this type of MP wants to be promoted. In fact, because MPs of this nature have been steeped in politics long before entering the Commons, the argument is that they can spot flaws in government plans and vote for what they as being the best course of action for their constituents.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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