Firstly the Prime Minister in defence of this statement may say that when the particular MP was elected by his constituency the person ran representing a particular party, for example my local mp is Mike Freer and represents the conservative party. When they chose to run and represent the part they took on the moral obligation to adopt the political parties ideology the parties manifesto and its views on particular issues. Further, party whips and this moral obligation protect certain elements of democracy. Abraham Lincoln said that an essential part of democracy was that the government should be ‘by the people’. When the people vote for a particular party they vote for their manifesto. If an MP votes solely based on their own opinion not considering the party view, it undermines the manifesto that the people voted for because legislation against the particular party view may end up being passed. Some would argue that if someone is not prepared to represent a party they should, like the former MP, Richard Thomas Taylor who ran in concern of the saving of Kidderminster hospital, run as an independent MP. Then they vote however they wish.
On the other hand however, when taking into account another element of Lincolns definition, a government ‘for the people’ a government gains legitimacy or consent to rule on behalf of the citizens and people. Therefore the country relies on the government not to abuse their trust. The whole point of a democratic government is that MPs should be fully representative of its constituents. If they are solely voting in consideration of their party view, in my opinion it defeats the object of a democratic state as they end up loosing the focus of the constituent’s interests. In other words if the constituents voted for someone, they should have a moral obligation to act on behalf of the citizens who voted for them. Moreover some would go as far as saying that whips promotes and creates too much emphasis on self-interest. Its is a known fact that most an MPs main career aim is to become a member of the main office or even prime minister. A party whip has the power to, in the worst of disciplinary methods, withdraw whips or in other words meaning the MP will no longer be a member of the party. Therefore in order to pursue their career they almost always have to obey the party position forgetting about their constituent’s interests.
Despite, that it is important that the party has a united view for a number of reasons. Firstly, the paternalistic view. When, front bench politicians are making decisions and passing legislation, they have the manifesto, that people voted and in addition long-term plan in mind. However a singular MP and its constituents cannot be expected to have such a broad view or understanding high political issues, vital to the state such a fiscal policies, they are probably specialised or interested in a particular issues that may only affect them. If uniformed MPs decide that they want to vote against a particular legislation and the law doesn’t end up being passed its could spoil the party’s long-term plan. Further, in economical crises such as the one we are currently facing, it’s important that decisions aren’t slow or incorrect. Therefore, whilst the particular MPs’ and his or her constituent’s demands and interests are respected, equally whips are a significant method that the party leaders use to in the Politian’s know the best legislation to pass in the duration of their term in order to achieve a five-year goal. Secondly, in these situations where the majority of the public may not be in favour of a decision, such as the conservative, George Osborne’s decisions on the speed of cuts or Margaret Thatcher’s decisions on poll tax, its important that the public have confidence in their government and do not see them as unfocused or weak. In my opinion it is this sort of distrust in the political that causes the caused social conflicts such as the recent London riots and the 1990 poll tax riots.
Another argument against this statement is based upon Burkean representation. Burke posited that MPs should, when deciding which way to vote for particular legislation should vote with their constituency’s demands and interest in mind. The statement simply undermines the whole point of parliament, and the voting system. If there is a potential law people don’t like that much and is voted against, the law should be amended. In 2006 there was an appeal for an amendment concerning prisoners under the labour government, where the majority of people voted against the amendment that labour proposed. Some people would argue that to avoid a dictatorship or an autocratic government, MPs should be ‘morally obliged’ to vote representing their constituency.
In conclusion, in my opinion MPs should have a moral obligation to be influenced by three pressures, pressures of the interests of their constituents, pressure from their given party and use their own judgement to make decisions trying to have the in the best interests and ideas of both in mind.