Philip Cowley, Reader in the University’s School of Politics and International Relations, was recently nominated for the Times Higher young researcher of the year award. In this podcast, Philip discusses his research into back bench rebellions within the British parliament. Philip describes his research as practical politics, linking academic research to the real world of political debate.
Since the British Labour party’s re-election with a reduced majority of 66 MPs in May 2005, some back bench Labour MPs have continued to vote against their own party, led by Prime Minister Tony Blair. This has forced the British government to make a series of concessions on a range of legislation. After the election, it was widely anticipated that Labour party MPs, with a reduced majority, would have to tow the party line. Philip discusses his research into back bench behaviour, highlighting that the British back bench MPs have traditionally been more rebellious than many people may expect.
Philip also discusses the issues behind the bank bench revolts, in particular highlighting that back bench rebellions are now at a post war high–ironically, as the new Labour government of 1997 was determined not to be a ‘split’ party like the previous Conservative government led by John Major. Philip also discusses the impact of the Tony Blair’s announcement that he will step down as leader of the Labour party, and whether this has affected the frequency of revolts.