A whip is key to the organisation and communication of Parliament, ensuring MPs know when to vote and in which way for the benefit of their Party. It is their job to inform Members of upcoming votes, showing the importance of the matter with a line system, ranging from one to a three line whip which is a major vote whereby missing it can lead to an MP’s effective expulsion. The whip also serves the MP as a resource to provide guidance on the progress of a matter for optimum time management.
This peculiar term is thought to originate from the 18th century and the hunting role of ‘a whipper-in’ so hounds wouldn’t stray. It enabled the government to see which way their MPs were voting, and adjust their privileges accordingly. Yet it remains a vital role, ensuring MPs are accountable for their time, voting is well attended and correctly counted. It is good news for us as constituents. The confidentiality of the role means whips get priority access to Ministers about constituency matters.