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When politics gives out a bad smell

Better loyalty to principle than party

Political parties do better in elections if they are united. Party loyalty is accordingly valued. A disunited party emits a bad smell to electors, internal dissension leads to splits if it goes too far. All this is a lesson emphatically taught by history, and is common knowledge.

It is however odd that party loyalty, or even the mere appearance of it, should be so prized. Cast an eye back to the 18th century when members of parliament were individually more independent, though formed into Whig and Tory factions. MPs whose seat depended on supporting the administration were known as “placemen” because they were specifically there as voting fodder. The rest, county and borough members, were in many cases effectively owners of the seats they occupied, and could not be compelled to support the government; their seats did not depend on it.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s July issue: In her final issue as Editor Bronwen Maddox explores the legacy of former Prime Minister Tony Blair having spoken with him at a Prospect event on 24th May. She examines his domestic policy, the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan and what the future holds for the Labour Party. The Chancellor George Osborne lays down his view on why the public should to “Remain” in the EU, and Ian Hargreaves takes a close look at what is happening at the BBC. Also in this issue: Former Conservative leader David Davis suggests he can see a very narrow set of circumstances that might push him towards running for the party leadership again, William Skidelsky writes about why tennis is the best sport and Vanora Bennett looks at Svetlana Alexievich’s extraordinary work recording Russia’s lost voices.
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