Party Cohesion in Westminster Systems: Inducements, Replacement and Discipline in the House of Commons, 1836-1910

Speaker:  Arthur Spirling’s undergraduate education took place at the London School of Economics, where he graduated in 2000 with a BSc in Government and Economics. In 2001, Arthur received a Masters degree in Public Administration and Public Policy, also from LSE. From 2001 through 2003, he was a student at Nuffield College, Oxford. During this time, he worked as a public policy consultant as part of the ODPM English Regional Expenditures report team. Arthur joined the University of Rochester, Department of Political Science as a graduate student in Fall 2003 and defended his dissertation in Spring 2008. From 2008 to July 2012 Arthur was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Harvard University and is now the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences (untenured). Arthur Spirling is affiliated with IQSS and is a Director of the Program on Text Research.

Paper Title:  Party Cohesion in Westminster Systems: Inducements, Replacement and Discipline in the House of Commons, 1836-1910.

Paper Abstract:  We consider the historical development of a characteristic crucial for the functioning and normative appeal of Westminster systems: cohesive legislative parties. To do this, we gather the universe of the twenty thousand parliamentary divisions that took place between 1836 and 1910 in the British House of Commons, construct a voting record for every Member of Parliament serving during this time, and carry out analysis that aims to both describe and explain the development of cohesive party voting. In line with previous work, we show that with the exception of a chaotic period in the 1840s and 1850s median discipline was always high and increased throughout the century, with an obvious uptick around 1868. We use novel methods to show that much of the rise in cohesion results from the elimination of a rebellious `left tail' from the 1860s onwards, rather than central tendency shifts. In explaining the aggregate trends, we use panel data techniques to show that there is scant evidence for `replacement' explanations that involve new intakes of members behaving in more disciplined ways than those leaving the chamber. We offer evidence that more loyal MPs were more likely to obtain ministerial posts, and speculate that this and other 'inducement'-based accounts offer more promising explanations of increasingly cohesive parties.

 

 

 

Date & time

Tue 11 Mar 2014, 12am

Location

Building 24, Copland, Room 1171, LJ Hume Centre

Speakers

Arthur Spirling - the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University

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