MPs and Political parties

Members of the House of Commons hold, in effect, a triple mandate. They represent all the people of their constituency, their party and the interests of the country. It is a tenet of representative democracy that MPs are not delegates for their constituents. This means that, while the views of constituents are frequently considered, the actions of MPs are governed by their determination of the best interests of their constituency, their party and the country as a whole.

Nevertheless, MPs are increasingly expected to spend considerable time both in their constituencies and at Westminster dealing with the grievances of constituents. Most MPs hold weekly surgeries in order to meet people and listen to their concerns. All MPs maintain offices in their constituency and at Westminster to deal with correspondence from constituents. People tend to see MPs as their last resort in disputes with government departments and agencies.

MPs are normally members of political parties without whose discipline and organisation the House could not function. Individual MPs are subject to strict control in respect of voting and what they can say. Loyal MPs are rewarded with higher officer within the party, while the disobedient may be marginalised, expelled or suffer another fate at the hands of the Whips.

Given the dominance of parties, independent MPs are rare, though not unknown. But just as it is parties that fund, fight and win elections, it is parties that form governments.

Most political parties have back-bench committees with varying powers over members. The Conservatives' is the 1922 Committee, while Labour's is called simply the Parliamentary Labour Party or PLP.