Are MPs delegates or representatives?

I ask the question because Jeremy Corbyn appears to be raising it again. An article in the Guardian has the following;

Corbyn urged MPs to let him know of their views by the start of next week, as well as to canvass the views of members in their constituencies. (my emphasis)

This returns us to a debate that I thought was over and settled.

Back in the seventies and eighties many Bennites 1 and members of Militant Tendency 2 (I see Momentum as their spiritual heirs) believed that an MP was not the representative of all their constituents, including those who had not voted for him or her, but the delegate of their Constituency Labour Party’s General Committee (GC) and bound to speak and vote as it had directed.

It would appear from his instruction to Labour MPs to consult their party members rather than their constituents that Jeremy Corbyn thinks that Labour MPs are delegates rather than representatives. This in my opinion does not bode well for the future of the Labour Party.

It is a fact that in all political parties the members tend to be more extreme in their views than their supporters (UKIP may be the exception that proves the rule). Allowing the GC to control the MP means that we are heading down the same (or at least similar) blind alley as the Republican party in the United States. Where, in order to appeal to the base and get on to the electoral ticket you have to be seen to be so extreme that you make yourself unelectable by the general public.

1Disciples of Tony rather than his son Hillary.
2An entryist Trotskyite group.


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