drplokta: (Default)
[personal profile] drplokta
By convention, the Prime Minister is the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons (assuming there is one). But the Prime Minister is really whoever can command the confidence of the House, and the convention only exists because that's probably going to be the leader of the majority party. If there were a situation where the leader of that party did not have the confidence of the House of Commons, then he would cease to be Prime Minister, and someone else would have a go at forming a government. He would be expected to resign immediately as party leader, but there's nothing requiring him to do so.

So does this also apply to the Leader of the Opposition, a question which may be relevant in the near future. Is the Leader of the Opposition necessarily the leader of the largest party that's not in government, or is it in fact whoever can command the support of the majority of MPs from that party, which may not necessarily be the same? In other words, is it up to the Labour party as a whole or just the Parliamentary Labour Party to decide who it is? If Labour had a majority, then it would definitely be a matter for the PLP and not the party at large to decide who was Prime Minister.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-01-07 09:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] history-monk.livejournal.com
Well, if Wikipedia is to be trusted, The Ministers of the Crown Act 1937 gives the Speaker the power to decide which is the numerically strongest party not in government, and who the leader of that party is, should either of those things be in doubt. However, he doesn't have to use this power: there was no Opposition during the WWII National Government.

The question becomes significant should the PLP pass a motion of no confidence in Corbyn. At that point there's a potential constitutional crisis within the Labour Party: the conventional thing would be for him to resign, triggering a fresh leadership election, and the deputy leader would be acting Leader of the Opposition until the election was complete. If Corbyn didn't resign after losing the confidence of his party, there's no telling what would happen, but a split seems possible. However, that might well leave Corbyn in possession of the party organisation, which would put the anti-Corbynites in a curious position.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-01-08 05:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pierre-fermat.livejournal.com
The complication here is that while Corbyn doesn't really have the support of the majority of his MPs, he does have the support of the majority of the party. So the likely scenario would involve almost all of the MPs who tried to ditch him being attacked and perhaps ditched by their constituency parties.

As history-monk says, as long as Corbyn doesn't resign then he has the party organisation; but he probably would also have the vast majority of the membership. This wouldn't be quite the same as the SDP split. For instance Steve Reed, Croydon North MP and vice-chair of the blairite Progress Group, is finding that over 90% of his members support Corbyn (ninety-something % voted to nominate Corbyn after Reed told them it would destroy the Party; ninety something % told him to vote against bombing Syria so he abstained despite being vice-chair of the campaign to do it). Reed is unable to do what he wants to do without losing his seat.

Also, wouldn't it be possible that in such an odd situation, the SNP might back Corbyn, rather than allow Benn or another right-winger to be leader of the opposition? I'd guess the Speaker is going to go with whoever the majority of opposition MPs say they want.

Not particularly important, but in Feb 1974 the Queen first asked Heath to form a Govt even though he had slightly less seats than Wilson's Labour Party. I'm not sure why that happened, but there doesn't always seem to have been an assumption that the majority party will provide the PM.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-01-08 07:12 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Illuminati)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Buncha fascinating discussion of this on my journal, as you don't allow strangers to comment.

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