Meanwhile, in Britain...

A familiar noise around the mother parliament

It would seem Conservative government backbench angst transcends the Atlantic Ocean.

Yet the old way of handling backbenchers, a mixture of benign neglect and an occasional whipping, appears unsustainable. The vigour of the Tory 2010ers is no coincidence. Nor is their independent-mindedness merely a matter of indiscipline. Rather, they denote structural changes in British politics, which Parliament is lagging. The vim displayed on the backbenches reflects a move to full professionalism: until a few years ago most Tory backbenchers had second jobs, but tougher rules on disclosure have made this almost impossible. Independent-mindedness is similarly entrenched, being a response to closer ties between MPs and their constituents—partly wrought by new media—and to the ideologically-chastening reality of coalition government, which Britain is likely to see more of. “Is it a bad thing to have MPs voting for what they think is right?” asks Dr Wollaston, reflecting the view of many newcomers. “Isn’t that Parliament working well?”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.