We first set this site up in 2004, as part of an academic research project looking at the way MPs and peers voted. We hoped it would be useful for journalists, politicians, lobbyists, and members of the public interested in parliamentary behaviour. We launched it on the day of the Blair government’s key vote on student fees in 2004, which the government won by just four votes. As well as the rest of the Blair years, we’ve reported on the many divisions in the Brown years, through to the coalition – which also had trouble over tuition fees… We revamped the site in 2013, but the aim remains the same – to report on votes in Parliament. Along, occasionally, with other things that interest us, and which we think might interest you.
Votes in parliament matter in three ways. First, because of their impact on public policy. It’s rare to see a government defeated in the Commons (although they are more common than they used to be), MPs can act as a constraint on government, and on ‘free votes’, those where the party managers don’t provide instructions to their MPs, their impact is even more dramatic. Second, MPs also matter symbolically. A party’s parliamentarians are one of its most public manifestations – and parties that want to appear united want their MPs to be united. And, last but certainly not least, MPs matter democratically: if they are nothing else, MPs are representative, each acting for around 70,000 people. What do they do in our name? Knowing about parliamentary behaviour therefore informs our understanding of the political parties themselves, the practice of representation in the UK, and the role of Parliament in the 21st century.
We’re interested in all votes, whipped and unwhipped and all parties. Our main interest – just because they matter most – is on the governing party or parties, but we’re also interested in opposition parties, of all sizes. We even wrote a paper looking at the behaviour of independent MPs. So size doesn’t matter.
Over the years our research has featured in most UK newspapers as well as being used widely on TV and Radio, and journalists often say nice things about us. Feel free to take anything we publish on the site and report it. That’s what it’s there for. All we ask for, where possible, is acknowledgement of its source.
Over the years this work has drawn on funding generously supplied by the Leverhulme Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, the ESRC, as well as the universities of Hull and Nottingham. We are not affiliated to any political party and receive no money from any other sources. We’re currently without funding, which is why there may be somewhat less on this site in the coming years, so if you have any money knocking around spare, do let us know.