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What That Tory MP Left Out of His Weird 'Whipping' Video

Michael Fabricant has been threatened with the whip more than once.
Simon Childs
London, GB
Screengrab from Michael Fabricant's YouTube channel

Westminster nerds have been having some silly-season lols with a lighthearted video by Tory MP Michael Fabricant explaining the function of the party "whips".

Each party has "whips" who are tasked with ensuring that MPs vote the way the party leader wants them to vote. Think Selina Meyer in Veep offering to move the entire military industrial complex to a state you've never heard of in order to secure the vote of a Christian representative on some legislation concerning single parents. That kind of thing, and in the UK obviously.


"So is whipping all about discipline?" Fabricant asks, before the video cuts to him whipping someone with a shoehorn – fodder for a truly cursed gif.

"That's not allowed anymore," he sighs.

He then tells us what it's really about, with the help of some dramatisations with – is that?… I swear I recognise him… yes, it's the guy from Balls of Steel – Mark Dolan playing a principled MP, for instance, rejecting the offer of a place in the House of Lords in return for supporting the government.

"Instead it's all about gathering intelligence," says Fabricant "…gentle persuasion… and sometimes just a little bribery… well maybe not bribery with cash, but a good whips office helps keep the show on the road."

Ah yes, gentle persuasion. It's worth remembering that the last time the whips were in the news it was because Theresa May had a weekly briefing from hers about the sexual indiscretion of her MPs, in which sexual abuse was treated the same as a bit of light philandering.

"Conservative whips faced the charge that they have turned a blind eye to serial sex pests and failed to report them to the police because sexual harassment has been treated as if an MP is having an affair with another consenting adult," reported the Sunday Times in October of 2017. "In a sign of the levity with which the issue is treated, one of May's aides said the briefing was known in Downing Street as 'the ins and outs' chat."


Writing in the Telegraph after the revelations, former Tory whip Rob Wilson wrote:

“Of course senior whips in all parties also know [about sexual abuse] and they do feel obliged to discreetly haul people in to see if there is any truth in the rumours and ‘discuss career prospects’ if there is.

“However, the whipping system is neither a recognised employment disciplinary process nor a human resources department. It is designed to deliver block party votes in Parliament and will therefore protect MPs up until the point where they cannot be protected any longer. Chief whips warn, threaten and even bully MPs in an attempt to modify poor behaviour – and the notorious black book of MPs’ misdeeds does exist – but more often than not that does not end the problem, so they end up merely trying to mitigate damage to the party.

“The nuclear option for any chief whip is to ‘out’ the MP, and it’s happened more often than people think. However, it is done for party advantage not the common good.”

After Westminster was rocked by the scandal, a number of measures to tackle sexual abuse in Parliament were announced in July, including the launch of a grievance scheme.

Fabricant used to be a whip, until he was sacked in 2014 for celebrating the resignation of Maria Miller, then Culture Secretary, over expenses claims. That year, before his sacking, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown suggested that Fabricant should have the Tory whip withdrawn after he tweeted that he would never be in a discussion with her on TV as he would "either end up with a brain haemorrhage or by punching her in the throat". And when Donald Trump visited this year, Labour MP Wes Streeting wrote to the Tory whips asking what action would be taken after Fabricant tweeted a picture of London Mayor Sadiq Khan as an inflatable pig having sex with another inflatable pig.

Still, the video is top cuddly politico banter. So is this another Tory politician trying to manufacture a loveable image in order to get away with controversial statements, Boris-style?