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Beyond the dark arts: what next for the Whips’ Office?

The Whips’ Office is crucial for achieving any government’s agenda. How has the role changed in the past and how might it change in the future?

Panellists on stage at the Institute for Government

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From little black books to pet tarantulas, MPs being dragged out of ambulances to vote and tantalising promises of ministerial office, the alleged ‘dark arts’ of the government Whips’ Office have a fearsome reputation. But in reality a government whip is an important conduit between backbenchers and No.10, while also playing an increasingly large role in supporting the wellbeing of MPs. After the election, whips will have to help a large intake of new MPs navigate the Commons – and keep an eye out for any potential ministerial talent.

Following the IfG’s recent interviews with former government whips, this event considered how the role has evolved over recent decades. What makes an effective whip? Are whipping practices fit for the 2020s? And how should the role of a government whip change in the future?

To explore these questions and more, we were joined by an expert panel, including:

  • Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael MP, former Liberal Democrat Chief Whip
  • Rt Hon Anne Milton, former Deputy Chief Whip
  • Dr Emma Peplow, Head of Oral History at the History of Parliament Trust
  • Chris White, Co-Head, Advocacy at SEC Newgate and former special adviser

The event was chaired by Tim Durrant, Programme Director at the Institute for Government.

Photos from the event can be viewed on our Flickr page

Follow us on X (formerly known as Twitter) @IfGEvents and join the conversation using #WhipsOffice

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