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The sound of rebellion: voting dissent and legislative speech in the UK House of Commons


Slapin, Jonathan B; Kirkland, Justin H (2020). The sound of rebellion: voting dissent and legislative speech in the UK House of Commons. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 45(2):153-176.

Abstract

Using data on the content of debate associated with votes in the UK House of Commons from 1992–2015, this article examines how government party MPs employ language in legislative speech when they vote against the party line. We find a robust statistical association between dissent on votes and the use of first‐person pronouns, simpler language, and giving longer speeches. Using a random forest algorithm for classification, we find that these language covariates are predictive of rebellion. The use of simpler, first‐person language has implications for political representation and offers new insight into how MPs use votes to distinguish themselves from their party, perhaps reflecting attempts to connect with constituents.

Abstract

Using data on the content of debate associated with votes in the UK House of Commons from 1992–2015, this article examines how government party MPs employ language in legislative speech when they vote against the party line. We find a robust statistical association between dissent on votes and the use of first‐person pronouns, simpler language, and giving longer speeches. Using a random forest algorithm for classification, we find that these language covariates are predictive of rebellion. The use of simpler, first‐person language has implications for political representation and offers new insight into how MPs use votes to distinguish themselves from their party, perhaps reflecting attempts to connect with constituents.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:House of Commons, legislative politics, party loyalty, random forests, text analysis, sociology and political science
Language:English
Date:May 2020
Deposited On:27 May 2020 09:50
Last Modified:27 Jan 2022 02:02
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1939-9162
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/lsq.12251