When witnesses appear before select committees, Hansard records their words – but not their expressions. In a blog originally posted on Democratic Audit, Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey (LSE), analysed nonverbal behaviour in 12 economic policy committee hearings, including some in which George Osborne gave evidence. In some of the hearings with Osborne, he appears to be smirking; in others, his smiles appear genuine. She argues that gestures, expressions and tone may be pivotal in whether a policymaker’s arguments are accepted.
The Westminster parliament is famous throughout the world, but often presented as relatively non-influential when it comes to making the law. Meg Russell and Daniel Gover‘s new book Legislation at Westminster is the most detailed study of the British legislative process for over 40 years, and challenges these assumptions. In a blog originally posted on the Constitution Unit, the authors summarise their findings on how different groups of actors at Westminster exercise subtle and interconnected influence, contributing to what they dub ‘six faces of parliamentary power’.
The new cohort of select committee chairs will be scrutinising the work of a weakened government, write Mark Goodwin, Stephen Bates and our PSA Parliaments Co-Convener, Marc Geddes in a blog originally posted on Democratic Audit. Nine of the 28 are women, reflecting the advantage female MPs enjoy when they stand for committee elections. The current line-up also includes some well-known figures who have clashed with their party leaderships, creating an intriguing new dynamic.
Following the early General Election, all House of Commons select committees have had to be reconstituted. Marc Geddes, Co-Convenor of the PSA Parliaments Group, looks ahead to this week’s elections for Committee Chairs.