In 1995, the BBC showed a Michael Cockerell documentary called Westminster’s Secret Service about the role of the chief whip, whose task it is to ensure MPs attend important debates and vote as the party leadership desires. It was revealed that the chief whip kept a little black ‘dirt book’ which contained information about MPs, and this was used as a method of political control.
Tim Fortescue, who was one of Ted Heath’s whips from 1970-73, said:
For anyone with any sense, who was in trouble, would come to the whips and tell them the truth, and say now, I’m in a jam, can you help? It might be debt, it might be…..erm……erm, a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal in which, erm er, a member seemed likely to be mixed up in, they’d come and ask if we could help and if we could, we…
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