Almost every member in the MHoC has a party membership of one of the seven political parties: the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, UKIP, the Socialist Party, the Libertarian Party, or the Green Party. Being a member of a party can bring with it a host of bonuses including the chance to become an MP, to get a Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet position, and to be part of a smaller community. However, there are a small selection of people in the House who are not a member of one of these parties, often as they feel their political ideology is not suited to any of them. Some people may also choose to stand in elections as an independent candidate in the hope of boosting their chances of success.
Joining a party
When people first get involved in the MHoC, they may be determined to join a particular party or they may have no idea at all. If the former is the case, they can apply to the relevant party's user group straight away. If accepted, they will then have access to that party's private subforum. However, if a member is unsure which party to join, MHoC members are on hand to point them in the right direction. Set up in August 2013 by then-Speaker Jarred, the 'Join a Party' thread allows new members to share information about their political views from which members can suggest a party that might suit them. There is also a suggested form here which has the following sections: name, preferred party, social stance, economic stance, and anything else. The Join a Party thread is not purely used for this purpose though; members who already know which party they want to join may post in here to get the attention of the relevant party leader.
After applying to join a user group, party leaderships must now ask the Community Team to run a dupe check on the applicant in question to ensure that they are not a dupe (see below). This process can take anything between a few minutes and a few weeks to complete.
Leaving a party
Any member can leave a party by removing themselves from the party's user group. However, it is quite uncommon for members to do this, unless they are defecting to a different party. Some parties in the past, in particular the large ones, have opted to carry out roll calls. If a member of that party does not respond within a certain amount of time, the respective leadership removes them from that party. However, parties are carrying out fewer roll calls now as every vote in public elections could make the difference. Members may also be forcibly removed from a party. Although this is very rare, if a member causes a scandal, breaks MHoC rules or receives a lengthy ban, the party leadership may have no other option but to eject them from the party.
There are many reasons why someone might defect from one party to another but it is usually for one, or more, of these six reasons:
- They feel their political views are more aligned to a different party.
- They believe they will have a better chance of getting a seat and/or a Cabinet/Shadow Cabinet position in another party.
- They just fancy trying out a different party.
- They fall out with the people in their current party.
- A new party is created which did not exist when the joined the MHoC.
- Their current party is shut down and they are forced to move to a different one.
There have been many members in the past, and several at the moment, who have a dual membership of two parties. This is often either because their political views are shared by two particular parties or they want a trial period in a different party before defecting. By having a dual membership, they will have access to two different private subforums and will officially be recognised as a member of two different parties. However, it is rare for a dual member to have a senior position in both parties, or to be member of a party in Government and a party outside. In order for a member to obtain a dual membership, the respective party leaders and the Speaker need to give their consent. If the party the member will be joining is in a coalition Government, the other leader(s) will also need to give consent. It is almost unheard of for a member to be a member of three parties at the same time.
The Speaker will be given access to all the party subforums but they do not count as an official member of any of them and they must not leak any of the content within them. When a Speaker is replaced, they usually remove themselves from all but one of the party user groups or they are removed. ByronicHero was an exception to this however and remained as a member, albeit a relatively inactive one, of the Green Party, the Liberal Party and the Socialist Party until he began the process of re-forming the Libertarian Party in January 2017.
As per the MHoC Constitution, members are only allowed to be in one party at a time unless they have the necessary permission to be otherwise. If a member of a party creates a duplicate account in order to get access to another party subforum, they are said to be duping. If found out, someone guilty of duping could face a lengthy ban from the MHoC at the discretion of the Speaker.
There have been many instances of duping incidents over the years. Saoirsegate (see other controversies) is the most infamous duping scandal of recent times but Birkgate was also significant. There have also been cases in which people banned from the House attempt to re-join through a different account. Without doubt, Whiggygate is the most notorious example of this. Nonetheless, there are fewer cases of duping at present, mainly due to the increased use of dupe checks for new members.