What is … an early day motion (EDM)?

About time I tried to demistify some more Parliament jargon. So, attention at the back!

Early Day Motions (EDMs) are basically petitions which can only be signed by MPs. Despite the being called a motion, they are in fact almost never moved or debated in Parliament. Rather signing an EDM is a way of expressing support for a particular view.

Backbench members of the ruling party can often use EDMs to demonstrate the strength of feeling on an issue – it’s a way of warning their whips that they might rebel on an issue. That’s why EDMs on issues like student finance have been so important for rallying Labour rebels and to press for concessions.

For other MPs, they are particular useful to show the strength of cross-party support on an issue and to raise its profile.

For lobbyists, pressure groups and members of the public EDMs can be a very effective way of lobbying MPs. Asking an MP to sign an EDM sounds quite harmless (it’s a name on a motion) … but then of course the fact that someone has signed an EDM is a good stick to use if the issue comes up for debate under some other guise in the future!

If you want to see the EDMs I’ve signed visit the EDM website.