Comment: This recall bill is an utter stitch-up
By Becky Jarvis
After years of back and forth, David Cameron and Nick Clegg used the Queen's Speech to finally announce recall legislation. But, as suspected, it's an utter stitch-up.
When recall made it into the coalition agreement, I remember being pretty excited – and so were thousands of other 38 Degrees members. It was our first campaign five years ago, and five years on we need real recall more than ever. But not this cynical brush-off.
Politics in the UK is broken and people's trust in politicians is at rock bottom. Many 38 Degrees members say that they feel no agency, they feel politicians don't listen to them, and that there is no accountability between voters and their MPs. When 38 Degrees members were asked why they thought participation in elections was failing, the biggest reason people gave was because they thought that politicians didn't represent their views adequately.
True recall, where voters are in charge and not MPs, would help with this. And the public are crying out for it. Over 160,000 members of 38 Degrees have signed a petition demanding real recall. It's not the only democratic change we need – but it's certainly a start. If we succeed it would be one of the most significant changes to our political system in years.
There is concern that recall, which would put voters in the driving seat, wouldn't work in practice. 38 Degrees members that I've spoken to are keen to avoid witch-hunts and by-elections every month. That's why they've chipped in thousands of pounds to pay for a lawyer to draft a proper bill. The lawyer is building in lots of checks and balances to make sure it could work – and a committee of MPs, led by David Davis, are going to scrutinise it to ensure it does.
The other complaints I've heard about real recall are much more sinister: that voters can't be trusted. But I agree with Douglas Carswell: he suspects that “most MPs would get a fairer hearing from their constituents than they ever would from a committee stuffed full of whips'-office placemen, under pressure from the lobby pack in full hunt mode". Why shouldn't voters decide when MP have behaved badly? As Zac Goldsmith said, "recall should not require the permission of the institution that's being held to account".
What's bizarre is that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats seem to want to take responsibility for their sham proposals. Nick Clegg has said that he had to "battle day and night to get even this modest recall measure agreed in the Queen's Speech against Conservative party resistance" and that he agreed with our concerns.
There is huge public and political will to make it happen. And Zac Goldsmith is doing a great job at convincing his colleagues to support true recall – there's already an EDM with an increasing amount of support within the House from the likes of Caroline Lucas, Douglas Carswell, David Davis, Dominic Raab, Julian Lewis, Frank Field and Kate Hoey. I think true recall is within our grasp.
Becky Jarvis is the recall campaign manager at 38 Degrees
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