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Pam Giddy - Time for new thinking and real reform

Posted by Eagle Eye
  • Tuesday, 3 November 2009 at 10:36 am
Britain is facing major public policy challenges. The recession has meant that our essential services face severe cuts; people are losing their jobs and homes and are struggling to repay their mortgages; climate change will require fundamental changes to our economy; and our financial system is still in desperate need of reform.

In short this is a time when we need politics and our democracy to be functioning at its best. Depressingly, as the response to Kelly has shown, it is instead stuck in a quagmire of its own making.
Far from understanding the public mood and taking the hit that Kelly and Legg have delivered, MPs are still squabbling over their second homes and the right to give jobs to their nearest and dearest. And the fact that MPs cannot be trusted to have a vote on the Kelly recommendations says it all.   Tomorrow, the same failed system shall still stand.
No wonder people are still angry. This is just a symptom of a much larger failure of politics in this country to connect to the fears, hopes and aspirations of ordinary people. Of course, MPs should take the Kelly medicine, do what is asked of them and move on to dealing with the issues that are really affecting most people in this country. But Kelly’s report does not address the root cause of the malaise.
Time after time our politicians have shown that they are neither able nor willing to clean up politics and renew our democracy. People want a genuine say about their future. 
And there’s no shortage of good ideas for rebuilding our broken politics, going far further than Kelly: in just six weeks, more than 2000 ideas have been submitted by members of the public on how they think our democracy should change at www.power2010.org.uk
One idea proposed which is gaining a lot of support is for a “recall” trigger, to give constituents the right to hold their elected representative to account in between elections. If people could have genuinely held their MP up to scrutiny, might we have been able to have put a curb on the expenses issue earlier?
Another idea submitted is for “open primaries”, to widen the pool of people chosen as our representatives and break the grip of the party whips. Alongside this, people have proposed changing how we count the votes for Westminster elections and of course holding elections for the second chamber. In fact the range of ideas submitted puts to shame the limp, half hearted measures that Labour and the Conservatives have come up with and tried to present as progress.
These ideas are not just going into a Minister’s in-tray for consideration at some point in the future.  Along with hundreds of concerned ordinary citizens who are tired of the same old Westminster politics, we are writing to the three main party leaders urging them to take reform seriously. And at the next election we will be ensuring every candidate from every party is asked to make a public commitment – a pledge – to clean up and reform politics in Britain. 
Now more than ever, it's clear that if we want to bring democratic reform to the UK, it is up to us: co-sign our letter to the party leaders at www.power2010.org.uk/notenough.  We can make change happen

Pam Giddy is Director, POWER2010 




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