ARTICLE: The Queen’s Speech and 12 words that insult every British voter

Buff the trumpets, polish the footmen, and marvel at all the pomp involved in pretending to be a democracy.

As the heralds pootle out a tune and the ladies-in-waiting hold Brenda’s ermine cloak, consider the fact that everything in her speech is politics.

As Phil the Greek tries to stay awake and glares at the plebs, consider the fact that Parliament has just been closed for 19 days because the government ran out of ideas.

And when the Queen peers through her thick plastic specs to announce her great reforming government will bring in a law to sack misbehaving MPs, try not to put a fist through the wall.

The Queen will say: “My ministers will introduce legislation on the recall of members of Parliament.”

At precisely the same moment, Nick Clegg’s carefully-scrubbed face will beam with self-righteousness and unimpeachable morality.

Because this is something every single party leader said they would support after the expenses scandal of 2009.

This plan was in the Coalition agreement in 2010, which said: “We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrong-doing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.”

And here we are, after four years of government in which it has conspicuously not become law and we’ve been plagued by the likes of Patrick Mercer (disgraced, resigned, golden handshake), Eric Joyce (disgraced, resigned, still in a job) and Mike Hancock (suspended after “prima facie evidence” of “unwanted sexual advances”, still in a job).

And all of whom, if we had that power of recall, might well be down the Job Centre some time ago signing on for £70 a week rather than £67,000 a year with access to subsidised beer.

We’ve also got catastrophically low voter engagement with the political process, with a 15% turnout for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, 36% for the Euros and just 65% for the last general election where everyone was so unpopular we ended up with “whoever isn’t Gordon”.

The man who runs the country today wasn’t voted into the job. He took it. A mere 36% of voters backed him and that doesn’t put him within screaming distance of a democratic mandate to, for example, hack about the welfare state.

So we need some Parliamentary reform. We need some of the turkeys in the House of Commons to tell one another that Christmas can be a time of fun and feasting.

The time is ripe, and the tide of public disdain is high. People want change.

So perhaps that’s why on February 13 the recall bill was unceremoniously dumped.

It had, as promised, given voters the right to recall a MP with a petition backed by 10% of voters to trigger a by-election.

The trouble with this is it would change stuff.

It would, specifically, switch the loyalty of MPs from their party to mainly their voters, who could yank them off the gravy train with little notice.

This would mean the party machinery – the concept of leader loyalty, voting with the whip, staying on-message to get promoted – would sail out of the window quicker than a potty full of yesterday’s crap.

And that would mean party leaders would find it harder to push through unpopular ideas like the bedroom tax, war, or increased taxes.

And in Coalition government, loyalty is in much shorter supply than rebellion.

Cabinet jobs that buy support have to go around more people, constituency associations put pressure on MPs over issues like gay marriage, and in the first three years of this Parliament Tory and Lib Dem MPs rebelled in 39% of votes.

So Dave and Nick looked at the recall bill and said to themselves: “Shit, no.”

Then they looked at their last year of government, a total lack of any ideas, and a desperate need for something they could say had cleaned up politics.

And then they reintroduced the recall bill for the Queen’s Speech, with the slight tweak that if 10% of local voters signed a petition it would trigger a meeting of MPs to consider whether to sack an MP.

You might want to read that bit again.

The new bill, so proudly announced with all the trumpets and gold twiddly bits, is going to give MPs the right to discipline MPs.

Which is something MPs already have, via the Standards and Privileges Committee, and which did such a marvellous job with Maria Miller’s expenses.

And this new bill, which will cost us taxpayers money in terms of Parliamentary time, food, heating, light, wages and clerical costs, will give them this right they already have while pretending it’s giving us that right.

This is not recall.

This is not democracy.

This is not on.

It’s like trying to stop child abduction by putting the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in charge of it.

You might as well go to London, stand at the gates of Downing Street, and laugh hysterically at every passer-by.

With this great reform, an MP will be able to take the money and never turn up at work for five years. They will be able to leave the party their voters chose, become a Communist, abandon their pledges, and commit any crime attracting a jail sentence of less than one year’s custody and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

(And FYI, less than a year’s sentence would include assaults, £12,900 of expenses fraud, getting your wife to take your speeding points, and possession of child porn.)

Ask yourself this question: If your MP found in possession of child porn, admitted it and was sentenced to six month’s imprisonment, would you want to sack them?

WELL, YOU CAN’T.

In those parts of the world where recall takes place, it does not lead to politicians being wrongly removed from office by vexatious campaigns.

They have voters who feel empowered, and politicians who have a good reason to keep their noses clean.

We do not have recall.

We do not have voters who feel empowered.

We do not have politicians who are forced to behave themselves.

We just have Nick Clegg, who has this morning used the Queen to deliver the British voter a shattering insult.

You blow trumpets about that if you can. All I can hear is a giant raspberry, and the cynical cackling of people who know they’re safe.

* Contact your MP to demand proper recall here and sign Zac Goldsmith’s petition for the same here.

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