A few weeks ago I wrote about a new campaign to rebuild British democracy (see here).
Power2010's aim is to get all candidates - incumbent and challenger alike - to sign up to five popular reforms that would strengthen and improve the way our parliament and elections work, re-establishing the voters' power over the institutions that govern their lives.
Lofty aims. But the key phrase here is 'popular reforms'. Many campaigns have a wish list of changes they would like to see, but Power2010 looked to do things a little differently. Indeed the main reason the TPA got involved was because it genuinely seemed that people (i.e. not politicos in the Westminster village) would get the final say over what those five 'popular' reforms should be.
The first stage of the campaign was getting ideas down on paper, and back in my earlier post I asked anyone interested to go to the Power2010 website and put forward their idea for consideration. I know many of you did, and we as the TPA put forward two of our own: extend the freedom of information act; and, give voters to the power to recall their MP.
A short time ago this proposal stage was brought to a close, and last weekend a random selection of people from around the country were brought together to whittle down the many proposals to a short list of 29.
Now that short list has been revealed, and the public are invited to vote for their favoured reforms. We encourage everyone to now go back to the Power2010 website and get voting. The only way this campaign has any chance of success is if thousands get involved, making their voices heard through the poll. www.power2010.org.uk/votes
The 29 short listed proposals are:
• Strengthening select committees
• Allowing voters to vote for ‘none of the above’ on ballot papers
• Increasing the number of issues decided by free votes
• Establishing a duty of public consultation on controversial matters
• Limiting or doing away with state databases that violate individual citizens privacy and scrapping the plans for a National Identity Card
• Scheduling Election Day on a weekend
• Using public consultation to compose a stronger Bill of Rights
• Reducing the governments use of statutory instruments to bypass parliamentary scrutiny
• Allowing a special referendum on whether to remove an MP from office if enough of his or her constituents request it AND holding a fresh election to choose a new MP
• Expanding the scope of the Freedom of Information Act
• Consulting the public on the wages expenses and working conditions of MPs
• Holding a referendum on replacing the pound with the euro
• Giving MPs control of the parliamentary timetable
• Requiring political parties to practice more internal democracy
• Having compulsory politics lessons in school
• Allowing only English MPs to vote on matters affecting only England and only English and Welsh MPs to vote on matters affecting only England and Wales
• Banning members of the House of Lords from becoming government ministers
• Giving more decision making and taxation powers to local government
• Requiring full disclosure of MPs and civil servants communications with lobbyists
• Limiting the amount of money that individuals can donate to parties and candidates
• Having a parliament sit for a fixed term
• Banning retired MPs from working in private sector jobs associated with their former positions for a period of years
• Changing the electoral system to allow for Proportional Representation
• Choosing the Mayors of population centres by direct election
• Barring the appointment of former MPs to the House of Lords
• Having a written constitution
• Creating an Upper Chamber that represents different sectors like education transport and financial services
• Having a fully elected House of Lords
• Lowering the voting age to 16
Very pleasingly our two proposals got onto the short list, and needless to say we would appreciate your support for those proposals in the poll. But amongst the 29 there are many other good suggestions, not only strengthening select committees (a long time TPA aim) but also increasing the number of free votes and doing away with the state databases.
At present the five proposals topping the poll are: PR, Fixed Term Parliaments, Scrap ID cards, Written constitution and English Votes on English Laws. If you want to see something else on the pledge card by election day, get to the website and vote for the proposals you think would make a real difference to the way British democracy works today.