Adam Smith's butcher, baker and candlestick maker were models of civic rectitude by modern standards. Not only did they have to interrupt their trade to sit on both coroner's juries and quarter sessions juries, they faced having to take a year out of work in taking their turn as Constable. The Chartists in the 1840s would have imposed a further duty on them - that of having to sit as MP for a year's term.
Annual terms for MPs, intended to rid the Commons of a permanent political class who squatted in boroughs as rotten then as Glasgow East or Witney are now, was of course about the only demand of the Chartists that was rejected. In effect, it would have given local voters the power of recall - or at least making sure they weren't saddled with a duff MP or one who failed to represent their interests for very long.
Tory MPs, at least all those whose priorities are not in the order of country, constituency, party, are running scared that their disgruntled constituents will kick them out if they follow Cameron's promises of junior office, place and favour rather than the wishes of their constituents. So they've dumped the Recall powers from the next Queen's Speech. Recall as proposed was an empty power anyway - MPs themselves would have needed to condemn their fellow member before their voters were to be permitted to do so - but still, 'bent' MPs such as Yeo would have been at risk. Too many MPs see their own position as not very different to that of Tim Yeo.
A few years ago I was in favour of the Chartists' option - or at least of limiting MPs to a single Parliamentary term - to avoid the creation of a permanent political class. Now I'm far less certain. There are MPs whose experience, ability, honesty or eloquence raise the quality of the House to the benefit of us all. Dennis Skinner and Tam Dalyell come to mind. But to ensure that we keep the ones supported by their constituents and prevent the liggers, dags and spongers from taking root we must have a power of recall.