Monday, 14 April 2014

Power of Recall will strengthen MPs

MPs are no more inherently honourable than any other cohort of the population. Thus when given the opportunity, the majority of them will steal public money if - an important if - they can get away with it. There are notable exceptions, members of exceptional honesty such as John Redwood, but such exceptions may also be found amongst the general population. They have also been subject to a party system that robs them of independence and coerces obedience through the prospect of junior ministerial jobs. Few can say, as Sir Patrick Cormack did, that "It's country, constituency, party. In that order".

IPSA, under Ian Kennedy, has its own agenda. It's part of the permanent mandarinate, committed to securing stable central power and direct rule from Whitehall, with MPs and the parties the democratic dressing that preserves the illusion of democratic participation. The people can't be trusted to take decisions in their own interest, they think, and only an omnipotent and benevolent central State can truly act in the public interest. 

Both government and the mandarinate bitterly oppose the Power of Recall. As do MPs, but for slightly different reasons. For the State, it's a tug-of-war for the loyalties of MPs; the last thing they want is members so sensitive to their electors that they put constituency before party. For MPs, it's the illusion that politics is a career, and the mistaken sense of entitlement engendered by the current system. 

However, Recall should not be a constraint that compels populism. There are times when MPs need to be free to put country first, above both constituency and party, and times when the House, though but rarely, rises above the venalities of individual members to act collectively to secure real national interests. MPs must remain delegates, not become representatives, and exercise their own conscience and judgement where required to do so without fear of being sacked. 

A strong Parliament with a Speaker of probity and stature that can truly hold government to account, a party system subservient to local interests and a State under the close control of the Commons and its committees will ensure the survival of British democracy.  

3 comments:

Mike Spilligan said...

All true, as ever, Raedwald; but - your final paragraph sounds a bit like Nirvana, and you have omitted any reference to the power of the hated (by me, at least) party Whips.

Anonymous said...

Raedwald:

'There are times when MPs need to be free to put country first, above both constituency and party, and times when the House, though but rarely, rises above the venalities of individual members to act collectively to secure real national interests.'

Securing the national interest is not the cornerstone it once was - and you can argue why that is till the cows come home. We used to elect people who were, on the whole, persuaded by their own conscience to stand for the common good. With betrayal now so common there's little hope for good, or recall.

Bring on the rope.

Steve

G. Tingey said...

If that fails, there's always ROPE ....