Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Support Drains for Power 2010

The Power2010 coalition sent an email to me saying,

“Dear Friend, We've come a long way in the past few months - but there remain some people who stand in the way of a reforming Parliament. They're the MPs who have blocked reform. They voted for ID cards and other invasions of our privacy. They opposed an elected second chamber and rejected a fairer voting system. It's time for us to stand up to these dodgy MPs…”

Yes, but what about the power pledge number four: English MPs to decide English laws? It seems odd that the three subjects highlighted include two which are entirely aligned with the Lib Dems and one that is shared between them and the Conservatives. The fifth, unmentioned one, is also Lib Dem policy.

The problem with the Power2010 coalition is that the offerings to the public and the results of the self-selecting poll are not coherent. One possibility for a major reform of UK governance, which enhances Westminster’s responsibility, is repatriating powers from Brussels to London at the next EU Intergovernmental Conference. In the Maastricht Treaty this was called subsidiary, but it never happened. This was not on offer by the Power2010 group.

The final result is a mishmash of policies: Proportional Representation (putting government in the hands of the few, not the many; pushing an agenda of back-door coalitions in place of public manifesto and a straight choice of right or left), a written constitution (an unnecessary, lawyers’ playground) and an elected second chamber (putting the new ‘Lords’ on target for democratic clash of legitimacy with the Commons) are wrong-headed but beloved of Lib Dems. The ‘English votes for English laws’ is not something that excites me, perhaps because it just requires an English Grand Committee, but is also flies in the face of the ‘left’ agenda which puts a premium on the rights and privileges of the Celtic fringe administrations at the expense of the majority, English, population – stoking up resentment in the process. Curbs on the database state and its odious ID cards are necessary and welcome.

The Power2010 exercise illustrates the problem with rule by referendum. Policy by populism, as witnessed in California or even the Today Programme, is a recipe for incoherence and irresponsible government. I may not agree with the full slate of Tory policies, but I oppose most of those from Labour and their mini-me Lib Dems. That informs which way I vote at the next election. However, if you take away policy-making from the parties, you also take away the greatest tool the electorate has when dealing with politicians – holding them to account for their actions and being able to sling them out of office.

10 comments:

  1. It's unfortunate that Power2010 didn't have the option of an English parliament available for the public vote. An English parliament was the most popular reform submitted by the public but Power2010 dismissed it during the expert consultation.

    On the positive side, at least the inclusion of English Votes on English Laws puts a bit of pressure on the Conservatives. For nigh-on ten years the Conservative Party told us that English Votes on English Laws was the answer to the West Lothian Question - under Hague, Duncan Smith, and Howard - and everyone told them it wouldn't work. But they repeatedly fobbed the English off with that lame policy, English resentment rising as they did so.

    Now, under Cameron, they have backtracked and have decided that, after-all, Scottish MPs should continue to vote on English legislation.

    Why?

    And why don't the English ever get to debate or have a referendum on how they wish to be governed, like the other nations of the UK?

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  2. Can you post the whole email?

    Pam Giddy promised that ALL FIVE issues would be presented to all parties in ALL their literature.

    Sound like they've 'pick and mixed' three of them.

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  3. The full letter, as asked:


    Dear Friend,

    We've come a long way in the past few months - but there remain some people who stand in the way of a reforming Parliament.

    They're the MPs who have blocked reform. They voted for ID cards and other invasions of our privacy. They opposed an elected second chamber and rejected a fairer voting system.

    It's time for us to stand up to these dodgy MPs.

    Click here to tell us which MPs you think stand in the way of a reforming Parliament - we may pay them a visit before the election.

    We have newspaper ads, leaflets and activists ready to roll. We just need your advice on whom we should target.

    Your ideas were the inspiration of our movement for a fresh democracy.

    Your votes were the engine.

    Now we need your input once again. Tell us which MPs most deserve a visit from POWER2010, and together we'll see they get it.

    http://www.power2010.org.uk/wanted

    Thank you, and best wishes,

    Pam Giddy
    Director
    POWER2010

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  4. And a note:


    Thanks for your enquiry,

    At this stage, we mentioned those three particular reform, but we are going to be targeting MPs in relation to "Allow only English MPs to vote on English laws" too. We will be targeting non-English MPs who have voted on English laws.


    Kind regards
    Ghazal
    POWER2010 team

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  5. I am not entirely clear why you insist that PR is putting power in the hands of the few, not the many. I certainly dislike the idea of a "party list" system, but neither the LibDem policy of STV nor the recent and belated government trailing of AV offer power to the "few", rather the reverse. The "few" are in control under the current party system simply because they are the ones who select candidates. Any widening of choice beyond "first past the post" must increase the chances for minority parties or interest groups, which I assume is what you fear, but it is ridiculous to suggest that there is some sort of straight choice between "right" and "left" in the current set-up.

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  6. "...going to be targeting MPs in relation to "Allow only English MPs to vote on English laws" too. We will be targeting non-English MPs who have voted on English laws."

    Thanks for the update Richard. I'd love to be there when they ask Brown to justify his intereference in matters that don't concern him, or his constituents.

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  7. Power 2010 is funded by the Rowntree trust.The Rowntree trust has many Lib/Dems on its board.No doubt they are under the Lib/Dem whip at all times and is why the question of an English Parliament or the EU were binned.
    This suits Cameron as well as Brown and Clegg.There should be a public debate on these issues as all the polls show the English are interested in these subjects.

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  8. Democracy is all about finding out what the "populist" opinion is, and implementing it as humanely and causing as little harm as possible.

    Unfortunately, democracy has been hijacked by the self-styled political elite.

    This is why Power 2010 and British democracy are both incoherent.

    Binning populism is dictatorship. Adapting populism is democracy.

    I hope this Power 2010 farce isn't attempted again because it is merely an extension of the detached system already in place. Some of us suspected that's what it always intended to be in the first place, a method by which the detachment of politics from the people is furthered.

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  9. That's strange Richard, my support for Power 2010 has also drained. Just as my support for your political party has drained.
    Indeed, as my support for any party that refuses the English, democratic equality with the rest of the (dis)UK has drained.
    One day maybe someone at Conservative HQ will wake up and see. You are loathed in Scotland. Irrelevant in Wales and N.Ireland. Only the English ever vote the Conservative party into power. Yet still you dismiss us!

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  10. David Heathcoat-Amory: My response to Power 2010
    David Heathcoat-Amory, the Conservative MP for Wells, follows Philip Davies and Daniel Kawczynski in responding to the accusation from Power 2010 that he is an MP who is "failing democracy".

    Power 2010 alleges that I block democratic reform and attack civil liberties. This is untrue. I have constantly stood for personal freedom, limited government and parliamentary rights against rule from Brussels.

    The Power 2010 campaign is exclusively funded by the Joseph Rowntree Trust, which has given nearly £5 million to the Liberal Democrats, and whose Director is contributing to a book called, Why Vote Liberal Democrat.

    This campaign is therefore a front for the Liberal Democrats. If the campaign was really about democracy, it would ask why some MPs and parties broke their clear election promise to support a referendum on the EU Treaty. But of course that would embarrass the Liberal Democrats, so it is not included.

    If Power 2010 really wants to reform politics, they could start with themselves, and end these negative, inaccurate and partisan attacks funded by a rich Foundation

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