How has Cameron been allowed to take the lead on electoral reform?

Dear Grandad,

David Cameron has been in the Guardian and on TV today coming up with ideas on how he thinks the British electoral system should be reformed.

It includes:

• Limit the power of the prime minister by giving serious consideration to introducing fixed-term parliaments, ending the right of Downing Street to control the timing of general elections.

• End the “pliant” role of parliament by giving MPs free votes during the consideration of bills at committee stage. MPs would also be handed the crucial power of deciding the timetable of bills.

• Boost the power of backbench MPs – and limit the powers of the executive – by allowing MPs to choose the chairs and members of Commons select committees.

• Open up the legislative process to outsiders by sending out text alerts on the progress of parliamentary bills and by posting proceedings on YouTube.

• Curb the power of the executive by limiting the use of the royal prerogative which allows the prime minister, in the name of the monarch, to make major ­decisions. Gordon Brown is making sweeping changes in this area in the constitutional renewal bill, but Cameron says he would go further.

• Publish the expenses claims of all public servants earning more than £150,000.

• Strengthen local government by giving councils the power of “competence”. This would allow councils to reverse Whitehall decisions to close popular services, such as a local post office or a railway station, by giving them the power to raise money to keep them open.

Frankly I think he made it all up at the weekend. As Alex Smith says over at LabourList, ‘Of course, the article is incredibly vague, and the language of “Want change? Vote Conservative” and “Progressive Conservatism” will always contradictory. But you have to wonder why Labour are not leading on this matter’.

Which is absolutely right. Labour needs to take the initiative on this. What do you think of Cameron’s ideas, and of Alan Johnson’s suggestion that we hold a referendum on proportional representation? And what reforms would you like to see?

Love from



1 Comment »

  1. As is the norm with the Labour Party, I’m afraid we always take an age to decide anything, and, as much as I hate to say this, Gordon is doing his best to dither again.

    By letting Cameron, and to some degree Clegg, claim the progressive crown, we as a party, and Brown as our leader and Prime Minister should be leading from the front – yet again, he has failed to do this.

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