By Zac Goldsmith and Douglas Carswell for The Sun on Sunday
WHENEVER an MP is accused of wrongdoing, we always see the same routine – politicians talk to journalists and the Westminster bubble reaches a verdict.
But the only people really qualified to judge an MP’s suitability — the voters they represent — are invariably ignored.
We have a perverse situation today where no matter how badly a politician behaves, their constituents have no tools to hold them to account.
An MP could switch to an extreme party or even take a year-long holiday and their constituents would simply have to put up with it.
Faced with yet another expenses scandal, there have been calls to give more powers to independent regulators to oversee Parliament. We agree.
But we don’t need to set up a new quango. That independent regulator already exists — the electorate.
So instead of having the Sir Humphreys in Whitehall deciding on the suitability of those we elect, how about giving local constituents the right to recall their MP via a referendum?
It’s not a new idea. Recall happens all over the world, from parts of the US and Canada to Switzerland and even South Korea.
It’s a simple concept. If enough voters sign a petition, they earn the right to have a recall referendum where voters decide if they want to sack their MP. If they succeed, there is a by-election.
Some MPs, including Nick Clegg, have argued that recall would lead to “kangaroo courts”.
But the only court is the constituency and the same arguments against recall could be used against all elections and democracy itself.
In fact, all three parties promised this reform at the time of the first MPs expense scandal. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, when it came to the crunch their commitment to democracy evaporated. Instead, the Coalition came up with a bogus proposal so far removed it wouldn’t even involve a recall vote. Instead of local people starting the process, the plan gives power to a committee of grandees — the same people under fire over the Maria Miller affair.
If this version of recall goes through, voters will have been conned.
David Cameron was at his most inspirational as a party leader before the last election when he spoke of change. He promised “new politics”.
Somehow we have lost sight of that agenda. David Cameron needs to take the initiative again, including a proposal for real recall in the Queen’s Speech in a few weeks.
It is not just the right thing to do for our democracy. It might also strike a chord with that growing number of good, respectable voters who no longer feel that those they send to Westminster are really on their side.
Conservatism is at its weakest when it allies itself with a failed status quo. The party of Margaret Thatcher and Benjamin Disraeli has always been at its best when it sides with the citizen against the state, with individuals against the establishment, with local communities against remote elites.
We Conservatives understand the importance of consumer choice and competition in business. Let’s extend that principle to the way we do politics. Give power to the people.
Bring forward real recall now!