Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dave the Reformer - Don't make me laugh

The idea that the Tories could deliver the major constitutional reform we need in this country is the funniest thing I've heard in ages.

Cameron's thoughts today - which, remember, aren't actually proposals, just vague commitments from the Tories to "look seriously" at certain issues - are lukewarm and unambitious to say the least.

They're going to look at considering fixed term parliaments - that sounds a fairly tortuous process for what should be a no brainer. Of course the PM shouldn't have the power to decide when to go to the country - fixed term parliaments has been Liberal and Liberal Democrat policy for decades.

Certainly any opening up of the Committee structure in Parliament is welcome, but the devil will be in the detail. Is this a genuine devolution of power or will the Government be able to control them rigidly by using their majority to reduce the effectiveness of their scrutiny.

Then there's publishing the expenses claim of public officials earning more than £150,00 - which, of course, would no include MPs. I'm sure he couldn't be quite that stupid, would he?

And giving local councils the power to re-open things like post offices sounds great, but how does that work? Will they be given money to do so? Doesn't sound like it - they will have the power to raise money to do it. From where? Is this creating a process which sounds good but in practice is completely unworkable.

I don't trust the Tories when they talk about political reform. I haven't seen anything from them that makes me think that they genuinely get the principle of empowering people.

And of course, no mention of PR at all. If he were serious about giving power to the people, that's where he should start.

In contrast, look what Nick Clegg has been saying about reform, and how he challenged Gordon Brown and David Cameron at PMQs last week. It's not like he'd had some damascene conversion, either - all the stuff he says about political reform and freedom of information has been Lib Dem policy for donkeys' years, as have the concepts outlined in the Freedom Bill we would bring in.

So, there you go, Dave, you don't have to spend any time looking at considering evaluating analysing and cogitating, ruminating and digesting as Lloyd Grossman used to say. Just take on board the long-standing proposals of a party which has empowerment and decentralisation in its DNA.

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