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Voters ‘duped’ by government on recall bill, say MPs



A cross-party group of MPs have come together to formulate an alternative to the government’s long-awaited recall bill, calling for voters to have the final say in the sacking of MPs.

All three of the main political parties promised to introduce a recall bill ahead of the last general election, giving voters the power to remove MPs from their post if they lose the confidence of their constituents. 

The bill was announced in this year’s Queen’s speech, but in a controversially watered down form. The initial idea was that voters could trigger a by-election if 10% of constituents signed a petition demanding so.

Under the current proposals, MPs would only be sacked if a committee of their peers agreed that they had committed a sufficiently severe offence. 

Campaigners and politicians have said this “falls far short of public expectations”, and now 21 MPs from seven parties have joined forces to put forward a “genuine” recall bill.

[The government’s proposals] don’t empower voters in any meaningful sense at all, and at the very first scandal, they will realise they have been duped, said Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, founder of the group.  

“This cross-party committee demonstrates that even if party leaders have no appetite for reform, parliament does, and I very much hope the bill we produce will make its way into law.” 

The group, which also includes the former chief whip Andrew Mitchell and ex-health minister Paul Burstow, and is chaired by former shadow home secretary David Davis, have worked with a “crowdfunded” legal team to draft new proposals.

More than 30,000 members of the protest platform 38 Degrees have clubbed together to pay lawyers to create a draft bill that is truer to politician’s original proposals. 

“Politics is broken. Real recall – the right to sack your MP – is one important step forward to improve on this,” said Becky Jarvis of 38 Degrees. 

“If we’re serious about building the trust people have in our political system, we have to ensure that these powers lie with voters, not a committee of MPs. Which is why tens of thousands of 38 Degrees members have come together to work with MPs from all parties, to make sure we get real reform.”

In a recent survey by Blue & Green Tomorrow and Vote for Policies, conducted for the Guide to Sustainable Democracy, 93% of 6,999 respondents said recall for constituencies would strengthen the UK’s democracy. Only 2% said it would weaken it.

Photo: soosalu via Flickr

Further reading:

Public split on recall of MPs, suggests YouGov poll

Zac Goldsmith on recall, the environment and his ‘issues’ with the Tories

Politicians call for ‘underperforming’ MPs to be sacked by electorate

Queen’s speech: coalition of 400 businesses calls for infrastructure bill upheaval

The Guide to Sustainable Democracy 2014


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