Call for people's jury on reform to restore faith in democracy

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Indy Politics

A campaign to remove "the stench of money and patronage" from politics after the "cash for peerages" affair will be launched today.

The Power Commission, which made sweeping proposals to revive Britain's ailing democracy, is relaunching its drive amid signs that the gulf between the politicians and public has widened since it published its report almost a year ago.

The new campaign (www.makeitanissue.org.uk) will call for a randomly-selected group of ordinary people to make binding decisions on parliamentary reforms to restore trust in politics - including a new system of financing.

The Independent's Campaign for Democracy, launched after Labour won a majority of 67 Commons seats with only 35 per cent of the votes cast in 2005, won the backing of almost 40,000 people.

Gordon Brown is expected to outline constitutional reforms this summer if he becomes Prime Minister and yesterday his allies welcomed the new push. An ICM poll for the commission found that Mr Brown (31 per cent) is more trusted to change the way democracy works than David Cameron (29 per cent). But one in five people does not trust any political leader on the issue.

The survey found that only 8 per cent of people believe their vote makes a great deal of difference to decisions by Westminster politicians, 13 per cent said a "fair amount", 30 per cent a "little" while 46 per cent thought it made virtually no difference. Seven out of 10 people felt that a citizen's jury should decide reforms to party funding and the House of Lords.

Helena Kennedy, the Labour peer who chairs the commission, said: "British politics is in crisis. Renewing our democracy cannot be left to the political class who will fix the rules in their own interest. With political leaders we have the best opportunity in a decade to force change." Baroness Kennedy told GMTV's Sunday programme that it was "significantly distasteful" that it seemed possible to "buy your way" into Parliament.

It was reported yesterday that Ruth Turner, Tony Blair's director of government relations, was arrested on Friday after detectives hacked into Downing Street computers to access e-mail records following a tip-off by a No 10 mole.

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