David Cameron was accused by one of his own backbenchers on Friday night of acting in an “utterly disgraceful way” over his decision to drop legislation that would allow voters to get rid of errant MPs.
Zac Goldsmith, who has campaigned to give voters “recall” powers where 20 per cent of constituency electors sign a petition, said the Tories had “covered themselves in shame” over the issue.
He also accused the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, of failing to properly support the measure and of introducing “watered down” and “useless” legislation that could never get support in the Commons.
The Independent reported on Friday that Mr Cameron had vetoed plans to introduce a recall bill in the last Queen’s Speech before the election – effectively killing the plan.
Proposals for recall had been contained in both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat manifestos and were included in the Coalition agreement.
However Mr Cameron vetoed the Bill, fearing it would be a distraction from the Tories’ core message leading up to the next election.
Mr Goldsmith reacted furiously on Friday. “My party has covered itself in shame over this issue,” he said. “It is utterly disgraceful to make a clear promise to the electorate and then disregard it. It will rightly damage the party.”
But he was also highly critical of Mr Clegg. “It is beyond parody for Nick Clegg to pretend he has been pushing for the legislation,” he wrote in a letter to The Independent. “I know first-hand that the opposite is true.”
Douglas Carswell, the Tory MP for Clacton and a strong advocate of recall, said Mr Cameron’s move was a “disaster” and that the proposed reform was far more popular than the failed bid to bring in the Alternative Vote. He said he expected the proposal to be delivered by a future Conservative government.