Sensible reform dropped to benefit PM’s party



U-turns, as most of us know, are far from uncommon in British politics. Sometimes they are done for the best of reasons: what seemed like a good idea turned out, on closer scrutiny, to have unintended consequences. Remember the pasty and caravan taxes from the “omnishambles” budget.

At other times they are done because politics intervenes and the Government realises it is going to alienate core supporters – even if the policy is quite sensible. A good example was the Government’s plan to “privatise” England’s forests – in reality nothing of the sort – which went down very badly with middle England. But the decision not to proceed with the recall bill fits into neither of these categories. It is a sensible idea which commands broad support from voters.

So why has it been dropped? The short answer: Mr Cameron’s fear that his own MPs could embarrass him ahead of the election.

The Tories’ Australian election strategist, Lynton Crosby, has already told the Prime Minister he must ensure that there are no “distractions” between now and the 2015 election.

The public messages coming from the party need to be disciplined and narrow: the economy (improving), crime (down), immigration (controlled) and benefits (cut).

Anything else, as Mr Crosby memorably put it, is a “barnacle” on the boat that needs to be scraped off.

And there is no bigger barnacle than recall. A lot of Conservative MPs, for personal reasons, are inherently hostile to the proposal.

They fear it will be used by campaign groups to pursue hardworking MPs on spurious grounds. They also believe it will lead to MPs facing recall motions on unproven allegations of malpractice. These fears are almost certainly unfounded, given the tight way in which the draft legislation is written.

But it will be hard for the Conservative leadership to get its MPs to support the measure. And that projects a very bad image to electorate in the run-up to 2015.

So it is far better, from Mr Cameron’s point of view, to kill the measure off now, even if that means breaking his manifesto promise and irritating his Liberal Democrat Coalition partners in the process.

But voters should see it for what it is: putting political expediency and Conservative self-interest ahead of sensible democratic reform

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul

Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living