Sensible reform dropped to benefit PM’s party

 

Share

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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Performance Consultant Trainee

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Consultant trainee opportunit...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - (Full marketing mix) - Knutsford

£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Knu...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder

Simon Calder
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, presides at the reinterment of Richard III yesterday  

Richard III: We Leicester folk have one question: how much did it all cost?

Sean O’Grady
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world