Letter: Reform that is long overdue

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Sir: Andrew Marr ("The voices that may dash all hopes of reform", 19 February) illustrates why the debate about how we govern ourselves must not be left to politicians. They are - understandably, under our electoral system - preoccupied during the pre-election period with the need to impress focus groups, win over floating voters, and court the media.

Yet surveys such as the State of the Nation poll, carried out by ICM for the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, show that public support for democratic reform is strong.

People's confidence in politicians has plummeted. They want to have more of a say in decisions which affect their lives - to feel that their opinions matter more often than every five years. This means a more open and accountable government, power decentralised from Westminster, and protection for our rights in law, as well as a proportional voting system.

It is vital that there is an opportunity for the public to debate these issues with their politicians, and we hope that Charter 88's Democracy Day meetings, held just before polling day, will provide this. They could also demonstrate to the Labour Party - which can seem strangely unenthusiastic about reform - that in the voters' eyes their proposals are more than just welcome. They are long overdue.

ANDREW PUDDEPHATT

Director, Charter 88

London EC1

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