It has been reported that despite Nick Clegg’s pleading, his Conservative partners in Coalition have decided to scrap plans to bring in a proper recall system to enable voters to ditch underperforming Members of Parliament.
It may well be true that all the parties want to push recall under the carpet. As an MP who has championed the cause in Parliament, I will be appalled but not surprised if that’s the case. However it is beyond parody for Nick Clegg to pretend he has been pushing for the legislation. I know first-hand that the opposite is true.
As part of his portfolio, Clegg was asked to bring forward recall plans. He drafted a Bill, and it is so far removed from genuine recall that it is recall in name only. It is a cynical attempt to convey an impression of democratic reform without actually empowering voters at all. Instead of empowering voters to sack bad MPs, Clegg’s version of recall hands power up to a committee of whip-dominated MPs. It is quite simply a stitch-up.
I have challenged Clegg on many occasions to honour his promise to bring in a genuine recall system and he has been quite clear about why he won’t. First, he assured me that MPs would never back a genuine recall system. I proved him wrong when my own Recall Bill was backed by 127 MPs, and opposed by just 17. He then expressed his real concern – that under genuine recall, MPs might actually be sacked by voters. He mentioned his fear of “kangaroo courts” – or what your readers might refer to as “constituencies”, or “voters”.
Anyone in Westminster who follows this issue knows that Clegg could have backed recall, but chose not to. But to avoid being blamed for yet another broken Lib Dem promise, he has briefed newspapers that it was the Conservatives who forced him to ditch the plans.
It will of course be a disgrace for the Coalition to abandon its promise to empower voters in this way. But it is a double disgrace for the Lib Dems to collude, and to then mislead voters into believing that they had nothing to do with it. It stinks.
Zac Goldsmith MP
(Richmond Park and North Kingston, C)
House of Commons
Floods: we need a royal commission
In the light of the dreadful inundations there have been in different parts of the country we surely now need a Royal Commission on Flooding.
Sensible local plans such as the Environment Agency’s River Thames scheme need progressing too. However the problem now is clearly so great and so widespread that an authoritative body needs to be appointed to take a long look at all the many issues involved.
Peter Cunningham (letter, 14 February) is fair to make the point that we in the Thames Valley are paying the price for budget cutbacks in the current floods, as in other areas. But it’s too bad that he and others are tempted towards blame, on the basis that the Thames Valley largely votes for the governing parties, and we ought therefore to reconsider our ways and, it seems, we deserve what we’ve got.
One thing you learn when you live near water, any water, is that we are all in this together. Climate change affects everyone, each in our own ways. This is neither the time nor the issue to be injecting regional, political or other generalisations.
Parenthetically, some of us in the Thames Valley proudly live in the Socialist Republic of East Oxford, and Labour supporters, Greens, even a few Liberal Democrats, who share Mr Cunningham’s views are not unknown in other communities. We haven’t noticed that the river takes into consideration party affiliation.
How good to see two young men from the-family-The-Independent-doesn’t-mention-much filling a few sandbags.
It’s sad to see shortages of these items, and even thefts. But why should it just be local authorities and other public bodies taking responsibility for their distribution? You might have thought the insurance companies would be rushing lorry-loads to the affected areas.
We have seen, from weather maps, that the recent very heavy rain is not exclusive to Britain. What is happening in the rest of Europe? Surely at least one newspaper or news channel could give us some information, or are they just too lazy?
For years, the residents of Staines and other outer London boroughs have been ignored in local TV news bulletins dominated by the London set and the Boris Johnson Show.
Now Staines Upon Thames is headlining the national bulletins and Boris Johnson is nowhere in sight. Thank you, floods, for small mercies.
Staines Upon Thames, Middlesex
The time has surely come to dust off the quote from Ronald Firbank: “The world is disgracefully managed; one hardly knows to whom to complain.” Or should we say, blame?
Myth of a Jewish cabal in hollywood
Rankin’s suggestion that Scarlett Johansson would only choose to promote SodaStream because of a powerful Jewish zealots in Hollywood is insulting on many levels (“Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam”, 13 February). He refuses to concede the possibility that SodaStream may be a source of employment to Palestinians, with better salaries and benefits than they could find elsewhere. He perpetuates a mentality that falsely claims that a secret cabal of Jews runs the world.
Yes, we can be proud that the movie industry was mostly founded by Jews, many of them recent immigrants, who had the vision to become involved in this new medium. That being said, most of the companies they founded have been dissolved, merged, or purchased by large conglomerates with no significant Jewish base.
The final status of the West Bank has yet to be determined. But a great deal of responsibility for this state of limbo rests with Palestinian leaders who have been unable, or unwilling, to transition from the armed conflict that preceded the Oslo Accords, to the phase of diplomatic negotiations that should have followed Oslo. An Israeli company that provides a livelihood to Jews and Palestinians alike is not the stumbling block to peace that Rankin and other boycotters would have us believe.
Asheville, North Carolina, USA
A cruel trade from the dark ages
The ivory trade, subject of The Independent’s appeal and this week’s London summit meeting, is yet another of the deep gulfs between the civilised and the primitive in the 21st century.
Modern medical science cures disease and may have eliminated plague and smallpox. Dark-Age superstition advocates the magical powers of tiger bones and the benefits to male potency of rhino horns.
In Europe homosexuals are permitted to marry. In Africa they are persecuted, attacked, imprisoned and executed. England will soon celebrate the centenary of votes for women. Elsewhere women are the property of men, mutilated, humiliated, shrouded and denied education.
Magnificent and intelligent animals are slaughtered and their tusks turned into trinkets so that wealthy people can exhibit their prestige and vanity with a natural product which looks scarcely different from plastic, but significantly costs more.
Poetic talent in the twilight?
I found the article mocking the writing efforts of Kristen Stewart unkind at best (“Twilight star writes worst poem of all time for Marie Claire”, 12 February).
Poetry or prose writing takes time to master, and if Kristen hasn’t written much before, it’s unsurprising that her first efforts aren’t masterpieces. All writers, however brilliant, have written rubbish at some time or other, and many have also been victims of the hubris of the beginner.
However lacking in skill, everyone’s voice deserves to be respected (even that of famous people), and through your columns I would like to encourage Kirsten not to be discouraged. You show ’em, love!
Guilty rewarded, innocent sacked
The banks never fail to amaze with their bizarre behaviour. After all the incompetence, the “talent” in Barclays is to be rewarded again while 1,600 hard-working and innocent branch employees are fired. You don’t cost-cut by giving away £2.3bn!
This bank shows all the signs of being run by a small clique of rich men for their own benefit, with the clients, employees and shareholders nowhere in the equation. How can we stop this?