Recalling MPs

There is a general welcome for legislation to allow the recall of MPs announced in the Queen’s Speech. There is also a campaign email doing the rounds to say that the planned recall proposals do not go far enough. So today I am inviting comments on how a decent recall system could and should work.

The first issue to sort out is what is recall for? It should be a facility if an MP has behaved badly in ways which damage his work as an MP for the constituency. It should not be a chance to re-run the election in any given seat because people did not like the result. An MP who does the job should be able to do it until the next election, when people have the chance to persuade others to change the MP for political or other reasons.

The problem is how do you define bad behaviour. If the MP is convicted of murder or rape then we would all agree he can no longer represent the constituency and will go to jail. Of course there should be recall, though under the current system there would also be resignation followed by a by election in such circumstances. If an MP has to pay a parking or speeding fine then that would not presumably be a cause for them to face recall. Somewhere in between the different levels of lawbreaking lies a cut off point which the new law will enforce and lead to recall where the line has been crossed.

Bad behaviour does have to be proven. A system which allowed anyone to trump up an allegation against an MP they did not like and then force recall would create lots of by elections where the individual was innocent.

More difficult is bad political behaviour. Some constituents think an MP should face recall for breaking his or her word or reneging on promises made in an election. Tempting though this is, it could prove difficult to enforce and would probably lead to parties and candidates declining to make any promises at all that could later force their resignation.

Let us take the case of the Lib Dem promise to oppose tuition fees in the 2010 election. It was a clear promise. In the circumstances of coalition it was a Lib Dem Secretary of State who presided over the development and implementation of a tuition fee system. Should there have been 56 by elections immediately that happened, with a possible change of government and a period of instability? Or is the change of circumstance and the formation of coalition sufficient reason to change a party’s stance?

The issue also arises of who settles whether an MP or party has broken its word sufficiently to justify recall? Some say if a given proportion of an electorate demand a recall there should be one. In a marginal seat there might be 10% of the electors who feel very partisan in favour of the main losing candidate. Should they have the right to demand a re-run at the worst time for the incumbent MP?

Recall is a popular idea but the problems lie in the detail of how it would work. The fact that there has to be an election every five years at the longest means no-one is lumbered with a rotten MP indefinitely, if their neighbours agree with their judgement.

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85 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    There is a difference between Civil Law and Criminal Law. That should be one of the defining lines.

    I look upon manifestos and votes in a similar way to goods and money. You are effectively offering promises in exchange for votes. Those votes are then converted to seats, and the number of seats is converted to power. That power is used to control the purse strings. So no, I do not agree that a promise made can be broken. If you cannot live up to your word, then you should not be allowed to make it, and if you do, there should be some sort of sanction. Because you are effectively being allowed to deceive people of their vote by being able to make false promises. If I did this i normal life, an injured party would have recourse to the law.

    Politicians should be made to sign up to which part of their parties manifesto they wish to support. If they have not signed up to something, and they should not be compelled to do so by central office, then they cannot be held to account if their voting intention reflects that. I believe our kind host has, on occasion, voted either against government or abstained due to the fact that he has made promises to his electorate (citation needed).

    There could be room for both national and local manifesto’s. National manifesto’s could come with a different set of rules and sanctions. A local, parliamentary candidate manifesto, could be used to show his or her voting intentions on both national and local issues. It could argued that this could form the basis of some sort measure against which a recall system could also be used.

    Finally, I do believe that MP’s should be investigating MP’s. We long ago recognised that it would be better that, the Police should not be investigating the Police so, I feel that there is room for improvement here. An independent board made up of 1 too 3 Judges or QC’s, perhaps with Police involvement for serious allegations where misconduct has been said to be shown.

    But all too late, as always. Those pushing this, probably will not be around post 2015 GE anyway.

    • Hope
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      This was another government fudge by the Tories and Lib Dems. The government has been keen to reform all other bodies ie press, banks, energy companies, police etc. quite vindictively. Claiming self regulation is not acceptable. However in stark contrast self regulation only exists for MPs and the latest fudge exemplifies this.

      IPSA is a sham. The police should investigate wrong doing in the first instance and then internal discipline take place. This happens in every other organisation. Look at the current disgraceful situation with the Chilcott inquiry. We have a former PM who has deceived parliament and the public to take the country to war. People lost their lives and some permanently injured for life. What can be more serious than this? Michael Meacher’s blog makes some very sensible comments about this. Yesterday a new offence was being launched for police corruption, MPs are no different they are in a position of trust. Huhne 8 weeks prison sentence for perverting the course of justice! Some cases not referred to the police or CPS for review. Ministers back in cabinet after a year away. How many times did Mandelson resign before he was allowed back?

      Last week we had Cameron saying Mercer had let people down in his constituency. If Cameron had exercised leadership and took action to raise standards in parliament, as promised by him in unequivocal terms, Mercer might still be in office. It was Cameron’s failure to act on his own warnings that led to Mercer being caught out.

      The real scare is what if there is a small majority and some MPs were recalled by the public. Democracy will not be allowed. MP careers are seen to be too important.

      A panel of lay members from the public or magistrates could be the discipline panel for MPs with the authority to refer to the police or internal discipline, not sham MP committee or old boy network called IPSA.

    • Mockbeggar
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      With regard to signing up to the party manifesto, the fact that the Lib Dems allowed the government to charge tuition fees doesn’t mean that they won’t vote to abolish them if they ever get the chance (i.e. in partnership with the Labour party). It simply means that they had to postpone their objection (a daft one in my personal view) in order to join the Coalition. They in turn have prevented the Tories from doing all sorts of things that they would like to have done had they had an absolute majority.

      Reply The Coalition Agreement allowed the Lib dems to abstain on the tuition fees vote and to avoid offering any support for the policy. Instead Vince Cable designed. promoted and 3 line whipped the fees policy!

  2. Old Albion
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    It’s a tricky one JR. I think MP’s should be recalled for milking the expenses system. But that would leave Westminster almost deserted.

  3. lojolondon
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    All valid arguments, John. Therefore the government should have made those arguments, and not promised recall.

  4. matthu
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    The governments proposal is that that the trigger for any recall mechanism remains safely in the hands of parliamentarians and local people will only be allowed to vote to confirm what political insiders have decided. It is probably that the parliamentary deliberations would remain secret.

    This would not have worked well in the recent case of the member for Basingstoke who was allowed to remain as Culture Secretary.

    Let us take a not entirely hypothetical example an MP who almost never turns up in the House of Commons. His consituents may decide that they have a reasonable expectation that he (or she) does attend the House of Commons.

    His behaviour is hardly likely to be brought to the attention of a parliamentary committee unless his constituents are driven to action, so clearly we cannot allow a parliamentary committee to act as gatekeeper here to whether constituents have a right of recall.

    However, once a sufficient number of consituents have demonstrated e.g. through a petition or the like that they would like to recall their MP, it is proper that a parliamentary committee could decide whether the cited behaviour that has given rise to the petition meets a standard expected of MPs.

    I would argue that this would be a fairly low hurdle and one that could normally be judged on a fairly objective basis. In the example I have cited, the committee could judge whether never attending the House of Commons met the standards of behaviour reasonably expected of an MP.

    For example, there may be extentuating circumstances in which case they may decide that good behaviour was not lacking, and they would deny the recall. An important factor would be that the decision and the reasoning behind it would not be made in secret.

    Refreshing, really.

    In the case of a marginal seat where the losing party tried to obtain a right of recall, committee would act as a brake by denying this right in the absence of any bad behaviour.

    Reply Mrs Miller resigned from her post as Culture Secretary.
    I do not recall any case of an MP being absent for a long period. An MP who belonged to a main party would be told to turn up, and would lose the whip and the right to be that party’s candidate in the folowing election if they refused to attend.

    • Hope
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      How about Gordon Brown? How many times a has he turned up since he left office as PM? How many times has he voted?

    • matthu
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Mrs Miller resigned from her post as Culture Secretary – but only after a parliamentary committee had already decided that there was no need for her to do so?

      On the question of an MP being absent for a long period, I believe that it is a very rare occasion indeed for our previous PM to grace the HoC with his presence? In fact he is very open about not wanting a backbench role in the HoC.

      I am not suggested that he should necessarily be recalled, but if sufficient numbers of his local constituents felt agrieved by his record and felt that this fell below the standards they might ordinarily expect of an MP in parliament then I feel they should have the opportunity to recall him.

      If a parliamentary committee judge that attending the HoC is not something one might reasonably expect of an MP, they could prevent it going as far as a by-election.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 14, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        How on earth did Cameron and the parliamentary committee come to such an idiotic decision. Did we ever get to see their odd reasoning?

    • Old Albion
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      Reply
      I do not recall any case of an MP being absent for a long period. An MP who belonged to a main party would be told to turn up, and would lose the whip and the right to be that party’s candidate in the folowing election if they refused to attend.

      Does this rule apply to the MP for Kircaldy and Cowdenbeath ??

    • Roger Farmer
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Have you so swiftly forgotten Gordon Brown who is invariably conspicuous by his absence.

    • Mark
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      How often do you see the previous PM in Westminster? Of course, it is a matter for the citizens of Kirkcaldy and Fife as to whether they feel that they are adequately represented. I also recall that the late Sir Stuart Bell spent a lot of time in Paris in his latter years, and became renowned for neglecting his constituency:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2034920/MP-Stuart-Bell-held-surgery-14-years.html

    • alexmews
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      hi John. I think the example of the above that I can think of is Gordon Brown, MP. I don’t have his attendance and voting record to hand – but he did state as recently as yesterday that he was ‘not interested in getting involved in front line politics…’ which suggests he is in the wrong job right now as an MP. I don’t know if his constituents are pushing for a recall but if he were my MP; I would be pushing for it.

    • Observer
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Gordon Brown?

    • Paul Greenwood
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      how about a certain MP representing Kirkaldy ?
      not known for his appearances in the HoC

      According to Theyworkforyou.com Mr Brown has spoken in four debates and asked 19 written questions over the last year, and has voted in 12.56% of the divisions, so it is not true to say he never comes to the Commons.

    • Qubus
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      I was under the impression that one G Brown was and is a very infrequent attender at the HOC.

    • APL
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      JR: “I do not recall any case of an MP being absent for a long period. An MP who belonged to a main party would be told to turn up, and would lose the whip .. ”

      Ho ho!,

      I guess it all turns on when such an MP would actually be told to turn up or lose the whip?

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-14847291

  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    “Recall is a popular idea”.

    Popular with whom exactly? Now that the two major parties are slowly shrinking into tiny pressure groups, who, exactly, is interested? The days when a silly remark could be picked up instantly by the local Conservative Club/Labour Office and relayed back to the MP by the Party Manager are long gone.

    The internet perhaps? Hand it to the Trolls? Please don’t.

    This is a smart idea thought up by Zac Goldsmith, who ought to know a lot better, and reined in by the Civil Service, who are smart at ruining “courageous” ideas. I do not think it is something which the man in the Pub (now forbidden to smoke and forced to miss out because of the prices) is talking about much.

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Mike,
      I think you make a good point when you ask with whom it is popular.
      In my opinion, the news media drives the agenda these days. They appear no longer to be happy to just report the news, they seem to want to make the news and drive the news.
      I often wonder when I hear on the news channels, that this or that is being called for, or this person or that person should resign, or so and so should apologize etc, who is driving this? When it is reported that this person or that, has been “forced” to apologize about something or other, what is that apology really worth? I think its akin to a young child being forced to say sorry.

      In the past, the people decided whether party policy was right or wrong but now, the political media decides for the people and because they have control what the people are told or not told, they have too much control over the parties. I feel that the relationship between the news media and politicians has become far too close and cozy to be healthy for the population of this country. If a politician whats to implement something, he almost needs to get it approved by the political journalists first before it has any chance of being reported as a good thing to the electorate.

      Personally, I think it would be difficult to put in to place a right of recall which does not allow political activists in marginal seats to, as John puts it, re-run the election. Sadly, because too many politicians are self centered career politicians, doing it for personal gain, rather than out of a sense of public service or duty, they tend not to resign, like our politicians used to when they took on their roles for the right reasons. This means that we do need some kind of re-call mechanism other than a vote every five years but, how that right of recall should or could work, I don’t know.

  6. Nick
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    If an MP has to pay a parking or speeding fine then that would not presumably be a cause for them to face recall.

    ============

    Why not? You passed the laws. If you cannot behave according to the laws you impose on others, it strikes me you should go.

    You could of course, remove the laws that are only for the little people, and therefore be protected.

    On manifestos, there are two issues. Saying one thing to get elected and doing something else once in power. Lib dems are one example. Telling people you include pensions in the accounts is another isn’t it John? Right of recall? You bet.

    Similarly, why shouldn’t we have a recall vote if you do something that isn’t in your manifesto? Just as valid as you changing your mind.

    • APL
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      Nick: “You could of course, remove the laws that are only for the little people, and therefore be protected. ”

      I see the BBC are desperately trying to rehabilitate Chris Huhne & Co. After serving time and being let out early ( thanks to his establishment connections ), he was back on the BBC ( as brazen as you please), daily politics show. I dare say picking up a nice fat appearance fee.

      His ex wife has just been released (early) too, from her sentence. Is back ‘advising the government’ on economic policy.

  7. Nick
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Notice the 5 year bit. We want to rule for 5 years. Even if we have lost the support of the electorate.

    The electorate are wrong for wanting something else.

    Look its democracy. The electorate can and will change their minds. They should have the right to exercise the right to change their minds and not be denied by the likes of you who want to be on the payroll without control.

    The issues are.

    1. MPs telling us that you will do something and not doing it.
    2. MPs not telling us what you will do.
    3. MPs doing something we find unacceptable. From expenses fraud, paying back over claimed [still fraud], to shagging their secretaries, using prostitutes, being racist. What ever, its the electorates choice if they want to remove you.

    Clearly MPs don’t want that control, because they want the rules to apply to the little people and not to themselves. Why for example are my expenses subject to HMRC investigation but you are exempt?

    4. Marginal constituents have more say

    5. Small constituents have more say.

    6. Labour voters in a Tory seat have no say. [and vice versa etc]

    7. Our circumstances change. Why cannot our votes?

    ===========
    The fact that there has to be an election every five years at the longest means no-one is lumbered with a rotten MP indefinitely, if their neighbours agree with their judgement.
    ===========

    No. You have claimed that because the Tories got the largest number of seats that is a vote for your policies.

    Now you are saying to people, look if you want to get rid of me, vote Labour. Go ahead, shoot yourself in the foot, but I’m going to carry on troughing or any other unacceptable behaviour.

    So a recall vote, do you want X as an MP, yes or no is a vote purely about the rotten MP or not. If its No, the MP is out and then you have a by election. That then is about the issues.

    Of course you want to combine the two. The reason is back to the would you cut your own arm off to get rid of the MP problem. It’s in favour of the MP.

    Reply MPs are beneath the law like everyone else and where they have defrauded the taxpayer they have been prosecuted. MPs also have to fill in a special tax return which examines all their expenses under the normal law on expenses.

    • Hope
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      No they are not. Most are not referred to the police.

    • JoolsB
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply:-
      With the odd exception John, they haven’t gone to prison though which is what would have happened to those of us in the real world found deliberately defrauding the taxpayer.

      Reply Those who did deliberately defraud the taxpayer have been tried and punished.

      • APL
        Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        JR: Those who did deliberately defraud the taxpayer have been tried and punished. ”

        At least you didn’t trot out the ‘within the rules’ excuse. It is meaningless when the rules are so lax that you could fly a Boeing 777 through the rules and not touch the sides.

      • JoolsB
        Posted June 11, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply-

        The reason only a handful went to prison is because the rest of them could say they were acting within the rules, rules which MPs themselves made and which in any other walk of life would be classified as fraudulent. How many flipped in order to pocket as much as they could from the taxpayer and then flipped again in order to cheat the Inland Revenue out of thousands of pounds worth of capital gains tax?

        • Hope
          Posted June 15, 2014 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          A policy decision would have been taken on which cases would be investigated by the police. The systemic corruption w so large it would have resulted in a full blown inquiry in any other organisation. The numbers so large it would have caused problems for the government/ parliament to function properly.

      • Excalibur
        Posted June 12, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

        I recall during my days as a colonial policeman a young police subaltern who had a small discrepancy in his holding of petty cash. He was tried, convicted and imprisoned for two years within twenty-four hours.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Well you can indeed be lumbered with a rotten MP almost indefinitely. Five years is a long time and the only alternative to getting them out might well be even worse. As for example with Cameron and Miliband.

    The whole idea of voting for candidates (selected by the parties), on a first past the post system, once every five years, on a huge basket of issues, when most will not do what they promised anyway is not democracy in any real sense.

    It is rather like doing your supermarket shop by choosing which of two or three (party pre-selected people) that you send to the shop – but not being allowed to give them a binding shopping list.

    Having only one vote for a party that you think might most closely give you the policies you want, only to find a few days after the vote that they rat on IHT, increase 299+ taxes, want more EU and uncontrolled immigration, more endless green crap subsidies, introduce new daft gender insurance and employment laws, endless daft regulation and run an appalling NHS and education system. Is not at all satisfactory let more to a more Swiss type of system.

    Once in power most MPs respond to party, not voters, as the party are what keeps them in the seat.

    The more power the people get the better, they cannot surely make decisions much worse that the politicians have managed. We certainly would not have been in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan for a start.

    I suspect that a random selection of voters by lottery for decisions would produce far better outcomes. There is however the danger in democracies that one lot of voters would just vote to help themselves to the assets of others. 99.9999% might perhaps think is a good idea to help themselves to assets of the multi millionaires but that would be harmful.

    The removal of the odd rotten apple is not really the main problem but the current castrated proposal that gives MPs the power to to block such recall is absurd, just as one would expect from Cameron.

    What about the convicted crooks (party place people and Bishops) still in the Lords too how do we get rid of them?

    Reply I do not think any Bishop is a convicted crook!

    • JoolsB
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      They also ratted on their manifesto promise to address the disgusting and insulting practise of 117 Scots, Welsh & NI MPs voting on English only matters, something that would have gone half way to restoring some fairness and democracy to England and also would have given the Tories a better chance of winning a majority in 2015 – idiots!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      I meant crooks and party place people and Bishops. I was not suggesting Bishops were convicts in general.

      Having said that I still find it hard to believe that Bishops themselves can believe all the contradictory, unbelievable nonsense they constantly come out with. Why are they there? I suppose they often amuse anyway me with their half baked thoughts anyway.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      I suppose the real problem is the current shower of MPs get to fix the rules in their own party/personal interests for the next shower. There is no sensible control mechanism so the system is always likely to veer off the rails, leaving voters largely powerless. As currently with the EU sell out and the West Lothian problem.

    • David Hope
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      I like your supermarket analogy. As I wrote in another post here I am weary of being told to be grateful for having 1 tiny vote every 5 years that must cover everything from the army, to speeding fines to education policy.

      We should be having far more votes on different topics at local and national levels.

      Surely recall by constituents is a very minor improvement to give constituents a tiny bit of power over THIER representative

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 11, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        Indeed in the age of Twitter and apps coming out of our ears we could express our opinions on several things every day.

        We would not have had the pointless wars (how is Chilcot getting on how many more years), we would have killed HS2, not be in the EU, stopped the daft wind farms and PV subsidies, had no Millennium Dome, no Homeopathy etc. on the NHS, no ECHR ……

  9. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    I assume a Code of Conduct exists and signed up to? Perhaps not an original requirement but is necessary now due to those of a lesser quality in the political trade. Includes SPADs and related.

    I suspect the likes of the MOD manuals have been burnt?

    If the manifesto is compromised then that needs to be dealt with by the party organisation and those that voted.

    I used to think of the behavior of those in Westminster, viewing it as I did from other countries, and had the arguments about how an MP’s should or should not conduct themselves. My problem was that I tended to view it from a military experience, but was surprised how weakly conduct was viewed. Almost anything goes I thought. Its the group think now that currently surprises me…..!

  10. A.Sedgwick
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    If an MP doesn’t vote personally in 75% of divisions each year, pairings don’t count.

  11. Roy Grainger
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    John – I return to a familiar theme of mine – it is as if we are inventing a recall system in a vacuum – they are other countries which have a recall system, let’s find out who they are and what their experience has been and what they see as the pros and cons of their system and then choose the best or adapt the best for our purposes – we do not constantly have to re-invent the wheel.

  12. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood you raise valid points over the criteria and numbers required for recall procedures.

    That recall is desired by many is tied to the lack of decency within many of the political elite and their obvious craving to extract as much personal gain from their tenure. Instead of using their own moral compass to guage wrong doing and resign we are treated to claims that their actions were within the rules when it is apparent that those rules were not meant for that interpretation.

    It is a shame that many who seek office are of a type who should not have office.

  13. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    If a recall bill is to be worth the paper it is written on then the power to do so must rest entirely within the hands of the electors within the constituency.

    The number of signatures required is going to be a high enough hurdle to prevent everything but the most substantial cases from achieving it.

    Even in a marginal constituency, it does not follow that those who voted for a loosing candidate would sign a recall petition. And we should bear in mind that every winning candidate promises to represent every constituent, not just those who voted for them, so everyone should be equally entitled to have their voice counted as to recall.

    The MP’s response to the expenses scandal shows what an ineffective, costly and bureaucratic organisation they think is the right way to deal with the matter, and the last thing we want is more of the same with recall.

  14. Matt
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    If there are to be standards for MP’s, it would have to be judged by a cross-party committee, but still it would risk becoming another political tool for partisans rather than being used for its intended purpose. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the opposition call for the resignation of a minister when they can’t honestly believe that it is justified.
    I don’t trust independent bodies, so I’m not keen on one of those either. Independent translates in my head to unaccountable.
    Standards would, I hope, include parliamentary attendance and participation, and availability to constituents; as well as behaving decently. My employers expect this of me, so why should the electors not expect it of the person they employ to be their MP.

    It’s a fascinating idea, not sure it’s really useful. If a party refuse to deselect a bad MP, elections do not guarantee the removal even of an obviously bad MP as there are great swaths of electors who will vote for the same party come what may. I’m willing to bet that in some constituencies, the incumbent party would win even if it were their policy to set the electors on fire.
    I think a much more useful reform would be the introduction of primary elections, that way there would still be competition for job of MP for a constituency which never changes party. Competition almost always improves standards.

  15. acorn
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    British Columbia has a Recall and Initiative Act. http://www.elections.ca/res/eim/article_search/article.asp?id=107&lang=e&frmPageSize=20 .

    Unfortunately, Westminster would never pass an Act like this; far too modern and democratic. It would be a serious threat to a career politician in any of the legacy parties.

    • Mark
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      Interesting that only one attempt resulted in a resignation – in a case that seemed well justified, with the rest failing to attract the necessary support to force the issue, and particularly those attempts that were motivated by politics rather than competence, diligence and honesty issues.

  16. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    My view is fairly simple: when constituents vote in an MP they are awarding that person a contract for a maximum term, but there should be a mechanism whereby they can unilaterally bring about the early termination of that contract if they so wish.

    At present any MP can unilaterally terminate his contract at any time he pleases, and MPs can collectively bring about the early termination of all their contracts by agreeing to an early general election, and I believe that MPs can collectively insist on the early termination of the contract of one of their number by his expulsion, and of course death can intervene.

    But the people left out of all this are those who first awarded the contract to the MP, his constituents, and that should be rectified.

    And it should be properly rectified, in a way which means that the MP’s constituents collectively have a unilateral power of early termination of their contract with the MP, just as their counterparty to the contract has a unilateral power of early termination, without needing permission from anybody outside the constituency to do that and without having to prove any grounds for doing it except to each other.

    I haven’t read the most recent proposals from the government, but I assume that they will still deny electors in a constituency the unilateral power to force a fresh election so that they can choose a new representative if they wish, and instead make that contingent upon permission from a group of MPs elected in other constituencies.

    So what has it got to do with those MPs elected in other constituencies if an MP’s own constituents want to get shot of him? Should they not mind their own business and concern themselves with their respective relationships with their own constituents, rather than interfering in the relationship between another MP and his constituents, no doubt usually to protect their colleague from those he is supposed to represent?

    My preferred system would be very straightforward, and unlike other suggestions it would not involve permission from other MPs and it would not involve several steps – if enough registered voters in a constituency sign a petition saying something like:

    “We, the undersigned, being greatly dissatisfied with the conduct of our present elected representative in Parliament, A. B. C., demand and require that he immediately resigns from that position so that a fresh election may be held.”

    then that is what should happen, by law, and without any outside interference.

  17. Iain Gill
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Why does the burden of proof have to be so high? The rest of us get prosecuted for going through a red light or into a bus lane perfectly safely in order to let an emergency vehicle through, no chance of us doing anything but bow down to the great camera scam. We are guilty when the state decides, anyone who resists will be broken with a massive fine and even more disproportionate number of points.
    Why security of tenure? Even in a permie job nobody in the real world can bring an employment tribunal case if they are terminated with less than 2 years service. In the land of temporary contracts no recourse at all ever.
    I would like to see recall for MP’s who are openly lying, saying one thing to their constituent one on one and another in parliament when it comes to the crunch, or acting as simple lobby fodder and failing to represent their area properly. Not necessarily massive crimes.
    I would like it to go further I would like the public to be able to kick out senior public sector and quango workers. People appointed on the nod from friends in their social circle with little appropriate background, and so on. There are quite a few obvious examples.
    How would recall work? It’s got to be realistically achievable by ordinary people or it’s worthless. Probably a petition with more than half the number of people who voted at the last election from people in say half a dozen council wards in wards that voted for different parties at the last election? Something as simple as that?
    On the other hand anything we can do to protect those who are not independently wealthy would be good, we need to encourage more people who depend on their wage packet to stand for election. I would give better transition payments to anyone deselected without family trust funds or private wealth etc.

  18. Gina Dean
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Why stop there what about the house of lords, they definitely seem above the law.

  19. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Your colleague Douglas Carswell articulated the situation eloquently: “For far too long, politics in Westminster has been done for us by a clique of career MPs, most of who come from “safe seats”. Secure in the knowledge they can only be sacked if they lose the party whip, most MPs tend to answer primarily to other MPs. Politics in SW1 has thus become a game played by politicians and pundits, without much reference to the people…..The SW1 gang, terrified of the implications of letting the people back into politics, will ensure that the trigger for any recall mechanism remains safely in their hands. Local people will only be allowed to vote to confirm what political insiders have decided……It is a sad reflection of our political system today that so many in Westminster balk at the very idea of allowing their electorate to make that kind of decision.”
    I sense a lack of enthusiasm on your part for recall. Those pesky voters are only of interest every 5 years, heaven forfend that they be given any more influence. Trust the people and put people before party. Do not create an illusion of accountability that is unreal – but I fear you and your colleagues will.

  20. oldtimer
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    The decision on recall should be a matter for the constituency electorate – not other MPs.

    The threshold needed to trigger a recall should be set as a percentage of the constituency electorate – say 15% – as measured at the previous general election. As a rough rule of thumb that would equate to about 25% of those who actually bothered to vote (assuming 60% turnout).

    There should be no other ifs, buts or qualifications about the right to recall. No doubt there would be malicious or politically motivated attempts to achieve a reall vote. But are these likely to succeed? The electorate (or those that bother to vote) are shrewder than some seem to think. Publicity should be able to expose such motivations for what they are. To guard against such motivations and party political manipulation, postal votes (which are open to manipulation and have been shown to have been manipulated) should not apply either to demands for recall or for any consequent elections. Indeed it is about time the postal voting rules were reformed to prevent such manipulation.

    The UK democratic process has been neutered over the years. What we are left with today is little more than a sham. The right to recall offers the chance to restore some power to the electorate.

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    There a lot of comments about bad behaviour by MPs in terms of their expenses and their personal relationships, but those are small matters compared to what the Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs did over the Lisbon Treaty. Saying that if you’re unhappy with your MP then you can vote him out at the next scheduled election does not really address such cases where MPs break their word and vote through something of major importance which then becomes extremely difficult to reverse. I’m pretty sure that if there’d been a proper recall system in place back in 2007 then we would not now be subject to the Lisbon Treaty. Just the knowledge that if they voted against putting that treaty to the promised referendum they would be exposing themselves to immediate recall by their constituents would have swayed enough of the Labour MPs to insist on a referendum before agreeing to that treaty being approved by Parliament and ratified.

    • Mark
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      I think the largest petition to No 10 remains that against monitoring of road movements by satellite and the imposition of road charging.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 12, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        I believe so, but with 1.8 million signatories gathered from across the whole country that would average out as only 2800 per constituency, nowhere near enough to trigger a by-election if the recall threshold was set at 10% of registered electors, over 7000 validated signatories.

    • matthu
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Ratting on boundary changes would be another reason for recall!

    • Excalibur
      Posted June 12, 2014 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      How about destroying our identity as a nation by a deliberate policy of uncontrolled immigration, Denis ?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 12, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        I think that’s also covered by “something of major importance which then becomes extremely difficult to reverse”.

  22. Roger Farmer
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I could not help but laugh at the prospect of engineering a recall on the subject of broken promises. The HOC would take on the aura of a Paris whore house on the day of liberation. It is a basic characteristic of all political parties, not least your own, that promises in manifestos are only good for tomorrows chip paper. The building would be more akin to a railway station concourse than the debating chamber it is.

    Primaries, a great idea and long overdue. Constituents deserve the candidate of their choice, not a product of school, university, Westminster gofer, and a parachute into a safe seat. The gratitude of such MPs to the party machine results in two thirds of the Conservative party plus the whole of Labour and Lib/Dems denying the electorate the referendum they have demanded on the EU for years.

    Bad behaviour that leads to a jail term is a definite exeat. Crimes that have been created as another form of taxation such as parking, and speeding do not rate high in my judgement until said person rights off a bus queue while well over the limit. The there is the bad behaviour much loved by the Sun and the old News of the World. Who MPs cavort and sleep with does not matter that much unless it prevents them looking after their constituents. It is difficult to expect MPs to be holier than the people they represent, and perhaps a bit of naughty behaviour makes them more human. Whether they stay or go is a matter of degree.

  23. Ale Bro
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    The only real judge of an MPs bad behaviour is the electorate. Surely the hurdle of gathering the support of 10% / X% of the electoral roll is a sufficient test of bad behaviour? Gathering that many signatures is a difficult undertaking, and would need significant local support.

    There are many scenarios which could garner antipathy for an MP, for example an MP in a rural constituency voting against legislation which improves life for farmers, or an MP who has consistently lied to his electorate to get elected, or an MP who refuses to fight for a local hospital. None of these examples are of illegal behaviour, and so would not pass the committee.

    In fact, if the committee system is in place, any recommendation for recall would be the kiss of death for that particular MP. Why not just short circuit the will of the people and allow the House of Commons to vote to expel any member it feels like?

    There is a complacency amongst MPs who believe that democracy in the UK is perfect. Witness Gove’s inclusion of democracy in his list of British values. However, there has not been any acceptance of the fact that democracy can be improved, and direct democracy is one way of achieving this. There is a huge reticence amongst politicians to try and increase the level of democracy in this country.

    This issue shows that MPs are scared of the electorate, and I do not believe that this is a healthy state for any relationship to be in.

    Incidentally, would the speaker be subject to recall? At the moment, the constituency which has the misfortune of having the speaker as MP are denied a full time MP, and the main parties do not even contest the speaker’s seat. This is a great example of the democratic deficit that all the political parties are comfortable with. I am not sure that the same can be said for the electorate.

    Reply The Speaker is an attentive and diligent constituency MP who can respresent his constituents well in the same way that a senior government Minister does, through private correspondence and meetings. Anyone is freee to contest the election in the Speaker’s constituency. UKIP did and came a poor third I seem to remember, losing not only to the Speaker but also to a pro EU and pro Euro candidate.

    • Ale Bro
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      That’s a cheap shot at UKIP.

      It is true that anyone is free to stand, but the main parties collude in a cartel like arrangement not to stand against the Speaker. I don’t see any democracy in that.

      In business, this type of behaviour is illegal.

      Do you think that the proposed recall measure will exempt the Speaker?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 12, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Worse than that, they colluded in putting up a so-called “independent” candidate with the purpose of denying UKIP the second place. But now they will have to start colluding to deny UKIP any first place.

  24. Douglas Carter
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    …’.. it could prove difficult to enforce and would probably lead to parties and candidates declining to make any promises at all that could later force their resignation.’…

    I’m reminded of comments made by John Prescott some years back with regard to the nature of the national strike held by the Fire service. He attempted to null their campaign dispute as groundless partially on the basis that ‘for every individual Fire service employee, there were forty-five applicants’. (I paraphrase – I don’t see a need to link to a report but my memory is telling me that was essentially the argument put forward, and that the figure used is representative of the claims made by Prescott).

    On those grounds, it would be reasonable to overlook any particular difficulty claimed by Parliamentary Candidates on the basis that across the party take and independents, there will usually be considerably greater numbers of potential candidates willing to accept the complications and difficulties saddled on MPs under a more demanding system. (I’m taking it from Prescott’s stance Mr. Redwood – I make no inference you would agree with his expressed sentiment..).

    Take the classic case of the Lisbon Treaty and Labour’s promised referendum over the Constitution. At the point that it was realised internally that the referendum could not be won, the referendum was withdrawn on specious grounds that the ‘Constitution’ was not the same thing as ‘the Treaty’. (A claim now actually believed by around nine remaining people on planet earth). It became very clear the fudge was a specific action against manifesto commitment. However, that commitment was originally made to kick the debate into the long grass. It was an intentional falsehood to remove public scrutiny through representatives which would fundamentally change the nature of their democracy, and the representation those MPs would possess from the signing of that treaty onwards. Essentially the MP post itself any Constituency electorate were permanent custodians of in 2005 was not the same presented to them in 2010. The Government of that time wilfully presented a false prospectus to delay or evade proper democratic accountability on the matter. When a Government intentionally lies to the electorate – and the system in place permits it, and then that Government essentially enters a process of publically gloating they misused Parliamentary process to do exactly that (as Peter Hain and Keith Vaz did a’plenty) then that cannot be seen as acceptable.

    I don’t have a lot of sympathy with notional points which seem to conflate ‘difficult’ with ‘insurmountable’. Many of the policy anomalies and concealed horse-tradings are children of the tribal, party-partisan culture that is not something to which the electorate can give influence and certainly to which should not fall second-fiddle. (Or third, or fourth, for that matter….). It’s clear from recent ‘histories’ of the New Labour years that the voters were a distant consideration of many influential figures in senior Party positions, or senior non-elected administrative positions; who used the privileges of office to perpetuate a self-obsessed war of vendetta against perceived internal party enemy forces.

    The system we have permitted that and still can. There is nothing an electorate can do to intervene in the misuse of such processes, save once in five years to change the personalities who are presented to them – albeit, frequently identical personalities.

    Whilst a change in the nature of the electorate/MP relationship in electoral mechanisms may pose delicate imbalances and freaks of nuance, it doesn’t mean we ought to settle for what we already have when we can see that weak accountability structures can (and often will) lead to malign executive tenures. I had many obligations on me in my working life – many of them adopted by myself by wilful action of accepting the employment. There need be no anomaly in presenting our representatives with obligations of at least equal measure. If they won’t accept them, there will certainly be numerous candidates who will.

  25. Bert Young
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    If an individual stands and is elected to public office , they must be prepared to be continuously open to public scrutiny and criticism . No-one can be expected to be perfect all of the time ; an MP has to toe the line at all times and set an example to the wider community to gain and retain its respect . This is a tricky position to be in so , only the strongest and most morally equipped individuals should be selected in the first place ; – it brings into question how effective the criteria of selection is drawn up and how rigorous it is pursued . Once selected and elected an MP must stand on his own principles and not be constrained by the dictates of his Party ; he must be seen and regarded as his own man representing at all times the wishes of his constituents . Recalling an MP for any reason of transgression is only reasonable and fair ; they must not be seen as an individual who is above the law answerable only to his or her own dictates . Central Office should not ignore the choices made by the local association and bully them into submission . There should always be as wide a choice of candidates as possible ; candidates must be persuaded to stand rather than putting themselves forward and local associations must be able to call on outside professionals in the screening process .

  26. David Hope
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    “It should be a facility if an MP has behaved badly in ways which damage his work as an MP for the constituency.” and “Bad behaviour does have to be proven”

    I disagree entirely. With the 10% rule you don’t need to prove anything, it is just a question of whether constituents are happy with their representative. Let me say that again: THEIR representative. Not their all powerful great leader.

    10% is a high number of constituents – just look at the effort at getting in people on election day. Nowhere in the world where this applies is there any evidence of it being used to rerun nationwide elections.

    In many seats we have little say on election day because people vote tactically for a party. In recall, where someone had behaved badly it could be done more on the person(no danger to who will run the country), and would mean an end to completely safe seats.

    To be honest I am utterly fed up with people acting like a single vote every 5 years is the ultimate in democracy. One vote to cover all my opinions on health, education, tax, spending, the environment, law and order etc etc. With modern technology we should be having far more referenda and choices.

    Recall by 10% of constituents is a very minor enhancement to the current system and I can’t believe it is getting so much opposition – almost all the arguments against are arguments against democracy!

  27. Elliot Kane
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I think Zac Goldsmith has the right idea:

    http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/25

    I think an MP would have to be hated before there was any realistic chance of recall, because I doubt most constituents would sign up for ‘Get This Person Out Because I Hate Their Party’. I know I wouldn’t.

    The problem with trying to regulate the right of recall beyond what the MP’s constituents genuinely feel is right is that there are an infinity of possible loopholes or errors that could be made, so the law needs to be kept simple, IMO.

    Much has been made recently of the way that voters have lost trust in MPs. Perhaps a good way for MPs to regain that trust would be to trust the voters first?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      I certainly agree with that motion on by far the most important issue, when it:

      “… urges the Government not to introduce a system that requires approval by a parliamentary or other committee”.

      On the details of the system, from what Douglas Carswell wrote last year:

      http://www.talkcarswell.com/home/what-recall-is-8211-and-what-recall-is-not/2671

      “if enough voters sign a petition to trigger a recall vote”

      would mean to trigger a referendum on whether to have a by-election, which I would see as an unnecessary and undesirable step for the reasons I stated in a comment on his article.

      Given that less than 1% of the voters are members of any political party, and even those that are members of a political party are not all unreasonable people driven primarily by tribal loyalty, I think that fears about essentially vexatious petitions succeeding are greatly exaggerated.

    • matthu
      Posted June 11, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      So far only 30 MPs have supported that early day motion, and significantly only 8 out of the 3o are Conservative and 3 LibDem.

      Zac Goldsmith says:

      “When you are fighting an election campaign, it is an attractive thing to offer decentralisation, localism and democracy. But when it comes to the crunch most governments – and ours unfortunately falls into this category – reach a point where they fear the impact of democracy.

      “Proper recall breaks the stranglehold of safe seats completely, and ensures that all MPs remember, at all times, that the only 3-line whip that really matters is their constituents. MPs would be more independent, more likely to hold Government to account, and more responsive. Genuine recall would electrify politics.”

      Electrify politics!

      What other propositions have politicians put forward that might electrify politics?

  28. Mark
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    There was a period when MPs recognised for themselves when resignation was the right course in the light of their own actions. Sadly, that has become too rare, and we witness the sight of MPs hanging on even when later convicted of imprisonable offences, often with the connivance of delays in the justice system. It would for example have made good sense to fast track the prosecution of Mr Huhne for perverting the course of justice, rather than the drawn out process that took from May 2011 when allegations were first reported in the press until February 2012 before he resigned from cabinet on being charged and another full year before he finally resigned his seat on changing his plea to guilty.

    A recall petition might have short cut the process too: it was evident that if Mr Huhne needed to devote time to the matter such that he was no longer able to find time to be a Minister, it was also impacting on his ability to be an MP. Of course in one sense it may be argued that the petition would have amounted to a verdict on his conduct in advance of the court case. In any other occupation I can think of, being charged with an imprisonable offence would be grounds for dismissal – without it being considered prejudicial to the hearing.

    It is also evident that there are inadequate sanctions against members of the Lords who transgress in serious ways – the temporary disbarments imposed by their peers are insufficient.

    The evidence from recall elections is that the public tend to be a fair judge. Malicious attempts at recall are usually severely punished, with the status of the incumbent enhanced at the next election. The idea that recall might be used for purely political purposes should be tempered by the fact that in marginal constituencies the MP elected will already have been subjected to tactical voting. Those seeking to oust the MP have no guarantee that they would secure one of their own persuasion. In any case, it might be reasonable to require that at least one proposer of a recall petition should be from the constituency party of the MP.

    It may also make some sense to require the petition to secure support from the number of votes secured by the second party in the election plus say 5% of the electorate. That would set a lower hurdle in safe seats in one sense – but since the seat would be very unlikely to change party, there would be no advantage in triggering such a recall maliciously. In marginal seats, the required size of petition would be difficult to achieve without good justification.

    Parliament has awarded MPs virtual security of job tenure for 5 years at a time. That is self-serving – copying MEPs is not a good idea. There needs to be a proper counterbalance. In fact, repeal of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act might also be a good idea. By submitting to more frequent election – even if at a time of government choosing – we get more chance to vote on the government programme and the competence of the individual MP.

    • Mark
      Posted June 12, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      I have confined my discussion of Mr Huhne to the calendar of events in his case, and how that might have altered had recall been in force, or had the CPS been minded to act in favour of swift justice.

  29. outsider
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood, The general welcome does not include me because:

    1) It gives more power over my MP to just the sort of people I distrust most.
    2) It is cant. Occasions when all the tests are met would be extremely rare other than when the MP would now have to resign and would amount not to recall but to dismissal. No MPs would be targeted if they were likely to be reselected by the main government or opposition parties or if they might gain credibility by being re-elected (for instance if an MP were successfully prosecuted over anti-windfarm actions in their constituency).
    3) The coalition negotiators decided behind closed doors (doubtless with Whitehall approval) to make fixed term parliaments for five years rather than four, which on postwar averages reduced the accountability of MPs by more than 25 per cent. We have not forgotten. To pretend that the Government is making MPs more accountable is just another patronising insult.
    4) If recall were to have anything like its meaning in America, where it came from, then Mr Clegg, who is promoting the Bill, would be the prime candidate. Apart from their manifesto, LibDem MPs gained campaigning support from the NUS and the votes of many students by signing its pledge that they would vote against a student fee rise if elected. Though not mentioned in your post, 21 LibDem MPs honoured their pledge. It is clear, however, that Mr Clegg and his other colleagues would not have been asked to retest voters’ opinion under this Bill.

    PS: The other obvious candidate for recall is where an MP crosses the floor of the House, as some commenters on your blog have often urged you to do. There is a debate whenever this occurs. My own preference is for more frequent general elections rathern than complex and manipulable special rules.

  30. Alte Fritz
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    There is no useful comparison with employment; the functions are different. So, if we ask why MPs are elected, the answers may be very different but all agree that the basis of election if to represent a constituency until another election is called. If circumstances arise which would disqualify the MP from standing in an election, the answer should be easy. In any other case, why should there be a right of removal?

    Some very good people fail to be relected and some villains are elected time after time. That goes with the territory, but I am dead against knocking yet another strut from under our Parliamentary democracy. It is fragile enough.

  31. A different Simon
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    This system will just be abused to get rid of members of the awkward squad who don’t toe the party line .

    We’ve already seen that happen with MP’s who were jailed for fiddling expenses .

    So much for an independent judiciary .

  32. john
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood, I don’t agree with your assumption that there has to an acceptable reason for a recall. If enough people in a constituency want to recall their MP then they should be able to do that for whatever reason. If enough people don’t like the election result and they can persuade enough of the others in the constituency to have another tedious election campaign then so be it. The same right of recall should apply to Council elections; Euro-elections; Police Commissioners etc. etc. It doesn’t surprise me that the MPs are against recall but this idea won’t go away.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 12, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Well, I think that after his election there should be initial fixed period, say a year, during which the MP would not be exposed to recall by his constituents.

      • Mark
        Posted June 12, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        That is entirely reasonable: likewise, if an attempt at recall fails. I note that the Canadian example cited by “Acorn” uses a period of 18 months.

  33. Posted June 11, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    You are broadly correct.

    If we had AV instead of FPTP, it would all be different.

    Under FPTP recall can be gamed by opposition candidates (few MPs have an absolute majority of voters in support).

    Lib dems *should* have been subject to recall for betraying an absolute pledge.

    Under FPTP the best we can do is have 3 year parliament it was a complete stitch up of the public by the political class to end up with 5 year parliaments.

  34. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Amusing incident of Labour MP forgetting to replace the “XXX” in a standard issue Labour party spiel with the name of his constituency before putting it on his blog:

    http://order-order.com/2014/06/11/labour-mp-graham-jones-online-xxx-blunder/

    “I’ve spoken to hundreds of people in XXX and many of them have told me … “

  35. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps if candidates did not make promises and changed the wording to emphasise an attempt to endeavour to bring something about ,then there would not be a need to speculate whether broken promises were a basis for recall.

  36. Robert Taggart
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Recall by one means be very simple…
    Those members of parliament who ‘cross the floor’ – by their own volition – should be required to re-stand for parliament via a by-election within three months of doing so in the seat concerned.

    • formula57
      Posted June 12, 2014 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      And thereby political parties eager to rid themselves of troublesome MPs could make life so difficult for an individual MP that it induced floor-crossing, a “sin” in the eyes of many voters regardless of the reasons so making re-election especially in the near aftermath more difficult.

      I join those questioning why this right is being sought. As involuntary resignation typically deals with the most bad behaviour, and broken promises are either in the eye of the beholder or made inevitable by events, the main valid cause for recall would be indolence or neglect, phenomenon not normally exhibited and likely dealt with by political parties before constituents are harmed or even notice.

      I wonder if the voters of the 1930′s in Winston Churchill’s constituency would have sought to recall the “warmonger”? We cry out for leadership from the political class and sometimes delivering it brings much if temporary unpopularity and rare enough though it is, it may be made more rare still by a recall system.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 12, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      It used to be the case that an MP would have to put himself for re-election if he became a minister, as explained in this fascinating essay:

      http://everything2.com/title/Office+of+Profit+under+the+Crown

      • Robert Taggart
        Posted June 16, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        Strewth !

    • Alan Wheatley
      Posted June 13, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      As I recall, Churchill “crossed the floor” twice. What lesson should we leaner from his behaviour?

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Most electors vote for the party – not for the person. Ergo…
      Should the person concerned ‘turncoat’ – said person should be ‘defrocked’ !

  37. John E
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Adopt the same list of offences and criteria that the Solicitors Regulation Authority use. No reason why an MP should get away with something that would get a solicitor struck off, is there? Indeed it would be odd if am MP who was also a solicitor was treated more leniently by one body.

  38. Addanc Monster
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    One of the main points to recall for me is to make the MPs represent their electorate as opposed to being subservient to their party leader; to achieve this recall must be driven by the electorate NOT SW1. No more safe seats, troughing parasites need not apply with an electorate driven recall mechanism.

  39. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    My computer has been broken for a week or so and my life has been somewhat dull .I am glad to get back and larf at the budget speech you gave , where most hung their heads in shame or almost fell asleep…they didn’t have clue what you were talking about and we are greatly worried. I call for greater understanding of economic issues( it’s quite difficult though) and at least a degree in economics before parliamentary candidacy is considered. Oh and of course an equity card.

  40. John Wrexham
    Posted June 13, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Recall is one of these ideas that is great in theory – like communism… I think we will find that it won’t be local constituents who threaten recall, but lobby groups and single issue pressure groups.

    If we are going to have a system where 10% of the local electorate can force a recall vote, then the sitting MP should be allowed a month to secure 10% who don’t want a recall vote. If he/she can gain the support of 10%, then the vote should not happen.

  41. sm
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    A recall mechanism controlled by the electorate is long overdue.

    Keep it simple. If it triggers other events so be it. MP’s may be more inclined to think in a more balanced way than responding to those that can significantly impair and currently control their careers.

    It should be followed by a referenda bill triggered by breaches of our sovereignty.

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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