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Video: Zac Goldsmith says Queen’s Speech is ‘conning’ the public over recall of MPs

4 June 2014

Four years after promising a recall system for MPs, the coalition has delivered on its promise in today’s Queen Speech. Or has it? The Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith doesn’t think so. The long-time campaigner for a proper recall bill believes that the proposals announced today are a ‘pretence’. On this week’s View from 22 podcast, Goldsmith reveals why he doesn’t believe the recall announced is really a recall:

‘Under the government’s proposals, there isn’t a recall referendum…effectively the [Parliamentary Standards] committee decides an MP qualifies for recall, they’re finished. That’s it. It’s all power to the committee, all to the institution and no to the voters’

Goldsmith also thinks that the criteria is so narrow — essentially for ‘serious financial wrongdoing’ — that few misbehaving MPs will qualify for recall. Instead of putting trust back into politics, he believes it will make things worse:

‘The danger is that the very next scandal, voters will realise they’ve been duped. The next time an MP gets into terrible trouble, voters will learn they can’t recall their MP and this recall bill is worth absolutely nothing.

‘The sense of betrayal and the sense of anger will be immense. People won’t just think politicians are liars, they’ll know politicians are liars…this is a pretence’

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But are the present recall plans better than nothing at all? Goldsmith believes they are a good thing, but only because it opens the door to future change:

‘I heard last night it was going to be dropped all together so I’m pleased its there, but only because it gives us an opportunity to come in and amend it. And it needs a very radical amendment because it’s not actually a recall bill.’

It’s a shame that after four years of coalition fighting over recall, the result is such a half thought-out solution. Although not all MPs will believe, like Goldsmith, that the proposals are a deliberate misjudgment by the government, many will be concerned what happens when the next Maria Miller or Patrick Mercer comes along, and the word ‘recall’ is whispered for the first time.

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Show comments
  • Alb Einstein

    Dear Zac, it’s because of arrogant, contemptible decisions such as this where MPs in their Westminster bubble show time and time again that you don’t give a darn what the voters think that many of us will be voting for the People’s Army in 2015.

    If you don’t agree with how this country is being governed – then frankly you’re in the wrong party and it’s about time you realised that. Dave has infested the tory party with career MPs – and the Libs and Labour are equally bad.

    I’d like to finish by saying that I hope the Conservative party in its current form, is wiped out in 2015.

    • Tony_E

      I think the problem with any recall system that relies solely on the public vote between elections is that it could be used mid term to try to re-fight a marginal seat. We all know that governments can become unpopular, but elections should not be overturned due to this.

      Before you simply say, any vote over a certain amount will lead to recall, you have to consider
      a) has the member of parliament actually done anything wrong or have they fallen victim to a political smear?
      b) has the vote been rigged by active campaigning on the ground by his opponents?
      c) Is the recall threshold higher or lower than the number of votes for the MP’s opponent at the last election? (Simply being able to mobilise your own voters should not be enough to get an MP recalled).

      Look at your facebook feed if you have one. How many times do you see total falsehoods shared by your friends, simply pieces of propaganda about ‘what the government is doing’ to enrich their friends and impoverish you? How many times do those get shared? A lie gets half way around the world before the truth even gets it’s boots on. It’s might be very easy to get up enough righteous outrage to unseat a politician mid term.

      It would be better to bypass recall altogether, and have an independent body of censure that removed and disciplined MPs. Also the rules should be changed so that any MP convicted of any criminal offence must be ejected, not just ones that receive a custodial sentence of more than 12 months.

  • CraigStrachan

    Did you get that furniture at a jumble sale?

  • itdoesntaddup

    Zac is right, although I think Carswell has a better detail of proposal in his version.

  • EppingBlogger

    More power to the centre – intentionally so. Just like tax payer funding and any reduction in the number of MPs, this would increase the power of the centre.

    The changes should all be in the opposite direction.

    What we were promised were recall rights, not the right to rubber stamp a decision by a committee of MPs who disliked an MP. If the Californians can recall their State Governor (as they did), we should be able to recall all elected representatives and all heads of Quangos too.

  • Denis_Cooper

    I agree with Zac, sort of.

  • Adam Carter

    It’s a ridiculous proposal.
    And it’s an insult to the voters.
    MPs are grouping together in opposition to the people.
    Appalling and shameful.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    To what extent this now watered down and previously diluted recall proposal is in fact a diversion to gloss over the cracks appearing in the FPTP system remains to be seen.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …maybe it’s a diversionary Judas goat. You better lock up your goat sockpuppet, lad. It’s a dumb socialist nutter and might get diverted.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Zac ain’t right about much, but he is right about this. Democratic recall can be made to work without its safeguards being in the hands of the blob.

  • anyfool

    If a committee of MPs choose who will be recalled it will be used to remove mavericks and free thinkers, if a Labour government is in the majority, it will be used to remove anyone not agreeing with them, especially on immigration.
    Their would be no point in electing a UKIP MP as all parties would gang up and drive him/her out on trumped up complaints.
    Recall should be down to local people, anything else is a con.

    • alabenn

      It would be used to remove anyone who can think, otherwise you would not need recall.
      It will not be used against crooks, the serial house flippers will not be touched.

      • HookesLaw

        There are no house flippers the riles have changed. A committee could only act where a mp had been found guilty of something. It could not itself decide to act on some unsuspecting mp. As ever there is a lot of rubbish being spouted based on insane conjecture.
        The point is as has been said that it is a start, the other side of the coin is that spurious vindictive and possibly politically motivated ‘recalls’ could be instigated without some form of check. Let’s see how this proposal works through and notify or clarify it as needed.

    • realfish

      ‘Recall should be down to local people, anything else is a con.’

      It is a dangerous proposition. What safeguards are there for our democracy in all of this?

      Consider: A hung parliament and the temptation of Labour activists (I say Labour because socialists are no friends of democracy) mobilising their supporters in a marginal constituency. The prospect of winning a by-election would be just too tempting for some people.

      You might say the sitting MP deserved what was coming to them, but Payne ably demonstrates the pitchfork mentality when he talks about ‘another Miller’. Miller actually took advice and did very little wrong at the time…but hey, let’s set the dogs on her anyway.

      Goldsmith needs to stop posturing and think again about this. A little more reflection and a little less red meet is called for.

      • itdoesntaddup

        The voting public wouldn’t take kindly to such posturing. In your example, I’d expect the Labour candidate to be pummelled. See Winchester by-election.

        • telemachus

          When the people decide and mobilise you should be very afraid

          • Adam Carter

            Another of your comments that you probably think is pithy, but as usual it doesn’t address the point at issue.
            Why don’t you tell us your opinion on this matter of recall of MPs?

            • telemachus

              We do not want delegates
              That way we will bring back hanging

          • Tony_E

            You should be very afraid of the idea of people ‘mobilising’. If they were to ever do so, it would not be at the ballot box – it would be at the end of your street with a pitchfork or a rifle.

            When a population’s rage is suppressed for generation after generation by a belief in the rule of law and democracy, and that belief fails, the outcome is likely to be bloody in the extreme.

            • telemachus

              It is not me and ours that will be afraid
              There are more poor and disadvantaged who will take to pitchforks than bloated city types throwing wallets

      • telemachus

        Cannot see much wrong with the fears in your third paragraph

      • dwwilcox

        Nonsense bollocks , so you think the electorate would be safe from Tory fascists then on this? As far as I am concerned like Zac stated this is a sham created by a Tory and a Libdem coalition.

    • telemachus

      Cannot see much wrong with what you describe as a fear in your first paragraph
      Nor the second
      I fact on this day voters in Newark should reflect before considering entering a vote for a morally degenerate racist party

      • Alexsandr

        I am sure you are right. they wont be voting for Labour then. It harbours racist Diane Abbott, and paedophile apologists too.

        • telemachus

          Today is lost
          It will be enough to see Farage checked

      • dwwilcox

        Yep the Tory party is full of them

        • telemachus

          You well know they have all migrated to Farage

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