Clegg unveils 100-day plan to abolish Lords and reform voting

The Guardian splashes with the story:

Britain’s politicians should be barred from taking their summer holidays until the constitutional crisis sparked by the expenses row is resolved and “every nook and cranny” of the political system is reformed, Nick Clegg declares today. …

Clegg, who regards the proposals floated by the two main parties as too timid, attempts to assume the mantle of Britain’s boldest reformer when he sets out a week-by-week, 100-day plan to achieve the “total reinvention of British politics”.

In the first two weeks parliament would agree to accept the recommendations of the review into MPs’ expenses and allowances by the standards watchdog, draw up a bill to allow for the recall of errant MPs, and impose a £50,000 cap on individual donations to political parties in any year.

The Clegg plan would then introduce major constitutional reforms:

• By week three legislation would be passed to introduce fixed parliamentary terms of four years from 2010, denying the prime minister the right to name the date of general elections.

• By week four the new Commons Speaker would convene all-party talks to introduce a series of changes to parliamentary procedure that would be agreed by day 100. These include handing MPs the right to decide the parliamentary timetable, ­giving MPs a greater chance to scrutinise government spending and subject ministers to confirmation hearings.

• By weeks four to five parliament would pass legislation to allow a referendum to be held on electoral reform – the alternative vote plus system proposed by the late Lord Jenkins – that would be held on day 100.

• By weeks six to seven parliament would pass legislation to replace the House of Lords with a wholly elected senate.

Clegg said the crisis over expenses provided a historic opportunity to act. “Finally the dam has broken, and every­one is talking about changing Britain’s political system. For decades, political reformers have been thwarted by the inertia of Westminster. But the expenses scandal has overturned old certainties and made change possible. This moment must be seized by all those who want a different kind of politics in Britain. Warm words, rhetoric and consideration are not enough; indeed they are a guarantee that little will happen.”

You can read Nick’s Guardian article in full HERE.

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20 Comments

  • I’m afraid this is completely missing the point, and I’m even more afraid it’s deliberately missing the point for tactical reasons.

    What are Nick Clegg’s beloved “ordinary people” saying at the moment?
    “Isn’t it outrageous we don’t have fixed-term Parliaments?”
    “MPs should demand the right to decide the Parliamentary timetable!”
    “We demand a referendum on electoral reform!”
    “Elections for the House of Lords NOW!”

    No. I think it’s rather along the lines of:
    “Politicians are all the same – just in it for what they can get – and why should I vote for any of them?”

    And just occasionally someone may be asking:
    “If they can rewrite the whole British constitution in seven weeks, how on earth can it take them so long to work out where their Chief Executive lives?”

  • Over the last week or so Clegg has gone up greatly in my estimations. Previously I reckon I would’ve voted for Huhne, and I used to think that Clegg was just another telegenic stereotype, of the Blair/Cameron mould, but now actually I reckon he’s more than that, he’s really come into his own.

    Anonymous, I’ve gotta disagree. Your point is valid though, I guess we’re going to have to address this from the right angle, like somebody on commentisfree on the guardian said: “Now follow it up!!! Get you and your colleagues on every Political TV show, on the News, on the ‘morning programmes’ and bang the drum, and keep banging and banging!”
    We need to explain to people that our proposals will deliver what they want, a fairer system; that PR will produce a more representative chamber, so politicians don’t have to be ‘all the same’.

  • AV+? No no no STV is what what is needed not a system with any form of party lists

  • Ok having read Cleggs actual article he does make clear that STV is the preference and the rest is all good.

  • I’m afraid Anonymous is right. Asking for Utopia, and knowing for sure that you will consequently be ignored by the bigger parties, is not really terribly constructive. It sounds good, it will appeal to the converted, but it won’t actually achieve anything.

    If Clegg really wanted to make progress on the reform agenda, he would be aiming lower, and looking for something at least one other party could also support. As it is, a few column inches is all he’ll get.

    Whether Clegg really feels his priority must be to erect a smokescreen and hide our misdeeds, I know not. I suspect that the main reason for his deluge of reformist blarney is simpler than that. It is that Clegg knows that he is powerless, because Labour and the Tories feel confident they can safely ignore him. They can do that, because there is no groundswell of support for us. The reason why there isn’t is because we are not able to offer a moral lead. So, if you are powerless, you might just as well play the game for the cheap publicity you can get.

  • After reading the Guardian today, talking to friends over what Cameron was offering, and coming to the conclusion that nothing major would change, it’s great to see something with real substance. Be interesting to see how the media reports this.

  • Paul Griffiths 28th May '09 - 12:37am

    Amazing.

    There have been calls for the last two weeks from Lib Dem members urging Nick Clegg to be more vocal and not to let the momentum for change dissipate, and the moment he sets out a significant reform package he gets criticised for being too radical.

  • I agree with a comment of the CiF article, if this fails then we should pledge this agenda would be implelmented in the first 100 days of a Lib Dem government if the public elected us. Once done another GE under the new (hopefully STV) system would be held and all GEs after that would follow the new set timetable.

    Basically vote for us and we will change the system for good and then give everyone a vote that counts in a new election.

  • “If Clegg really wanted to make progress on the reform agenda, he would be aiming lower, and looking for something at least one other party could also support.”

    Er, he agrees with most of what Cameron proposed (except obviously the Human Rights Act stuff), but Clegg is proposing (or has proposed, this is all bread and butter stuff for the Lib Dems) even more reforms.

    The real question is: why haven’t the media been listening?

  • Alix

    *Waves back*

    But I’m afraid the subsequent discussion has made my point. The last thing the public want at the moment is a debate about the merits of STV versus AV+.

  • Painfully Liberal 28th May '09 - 9:34am

    I think this is an excellent move by Nick, just as I was starting to moan that he was being too quiet and letting Cameron take the initiative.

    The AV+ thing did cause a sharp intake of breath but having read the piece I think I agree with him. We all want STV, Nick wants STV but his point is that we currently have an unique opportunity to achieve actual reform – an opportunity that won’t last long. The Jenkins report gives precedent to AV+, Alan Jonson has announced he supports the idea, if we can build a consensus around AV+ that we can’t around STV I think we should. Otherwise the chance will vanish back into the ether and we’ll be left having achieved nothing on electoral reform because we held out for everything.

    That’s not to say that we shouldn’t try to press for STV, just that if it’s not politically achievable, AV+ is a tolerable compromise.

  • Why not aim high? This is what I believe in.

    Discuss.

  • David Allen – Clegg’s very astute move has put electoral reform on the agenda.

    Once its on there and stays there, then we can start to look at the benefits of different systems.

    My suggestion for a STV promotion campaign:

    STV – the voting system THEY don’t want you to have!

  • Matthew Huntbach 28th May '09 - 11:24am


    The present `M.P.s Expenses Scandal’ has reduced the gold standard of the democratic integrity of our `Mother of All Parliaments’ to a myth.

    Yes, Clegg says that in his article, but that’s an indication of his tendency to think in terms of old clichés.

    Has anyone in decades seriously thought of Westminster as being some sort of gold standard of “Mother of Parliaments”? No.

    If we want to be obscure (we don’t but I’ll make this point anyway) the contribution of the “Mother of Parliaments” gold standard FPTP electoral system to its “daughter” Parliaments has actually been a major factor in democracy going belly-up in many of our ex-colonies.

    We could do a hard sell on STV, but it would be a risky strategy. We know it sounds just like wonks wittering on about something obscure, even though it’s not and the difference between STV and the list-PR we shall be using in a week’s time is fundamental.

  • It’s Cojones Clegg!

    I’m not a member of the party (yet), but Clegg impresses me more by the day.

    Both the Guardian article and the PPB set the right tone between being sympathetic with “ordinary” (hate that word) voters on the one hand but offering a radical (but doable) agenda on the other.

    Nice work.

    regards

  • Tony Greaves 28th May '09 - 8:29pm

    It’s Cojones Clegg!

    No doubt that’s what his wife says.

    Tony Greaves

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