[email protected]: Nick Clegg – Voters’ trust in democracy is shattered. We must restore it

Over at The Observer, Nick Clegg argues, after a tumultuous week in politics, that the public must be given more power than the politicians. Here’s an excerpt:

We are in the eye of the perfect storm: an economic crisis followed by a total collapse of public faith in politicians. One way or another, MPs’ self-serving expenses will now, thankfully, be changed for good. But this must be a moment for fundamental change, not just tinkering to eliminate the worst excesses of the past. The uncomfortable truth is that these revelations are merely the tip of an iceberg – our whole political system must be revamped.

We should start from first principles. Power belongs to citizens, not politicians. That simple fact must be written down in a short constitution setting out what rights people enjoy and making clear the subservience of Parliament to the people. A constitutional convention, overseen by 100 randomly selected voters, should be convened to draw it up.

We must clean up expenses through Sir Christopher Kelly’s independent inquiry. I’ve written to the other party leaders to urge them to pledge – now – to accept his recommendations in full. … I’d create a “recall” system: a small percentage of constituents should be able to force a byelection on any MP suspended for wrongdoing.

We must also cut back the size and power of the Whitehall state, eliminating central bureaucracy and giving new freedoms, including money-raising powers, to local communities. The over-centralised bureaucratic state is the corollary of an overbearing executive and a neutered Parliament. All must change.

Finally, but fundamentally, we need to give people a proper say in who governs the country with fair votes. No government should be able to secure total power with the support of just one out of every five people.

You can read Nick’s article in full HERE.

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  • Alix Mortimer 17th May '09 - 11:55am

    *Dances jig of joy*

    NOW we’re cookin’.

  • Ian Stewart 17th May '09 - 5:01pm

    very good……..and whilst we are at it, can we also have a re-democratisation of our local government?
    the continued drive of more and more power and influence into the hands of fewer and fewer elected representatives needs to change……..oh, and let’s not forget the quangos!

  • David Allen 17th May '09 - 7:32pm

    “NOW we’re cookin’.”

    I wish I could agree, but I can’t. Clegg is still way out of touch, and it shows.

    This is NOT the time to be pushing things like the “fair votes” agenda (or, indeed, an ambition to shrink Whitehall). The sub-text of Clegg’s article is “Let’s exploit this crisis to gain partisan advantages for the Lib Dems”. And that is not what the public want to hear!

    What the public want to hear is contrition, not starry-eyed promotion of those brilliant utopian ideas on which your party owns the patent rights. It was Cameron who hit something like the right tone, by giving his errant MPs a b*ll*cking. That is why the Observer poll today found that 57% said Cameron had handled it best, only 11% said that Clegg had.

    So there we are. The Tory party, which has the worst sleaze record of all the parties, is the party that seems to be winning the battle for public opinion. Not a triumph for the presentational skills of Clegg or Brown!

  • No, the reason why it appears that Cameron handled it best is because the release of the information is being handled by the Telegraph and because Cameron’s press office is much better connected (all those old Etonians). It is pure press warfare on the part of the privileged, owning classes.

    Cameron’s braying arrogance has been dressed up as “leadership” and the public, alas, has swallowed it.

  • Fundamentally, the Lib Dems have been in the right on this one. It should have given us a huge boost to our poll ratings, but hasn’t. We need urgently to consider why and how our communications strategy doesn’t seem to be working.

  • Try recognising that your enemy might possibly have got something right. It’s not his braying ability, it’s not his access to the media, it has nothing to do with Eton, this time anyway. It’s his emotional intelligence.

    It’s really quite simple. When you’re in the doghouse, be humble. When you’ve been caught with your fingers in the cream, don’t go boasting about your long-term plans to reform the dairy farm. Think, dammit, about your public. If you can’t do that, why be in politics?

    And by the way, I’m a lifelong Tory hater, I know Cameron is a duplicitous swine, but that doesn’t make him incompetent!

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