David Cameron has set out a proposal for constitutional reform:
• Limit the power of the prime minister by giving serious consideration to introducing fixed-term parliaments, ending the right of Downing Street to control the timing of general elections.
“Giving serious consideration” is probably code for talking about it then quitely forgetting the idea when Cameron becomes prime minister.
• End the “pliant” role of parliament by giving MPs free votes during the consideration of bills at committee stage. MPs would also be handed the crucial power of deciding the timetable of bills.
• Boost the power of backbench MPs – and limit the powers of the executive – by allowing MPs to choose the chairs and members of Commons select committees.
• Open up the legislative process to outsiders by sending out text alerts on the progress of parliamentary bills and by posting proceedings on YouTube.
• Curb the power of the executive by limiting the use of the royal prerogative which allows the prime minister, in the name of the monarch, to make major decisions. Gordon Brown is making sweeping changes in this area in the constitutional renewal bill, but Cameron says he would go further.
• Publish the expenses claims of all public servants earning more than £150,000.
These are worthwhile proposals, but they won’t make any big difference. If the executive has a majority in parliament, they’ll still be able to get all their programme through, so there will be no real transfer of power.
• Strengthen local government by giving councils the power of “competence”. This would allow councils to reverse Whitehall decisions to close popular services, such as a local post office or a railway station, by giving them the power to raise money to keep them open.
The last time the Tories were in power, they took away powers from local government. And this is a consistent pattern: the party in power wants to remove powers from councils, and the party in opposition wants to give councils more powers. I see no reason why this pattern woulsd be any different if Cameron became PM.
And Cameron is against PR:
Proportional representation takes power away from the man and woman in the street and hands it to the political elites. Instead of voters choosing their government on the basis of the manifestos put before them in an election, party managers would choose a government on the basis of secret backroom deals. How is that going to deliver the transparency and trust we need?
This is nonsense. Under FPTP, most seats are safe and therefore the member returned is the person who the party selects to fight the seat. Under the two PR systesm under discussion in the UK (AV+ and STV), it’s the voters, not the parties, who determine which candidates get elected.
Cameron is only against PR because he anticipates winning under FPTP, a system which in effect would give him virtually dictatorial powers for the next 5 years, because in the present system power is concentrated ast the center. This is the problem that needs to be fixed, and Cameron — for entirely cynical reasons — is against fixing it.
Cameron is a glib liar. Astually he reminds me a lot of Tony Blair.