Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Clegg's breathtaking 100 day plan to reinvent British politics

This will induce the nearest thing LibDem nerds get to a simultaneous orgasm over politics.

In tomorrow's Guardian, Nick Clegg proposes a breathtaking 100 day plan to reform British politics. He says that MPs should not go on holiday until their wholesale reinvention of the whole system. His article is entitled "Bar the gates. No summer holiday before the overhaul".

This is great stuff! Nick Clegg knocks Cameron's timid muttering about 'nip and tuck' reforms into a cocked hat. Brilliantly, he describes Cameron's statement thus: "Open source software, new select committee chairs and legislative text messages will not rescue British democracy," he wrote. "They are designed to provide verbal cover for maintaining the status quo."

The whole constitutional reform bag of nuts (or most of it, at least) is in Nick's plan, although controversially, he includes Lord Jenkin's AV+ as the subject of a referendum on "PR" - sharp intake of breath from blogging community!

Nick can certainly be commended for following the motto "carpe diem" in choosing this moment to give Britain the full gamma blast of the constitutional reform menu. He demonstrates the instincts of a radical reformer: "Let's stop all this self-congratulatory hype about the mother of parliaments and get on with improving it."

Together, over the next 100 days, we could achieve nothing less than the total reinvention of British politics. These months could become a great moment in British political history, rather than a shabby footnote to a shameful month of scandal. Let us seize, not squander, the opportunity for change.

It's as likely to happen in 100 days as hell freezing over, but at least it puts down a marker and shows up Cameron's statement this week as the meaningless nonsense it is.

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.

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