Sunday, 7 February 2010


THIS IS an interesting video from David Cameron. If you take the time watch it (it’s around 3 minutes long) you get a summary of subjects he intends to address in a major speech tomorrow (Monday).

The thrust of the video is changes he is proposing for the new parliament. No one could deny that this one has been a disaster. The UK and its Duck House Parliament are a laughing stock all over the world. More than half our MPs have taken advantage of a loosely policed expenses regime to make, in some cases, vast amounts of money at our expenses. The upper chamber has its share of thieves too, as yet hardly investigate.

But it’s not just expenses that are the problem. The whole of Westminster is antiquated. Almost everything about it is more suited to the 19th century than the 21st. It's not fit for purpose; it's run like a gentlemen's club, full of traditions, which charming though they may be, are not producing efficient and trustworthy 21st century governance.

As Mr Cameron says this General Election is an ideal opportunity to change things. Vast numbers of the intake in May will be new; those who don’t fancy the idea of a whole new regime might be better to reconsider standing.

Cameron, however, feels that Brown’s ideas about changing the voting system are a waste of time: I disagree. However, I'm cautiously with him on other points he makes here: electing Select Committees, reducing whipping, and trying to make parliament more relevant to what the population cares about.

He’s looking for a parliament that “speaks about what we speak about; worries about what we worry about and does what we want it to do”. Noble thoughts, but isn’t that what our democracy is about and has been supposed to be about for hundreds of year? Sounds good, but doesn’t work.

In the age of the internet Cameron proposes more opportunity for the population to take part in politics. Again a great idea but how practicable is it? Didn’t Mr Brown try some sort of online Q&A, with fairly disastrous results?

He says we should be able to look at “that place, that building, that palace....” (and that’s a problem; it can’t really be a people’s parliament and a royal palace at the same time) “and think, 'it is mine'”.

This is a taster and before I seriously criticise anything I’ll wait for the speech. And I’d like to hear what changes the Liberals would like to see, given that they may well hold considerable sway in the next parliament.

And, as ever, I’d like you guys’ opinions too....


  1. Cameron is best when he is bold, decisive, a prime minister in waiting.

    He hasn't disapointed here, indeed he touches on stuff he has already pushed ideas out about- not obviously fixed term parliaments, reducing the number of MPs and reducing ministerial salaries by 10%.

    I know that he will make a bold speech tomorrow that shall outline in more detail the vision, and more importantly the direction of progressive One Nation reform program.

    Indeed it is our Party which has the best track record historically at decisive and long term reform, merging the best of our traditions with the need to progress to fresh and new ideas and methods.

    I look foward to more detail, but I already do believe that he is genuine about wishing to restore confidence in our institutions. Why else has he already committed himself to establishing a fixed term parliament?

  2. Well, I'm not a Tory Dean, but I certainly look forward to reforms from wherever they come.

    We need a more people centric parliament, and we need to get rid of the notion, based perfectly understandably on history, that our parliamentarians are our masters or our rulers.

    Whist of course we must maintain things like parliamentary privilege; we need them to understand that they are employed to be our representatives, not our masters.

    We can’t change the fact that they work in the splendour of a royal palace, but we can knock out of them the superiority that appears to go with that.

    We need a much smaller, less rowdy more efficient parliament. Wasting time putting on top hats and crying “I spy strangers” may be cute, but it rather wastes time. We need electronic voting so that we don’t waste time going to lobbies. If they didn’t waste time calling each other “Hon Gentleman and Rt Hon friend etc, then there would be more time for debate.

    Fixed term parliaments are a must. And from now on payments of any kind must be made on the same basis as they are for other people..... with receipts!

  3. I doubt if anyone will take his speech seriously. He's already reneged on the promise of a referendum on Europe and has ignored all the evidence on the global warming scams detailed in etc. He says the evidence on global warming is a done deal.
    He has forced unwelcome candidates onto constituencies and ignored the pleas from locals.
    He sucks up to minorities and is shaky on immigration.
    He wobbles whenever the heat is put on him by the press or opposition (recently over his spending cuts that would be huge then not much at all really)
    He's basically Tony Bliar MK2 and he will be a disaster for Britain.
    I'd prefer if everyone voted for an alternative candidate in the election. Vote them all out and get a completely new set of people to represent us.
    How much has he already sold out to Murdoch to get him to support the Tories ? The Labour party sold their soul to Murdoch and will keep quiet about the Tories being Murdochs new best pals. Don't you wonder why ?

  4. Anon,

    Unfair, but I know exactly where you are coming from with most of that.


    I think we should maintain the marks of respect, and decency in our parliament- RH Gentleman helps keep things civil. I say keep that proceedure and just give the parliament [the legislature] control over most of its own timetable...that ought to enable our representatives to allocate more time to debates, and better hold the government to account.

    It is criminal that the legislature has to beg the government [the exective arm] for air time in debates....and its something that Disraeli and Gladstone with the three hour long PMQs never had the benefit of.

  5. Anon. I wonder too how much will be spin. Not because he's a Tory, but because he's a politician. But that is why they need to be shook up. We need to be able start to believe them.

    Cameron has certainly been shaky on a variety of stuff as you say... It's what I've always worried about about him. He believes what the last person he talked to told him to believe.

    Your idea of voting for independents is interesting but, I doubt that in the long run it will make much difference. There are big enough core votes for all the parties that they would still end up winning.

    Although I accept completely that it would mean a large independent vote, and maybe few independent members.

    It would concentrate their minds, but only for a short time. Martin Bell was going to be the beginning of a new style of government, but it never happened.

    They worried for a few weeks and then it was back to business as usual. Trotters in the trough.

    You're right Murdoch the Evil is really the King.

  6. From the tory diary

    CCHQ tell candidates to clear policy blogs before publication

    On Wednesday all candidates were instructed to "check all newspaper articles and press releases, videos or blogposts about national issues with the relevant Press Officer."

    Some candidates are furious - seeing CCHQ exhibiting tendencies towards control freakery reminiscent of New Labour.

    Oh yes it will be different under Cameron...
    the reality against the Cameron spin

  7. Dean: I agree and disagree.

    Of course we should maintain a respectful parliament. But we don’t need to call each other “hon” and “rt hon” in order to do that.

    Surely we can be civil to each other without being defferential, and surely we can respect people who are simply "Mr Green" or "Miss MacKintosh".

    Apart from FMQs the Scottish parliament manages to remain quiet and respectful without using that kind of language. (Even at FMQs it is respectful except for the exchanges between gray and Salmond.) In Wales even FMQ is carried out respectfully in English and Welsh, and there they appear even to use first names. Perhaps that makes it less adversarial. It certainly works. I watched FMQs the other night and was mighty impressed. Thay actually got things done.

    We need to bring parliament into the 21st century. The waste of time has to be stopped. We can’t afford it.

  8. Interesting article Niko.

    I imagine that after the PR messes that have been made over the recent weeks... and the attendant closing of the polling gap... they are trying to make sure that no one is off message.

    New Labour... New Tories... It’s probably happening in the Liberals too, although no one has noticed, or, if they have they don’t care...

    No one from the SNP has ever said or indicated to me that I should be careful what I say about the party or its policies. Although I wouldn’t want to do anything that would jeopardise my party’s position, I’d leave before I’d accept to be gagged. And surely that’s the way it should be.

  9. Tris,

    All reform should be to strengthen what works and replace what doesn't.

    I in that vein to think that it is slightly beside the point to worry about how they address each other, if R.H stuff makes an adversarial system more polite then it has a valuable function.

    Remember Westminster is adversarial, and this is not neccessarily a bad thing, if you free the legislature by, for example providing it with more independence from the executive.
    This is where the real meat of future Tory reforms shall focus on I reckon. Ending the power of the whips, giving Westminster power over what it debates, and set elections are three more relevant reforms..

  10. Well, I accept that it is a small thing Dean. It doesn't make it any more polite though of course. It's simply said as a matter of course. It reminds of course, in a class ridden society, who is a Privy Counsellor and who is not.

    But we need to clear out the time wasting traditions that keep these people apart from us. You and I can be civil to each other without calling each other Honourable, or Noble...

    And it wouldn’t be quite so stupid if it were anything like true. The majority of them are neither... They are devaluing the words!

  11. I've posted a blog article for today talking about some of the themes, and policy proposals he raised. I rather liked his boldness.

  12. Thanks Dean. I'll have a look. I was going to do a follow up post, but will probably content myself with commenting chez toi.