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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Independent politicians - independent voices

Following on from
Futures Forum: Independent Councillors - independent voices
here's an interesting piece on how to 'encourage more conviction politicians and fewer party-political clones.'

Published: 
Dominic Raab is MP for Esher & Walton
First, select more candidates by open primary, preferably by postal ballot to maximise local involvement. This allows anyone who registers – not just members of the political party – to come to the final selection meeting and have their say on the candidate. Having gone through the process, I know it leaves an indelible mark. People don’t necessarily want a maverick or compulsive rebel. But they do want to be persuaded that – if push comes to shove – you will back your conscience and constituents, not just roll over and ape the party line.
Second, a robust right to recall an MP, who behaves improperly or neglects his duties, would strengthen public confidence, and focus MPs’ minds on their local accountability. The coalition has introduced recall-lite, which lets Parliament filter the decision. This month, Zac Goldsmith MP proposed beefing it up, by allowing 20 per cent of the local electorate to trigger a formal vote directly. Backbench MPs backed the idea by 127 to 17. Now would be a good time for the Government to take it up.
Third, having strengthened the independence of MPs, Parliament as a whole needs to push back on the creeping power of government. That includes greater Parliamentary control over its own business, so the Whips (the party political enforcers in Parliament) can’t shove awkward issues off the agenda. For years, the Whips have honed the French philosopher Paul ValĂ©ry’s definition of politics as “the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them”. In my own experience, they assiduously ensured there has never been Parliamentary time to debate any amendment to legislation I have tabled, from extradition to deportation reform, despite strong cross-party support in each case.
Likewise, Bill committees – which consider the nuts and bolts of new laws – should be elected by the House, not hand-picked by Whips for their malleability. And, by cutting the number of MPs on the government’s payroll – and scything off the number of posts outside ministerial rank, which are nonetheless offered on condition of voting loyalty – we could reduce political patronage, leaving Parliament a commensurably stronger bulwark against an overbearing executive.

Dominic Raab MP: We need more conviction MPs – and fewer political clones | Conservative Home


However, whilst Select Committees at Westminster have been beefed up to some degree
Committees - UK Parliament
the committee system at East Devon is still very much under the behest of the executive and tends not to show too much 'conviction':
SWAT-South West Audit Travesty | Sidmouth Independent News
Angry Hughes brands own Tory leaders ‘spineless and arrogant’ - News - Sidmouth Herald
Scrutiny councillors probing East Devon Business Forum are GAGGED! | Exeter Express and Echo

Although the Development Management (or planning) Committee showed considerable independence over the controversial application for developing Knowle:
www.eastdevon.gov.uk/special_dev_man_010313_mins.pdf

See also: Futures Forum: Probity, accountability and transparency
Futures Forum: Transparency and process in East Devon... a summary
Futures Forum: "Over-representing parties through the voting system"

Thanks to Claire Wright - Your Independent East Devon District Councillor for Ottery Rural              for the link.
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