Jo welcomes to the reopening of debates on constitutional reform, but says Labour and Tory proposals are inadequate and half-hearted.
David Cameron today put forward Tory proposals for putting political power back in the hands of the public, while Justice Minister Jack Straw claimed that plenty has already been done under the Labour government. However, Liberal Democrats believe the proposals do not go far enough.
Earlier this year, Jo proposed in the House of Commons that voters should be able to recall their Member of Parliament if they felt they were not up to the job. She proposed that rather than waiting for a general election, constituents could use a petition to call for a by-election.
Jo has also called on the government to bring in a fully elected House of Lords, and lobbied for electoral reform to give citizens more influence over political decisions. Both Labour and the Conservatives have rejected calls for a system based on greater proportionality, which would make Parliament more representative of the will of the people.
Commenting, Jo said:
“The Liberal Democrats have been calling for constitutional reform for many years, so I’m pleased that the other parties are now willing to talk about it, even if it has taken media scandals and public outrage for that to happen. However, I am concerned that while they represent themselves as radical reformers, their policies do not live up to their slogans.
“Not since 1935 have 50% of voters actually voted for the winning party, and only 35% of voters elected the current government, yet time and time again we get over-powerful governments who are able to overrule the rest of Parliament. It is no wonder that many people are discouraged from voting when we have a system which ensures that many people’s votes make no difference. Yet Labour and the Tories still want to keep this system.
“Many MPs have recently announced that they will stand down at the next election, but why should their constituents have to wait that long if they want their MP to go? Members of Parliament work for their constituents, and if constituents want to sack their MP then they should be able to do so, using a petition, regardless of when the next general election is due.”