Friday, May 22, 2009

Bring the UK Parliament into the twenty first century

The MPs' expenses controversy has seriously undermined the public's faith in the current political process and its politicians. Its no surprise that people have lost faith in the present system and many of the MPs in it. I agree with the sentiments expressed by Gerald Gannaway from Knowle Park (Feedback: MPs expenses scandal, Bristol Evening Post, May 21).

Something that makes it even worse is that the more recent political bodies set up, the London, Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies and the Scottish Parliament, have always operated under much more strict rules. It’s utterly appalling that the UK Parliament has not at least matched the processes and standards they can see elsewhere in the country.

Yes we need to ensure that the system is cleansed of MPs who don’t know right from wrong when making expense claims and that a completely open, transparent, independently verified system is put in place – but we also need to take the chance to make root and branch democratic reforms to bring our out of date UK Parliament into the twenty first century.

These ideas (and more!) should be on the table: a written constitution so we all know where we stand; decentralization of power to give more influence to local communities and regions; electoral reform so that all votes count; a Bill of Rights; laws to enable Citizens Initiatives following a local or regional referendum; a system with rules to facilitate the recall of MPs and Councillors between elections, if enough of their constituents want it; 4 year fixed term parliaments; a fully elected second chamber to replace the House of Lords…

With elections to the European Parliament and local councils coming up on June 4th many very people are wondering whether it's worth bothering to vote at all. This worries me. If the turnout is really low it makes it easier for the BNP to win a seat. So to voters who cannot bear the thought of voting Labour, Conservative or Lib-Dem, I’d say what about voting Green!! Not only will this help Green Party MEPs and Councillors get elected, it is also a positive vote for both the present and the future, including deep reform of the system.

As was said in the recent Green election broadcast - if you don't want things to continue as they are, if you think fairness, integrity and the environment belong in politics then vote Green.

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