Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Electoral Reform Society calls for real change

As the expenses farrago continues, the Electoral Reform Society has called on the Prime Minister to deliver on Labour's broken promise to build a new politics in Britain. No number of Martin Bells can stop this rot, the Society claims.

Dr Ken Ritchie, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society said:

"Westminster Villagers have done themselves few favours in the last week. But now is the time for perspective. This problem is not rooted in the ethics of moats and scatter cushions. And it is bigger than the minority of parliamentarians who have been fiddling the system.

"These revelations have revealed a crisis of accountability at Westminster, a gap between people and politicians that has become a chasm. We have a government elected on a little more than a third of the vote. We have an enfeebled parliament that fails first to be representative, but which fails fundamentally to hold that government - or itself -to account. And for all the talk of convincing mandates barely one in three of our MPs can claim a majority of votes cast in their seats.

"It would take more than a political earthquake to chuck out the occupants of our safest seats, and no number of Martin Bell's alone can stop this rot. It is becoming abundantly clear while you can change your party leader or even change your government - only a new set of rules will deliver the real change our politics needs.

"The Prime Minister can show real leadership by finally delivering on Labour's promise of 1997 - and deliver a referendum on our voting system. In fell one swoop the government could give us a parliament that is both effective and responsive. It could put safe seats, parachutes and cronyism behind it and embrace a new kind of politics. Our political classes are already driving citizens into the willing arms of dangerous anti-politicians at the fringes - only through radical institutional change can they reconnect with the voters they have so long taken for granted.

"Time is short and it is not the time for more self-flagellation. Now is the time for action. The Government has until the Queen's Speech to show how serious they are about restoring faith in our democracy."

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