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Recall: MP Debate

October 23rd, 2014 by

On Tuesday MPs debated whether, and under what circumstances, we should be able to sack bad apple MPs.

After thousands of us emailed our MPs and had meetings up and down the country, 74 MPs have now signed the amendments that would lead to real recall.

On Tuesday many MPs stood up and explained the importance of these amendments. They put forward convincing arguments for the need to trust voters. Zac Goldsmith MP even referenced 38 Degrees members and how we paid for and wrote the amendments that MPs are now backing. Here are some MPs expressing support:

Margaret Hodge Tweet


Caroline Lucas Tweet


Graham Stuart Tweet


Douglas Carswell Tweet

Yet still both the Government and the Labour party seemed to be dragging their heels on supporting real voter driven recall. In their summing up at the end of the debate both said they were concerned about MPs being recalled because of how they vote. It would seem that some MPs think that their judgement is better than the wishes of those that elected them. In other words; they don’t trust their voters.

In reality in order for recall to happen the majority of voters in a constituency would have to back it in a yes/no referendum. It is already used in over 40 countries – including the USA, Taiwan, Japan, Germany and Switzerland.

The arguments that were being made against real recall on Tuesday were essentially, arguments against democracy.

It is not over yet though. MPs have been listening – and on Tuesday some of them stood up and argued for the importance of real recall. We’ve all been emailing them and talking to them, and in the week before this debate many came on-side and signed the amendments. But too many still think they can get away with not trusting their voters. We have another week to persuade them to vote the right way.

Email your MP here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/recall-where-they-stand

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Briefing for MPs: Amendments to the Recall of MPs Bill

October 16th, 2014 by

Creating Real, Voter-Driven Recall

Our democracy is in crisis. People’s trust in politicians and the political process is at an all- time low. Over 75% of people feel they have little or no power between elections and over half of people feel they have no influence over what the government does.

A recent report by the Committee for Standards in Public Life showed that:
• 26% of people have confidence in MPs, a new low and a 20% drop since 2008,
• 26% of people believe most MPs are competent, a 10% drop since 2008, and
• 14% of people think MPs are in touch with public concerns.

Introducing the power of recall will help reverse this and re-engage people in democracy. We cannot afford to have things stay as they are.

But, as it stands, the Recall of MPs Bill will do nothing more than enhance the internal disciplinary procedures of the House of Commons. This runs the terrible risk of causing more cynicism, disillusionment and disengagement in our democracy, not less. When the next scandal happens, and voters realise that they don’t have the power to recall their MP, things will only get worse.

Real recall must empower voters, not Westminster. It must give constituents the right to decide whether and the reasons why to attempt to recall their MP.

This briefing explains how the amendments to the Recall of MPs Bill will create a voter-driven recall process. It has checks and balances that would ensure that it is used very rarely and not subject to abuse. The aim is not for MPs to face frequent recall challenges but to improve dialogue between constituents and MPs that would help re-engage voters and rebuild trust in democracy.

38 Degrees members and the public at large want this. These amendments came about following input from 30,000 people. 173,000 people have signed the petition calling for real recall, 38 Degrees members have been holding meetings with their MPs across the country and 79% of British people support the right to recall MPs.

These amendments are being put down by Zac Goldsmith MP and a cross-party group of over 35 MPs.

The Aim

These amendments aim to create a real recall process that would

enhance the democratic process by improving dialogue between constituents and MPs and not create environment where MPs face regular recalls,

be used very rarely – it would be very difficult, but not impossible, for a recall to occur,

be safe from abuse – strong checks and balances with high thresholds so that powerful interests, campaign groups, unions etc could not abuse it,

be voter driven – constituents decide whether to attempt to recall their MP and the reasons why,

only be successful when the behaviour of a ‘bad apple’ MP had created a huge outcry in their constituency, and

not be a mere enhancement of the disciplinary procedures of the House of Commons.

Global Lessons

Recall is growing quickly in democracies around the world. It exists in 30 countries across 5 continents including Canada, Germany, Poland, Japan, India, South Korea, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Ecuador.

The USA has had recall for over 100 years and Switzerland for even longer.

In the USA it is used very rarely – only 40 times in over one hundred years despite it being applicable to many thousands of representatives over that period.

Restricting recall renders it ineffective – in US states where recall is not voter driven it has only ever been used on one occasion in over a hundred years.

The Process and the Checks and Balances

These amendments set up the following steps – or hurdles – required for a recall. The thresholds that must be met at each step are checks and balances in the process. These thresholds are deliberately high and will ensure recall happens very rarely.

Step 1 – Notice of Intent
If a ‘notice of intent’ to recall an MP is signed by 5% of voters in a constituency within 28 days then a recall petition is made available. Signatures can be gathered electronically or in person.

Step 2 – Recall Petition
If a recall petition is signed by 20% of voters in a constituency within 8 weeks then a recall referendum will be held. The petition must be signed in person and there will be at least four places in the constituency where this can be done.

Step 3 – Recall Referendum
If the majority of constituents vote for their MP to be recalled at the referendum, a by-election will be held where a new MP will be chosen. The referendum has to happen no less than 21 days, and no more than 27 days, after the issue of notice has been given. A referendum cannot happen within the 6 months leading up to a general election.

Common concerns and how these amendments address them

Frequent recall challenges – “MPs could face persistent recall challenges. MPs should be able to carry out their jobs without facing frequent recall campaigns.”

These amendments establish strong checks and balances (see above) to ensure that recall occurs very rarely.

In the dozens of democracies around the world that have recall it is used extremely rarely. In the USA where recall has existed for over one hundred years it has only ever been used 40 times despite the thousands and thousands of politicians who have served there and could have been recalled over this period.

Abuse by big money, powerful interests, political opponents, campaign groups etc -
“MPs with unpopular views could be recalled by a campaign backed by wealthy individuals. It must not be open to abuse by powerful vested interests or political opponents.”

The checks and balances mean that only in the very rare event where there is very strong and broad local support amongst constituents would a recall attempt succeed. The petition thresholds of 5% and then of 20% and then the need to win a referendum would mean that a private group attempting to influence it would have to commit massive resources on just a single constituency for months, with no guarantee of success and high risks of popular and political consequences against them.

If a wealthy individual or private organisation did try to influence a recall – even of just one single MP – it would cost huge resources and have no guarantee of success. There would also be the risk of a backlash like that seen in the Winchester constituency in 1997: following Mark Oaten’s two vote majority win, a successful electoral petition triggered a by election where Mr Oaten then won by a 21,556 majority.

The evidence from the USA shows that despite recall being used there for over 100 years , ‘big money’ does not influence or misuse the process. In fact recall was introduced in the USA as a remedy to stop the bad influence that big business and corrupt finance had over their democracy in the late 19th century. Every recall in the USA has been about a local issue, such as grave mismanagement of public finances.

MPs would be vulnerable to people who disagree with them – “MPs should be able to speak freely and express their opinions without fear of losing their seat before a General Election.”

The process these amendments establish sets up safety mechanisms with high thresholds (see above). This process has three hurdles that ensure that only when the behaviour of a ‘bad apple’ MP has created a huge outcry in their constituency would there be a chance that they could be recalled.

It would take several months for a successful recall to potentially happen, during which time there would be extensive dialogue and debate. The proposer/s of the recall would have to include a statement giving their reasons. Constituents would have ample opportunity to consider these reasons and decide whether to support the recall or not. Voters have the right to do this at election time so there is no good reason why we cannot trust them to do it in between elections too.

The difficulty presented by the three steps of the process and their high thresholds would mean a better culture of dialogue and discussion between MPs and their constituents. Improved constituency dialogue is the aim here: time and again, after interacting with their MP, people often come away with more understanding, acceptance and respect of their MP’s views.

Cost – “One real recall petition per constituency per Parliament could cost £100m.”

This is an unexplained figure put forward by the Liberal Democrats and makes the outlandish assumption that every single one of the 650 constituencies in the UK would seek to recall their MP at the same time. To meet the recall petition threshold alone this would mean over 10 million people signing local recall petitions across the UK – bear in mind that the biggest UK petition ever raised was on Post Office closures in 2006 which collected 4 million signatures.

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Recall: Meet your MP

October 14th, 2014 by

Soon we could have the power to sack bad-apple MPs. Fed up with broken politics? Here’s our chance to start fixing it.

MPs will soon have a choice whether to vote in real recall: a law that will give people the chance to get rid of bad MPs. Or they could vote for the government’s version which keeps the power in politicians hands.

We can get the real recall we want, if we convince enough MPs to support it. There’s not much time left before they vote. The killer question to get your MP on side: do you trust your voters? And what better way to ask than face-to-face? They’ll find it really difficult to say no.

Could you set up a meeting with your MP today?

Already 38 Degrees members across the country have been meeting their MPs to convince them to support real recall. But if we’re going to win, all of our MPs need to hear from us.

It’s easy to set up a meeting. When you click the link there are instructions on the webpage. The 38 Degrees staff team can invite other 38 Degrees members who live near you. There are also top tips to help you respond to questions your MP might have here.

And there’s some good news. Over the weekend the papers revealed that politicians will be free to vote how they choose to. It’s different to how it usually works – normally MPs have to follow what their party tells them. It means we have a better chance of convincing them.

Could you set up a meeting with your MP now? And then the staff team can invite other 38 Degrees members to come along with you.

Giving voters the power to sack MPs was 38 Degrees first campaign. And now the chance to improve politics and shake up democracy is within our grasp.

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Recall: Rebuttals for MP responses

October 9th, 2014 by

If you recently emailed your MP about recall, you may have got a reply that was similar to one of the three below. If you did, the office team have put together a draft reply which you could edit if you’d like, and send back to them.

Replying to your MP’s questions is a really important way to show your MP how much you care about real recall.

Please send any questions, or responses you get from MPs, to
recall@38degrees.org.uk

Typical reply from Conservative Party 

Dear Constituent, 

Thank you for contacting me about the recall of MPs.

The Government recently published a Bill to create a transparent and robust recall mechanism, where constituents are able to recall their Member of Parliament if they are found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing. Under its provisions MPs will be held to account between elections, but at the same time will not be left vulnerable to attack by those who simply disagree with them.

 The creation of a recall mechanism was a clear commitment in the Coalition’s Programme for Government and something that all three of the main Party manifestos committed to in 2010.

Under the proposals, a recall petition would be opened where: 

  • an MP is convicted in the UK of an offence and receives a custodial sentence of 12 months or less (for more than 12 months an MP is automatically expelled); or

  • the House of Commons orders the suspension of an MP for at least 21 sitting days.

To be successful a recall petition will need to be signed by at least 10 per cent of the registered voters in the constituency, when the MP’s seat would become vacant and a by-election held.

The recall model proposed fits with our system of Parliamentary democracy. Constituents elect MPs to represent them for five years and they should be able to carry out their jobs without facing frequent recall campaigns by their political opponents – but, where an MP’s behaviour has fallen below the standards expected of them, this Bill ensures that they will be subject to a recall petition.

I believe the Government’s proposed recall mechanism is the best approach so will not be supporting the draft law published by 38 Degrees. 

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Suggested Rebuttal

Dear

Thank you for your recent reply regarding the real recall amendments 38 Degrees is calling for to the government’s recall bill. I was however, quite concerned about a number of the points you made.

You say the government’s bill would give voters the power to hold MPs to account in between elections. Recall can only do this if it is voter driven, i.e. it empowers voters to decide themselves whether and why they want to attempt to recall their MP.

The proposed real recall amendments will ensure that the government’s recall bill does this. Currently the bill gives a committee of MPs the power to decide whether or not voters can attempt to recall their MP – and this will only happen if that MP has been found guilty of serious wrongdoing by that committee. Recall must empower voters, not committees.

You claim that by giving voters the right to decide if and whether to attempt to recall their MP the real recall amendments would make MPs vulnerable to attack by those who simply disagree with them leading to potentially frequent recall attempts by political opponents. This seems a strange claim to make given the series of checks and balances that the real recall amendments will create making it very difficult to recall an MP.

In the many democracies around the world that have recall (e.g. USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan) it is used extremely rarely and often strengthens the mandate of representatives. In the USA where recall has existed for over one hundred years it has only ever been used 40 times. I am surprised and concerned that your reply suggests you are not aware of this important evidence.

You also say voter driven recall would cause MPs to face frequent recalls that would prevent them from doing their jobs as representatives. The checks and balances in the real recall amendments ensure that frequent recalls would not happen.

Please support the real recall amendments to the government’s recall bill that will ensure recall empowers voters to decide whether and why to attempt to recall their MP. Thank you.

Typical Reply from the Liberal Democrat Party

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Recall of MPs Bill.

Liberal Democrats support the right of recall and I’m pleased the Coalition Government ensured that this year’s Queen’s Speech contained measures to get it into law. For too long, voters have not had any way to hold to account the small number of MPs who engage in serious wrongdoing.

At the moment, those MPs could stay in their seat until the general election. I think that is wrong.

The Recall of MPs Bill, which has now been published, proposes two triggers that would allow voters to open a petition and try to force a by-election. Once a petition is triggered, if 10% or more of registered voters in a constituency added their names to the petition, then there would be a by-election.

The first of these triggers would be if an MP is convicted of an offence and receives a custodial sentence of up to 12 months. MPs are already automatically expelled if they are given a jail sentence of more than 12 months.

The second trigger would be if the Parliamentary Standards Committee – a group of MPs from various parties as well as lay members from outside Parliament too – recommends (and the House of Commons accepts) the suspension of an MP from the House of Commons for at least 21 days.

Some people have called for a system of real recall, but it’s important to highlight the problems ‘real recall’ would create. MPs could face persistent recall challenges by those in their constituency who simply disagree with them. It could also lead to MPs with unpopular views (rather than who had committed serious wrongdoing) being removed from their seats by a campaign backed by wealthy individuals or campaign groups. Possible issues where this might have occurred recently were on votes on Equal Marriage and intervention in Syria, with very strong opinions being held on both sides.

The cost of real recall should not be underestimated either. Just one real recall petition per constituency per Parliament could cost the taxpayer £100m.

I think MPs should be able to speak freely and express their opinions without fear of being thrown out of their jobs before a General Election. Even where I strongly disagree with the views of MPs from other parties, I think it is really important to protect their ability to make up their own minds on how they vote.

This Bill will give you and every other voter out there the ability to do something you’ve never been able to do before – hold MPs guilty of serious wrongdoing to account.

Thank you again for contacting on this important issue. I hope this letter has assured you of the importance I place on this matter.

 With best wishes,

 Yours sincerely,

Suggested Rebuttal 

Dear

Thank you for your recent reply regarding the real recall amendments 38 Degrees is calling for to the government’s recall bill. I was however, quite concerned about a number of the points you made.

You say that you support recall only if MPs are found guilty of serious wrongdoing. Recall needs to be voter driven, to empower voters to decide themselves whether and why they want to attempt to recall their MP. This is how it works in the many democracies that have it already (e.g. USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan). I am surprised and concerned that your reply suggests you are not aware of these important facts.

You say MPs could face consistent recall challenges, yet recall is used extremely rarely and often strengthens the mandate of representatives in the democracies that have it. In the USA where it has existed for over one hundred years it has only ever been used 40 times. Again I am surprised and concerned that you seem unaware of these important facts.

You say MPs with unpopular views could be removed from their seats by a campaign backed by wealthy individuals or campaign groups. However, someone like Rupert Murdoch would have nothing to gain by spending their resources – in Murdoch’s case column space in his national newspapers – over many weeks, even months, in order to attempt to influence a local constituency recall attempt. The attempt may be unsuccessful, with the public, customers, financial backers or advertisers of Mr Murdoch’s publications objecting or being angered.

Furthermore, despite over 100 years of recall being used across the USA, ‘big money’ does not influence or misuse the process there. In fact recall was introduced in the USA as a remedy to stop the bad influence that big business and corrupt finance had over their democracy in the late 19th century.

Finally, with regards to the unexplained figure of £100 million, this is based on the outlandish assumption that every single one of the 650 constituencies in the UK would seek to recall their MP at once. This would mean over 10 million people signing respective recall petitions across the UK. The biggest UK petition ever raised was on Post Office closures in 2006 which collected 4 million signatures. I think it is highly irresponsible to quote a figure like this without an explanation especially given that this figure is based on such an outlandish assumption.

Please support the real recall amendments to the government’s recall bill that will ensure recall empowers voters to decide whether and why to attempt to recall their MP.

Thank you.

Typical Reply from the Labour Party

Thank you for writing to me recently concerning the right of constituents to recall their Member of Parliament.

I support the principle of a right to recall where an MP has been involved in serious misconduct as I believe this would provide greater accountability and it would further empower constituents. The right of recall could also increase public engagement in politics and help to restore public trust.

The previous Labour Government had plans to introduce a right of recall and there was broad cross-party support for this at the last General Election. The Government has now brought forward a Bill. Whilst late in the day, it is to be welcomed.

We will scrutinise the Government’s Bill in great detail, but I am not in favour of a system of recall that simply enhances the House of Commons’ internal disciplinary procedures. There is a real risk that such a system will be seen as the political establishment closing ranks and could lose the confidence of the public.

In addition, any system of recall has to be designed in such a way that will avoid powerful vested interests from taking action against MPs, where no wrongdoing has happened, but they simply dislike the way a politician has voted on controversial issues.

I will therefore be judging the Government’s Bill on the basis of these two conditions.

I am aware that there is an alternative Bill which has been published by Zac Goldsmith MP and others, and am similarly looking at the details of these proposals.

Recall could play an important role in giving people a bigger say if we get the detail right. That is why I will be closely studying the Government’s Bill.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.

Yours sincerely,

Suggested Rebuttal

Dear

Thank you for your recent reply regarding the real recall amendments 38 Degrees is calling for to the government’s recall bill.

I am glad that you are not in favour of the bill that currently will only serve to empower an MP committee and not voters.

However, I am concerned that you say that giving voters the right to recall their MP only if that MP has been found guilty of serious misconduct could provide greater accountability and further empower constituents, increase public engagement and restore public trust.

Only voter driven recall will restore public trust and empower constituents. If recall is not voter driven, i.e. if it does not empower voters to decide themselves whether and why they want to attempt to recall their MP, then it risks causing disillusionment and further disengagement. This is how it works in the many democracies that have it already (e.g. USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan). I am surprised and concerned that your reply suggests you are not aware of this important facts.

You say that recall should not mean that powerful vested interests can take action against MPs. However, someone like Rupert Murdoch would have nothing to gain by spending their resources – in Murdoch’s case column space in his national newspapers – over many weeks, even months, in order to attempt to influence a local constituency recall attempt. The attempt may be unsuccessful, with the public, customers, financial backers or advertisers of Mr Murdoch’s publications being angered.

Furthermore, despite over 100 years of recall being used across the USA, ‘big money’ does not influence or misuse the process there. In fact recall was introduced in the USA as a remedy to stop the bad influence that big business and corrupt finance had over their democracy in the late 19th century. I am surprised and concerned that your reply suggests you are not aware of these important facts.

Please support the real recall amendments to the government’s recall bill that will ensure recall empowers voters to decide whether and why to attempt to recall their MP.

Thank you.

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Recall: Meet your MP

October 9th, 2014 by

It’s crunch time. In a few weeks MPs will vote on whether to support real recall: giving voters the power to sack bad MPs in between elections.

From the expenses scandal to cash for questions – we’ve seen ‘bad apple’ MPs who shouldn’t get to keep their job. But the government’s version of recall (unsurprisingly) wants to keeps the power to sack MPs within the Westminster club, and out of voters hands.

But there’s a real chance we could transform the recall bill to put voters in charge. First we need to persuade enough MPs to vote for crucial changes to the government’s plans. The vote’s in a couple of weeks so we have to move quickly.

Let’s start by arranging meetings with as many of our MPs as possible. MPs from all parties have already come out in support. Click here to set up a meeting with your MP.

It’s really easy to set up the meeting. When you click the link there are instructions on the webpage. And as soon as you have a meeting confirmed, the 38 Degrees staff team can invite other 38 Degrees members who live near you to come along. There are top tips and guides to help you respond to any questions MPs might have here.

But the key message you’ll need to get across, which MPs will find difficult to argue with face-to-face, is that they should trust their voters to make good decisions.

It’s within our grasp. MPs can, and will, vote for our changes. But they’ll need to hear from their voters to be convinced They need to know that this’ll be a vote-winner.

Can you set up a meeting now?

 

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Tips on how to convince your MP to back Real Recall

October 8th, 2014 by

As an MP himself Zac Goldsmith knows exactly the kind of things that your MP will need to hear to convince them to support the amendments to the Government’s recall bill

Here is a video of  his top tips to convince your MP to support real recall:

If you have any more questions on talking to your MP please get in touch at recall@38degrees.org.uk.

 

 

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Getting ready to visit your MP about the real recall bill

October 8th, 2014 by

Going to see your MP to persuade them to back real recall makes the difference in at least three different ways:

  1. Just by turning up, you’re sending a powerful signal that you care. MPs generally assume that if some people are coming to see them about an issue, that means an awful lot more of their voters are concerned.

  1. It’s a chance to ask your MP some questions and put your points to them. It forces them to engage properly with the issue rather than just following the party line.

  1. It’s a chance to ask your MP specifically to commit to do some things to help win the campaign.

This briefing gives you the essentials for what you need to know to visit your MP. There’s also some suggestions for “sticky questions” which suggests things you can ask your MP.

If you prefer to watch videos, there’s a five minute film explaining how to convince your MP from Zac Goldsmith MP here.

With all of this, please remember – you don’t need to be an expert, it’s about you and your opinions.

After your meeting, please do send a photo and a quick summary into the staff team so we can let other 38 Degrees members know how it went! You can email this into
recall@38degrees.org.uk

What is the real recall bill?

The real recall bill gives voters the power sack their MPs in between elections. Voters would have to state their reasons if they attempted to do this. 38 Degrees members helped pay for and write the real recall bill. We want MPs to vote for it, in the form of amendments to the government’s bill, later this month.

The real recall bill sets out three steps for recalling an MP:

Step 1 – Notice of intent

If a ‘notice of intent’ to recall an MP is signed by 5% of voters in a constituency within 28 days then a recall petition is made available. Signatures can be gathered electronically or in person.

Step 2 – Recall petition

If a recall petition is signed by 20% of voters in a constituency within 8 weeks then a recall referendum will be held. There will be four places in the constituency where voters can sign the petition.

Step 3 – Recall referendum

If the majority of constituents vote for their MP to be recalled at the referendum, a by-election will be held where a new MP will be chosen. The referendum has to happen no less than 21 days, and no more than 27 days, after the issue of notice has been given. A referendum cannot happen within 6 months of a general election.

What we want MPs to do

There are two things we need MPs to do:

  1. Sign the amendments which will be tabled after the Second Reading of the Bill (that’s the next stage of the Bill in Parliament)

  2. We need MPs to vote for the amendments to the government’s ‘Recall of MPs Bill’ that is progressing through the House of Commons now.

You can read the amendments here: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2014/10/07/recall-amendments-to-the-governments-plans/

It might be a good idea to print them off and take them with you to the meeting.

The key difference between the real recall bill, and the government’s cop-out version, is that real recall gives voters the power to call a recall referendum. The government’s bill wants to keep the power to call a referendum amongst a group of other MPs.

So the key question to put to your MP is:

“Will you please vote for real recall that puts voters in charge of whether and why to call a recall referendum in between elections, and not a committee of other MPs?”

How to deal with the common arguments

Here are the most common arguments made against the real recall bill and points that you can make to counter them. Your MP could say these things, so you can use these responses if they do.

It’s too complex to come up with a good voter driven recall bill, how can you relate a percentage required to sign the petition to the percentage which someone is elected by, for example?

  • The percentage (or margin) an MP has been elected by is not relevant. What is important is that, ultimately, an MP would only be recalled if a majority of constituents voted to kick them out.

  • At 20% the petition percentage is high – that is what’s important in order to prevent abuse of the power by a smaller group of individuals.

  • It’s not complicated in the USA and European countries that use recall effectively and 20% is the most common petition requirement.

Powerful interests and ‘big money’ like Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, will use recall against MPs they don’t like

  • Someone like Rupert Murdoch would have nothing to gain by spending their resources – in Murdoch’s case column space in his national newspapers – over many weeks in order to attempt to influence a local constituency recall attempt. The attempt may be unsuccessful, with the public, customers, financial backers or advertisers of Mr Murdoch’s publications objecting or being angered.

  • Despite over 100 years of recall being used across the USA, ‘big money’ does not influence or misuse the process. In fact recall was introduced in the USA as a remedy to stop the bad influence that big business and corrupt finance had over their democracy in the late 19th century.

We need a definition of wrongdoing/a trigger mechanism so that MPs can’t be recalled just because their constituents disagree with them (the Equal Marriage Bill is most frequently cited as an example of when this could have been ‘dangerous’)

  • Democracy is about trusting people to hold their MPs to account. We are happy for them to do this at election time so there is no logical reason why we can’t trust them to do it in between elections too.

  • It would take several months for an MP to be recalled, during which time there would be extensive dialogue and debate. The proposer/s of the recall would have to include a statement giving their reasons. Constituents would have ample opportunity to consider these reasons and decide whether to support the recall or not.

  • Recall is a valued and strong part of the democracies of the USA, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and many other democracies around the world.

I hate 38 Degrees – therefore I hate this bill

  • Consider the bill on its merits – it proposes a desperately needed improvement to our democracy that would re-engage people and lead to far better dialogue and interaction between people and politicians.

  • The bill has wide support, for example from citizens organisations such as Unlock Democracy and the Taxpayers Alliance.

The recall proposed by 38 Degrees would cost £100 million pounds a time

  • This is an unexplained figure put forward by the Lib Dems and makes the outlandish assumption that every single one of the 650 constituencies in the UK would seek to recall their MP. This would mean over 10 million people signing respective recall petitions across the UK – bear in mind that the biggest UK petition ever raised was on Post Office closures in 2006 which collected 4 million signatures.

A recall bill like the one proposed by 38 Degrees would destabilise democracy

  • the point of representative democracy is that we trust our MPs judgement, even if sometimes we disagree

  • Absolutely, but there are also some rare moments when we and a majority of our fellow constituents may be utterly incensed by something our MP has done – e.g. misclaiming tens of thousands of pounds of public money in expenses to pay for a second (or third!) house. In such situations the right for us to attempt to recall our MP would strengthen our democracy.

  • Recall would not stop our democracy being representative. Recall does not turn representatives into delegates (only a comprehensive system of citizens initiated referenda could do that). MPs would be free to act as they saw best and the extensive checks and balances of our recall bill ensure that it could not be abused.

  • This kind of bill would lead to MPs being populist and short term in their thinking – instead of doing what’s right for the country.

  • This assumes what constituents want is not right for the country. But democracy allows us to vote for our MPs which assumes we do know what is right for the country.

  • In democracies around the world that have recall (USA, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and many others) it does not cause short term thinking but rather strengthens the dialogue and communication between representatives and voters.

  • Governments with a small minority could be brought down by the use of a recall bill – no stability which is necessary for good governance

  • In over one hundred years of recall existing in the USA this has never happened and our recall bill has more checks and balances against abuse than the recall used there.

  • In democracies around the world that have recall (USA, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and many others) recall is used because of misconduct of individual representatives or specific policy issues that affect local areas and local people.

Needing 5%/20% of the electorate to sign a petition to trigger recall is too low – 20% would vote to recall an MP based only on party loyalties and no MP has the support of 80% of their constituents.

  • This misunderstands the process in our bill. 20% of constituents are required on the recall petition that would trigger the recall referendum. At the referendum a majority of constituents would need to vote to actually recall the MP. Note: most MPs do not have the support of a majority of their constituents at general elections.

Needing 20% of the electorate to sign a petition to trigger recall is too high – the Governments 10% threshold is better

  • There is a risk that the 10% threshold could be abused. Extensive analysis of use of recall in the democracies that have it around the world (USA, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan and many others) shows this.

Real recall doesn’t close the loophole on imprisoned MPs

  • Indeed, and this is intentional. MPs may have been imprisoned for reasons that constituents do not support. For example for protesting against a new local road or power station.

The returning officer has too much power

  • The returning officer’s power is nothing more than administrative and functional. It is necessary to have an unbiased official empowered to conduct the recall process if constituents wish to use it.

Here’s a few ideas for some sticky questions that might put your MP on the spot

If we trust people to reason when voting for you at election time why would you not trust them to reason between elections?

Why would you not be wildly supportive of this? If you think you’re a good MP you’ve got nothing to be afraid of. Real recall would even strengthen your mandate – so on that basis why would you not want to support it?

Dozens of other democracies around the world have voter-driven recall – the USA, Canada, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan etc etc. Don’t you think it’s time we moved forward and caught up with these countries?

Recall has proved that it engages people in politics and democracy in the dozens of countries that have it, like the USA, Germany and Canada. Why would you not support something that re-engaged people at a time when it is so desperately needed in our country?

Some MPs might already be on-side 

For those MPs, it’s important to make sure that they have signed the amendments. But you can also discuss with them other ways that they can get involved. For example, they could speak to their colleagues and ask them to back the amendments too.  Or they could encourage their party leaders to back the changes. They could also write to the local paper.

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Recall: amendments to the Government’s plans

October 7th, 2014 by

The expenses scandal, big money lobbying, cash for questions. MPs should work for voters, but it’s clear that some don’t.  It’s time that voters got the power to sack bad MPs in-between elections.

Our people-powered ‘recall’ law will do just that. So over the last few weeks our lawyer, funded by small donations from thousands of 38 Degrees members, and alongside some MPs, has written some amendments based on our people-powered law.

These amendments aim to fix the government’s cop-out plans for recall. In the coming weeks we’ll need to get as many MPs as possible to vote and sign up to support them.

Click here to read the amendments in full.

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A real recall law: Event at Liberal Democrat conference

October 2nd, 2014 by

Here are the details of the 38 Degrees event on a Real Recall law at Liberal Democrat Party Conference:

Real Recall: a better democracy
Tuesday 7th October
20:00 – 21:00
Alsh 2, The SECC, Glasgow

The panel includes Mark Pack, co-editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire, Andy Silvester of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, and Dr Evan Harris, former MP for Oxford West. Laura Townshend from the 38 Degrees office team will also be speaking.

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The expenses scandal, big money lobbying, cash for questions. MPs should work for voters, but it’s clear that many don’t. It’s time that voters got the power to sack bad MPs in between elections.

The 38 Degrees people-powered recall law will do just that – and MPs will soon be voting on it. But first, we need to get them onside. On Tuesday at the Liberal Democrat party conference the office team are hosting an event to get MPs – and the people who want to be our MPs – on board.

Liberal Democrats are hesitant about giving voters these powers. But to get elected, MPs need to show they’re listening to their voters – not the ‘party machine’. So let’s use people-power to fill the room. Can you send your MP an emailing asking them along now – and to see where they stand?

We’ve only got a couple of days until the event, please click here to ask your MP or candidate to go along now – and to see where they stand.

MPs and candidates say they want to build trust in politicians. If that’s true, they need to give us the power to hold any bad-apple MP to account. A ‘recall’ law is within our grasp. But getting as much support as possible from within Lib Dem ranks is vital. Their votes and the pressure they can bring could be what wins this.

The line-up of speakers at the event is full of people that Liberal Democrats will listen to. Mark Pack, co-editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire, is on the panel, so’s Dr Evan Harris, a former Lib Dem MP for and Andy Silvester from the TaxPayer’s Alliance.

38 Degrees members have persuaded Liberal Democrats to act against the government before. Thousands of us asked our MPs to scrap the Hospital Closure Clause. A crucial handful of Lib Dem MPs stuck their necks out – and tipped the balance! Together, let’s do the same again.

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38 Degrees members at Conservative party conference

October 2nd, 2014 by

On Tuesday, 38 Degrees members took the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham by storm. Twenty of us were there handing out leaflets to party-members walking in and out of the conference. We told party-members to support a real recall law – that would give voters the power to sack MPs who don’t do their job properly.

38 Degrees members have helped write a new law that would give voters these powers – and MPs will soon be voting on it. Together, we were trying to persuade the Conservatives to back our people-powered law – and prove that ordinary people won’t accept anything less.

MPs and candidates say they want to build trust in politicians. If that’s true, they need to give us the power to hold any ‘bad apple’ MPs to account. Getting as much support as possible for a recall law from within Tory ranks is vital. Their votes and the pressure they can bring could be what wins this.

Normally the space outside the conference is full of lobbyists and party members. Our presence handing out leaflets was a reminder to politicians walking in who they’re really accountable to.

Our leaflets were also advertising the 38 Degrees event taking place that evening – to explain the details of our people-powered recall law. Recall is a controversial topic for some politicians and the event was banned from the conference itself by the Conservative high command! Instead, it happened in a hotel next door.

But 38 Degrees members weren’t going to be locked out. Together, we wrote to our MPs and Conservative candidates asking them to come, to see where they stood – and how many would put the wishes of their voters first.

The line-up of speakers was full of people that Conservatives would listen to – who are all already behind the campaign. The head of the TaxPayer’s Alliance was on the panel, so was the Telegraph’s senior political correspondent and Zac Goldsmith, a Conservative MP.

It was a great opportunity to set out exactly why voters deserve a real recall law. Several PPCs – people standing to be future Conservative MPs – came along to the event after receiving invitations from their constituents. One PPC also spoke about the need to extend powers of recall to local councillors too.

The panel explained how real recall is the minimum of democratic change that we need. It was firmly put that most MPs listen to their constituents and do a good job, and that this law is about weeding out the bad apples, who let the whole side down.

The whole event was live tweeted on the 38 Degrees Twitter account. You can read all the top comments made here.

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