All three Croydon MPs vote against greater accountability

A proper B'stard: signalling contempt for the people of Croydon

A proper B’stard: signalling contempt for the people of Croydon

ALL IN THIS TOGETHER (Part 94): What’s the difference between Progress MP Steve Reed OBE and the Tories’ arch-expenses-claimer “Sir” Tricky Dicky Ottaway?

Not a lot when it comes to their respective positions on accountability to their constituents, if a parliamentary vote on Tuesday night is concerned.

Both Reed and Ottaway, together with Croydon Central’s Gavin Barwell, all voted against giving their constituents what is regarded by supporters of greater accountability as a “real” right of recalling their MP.

A government-sponsored Recall of MPs bill is being scrutinised in Parliament. The bill proposes that an MP would face a by-election if 10 per cent of constituents sign a petition after the MP is found guilty of “serious wrongdoing”.

That hefty 10 per cent requirement would mean that 7,700 constituents in Croydon Central would need to sign a petition to get their MP recalled, or more than 8,000 in Croydon South, and in Croydon North it would need 10,000 to activate recall.

But even that would not be automatic. Under the ConDem government’s proposals, the “serious wrongdoing” by the MP necessary to allow public action against them would only be allowed if the sitting MP is sentenced to more than 12 months in jail, or is banned from the Commons for more than 21 days.

Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond, has championed the recall of MPs, but has seen his original proposals become so watered down as to be rendered powerless.

Goldsmith had originally proposed that recall could be activated by a petition of 5 per cent of all constituents. “The MPs didn’t like it because 5 per cent is too low a hurdle to get the process started,” our mole on the lawn outside the Croydon Tories’ headquarters in Purley suggests. “It would have led to a lot of party political driven games.

“The Tories locally could organise 5 per cent of electors to go to the Town Hall to sign such a petition against a Croydon Central Labour MP.”

Tuesday night’s vote was on an amendment proposed by Goldsmith which would have excluded Parliament’s standards committee from any role in determining whether errant MPs should face re-election.

All MPs were given a free vote by their political parties. Although two of Croydon’s three MPs are regular users of social media when they want to promote themselves, Inside Croydon is unaware of Reed or Barwell consulting their constituents in any way about how they might vote on the Recall bill.

Belatedly – ie. after he’d voted against – Barwell did try to justify his actions. Stating that he is a supporter of recall, Barwell claimed that the Goldsmith amendment “set the bar too high”, and “…that it would allow people to initiate recall for any reason. I don’t agree with that”. Doesn’t sound like much of a recall supporter at all. But then, Gav does work in the Tory whips’ office for Michael Gove, enforcing the party line.

Reed, Ottaway and Barwell, together with 337 other MPs, voted against the amendment. Clearly, they don’t trust their constituents.

Then again, you wouldn’t expect chickens to vote for Christmas, would you?

All in this together, indeed. Or two cheeks of the same arse.

Coming to Croydon

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in 2015 General Election, Croydon Central, Croydon North, Croydon South, Gavin Barwell, Richard Ottaway MP, Steve Reed MP and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to All three Croydon MPs vote against greater accountability

  1. Your comment “Clearly, they don’t trust their constituents.” says it all really.

    As you say 10% is a very high barrier to mount a malicious petition to recall an MP. Even 5% is a high barrier. Do our current politicians really think that their political opponents are going to waste a lot of time and resources to mount such a petition? Even if a malicious petition by recall political opponents did succeed do our politicians not think that the voters will not see through that political ruse? Where recall already exists in the World there is no evidence of malicious recalls occurring.

    What the Croydon MPs fail to understand is that if they serve their constituents well then any recall attempts will fail. The best recent example of this was in Clacton. If you had asked me three months ago who is the best constituency MP in the UK I would have said the (then) Conservative MP, Douglas Carwell. Douglas managed to grow his Constituency Association at a time when most Conservative Associations were diminishing in their membership. In fact I remember writing to him (in a personal capacity) a couple of years ago asking him how he did it, to which he sent an excellent reply even though I am not a constituent of his, a point that I highlighted in my letter.

    The work of Douglas has been rewarded because, in spite of having a large (Conservative) majority, when he asked his electorate in a by-election whether they should have a different Conservative MP they said NO and stayed with Douglas with an increased majority. The polling (and more importantly the bookmakers) think the same will happen to Mark Reckless in forthcoming Rochester and Stood by-election.

    As we know even though Douglas is part of the Government opposition he fully supported Zac’s Bill. Indeed recall of MPs have been UKIP policy for many years.

    Until our politicians start to trust their electorate then the electorate is not going to trust our MPs. Until that trust has been establish then you can understand why our MPs feel they are vulnerable to losing their elected position. It is a shame that we have got to that position with our politicians.

  2. davidcallam says:

    I suppose we must face the sad fact that all three of Croydon’s representatives are career politicians who put their own livelihoods before any notion of democratic accountability.

    They are civil servants and they should be bound by the standard contract of service, which would include dismissal for gross misconduct and the ongoing pay freeze

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