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
- CODA’s Wind In The Willows, Charles Cryer, Carshalton, Oct 29-Nov 1
- David Lean Cinema: Belle, Oct 30
- SNATH free film festival, Norbury Park tennis club, Oct 30
- NHS free health fair, Central Parade, New Addington, Oct 31
- SNATH free film festival Halloween event, Stanley Halls, Oct 31
- Streatham-Croydon women’s rugby training, Frant Road, Nov 2
- World War I centenary concert, Ruskin House, Nov 2
- MOPAC policing meeting, Surrey Street, Nov 4
- Personal safety training for volunteers, Nov 4
- St Giles School opening morning, Nov 5
- David Lean Cinema: Two Days, One Night, Nov 6
- Park Hill School fireworks display, Nov 7
- Grange Park bulb-planting event, Nov 8
- Streatham-Croydon women’s rugby training, Frant Road, Nov 9
- Brook recording studio open day and party, Nov 9
- David Lean Cinema, Paths of Glory, Nov 11
- Albert Einstein – Relativity Speaking, Spread Eagle, Nov 12-15
- David Lean Cinema, Ida, Nov 13
- Oval Tavern Folk Club, Nov 14
- South Croydon business breakfast, Nov 15
- Streatham-Croydon women’s rugby training, Frant Road, Nov 16
- Personal safety training for volunteers, Nov 17
- David Lean Cinema, Effie Gray, Nov 20
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
- Choose Your Own Documentary, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 21-22
- David Lean Cinema, Lilting, Nov 22
- Streatham-Croydon women’s rugby training, Frant Road, Nov 23
- David Lean Cinema, Wakolda, Nov 27
- The Last Sense of Sudden, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 27-29
- Ghost Stories for Christmas, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 3
- Fog Horn Funnies, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 6
- Coulsdon Yulefest, Dec 6-7
- Oval Tavern Folk Club, Dec 7
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
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