Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, has been leading the campaign in favour of giving voters the power to sack their MPs.
The government’s Recall Bill, endorsed by Nick Clegg, would allow the possibility for an MP to be recalled if one of two conditions are met.
If an MP is either convicted of an offense and gets a sentence of 12 months or less or if the House of Commons suspends them for at least 21 sitting days then a by-election can take place if 10 percent of the MP’s constituency voters sign a recall petition.
However, Caroline Lucas believes that the Bill does not go far enough and has instead voiced her support for a rival plan that was introduced in Parliament by the Conservative backbencher Zac Goldsmith. Under this private member’s bill, power to recall MPs would be fully placed in the hands of the voters with a by-election being instigated if 5% of voters in a constituency sign a “notice of intent to recall” followed by 20% of voters then signing a “recall petition”.
This amendment to the Recall Bill was voted upon in the Commons on Monday 27 October and was defeated.
When raising concerns over the fact that the current Recall Bill does not go far enough, Caroline Lucas said: “Ultimately voter driven recall will only improve democracy. Anything else 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.”
She later added: “If we as MPs want voters to trust us, we have to trust them to make sensible decisions.”
Caroline Lucas, being far enough away from the power games of the political elite, has the luxury of being able to base her political and Parliamentary actions on moral principles. Her support here for a stronger Recall Bill is a clear example of this.
The power of recall, if it’s to be effective, should be fully in the hands of the people. In the current system the voters will only be allowed to instigate a recall petition based upon two criteria, both of which are extremely rare and one of which is decided within the House of Commons itself.
MPs are currently trying to reap the benefits of increased accountability without actually implementing and deserving it. Not only will this not work but it will also no doubt fuel the frustration of an electorate who have less and less trust in and respect for the people that represent them in Parliament.