Monday, 5 October 2009

Mary Honeyball, are you aware of what reform is or aren't you?

Maybe Mary Honeyball MEP wants a nice cosy soundbite, like wot Gordon gave her in Brighton last week, when she wrote for LabourList 'Nick, are you committed to reform or aren't you?'. Too busy to read all 92 pages of Nick's pamphlet the Liberal Moment.

Maybe she was too busy trying to get elected to hear Nick Clegg calling for deep and serious reform before the summer recess. A far deeper reform than her dear leader was willing to offer in the speech that apparently was changing key themes up to 1:30 on the morning it was made.

Maybe, most worryingly, she doesn't know that reform is, this history of her own party to fail to deliver, or maybe like so many in the Labour Party she just doesn't get it.

To save you time Mary all you need to read to see that Nick is pages 45-49 of the Liberal Moment. Or maybe look at what the Lib Dems did in Scotland delivering on electoral reform into the programme of Government after only 4 years as a minor partner to a larger party. When after 12 years of a large majority Labor has failed to meet its 1997 pledges to bring about a fully elected House of Lords or the promise of electoral reform.

Nick outlines what true reform is, in those few short pages. He points out that the only more centralised Government system is Europe is in a place with fewer people than the Borough of Croydon, and that being Malta. Yet 16 years ago the great Labour hope, no not Blair but John Smith said:

"I want to see a fundamental shift in the balance of power between the citizen and te state - a shift away from an overpowering state to a citizens' democracy where the people have rights and powers and where they are served by accountable and responsive government."

So much for the road not taken. Nick does admit that Labour did start on some of the reforms that Robin Cook and Bob Maclennan sought to push forward, but before them Roy Jenkins. But they have failed on the big things and some of the delivery. Labour have refused to cap donations. Refuse to listen to their own members but bow to the union paymasters.

Jenkins wanted power dispersed from an overbearing executive and given back to Parliament, yet Labour have just closed in, trying to control the Internet, the media and the voters from a war room in Whitehall. He lists the lack of transparency and scrutiny that led to the expenses scandal being so blown up, as nobody had any idea what some of their MPs were up to, and then when they did Parliament over did it with the redacting.

But Mary one of the final paragraphs answers your question fully. Nick writes:

"Finally, but fundamentally, we need to give people a proper say in who governs the country with fair votes. No government should be able to secure total power with the support of just one out of five people. Political reform might seem obscure sometimes, but it underpins real change. As I have outlined, it is our very system of election that confines the scope of our governments to create a fairer, freer society that Liberal Democrats have always championed."

So why then Mary asks are we bowing to the Conservatives, did you miss it Mary. Nick wants to be Prime Minister. We already have Labour on the run. We are looking to target the Conservatives and we'll put up a stronger fight that Labour are doing at present. Recent opinion polls after our conference showed clear inroads into the Conservative support, with a little bit more chipped off a faltering Labour Party.

We're taking the fight to both of you, a message of real change and real reform that neither of the other parties have delivered despite having the votes to.

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