Total Recall is more than just a summer blockbuster—it’s a right!
Author: Zoe Stavri
Published on Jul 30, 2012
Published on the 30th July 2012
When the Coalition was agreed in 2010, one of the promises was to propose the right to recall.
At its fullest, recall allows voters to force a by-election when they have no confidence in their MP, due to, for example, broken electoral promises or a scandal. The ideal mechanism for doing this involves three steps. First, a certain proportion of people in the MP’s constituency would sign a petition for recall of the representative. Then a recall referendum is held, asking the voters if they want that MP recalled. If the majority agree, there’s a by-election.
This move would put more power into the hands of the people, taking it away from the politicians. Under total recall, constituents have the power to remove MPs who have failed them rather than wait until the end of their term. It increases accountability of the politicians, and reminds them who they work for.
The government has never proposed total recall: they chose to opt for a system where a committee of MPs decides whether the recall referendum happens rather than giving the electorate the ability to make this choice. Furthemore, recall would only happen in the case of “serious wrongdoing”, such as when an MP went to prison. Many of these situations would already trigger a by-election, making the government proposals look like a token gesture. The proposals were scrutinised by the Select Committee for Political and Constitutional Reform, who deemed it inadequate and suggested it be shelved.
A bill has been proposed which would allow for total recall. The Recall of Elected Representatives Bill is due its second reading on 30th November, and its sponsor, Zac Goldsmith, is more than aware of the importance of total recall.
We do not want recall in half measures. The public who have been promised this for so long deserve better, When Unlock Democracy give evidence to the Select Committee we stated that this Bill is not worth the paper it is written on. So here is our recommendation to the Government - get a new piece of paper.