Labour and the Tories are falling over each other to claim themselves the party of reform (missing the whole point, as I explained earlier today).
Jackie Ashley, the columnist, can barely believe how nimbly David Cameron is dealing with the expenses issue despite many of his MPs being implicated in a big way.
“Cameron has undoubtedly got the tone right. He sounds chastened. He sounds as if he’s listening. Yet, when you probe it a little, almost everything David Cameron is suggesting boosts his own position, from calls for an early election to the forced retirement of old buffers,” Ashley marvels.
She has a point.
Anyway, Cameron’s op ed in Tuesday’s Guardian makes the following promises. I’ll leave you to decide how many of these amount to radical change.
• Limit the power of the prime minister by giving serious consideration to introducing fixed-term parliaments, ending the right of Downing Street to control the timing of general elections.
• Give MPs free votes during the consideration of bills at committee stage. They would also be allowed to decide the timetable of bills.
• Boost the power of backbench MPs by letting MPs choose the chairs and members of select committees.
• Send out text alerts on the progress of parliamentary bills and by posting proceedings on YouTube.
• Publish the expenses claims of all public servants earning more than £150,000.
• Strengthen local government by giving councils the power of “competence”. (This would allow councils to reverse Whitehall decisions to close popular services, such as a post office or a railway station, by giving them the power to raise money to keep them open.)