Clause 1 — How an MP becomes subject to a recall petition process

Part of Bill Presented — International Trade Agreements (Scrutiny) – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 27th October 2014.

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Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Shadow Minister (Defence) 6:45 pm, 27th October 2014

I am going to answer the hon. Lady’s point if she is patient.

On the hon. Lady’s point about the electorate, the hon. Member for Richmond Park said it is necessary to have 51% of the electorate. No, it is not. In Colorado the recall election had a turnout of 36%, and under what is being proposed by the hon. Gentleman and his supporters it is only necessary to have 51% of the turnout. A small number of people might turn out, and a huge swathe of people in a constituency who might have strong views on other issues but not the issue in question might not be mobilised and might not vote. So to the idea that somehow this would be democratic, I say there could be a situation where there was a 60%, 65% or 70% turnout at a general election, and then a much lower turnout for a recall election—as low as 10% if police and crime commissioner elections are anything to go by—could determine the future of that Member of Parliament. It would take a very strong individual then to stand up before the electorate after the damage done in that process, because we all know what would happen with that individual.

The idea that somehow large numbers of people would give power to the mass of people is therefore complete nonsense. In the United States this gives power to large numbers of small groups of well-organised individuals. People should google the Koch brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council—which is actually the libertarian wing of the Tea party and is where this proposal is coming from. I think this is very dangerous for progressive politics both in the United States and this country.