Today, David Cameron has – in an article in the Guardian, no less – told the world how he’s going to jolly well shake up Parliament. It’s all going to be terribly radical. And it’s going to be as short on substance as ever. What it is going to be, though, is more of the shameless opportunism I’ve discussed previously: the Guardian’s Jackie Ashley has now used the S-word, in a column today.
Cameron, as Ms Ashley has noticed, is making the right noises in the aftermath of Expensegate. He’s prompting enough of the old Tory guard to retire, either voluntarily or soon through open primaries, to enable him to bring in more young and like minded people. So far, so voter friendly. As I’ve previously considered, this works fine provided you keep up the barrage and don’t give the electorate time to think. Because if the Tories let that happen, the voters might start asking inconvenient questions.
Young Dave might be in favour of fixed term parliaments. But this is not a commitment, and nor is his advocacy unequivocal. Therefore he fails to give leadership on the issue. That’s not good enough. If he wants to pitch the idea, then we have to know where he stands. It is, as the Inquisition of Pax Jeremiah would swiftly establish, a straightforward question.
Dave would also, according to the Guardian, “open up the legislative process to outsiders by sending out text alerts on the progress of parliamentary bills”. Whoopee. Next, perhaps a spin-off series of “Britain’s got Tories”, voters urged to participate in “How’s my Legislating?” (with usual blurb on the cost of calls), or even an intellectual property deal with Simon Cowell. It ain’t going to happen.
What else? Well, Dave will also “publish the expenses claims of all public servants earning more than £150,000”. This follows from his idea of naming and shaming those in public service earning six figure sums. Great. Trying to dump on this small number of folks will have one effect: those who can do better elsewhere, and that may well be most of them, will leave. Moreover, the calibre of applicant willing to put up with such a regime will be that much lower. This is a most basic example of how not to do things.
And in the meantime, there on the periphery, but not mentioned too much – Dave won’t want to stir this pot any more than he has to – is the issue of the EU. His party is poised to ship an awful lot of votes to UKIP in the forthcoming Euro elections, and the whole European issue is potentially lethal for the Tories. It’s a very large elephant in an awfully small room. But he doesn’t seem to be keen on talking about it.
Perhaps that’s because he’s trying to move himself into a position where the elephant can’t crap on him. I’ll point up Dave’s Euro-problems next.