James Forsyth

Cameron is talking the talk on the reform Britain needs

Cameron is talking the talk on the reform Britain needs
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The headline coming out of David Cameron’s speech tomorrow, which The Guardian publishes as an essay tomorrow, will be his rejection of PR. But I’m more interested by how Cameron is again hitting the right notes about broader political reform. 

Take these two passages:

“I believe the central objective of the new politics we need should be a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power: from the state to citizens; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities; from the EU to Britain; from judges to the people; from bureaucracy to democracy.

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But the tragic truth today is that no matter how much we strengthen parliament or hold government to account, there will still be forces at work in our country that are completely unaccountable to the people of Britain – people and organisations that have huge power and control over our daily lives and yet which no citizen can actually get at. Almost half the regulations affecting our businesses come from the EU. And since the advent of the Human Rights Act, judges are increasingly making our laws. The EU and the judges – neither of them accountable to British citizens – have taken too much power over issues that are contested aspects of public policy, and which should therefore be settled in the realm of democratic politics.

It's no wonder people feel so disillusioned with politics and parliament when they see so many big decisions that affect their lives being made somewhere else. So a progressive reform agenda demands that we redistribute power from the EU to Britain, and from judges to the people.” Cameron goes on to say “We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty” and pledge that the Tories will “negotiate the return of powers” from the EU. The devil on these questions really is in the detail. For instance, does the commitment to hold a referendum on Lisbon hold if it has already been ratified across the EU?

But it is hugely encouraging to see Cameron using this crisis to advance this agenda. There is a real chance here for Cameron to turn the ‘post bureaucratic age’, a rather clunky sound bite, into a potent campaign for a new politics which sends the Tories into power with a clear, firm mandate. 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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