Peter Hoskin

Talking reform

Talking reform
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An intriguing set-up in today's Indpendent, as all three of the main party leaders write articles on the need for political reform.  The result, though, is a little underwhelming.  Despite some differences in tone and emphasis - Brown bangs on about Bills and committees; Cameron talks about strengthening Parliament; and Clegg dwells on party funding - the three declarations are marked by their rheotical similarity to one another.  Take, for instance, one of the central points that each makes:

Gordon Brown: "We will shortly publish proposals which reform the Commons and put more power where it belongs – in the people's hands. There is no option I will not consider if it redistributes power."

David Cameron:
"Meaningful reform must start with a simple, single objective. The Conservative Party's objective is this: to redistribute power from the powerful to the powerless."

Nick Clegg: "Finally, we must restore democracy by giving power back to people."

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that the parties hold the same positions in reality.  And I still think that the Tory leader has handled this crisis better than either of his opponents.  But these articles show just how easily the debate could reduce into a series of easy, amorphous platitudes.  As I said yesterday, there's room for a party to distinguish itself by setting out all the options, clearly and concisely, and by involving the public more closely in any decisions.