Nick Clegg has got the mood and the message exactly right:
I don’t agree with all of his proposals. I don’t agree with a recall system for MPs – seen the effect that’s had in California? They’re on the verge of political paralysis. I do however agree that party funding needs to be reformed, and I fully agree that we have to move to PR urgently and must fully elect the House of Lords. We’ve put up with this imperfect system for too long, and its imperfections and their implications are now abundantly clear – an absence of democracy. Would Jacqui Smith be the Home Secretary she is if she were forced by coalition government into compromise with a smaller, liberal party? Would the government continuously try to bypass the will of the House of Commons if they knew the Lords/Senate had the means and mandate to stop them? Would the Metropolitan Police ever get as far as raiding MPs’ offices on partisan grounds if the Speaker had true powers of oversight over the Commons?
Of course that should only be a start. There should be a move to a written constitution, and the Speaker should be empowered to protect the democratic workings of parliament, but also be in a position to champion the workings of the Commons in public. Select committees should have the power to hold the executive to account, and not be appointed by the whips. And maybe just maybe MPs should be prevented from having second jobs and receive a proper salary for their job in parliament.
It’s true that the country is going quite disproportionately crazy about MPs’ expenses right now, but it’s created an opportunity unparalleled in my lifetime to change a system which has been coopted by people who think they can get away with anything – to rescind our civil liberties, wage illegal wars and abuse the expenses which we pay for. It’s time as he says to actually do it and create a fairer system, which delivers the results the majority of us actually need.