Skip to content

Modest proposals for cleaning up UK politics

June 7, 2017

It has been argued that this is the most important election since universal suffrage. If the Tories are returned to power and Mrs May carries on as she has been doing, many of our rights will be removed (under the pretext of security) in the Great Repeal Bill, much hard won environment and safety legislation will be lost. But also we are likely to face exit from the EU without either a trade deal or even a ‘divorce settlement’. If we leave without the latter then we feel the EU’s displeasure and face huge tariff walls. My only hope is that enough Tories realise in time what a disaster she is, dump her and do something pragmatic.

If we have the opportunity then we should consider the following reforms (in addition to proportional representation), which would have to be enacted as primary legislation:

Election funding: attempts to limit donations from the very rich will always fail; people are inventive enough to get round any regulations. Instead there should be tight limits on NATIONAL party election spending. As a rough guide I would suggest a figure of a little less than what Labour will have spent this time. The figure should be linked to the number of votes received by that party at the last election, but there should be a fixed sum to allow for very small or new parties. This is a limit; they may not be able to raise such a figure. In order to enforce this:

Any transgression whether knowingly or not would attratct a fine levied by Electoral Commission.

Knowingly transgressing the limit would be a criminal offence

Exceeding the limit by 5% or more would automatically lead to the whole election being declared void and the offending party be liable for the cost of rerunning the election. The Electoral Commission would submit evidence to a court which would judge the matter. Any appeals would have to be heard within 6 weeks. The court could treat any undue delay in a party submitting the expenses return as evidence of a 5% overspend.

The BBC has quite good editorial guidelines but they are not consistently applied. They do not lie but they are lazy and biassed in the matters they report. They are also biassed as to the treatment of the people they interview especially during election periods. Channel 4 and even Sky have better records. Members of the BBC Trust should be chosen by lot, but with a power of popular recall. The terms of the BBC Charter should be agreed in primary legislation. Any powers granted to the secretary of state should be subject to the AFFIRMATIVE resolution procedure.

Any commercial media company operating in the UK would be limited to one newspaper title OR one TV Channel. If two companies had any significant connection they would be entitled to just one title or channel between them. A significant connection would be, either company with an equity holding of more than 5% of the other, any loan (including bonds) of more than 5% of the net assets of the debtor company, or anyone who is a director (whether executive or non executive) of both companies.

It has been alleged that Mrs May on Question Time made a false allgation against Diane Abbott to the effect that she had advocated the removal of the DNA samples of ‘criminals and terrorists’ from police databases. (see

“Abbott has, of course, done nothing of the sort. She has advocated the removal of the DNA of innocent people, because it infringes on our civil liberties, disproportionately affects ethnic minorities and includes the DNA of, for example, victims of crimes such as rape.”

If this is true then Mrs May has committed an illegal act under Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. I am unclear what penalty is prescribed for this act if proved. It would of course be libel, but libel law is not a satisfactory solution in this case. It is not just Diane Abbott’s reputation that is at stake but the result of the election. It should be a criminal matter and the fact that the alleged offender is the Prime Minister should make no difference to how she is treated. The CPS should consider any complaint without fear or favour. If it is suspected that they are not doing so then a group of citizens should have the right to raise a defined sum of money and demand a judicial review of the CPS’s actions. The penalty for such an offence would be permanent banning from any public office and several years in prison.

Section 106 appears to apply also to media outlets making or repeating false allegations about candidates, but there serious issues of enforcement. In the case of print media, journalists, editors and distributors could be held personally criminally liable for any such offence. But thetre could be delays and difficulties. This needs more thought.


From → Democracy

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: