Jun 18th, 2009
One down two to go – Nick Clegg accepts our call for a right to recall your MP
By Toby Moses
Despite the best efforts of uncooperative computers and a dodgy printer, a group of us made it down to Westminster on Wednesday morning to hand in the petition on recall. And a suitably hefty tome it made too with a total of 5,111 signatures.
The first port of call was the Houses of Parliament to hand it over to Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.
Taking time out of his prep for Prime Minister’s Questions, we were collected from central lobby and escorted up to his office. As you might expect, the Lib Dem leadership have been squirrelled away at the top of one of the Palaces of Westminster in something akin to Rapunzel’s tower. After negotiating the stairs we were welcomed in by the man himself (surprisingly tall and a very firm handshake in case you were interested).
Clegg quizzed Executive Director David Babbs on the organisation and cast an envious eye over the rapidly increasing membership numbers – 38 Degrees is going from strength to strength in a way that the old-school political organisations can only dream of.
It was then time for the handover. And there’s very little resistance from the Lib Dems on the issue of a right to recall. Clegg even asked if he could sign the petition himself – one down two to go. If only all the party leaders were so receptive to the people’s desire for real change in the way our politics works.
The next stop was Downing Street, to see if we could hand in a copy of the petition at number 10 for Gordon’s perusal. We didn’t make it through the main gates, but the very friendly police officer on duty took our names and agreed to hand in the petition on our behalf. It’s a shame the Prime Minister, or a member of the government, couldn’t take a little time out to listen to what our members had to say on the issue – they’ve clearly been too be busy thinking about how best to fudge the next big issue on the agenda.
But at least we can be sure the petition will have made it into government hands – and a reply to our demands should be imminent. The Conservatives on the other hand have to date been unable (or unwilling) to accept the petition at all. We’re still hoping for an audience with David Cameron to hand across the demands on all our members behalf – come on, Dave! Fingers crossed it’ll happen before all the MPs jet off for summer recess.
We’ve got the support of one of the three main parties, now we just have to hope that all the grand words used by Labour and Conservative alike about listening to and engaging with the people in the light of the expenses scandal were more than just hot air. The enthusiasm of 38 Degrees’ membership shows a clear will from the public at large for a right to recall – the politicians must take note.