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May 15th, 2014

Richmond quizzes Zac Goldsmith on recall

By Ali Torabi

Last night 38 Degrees members held a meeting in Richmond Park with Zac Goldsmith MP, to talk about what we can do together to get a proper recall law. Recall is a law that would give voters the power to sack MPs, between elections, who don’t do their job properly.

Members also heard from Zac Goldsmith on why he’s so keen on getting a recall law. In his short speech, the Richmond MP talked about the great work of 38 Degrees in stopping the forests sell off and thanked 38 degrees members for keeping recall on the political agenda.

Zac Goldsmith said decisions are being made by the government about possible new powers to ‘recall’ MPs. In his view, if 38 Degrees members speak up now they could influence these plans to make sure a proper bill is presented by the government.

Becky who was chairing the meeting, on behalf of 38 Degrees members, said back in May 2009 a recall law was the first thing 38 Degrees members decided to work on together. Even though there were just a few thousand of 38 Degrees members back then, we helped to persuade politicians to back the idea. Lots of people, including 38 Degrees members, have been working to get a recall law back on the agenda ever since.

The meeting in Richmond gave us a chance to draw up a winning strategy together, to persuade the government to write a proper recall law. In the meeting members quizzed Zac Goldsmith on the details of how recall would work.

Members had lots of ideas and also questions about how recall would work:

  • What would justify recall? As MPs are not obliged to follow party manifesto at present.
  • Whether recall could be used by candidates who want an MP’s seat – by spreading rumours to trigger recall.
  • A member said he certainly wouldn’t want recall by a committee of MPs.  He’s happy with 20% of voters deciding to call a recall vote.
  • An attendee said that we need to get more people registered to vote so that they would have a say in a recall vote too.
  • One person mentioned that the biggest obstacle to recall is that MPs don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.

We also had some really exciting ideas for how 38 Degrees can campaign on proper recall:

  • We need to mobilise huge numbers across the county but target areas where MPs are dragging their heels
  • Why not make the percentage of people needed for a recall petition a percentage of the voter turnout at the last election
  • One man says we really need to make recall a media issue as that’s what MPs listen to
  • A member said the days when MPs have morals and leave when they’ve done something wrong are gone, so we need a recall law
  • We also had a great  campaign slogan on recall for MPs – Make my vote count

To keep members who could not attend the meeting informed on what was being discussed, Rebecca, a campaigner at 38 Degrees, live tweeted from the meeting in Richmond. You can see her tweets by searching for #recall on the 38 Degrees tweeter feed.

There was clearly a big interest in the detail of what recall would actually look like. In order to work that out, 38 Degrees members could chip in for legal advice to make sure we get a foolproof bill.

Members in Richmond helped draw up the initial strategy on how we can go forward together. What do you think 38 Degrees members should do together to bring in recall? Please comment below:

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