Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Restoring Trust in Politics

The Conservative party's Democracy Taskforce has published a report this week called "Restoring Trust in Politics."

After the events of the past few months, persuading the public to trust politicians of any party is going to take some doing. But we have to make the attempt, and start by acting in a way which justifies trust.

There are some very interesting and positive recommendations in the report, such as breaking any link between party donations and honours by taking all honours completely out of the hands of ministers, including the Prime Minister.

One recommendation which I particularly support, and which in my opinion should also apply to councillors, is to remove from MPs the power to set their own remuneration.

This is very long overdue. As long as MPs and councillors are placed in the invidious position of having to vote on their own salaries or allowances, there will be two dangers, both inimical to democracy. The first is that politicians will be tempted to treat themselves more generously than equally deserving groups. The second is that, even if MPs and councillors do not in fact give in to this temptation, large sections of the public will be convinced that they have.

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