Notes on direct democracy: Recall Powers

During the dying days of the last parliament the Conservatives introduced the Recall of MPs Act (2015). This Act allows constituents to get rid of their MPs if they found them to have failed to undertake their duties leading to a suspension or committed a crime. The processes by which an MP would trigger the recall process, would be namely a custodial prison sentence, suspension from the House ordered by the Committee on Standards, or providing false or misleading expenses claims. In all cases it would be the Committee on Standards (a Parliamentary committee of MPs) that would allow for constituents to recall their representative. Conservative backbencher Zak Goldsmith felt it did not go far enough, with Parliament as the filter to trigger a recall not the people, as is the case in California. Like many uses of direct democracy in Britain, full control is rarely given to the electorate. In this case Parliament has the first say so it is claimed it is a weak piece of legislation. Recent controversies over Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael’s dirty trick campaign against Sturgeon may be the first test of recall powers.

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