David Cameron delivered a very important speech today. What makes it important is that if the opinion polls are correct, he will become our next Prime Minister. It was a signal about what sort of Government we can expect under the Conservatives. And because I cannot believe that the current discredited Parliament can survive beyond October, this could all be starting to happen before the end of the year. I never take that much notice of promises made by politicians that are unlikely to ever be acted on. Today's speech was different.
Lets consider some of these proposals. The most eye catching is the idea of fixed term parliaments. Personally, I agree with this change. But it is such a huge diminution of a Prime Minister's power that I can see a lot of debate in front of us. A four year fixed term would remove much of the uncertainty from our politics, and reduce the temptation to opportunism by future Prime Ministers. A genuine and welcome reform in my book.
The second change, which is already becoming reality, is the online publication of various spending, including expenses, party spending, lobbying costs and everything else you can think of. I've long reckoned that this is the key to a prudent approach. If the public is going to know about it, there will long and careful thought before incurring expenditure that might be considered excessive. Another good and deliverable reform.
There was also a lot about returning power to local control. Instinctively, I favour this approach, but there's is a lot of work transferring the principle into reality. There will need to be some hard promises in our manifesto to satisfy voters that this is deliverable. No reason why not.
Another huge promise is the curbing of the power of the Whips, and the granting of more free votes - a policy area which I've previously visited on this blog. I don't think its workable for a casual approach to three line whips. But if we are serious about returning power back to 'Parliament' from 'Government' there must be far less three line whipping. Since I became involved in national politics, I've 'enjoyed' a reputation for independent thought - and often been described as a 'maverick'. Suddenly, this characterisation sounds complimentary rather than critical. I don't know how this approach can be incorporated in a manifesto, but without it, the disconnection between our politicians and the people they represent cannot be repaired.
Its an exciting time in British politics. Out of the shambles into which our politics has collapsed over the last two weeks, there is real promise of a new, more interesting politics rising up in its place.