Nick Clegg has today been setting out plans for reforming parliment and 'shaking up democracy'. This is going to be the big Lib Dem selling point to their supporters, the reasoning why a coalition deal with the Tories was he best course of action.
The Lib Dem website has his speach up here.
The BBC's report on it has highlighted the following 5 points asides from the 55% rule and teh Av referrendum.
-Elected House of Lords
-Scrapping the ID card scheme and the national identity register
-Libel to be reviewed to protect freedom of speech
-Limits on the rights to peaceful protest to be removed
-Scrapping the ContactPoint database of 11 million under-18s
So lets look at those:
Elected House of Lords
Well first thing that springs to mind: About time! It's been talked about for as long as I can remember, and whilst Labour made steps towards it they never went far enough. Which is odd, you would have thought a 3 term Labour government would have finally made this step, but they seemed far too focused on invading Iraq and reacting to the Sun's headliners and seemed to have forget this rather essential step towards making the UK a proper Democracy. It's very important we start electing our House Of Lords, given how big a part they play in British politics. I suspect it will be via PR based on party lists - thats fine with me.
Scrapping the ID card scheme and the national identity register
One of the biggest disagreements I has with Labour asides from Iraq was the ID card scheme and thankfully this is being scrapped. Monitoring people in such fashion has no place in an open, free democratic society, people should never have to justify their existence based on the information held in a database, and the government should never have such control over it's citizens. It was a slippery slope as well, way too open to abuse by future governments and it's good to stop it now before it's properly gotten under way.
Libel to be reviewed to protect freedom of speech
I must admit libel law has never been my strong point, but the amount of time i've seen new story's concerning arguments over it and people's freedoms being quashed by companies/departments it's good to see at least a review being proposed. Essentially free speach that a)does not tell ouright lies for malicious reasons and b)does not incite violence based on racial predjudice (and so forth) should always be protected
to the maximum point possiable. People should be engrouraged to voice their opinions, not discouraged because they worry they might get sued!
Limits on the rights to peaceful protest to be removed
Execellent! Labour's record on thsi was terriable, the Iraq was got them frightened and they squashed democractic rights in reaction. The government should always be held accountable by it's people, and if those people wish to peacefully protest against it then they should be allowed to do so, regardless of whether it inconviences a government official or not.
Scrapping the ContactPoint database of 11 million under-18s
It's just wrong for governments to store so much about their citizens, particuarly children. Let people be judged by their actions, not prejudiced for troubled/disadvanteged childhoods.
Ok, so far, so good. Nick Clegg has done alot today in decalring his intentions and reasons why this coalition should be going ahead. Any Lib Dem supporter out there who is feeling worried about dealign with the Tories surely must agree that these points being talked about are all good things that we have bene after throught the Labour years, particuarly since Iraq triggered the increase of Labour's restrictions on civil liberties.
Sadly no date for an AV refferendum yet though, and worries being displayed in some quaters that it may take a long time getting to. We shall have to wait and see what movement is made on this.
As for the much talked about 55% rule....well it's actually pretty reasonable and too much is being made of it.
Nick Clegg said on the matter:
"That is a much lower threshold than the two-thirds required in Scottish Parliament but it strikes the right balance for our Parliament, maintaining stability, stopping parties from forcing a dissolution to serve their own interest.
"This last week, former Labour ministers who were once perfectly happy to ride roughshod over the rights of Parliament are now declaring that this is somehow an innovation which is a constitutional outrage. They are completely missing the point.
"This is a new right for Parliament, additional to the existing powers of no confidence. We are not taking away Parliament's right to throw out government. We are taking away government's right to throw out Parliament."
And I have to say I agree 100%.
So, today was a good day for Liberalism, and Nick Clegg has put forward many good proposals. Lets just hope they are acted on.