I quite like the idea of electors being able to sack their elected representatives, and if such a proposal is to be introduced for MPs, then there is no reason whatsoever why it shouldn’t also be introduced for AMs – and indeed councillors. The regional list system of election for AMs is a complication of course; but any system of recall should surely include them as well.
The hard part is deciding under what circumstances recall should be allowed. Getting 10% of the electorate of a constituency to demand a recall is challenging, but far from impossible. I haven’t checked the numbers, but I’d be surprised if there were many elected politicians who didn’t have at least 10% of the electorate voting against them in the first place, so the will would probably be there at any time.
And that’s the hard part; merely allowing those who never voted for the politician in the first place to call an election to replace him or her is something of a negation of democracy, and that would still be true even if we had a fairer system of election in the first place.
But the proposal put forward to date seems too restrictive by far. Allowing recall only where Parliament has resolved to recall the MP, or when the MP has been banged up for a crime of some sort, is hardly empowerment of the people. In any case, who but a politician would come up with a proposal that an imprisoned MP should remain an MP unless 10% of his or her electors demand otherwise? Most of us would surely expect more or less automatic disqualification in such circumstances.
Nick Clegg apparently wants to rule out recall on ‘political grounds’ or in the case of laziness or ineptitude. It strikes me, though, that those are precisely the grounds on which recall most empowers the electors. Getting rid of representatives who do nothing and don’t turn up, or those who say one thing to get elected and then do the opposite once in power – that’s giving meaningful power and control to electors. What is being proposed at present is just window-dressing.