MP's told not to 'duck the challenge' of political reform

By staff writers
November 5, 2009

Bonfire Night is coming home to Parliament again this year, with a special floating effigy heading down river to remind MPs not to "duck the challenge" of political reform.

With MPs busy plotting to overturn Sir Christopher Kelly's expenses recommendations, campaigners are pulling a super-sized duck island to the Commons terraces.

The visual reference is to Tory MP Sir Peter Viggers’ claim on the public purse for the £1,645 cost of a ‘Stockholm’ floating duck house in the garden pond of his Hampshire home. “A little taste of Scandinavia for the mallard in your life”, claim protesters wryly.

The Vote for a Change campaign, which is leading calls for an Election Day referendum on the voting system, has claimed that MPs are still unprepared to take real action to bring accountability to parliament

The campaign is calling for voters to take the lead on the future of their parliament at a referendum.

Willie Sullivan from the Vote for a Change campaign said: “Sir Peter Viggers’ Duck Island has come to epitomise the absurdity of the expenses crisis. It showed how far MPs had taken their eye of the ball."

He added: “This evening we’ve got an appointment with [a] nice stretch of waterfront property in SW1. And just because nothing’s changed, the Duck House is back, heading up river to parliament for a Bonfire night of the Vanities.

“For those on the terraces the message is simple: ‘you can’t duck change’. This summer’s political crisis is still here. Politicians have failed the challenge of crisis management, and it’s because this crisis involved them. Too busy defending perks or feathering their nests, MPs have shown they’re incapable of getting to grips with the big questions at Westminster.

“There is no possibility of self-regulation at Westminster. The fundamental questions – like how we hire and fire our MPs – can’t be left to politicians. But it can be left to the voters on Election Day with a referendum on the voting system.

“We need real reform of parliament but for all the noises coming from the Front Benches nothing’s really changed in Westminster. MPs returned from recess to a broken parliament, still as unaccountable and unrepresentative as ever. The answer is neither hair shirts nor collective punishment. It’s about permanent changes to political rule book, and that means addressing problems where they begin – at the ballot box.”

More information is available from the ‘Vote for a Change’ website.

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