Democracy, December 2009

This has been a week of major political events, all relating to democracy.  On Tuesday the Czech President signed the Lisbon Treaty.

I believe that the Government betrayed the British people by promising a referendum and then reneging.  If there had been a Conservative Government, we would have held a referendum.

But that say was denied; the Treaty will become law, and the institutions such as a President will be created.  As David Cameron said, we cannot now hold a referendum and magically make these posts disappear.

Instead, he set out how a future Conservative Government would proceed.

First, we will prohibit, by law, the transfer of further power to the EU without a referendum, so that the same thing never happens again.

Second, we will introduce a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill to make it clear that ultimate authority stays in this country, in our Parliament. 

And third, we want to negotiate three specific guarantees over powers that we believe should reside with Britain, not the EU: on social and employment legislation, on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and on criminal justice.

On Wednesday at Prime Minister's Questions we heard the sobering news that five soldiers had been killed by a police officer they were training in Afghanistan.  The youngest guardsman was just 18.

At a difficult time, we need to remember that British forces are in Afghanistan to ensure it does not again become a launch pad for terrorist attacks on the rest of the world.

Also this week we had the Kelly report into MPs' expenses.  MPs will no longer be able to employ spouses and will only be able to rent properties rather than claiming for mortgage interest.

I believe that, even though the changes will be quite difficult for many MPs (me included), we must accept the report in full.

MPs should no longer vote on our own pay, expenses, pensions, terms of service, resettlement or expenses packages.  This is an essential part of restoring trust in Parliament and politics.

Michelle Taylor