What Cameron has done is provide leadership - again - in a way which leaves the other parties trailing in his wake. Even better, he will find that many of his proposals will have cross party support. Jack Straw on Sky News, who had been put up to criticise Cameron, did so in an extremely reluctant manner. Subliminally, he seemed rather impressed at the audacity of some of the measures.
My big fear is that if these proposals are all included in a Conservative manifesto, they will come to grief at the hands of what Tony Blair used to call the "Forces of conservatism". Can you imagine how difficult the crusty clerks in the House of Commons will make it for him? They will resist any change to their centuries old traditions and find 20 good reasons why something cannot be changed. So will the whips. So will the civil service. So make no mistake, David Cameron will have a fight on his hands if he is really determined to effect such radical changes.
I am delighted that he has come round to the idea of Fixed Term Parliaments. In October 2007, together with several others, I set up the Fixed Term website as a reaction to Gordon Brown's dithering over calling an election. We put the case for fixed terms, and if this has been accepted by David Cameron, it's a real step forward. I remain of the view that it is totally improper for a Prime Minister to call an election at the time of his or her own political convenience.
On Saturday I wrote a blogpost called How to Revive Parliament. It contained this paragraph...
When you get elected to the House of Commons any form of career planning goes out the window. You're randomly appointed to standing committees on bills you have no knowledge of or interested in. Indeed, if you do have knowledge of the subject you can be sure you won't be appointed to that committee, because heaven forfend that you should wish to table amendments or make a speech in committee. You role is to sit there for hours, preferably mute, and get on with your constituency correspondence, while the front benches do their pre-arranged stuff through the "usual channels". It's this which needs to change as lies at the heart of what's wrong with parliament today.
So when Cameron says he wants to end the "pliant" role of Parliament by giving MPs free votes during the consideration of bills at committee stage and to decide the timetable of bills, forgive me if I let out a little cheer. It's also good that he wants backbench MPs to choose the chairmen of standing committees and members of select committees.
But the one thing which he has announced which will meet firm opposition from Whitehall is to transfer competence for many areas away from Whitehall and back to local government. Just wait for the turf war battles on that one.
Read Camerons's speech HERE.