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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Lords reform - it ain't broke

At a time when we are singularly disillusioned with our political class, when we have lost all faith in the old party game, and when our democracy is in dire need of reform, the political class decide to 'fix' the Lords. Lords reform is not a subject on the tongues of the nation, will never 'trend' on Twitter and is generally not a matter of concern. If pressed, people will have an opinion, but the lack of impetus for change also means most see more urgent and compelling targets for change.

The subject is warranted to bring out the most crassly insane proposals from the political class. Thus Lord Adonis, not a pretty cove by any means, wants to move the chamber to Manchester as though it were the regional office of a stationery company. No doubt Harman wants to fill its benches on a strict quota system, to include the stupid, the indolent and people who can't speak English. And Clegg of course still wants to impose his PR system upon us, despite having been slapped down when we answered this question before. This time he won't allow us to have a say. What all of them have in common is that they want the Lords to be a mirror of the party political system that has dominated the Commons - with members subject to the same central control, with the party nomenklatura having the power of nomination, with whipping and all the party constraints of the Commons. They are deaf and blind to the popular anger against these things in the lower house. These mad, purblind party creatures cannot see the world but in their own distorted image. 

Like fantasy Bavarian princelings they are arguing about the design of the braid on the army's uniforms whilst ignoring logistics, training, force composition and battle order. The Lords is not a true second chamber. It has evolved a necessary expertise in revising poorly drafted legislation coming from the Commons and in cooling the passions for instant effect, allowing the Commons a second chance to consider measures in less excited mood. Both of these things it does very well, with peers of all parties and many crossbenchers owing little or no obedience to party central office. Its failures, criminals, time-wasters, those too obtuse to be useful, drunks and spongers are almost universally political life peers, the detritus of the old party system washed up on the shore of the Lords. And they imagine we want more?


Anonymous said...

I s'pose the question on whether it is broke depends on your point of view Raedwald…

If you are a government minister and you find that this pesky bunch are interfering with your ability to dictate, you need to remake the chamber in your own image…

Let's not have any discord 'round these parts.

Barnacle Bill said...

If we could turn back the clock Raedwald I would agree with you on the need to do nothing.

However, the HoLs has been so corrupted by the stuffing of it with politicial lobby fodder life lords that something must be done.

The only problem trying to prevent the Big Three at Westminster coming up with their solution to it.

As whatever they come up will definately not be in the country, nor the electorate's favour.

cuffleyburgers said...

The truth is that whatever is done to fix it the people doing the fixing are the people least to be trusted to do a competent job.

BB you are right that it didn't need reform in the first place, blair's half arsed tinkerings were of course disastrous, but even now I would not let the likes of clegg loose on it.

In times past clegg would have had his mouth filled with molten bronze, I imagine the ECHR would have something to say about that, but soemthing really should be done about him. He is a menace and a traitor.

Tarka the Rotter said...

What really, really angers me is that we, the people of this country, are never allowed any say in the constitutional changes imposed upon us by politicians. Their contempt for us is truly staggering. The House of Lords was not broken and did not need fixing, though Blair thought otherwise being a member of the political class. Now it is a dog's breakfast and not worth keeping.

Anonymous said...

If reform is forced through in some manner and the Lords becomes an elected Chamber, let's pray they "stagger" HoC and HoL elections by having HoL elections at the half-way point of the HoC.

That would focus a few minds.

Sean said...

I think new labour killed the Lords when they went stuffed it full of their followers, so yes I do believe it is broke.

I would go for some sort of super jury system. a 1000 lords (maybe more) elected and otherwise on a list and called at random from time to time.

Anonymous said...

If cloggs' bill [his preciousness precious bill - to clogg but to us an appalling attempt of some sort of remember me? - legacy] gets through [God forbid]. Then, some ground rules need to be set out. All prospective candidates who are, members of any mainstream political party should be precluded from standing for election to the upper house - independents only permitted. Candidates must have lived and worked in Britain for a minimum of thirty years, quotas from the medical, armed forces, the clergy and people living in small and medium sized towns and cities [50 thousand and less] - no large metropolitan areas allowed to submit candidates. No union members and no former NGO apparats need apply.
Maybe, impossible entry requirements for an impossible bill.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"they want the Lords to be a mirror of the party political system that has dominated the Commons"

That is exactly what they want.

They want something they can control, the current House of Lords being something that occasionally, in a small way, stands up against the Political Class dominance of the whole system. So they hate it.

It seems to be that the HoL is practically the only bit of the system that still sort-of works; the only place where debates occur based on facts and honest opinions rather than yah-boo-sucks playground scraps as seen in the other place; the only bit, in fact, that we need to retain.

Let's abolish the Commons instead - after all, they've outsourced all their real power to a foreign entity, and now spend their time dreaming up new ways to meddle in peoples' lives in various stupid and pointless ways. What value do they add? Anyone?

andy said...

We should have an elected upper chamber,but with one key criteria,

No person may be elected to it if they have served in any political party in any role.

So no ex MPs,no MPs aides or researchers,no quangocrats or think tank members,no local party activists or even any card carrying party members.

We need people who have lived in the real world and are unpolluted by the political system.

andy said...

Oh and definately no fucking lawyers!

Retributor said...

There should be a national competition for the best explanation of why the House of Lords exists. It surely has a convincing purpose? What is it?
Always someone says it is essential to revise legislation from the HoC. Are they serious do you think? Could not the HoC just get it's legislation right first time? If no why not.If somehow it still needs revising, get it back and revise it.
Is there another purpose? Yes, to provide an extra income to senescent politicians already on gold plated pensions, a truthful answer.
The fact that our legislation comes from the EU in Brussels offers us a golden opportunity to reduce the regional legislature known as the HoC to 300 MPs and to abolish the HoL. The reduction to our national debt would astonish us.

anon 2 said...

The best way to reduce the national debt would be to stop paying tax to foreigners.

And yes, Raedwald; I always understood the function of the HOL to be as you describe: through its power of (temporary) veto.

As it is, the euSSR is using our money against us rather quickly. I think they're into the end-game or their deconstruction --- the removal of everything in their path to full, unpretended control of Britain.

While it might seem good that we'll soon be relieved of all the 'useful idiots' ... 'better the devil you know'...?

anon 2 said...

sorry... that's "of their deconstruction."

Anonymous said...

Judging by the number of comments here, I would suggest that it is a matter of concern contrary to what you say.

outsider said...

It is crazy to start a basic constitutional change without having reached any general agreement about what the purpose, powers and special character of the second chamber should be. The Government would simply not have a coherent case to put before voters in a referendum : hence their fear of having one. Meanwhile, a modest but serviceable House of Lords Reform instigated by Lord Steele ( former leader of Mr Clegg’s party) has already passed through the Lords and could be adopted by the Government without any fuss. It is not great but it would sort out many of the problems (too many peers, too many political appointments). And it would not inflict on voters another set of elections that would be bound to degenerate into an opinion poll on the Government because voters could not identify anything specific their vote might achieve.