Tuesday, July 10, 2012

House of Lord’s Reform: Why I’m Not With Nick..

So the government has backed down on House of Lords reform. That is sheer cowardice and may be the beginning of the end of the coalition- agood parliamentary whacking would have been good for all.. Voices within the LibDem party have to start talking about replacing Clegg before the next election if they are to regain any credibility (or in fact keep their deposits).

Anyway- I have to say I am cautious about Lord’s reform. Yes, the Lord’s is too big. It is weird that you can still get born to it. It is a place of massive patronage- its like school inspectors, you got thrown out as a politician so have a seat in the Lords.

But, and I know that I may get thrown out of all sorts of places for saying this. We need an unelected chamber. Look what our random, crazy ass version of democracy (which isn’t democracy its representative government and is far from that) is doing to us. Look at who gets pandered to and who gets ignored. Look at the gerrymandering and lack of voting clout even if people did get up and vote.

We live in a country where its ok to hack the guts out of the welfare state, apart from winter fuel and pensions.. because the people who receive those gifts are the ones who vote. That kind of democracy does not serve the whole people and is frankly dangerous.

The House of Lords is mad! BUT it is the place where someone will from time to time stand up for those who don’t register as important in an election.. you know people like orphans and widows and aliens (or asylum seekers).

The House of Lords is out of touch. But through the Bishops and through some of the appointees its also more in touch. Believe it or not Bishops travel on buses, spend time among the poorest communities and listen to those who live there. We need someone who is there to speak for others not themselves.

So you find me an ‘elected’ system which will speak up for the poor and the marginalised and I’ll go with it. But until then I am not with Nick.


Ian Nicholson said...

I agree with you here Jude. Democracy is not working at the moment because the politicians are more interested in pleasing their own parties than the voters. David Cameron is now turning his attention on the welfare state while Nick Clegg has gone all bullish about Lords Reform and Same Sex Marriage which he probably thinks are safe targets - where was he on student fees or the really big issues.

Some sort of reform of the Lords might be good but I dont trust politicians to deliver it. I want genuinely independent proven experts who don't have to please their party but can act on conscience and conviction and be a good check to balance the elected chamber

Chris Heward said...

The more I think about it the more I'm against the reform, at least without a proper review of the Lords' function. I mean, it'd be horrendous just to have a pure PR system where people are appointed to the seats and not themselves elected, and, well, it just begs the question "what's the point?". I mean, who's going to join, say, the Labour list, so that they can get a 15 year term, and then just review things and not actually make policy? It's a bit weird.

My suggestion would be to split it up into different themes. Recreation, art, science, philosophy/faith, health, education, and so on. Then those seats are elected by relevant people. So some of the health representatives could be chosen by nurses, some by doctors, some by the public. Education seats could be chosen by teachers, head teachers, NUS members, lecturers, etc. The philosophy/faith ones would have a certain number of Bishops, members of free churches, maybe Richard Dawkins, who knows.

So they would still be appointed by members of the public, but would be experts on the issues, and would be able to give their perspective. It might also be less party-political, because if you're a headteacher you;re going to vote for the candidate you agree with not the one who is Conservative or Labour or whatever. So I would keep it as a revising chamber, but have 5-year terms, and keep it as a revising chamber, that still has power to overrule legislation if necessary.

Until they actually come up with decent plans, along these or similar lines (at least well described and thought out), then I think it's better to postpone than to press ahead in the current format. Nice article! :)

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