Monday, 29 June 2009

Last of the Gang to Die

Lots of juicy stuff in today's Building Britain's Future statement by the Prime Minister, but just to flag up one. We're finally going to move towards an elected House of Lords, or a Senate as it might be called. The current life peers will be replaced in tranches, or so I understand it, by elected members. More details to follow.

This reform also entails getting rid of the remaining 92 hereditary peers, by scrapping the by-elections that are held when one of the current cohort dies. There's one such by-election going on at the moment, and I think there are something like 26 candidates (drawn from those who hold hereditary peerages but didn't succeed on the original ballot when we removed the right of the vast majority of hereditary peers to sit in the Lords). And I think I'm right in saying it's only those hereditaries who currently sit in the House who are allowed to vote.

Obviously it will take a while for all 92 to - putting it delicately - 'leave' the House, although I'd imagine their average age makes it more a medium than a long-term proposition. The question is: who will make history by being the last ever hereditary peer to sit in the House of Lords? I don't know how young the candidates are in the current by-election, but if the peers wanted to be contrary, they might well decide to opt for a spring chicken!


Devil's Kitchen said...

Oh goody goody gumdrops—another House stuffed with corrupt, self-serving party apparatchiks and venal, mindless lobby-fodder...

I can't wait.


David Love said...

Surely there is a case to be made for voluntary resignation, rather than the nation just waiting for nature to take it's course?

David Love said...

Why not create a thousand peers and thus be in a position to rapidly legislate a wholly elected Lords?

Kerry said...

DK - your alternative to democratic elections is what, precisely?

And David (second Q) - because they might change their mind when they get there?!

Old Holborn said...

I'm happy to have a completely democratically elected second chamber with the power to block legislation from the Commons.

On the condition that anyone who has sat in the Commons cannot then sit in the Lords.

Alasdair said...

David - yours has been the nuclear option for Prime Ministers since the Reform Act of 1832.

But as you could get the same result (eventually) under the Parliament Act, there's not much point...

Folded at Dawn said...

"Kerry said...

DK - your alternative to democratic elections is what, precisely?"

It is, I suspect, not democracy that Mr Kitchen objects to but the travesty of democracy that sits in the House of Commons being spread to the House of Lords.

It is the job of the Commons - on both sides of the benches - to hold the government to account. Labour has failed to do that.

Furthermore, it is very easy for a party to shoe a candidate in to a constituency. Therefore it would be very straightforward, in the elected house of lords, for the elected representatives to consist of people who the current government happen to like, or who they happen to owe favours to.

The Young Oligarch said...

Why not just call it "The Supreme Soviet" and be done with it , Kerry ?

David Love said...

"yours has been the nuclear option for Prime Ministers since the Reform Act of 1832"
Absolutely, I was not claiming to have thought it up...

The proposal in Building Britain's Future seems cumbersome and rather slow. A bit confusing too. As some elecedt members come in, who votes for them? How does that get adjusted as further tranches become electables? It would beeasier for the public to follow - and more of a genuine reform - to abolish the current system completely and create an entirely democratic one. And to get that done probably requires the nuclear option. The point is no-one ever had the courage to do it, not that it's unworkable.

What electoral system is proposed?

Kerry said...

Devil's Kitchen has left a new comment on your post "Last of the Gang to Die":


As The Bloke's Cookbook said.

But I do not value democracy, in that I don't think that it is a good system (and certainly not the "representative" democracy that we have)—to cite the old canard, it's just the least worst.

Democracy delivers the tyranny of the majority, and not even a very big majority at that. What this means is that democracy delivers a system whereby a majority can vote, for instance, to steal as much of my money—or the money of the minority—as they like, and I cannot object. Nor can I opt out.

That is morally wrong. But at least, some will say, democracy allows the majority to vote out a bad government.

Except that it doesn't—or not in our "democracy".

This government, Kerry, was elected by 21.6% of the electorate: that is tyranny of the minority.

For me, the virtue of the Lords was that they were not elected, and they did not have to curry favour with either the political parties or the electorate.

As such, they have tended to uphold the basic rights and freedoms—as defined by our constitution—of the minority: they have been the only defenders of those who are effectively disenfranchised by our "democracy".


Posted by Devil's Kitchen to ........SHOT BY BOTH SIDES at Wed Jul 01, 01:40:00 PM


Elby the Beserk said...

I'm with DK.

1. This is NOT a democracy when the "winning" party has been voted for by only 1 in 5 voters.

2. The Lords have done a wonderful job in holding the worst excesses of the worst government in my 58 years at bay. If elected, it will simply be more placeman such as the incompetent Martin, whose elevation is a disgrace. Yeah, yeah, everybody says he is a nice bloke, but he made a total horlicks of one of the most important posts in the government.

New Labour do so love to reward failure.

The Grim Reaper said...

Kerry said: "...SHE ACCIDENTALLY CLICKED ON REJECT INSTEAD OF PUBLISH[ing Devil's Kitchen's comment]!"

Yes, "accidentally"...