Thursday, 24 May 2018

House of Hypocrites?

If it is hypocritical for Labour people to accept peerages, then it has been hypocritical for Conservatives to do so for longer,  since their party has been in favour of an elected second chamber for more than 20 years now, whereas Tony Blair used to pour scorn on the very idea of such a thing.

The Liberal Democrats, who maintain a very considerable presence in the House of Lords, have only ever been in favour of an elected second chamber, as the SDP was throughout its existence, and as the Liberal Party was throughout the twentieth century.

In any case, wanting to abolish something is not the same as pretending that it does not exist. While the House of Lords is there, then someone is going to be in it. Make sure that it is the right people.

Tony Benn said that you could have the House of Lords, or you could have Brexit, but you could never have both. He is being proved right. People invest the pre-Blair House of Lords with the mythology with which they also invest the monarchy.

They should snap out of it by joining the call for the lieutenancy areas to be made the basis of a new second chamber, to which the powers of the House of Lords would be transferred, with remuneration fixed at that of the Commons. In each of those areas, each of us would vote for one candidate, and the top six would be elected, giving 594 Senators in all. Ministers would no longer be drawn from the second chamber; instead, all of them, including the Prime Minister, would appear before it regularly. Its term of office would be six years, while that of the Commons would go back down to four.

But in the meantime, Her Majesty knows where I am.

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