Saturday, August 05, 2006
Straw's Plan for Lords seems Bonkers
Since 1999 when this deal was implemented, seven more have joined via 'byelections' caused by deaths among the hallowed rump of 92. Straw seems to think that removing them will be problematic-though the reasons seem unclear to me- and that it might be better either to: allow them to stay until they die; or-not much different- to convert them into life peers. The downside is that such approaches would mean our legislature would probably still retain hereditary peers as late as 2050.
Given Labour's traditional hostility to the Lords and their inability to match their manifesto commitment with appropriate completion, this idea spells merely an extension of an issue which should have been sorted some time ago. Plus it would inflict damage to Straw's reputation with Labour backbenchers which he will need if he is to fulfill his ambition of being elected deputy Leader under Brown. Hereditary peers have no legitimate place in our democracy and it should never have been allowed that 92 of their number to maintain their toe-hold in the first place. Straw's paper should be ripped up before it is ever dignified by any formal discussion.
The far greater threat is the huge patronage in the PM's hands, that has been so abused by Blair. Even Labour supporters must realise the Lords settlement is a shambles. Very few people opposed the abolition of the hereditaries, but we warned that the system would be open to abuse if there wasn't a coherent plan. We were ignored, but time has proven us right. And 92 old codgers sitting in the Lords has nothing to do with this shambles. It is Blair's fault.
The idea of having only about 50% of the Lords elected is something I can live with though.
It has been abused not only by Blair, but also by every single PM and leader of the opposition since... er... ever really.
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