Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Just Abolish The House of Lords

Last Of The Summer Whiners - Campo, Osbourne, and Clegg
All of the news coverage over the spat between the Liberals and their Tory brethren over reform of the House of Lords is hot air.  Its being used by a desperate Liberal-Tory Party to try to portray significant differences between them, and to distract attention from a cratering economy that the Liberal-Tory Government has brought about as a result of their incompetence, and illerate economic policies.

There have been a number of attempts in the last century to reform the House of Lords, all of whih came to nothing.  Part of the reason is the inability to gain a consensus over exactly what that reform should consist of, and what implication an elected second chamber would have for the power of the House of Commons.  Part, however, is due to a series of vested interests.  The Tories are still the Party of the Landed Aristocracy and Bankocracy, as well as the party of the bourgeoisie.  They will not want to attack their friends and relations that occupy the Lords, and continue to enjoy the benefits that come from it, in terms of lucrative positions on Company Boards that pay tens of thousands of pounds without the need to do any work.  The Liberals have always, and continue to have considerable over representation in the Lords.  They will want to ensure that any system adopted continues to protect that position.  For Labour, as with all the other parties, the Lords has been a retirement plan for their senior politicians.  For all of them, the Lords operates as a buffer, a human shield for that other medieval, hereditary institution that none of them will challenge - The Monarchy.

US System ensures only
most bland policies have
a chance of passing.
There are indeed real questions about how you would go about reforming the Lords.  The current proposals certainly are not very democratic.  Only 80% would be elected, with the other twenty percent being appointed, which would, of course, be a means for the Liberals to continue their over representation.  Moreover, the 80 pecent would be elected for a term of fifteen years, which is like a lifetime for a politician, many of whom would already have served terms in the Commons.  This is as close to continuing an hereditary system as you can get.  Even so, it would raise questions about the legitimacy of the House of Commons.  A look at the US, shows what is wrong with having two such chambers.  It is usually the case that in the US, one party controls the Senate, whilst the other controls the House of Representatives.  Even where the same party controls both, frequently the other party controls the Presidency, and rules over minimum majorities further constrict the ability to bring about change.  Only if both parties can agree is it usually possible to bring in new laws quickly, and even for the tweedle dee tweedle dum politics of the US, that means that only the most bland, the least radical measures can be introduced.

The simplest answer is to simply abolish the House of Lords.  There is no need for a second chamber.  One of the arguments for it has been that it can act to revise laws that have been badly drafted or thought out by the House of Commons.  That is an appalling argument!  Imagine on some car production line, where it was argued that for every assembly line worker, it was necessary to employ another worker to check that they had done their work properly, and to correct it if they hadn't!  No business could survive long on that basis.  Yet MP's and Peers get paid, many many times what assembly line workers get paid, who are expected to do their job properly first time or get the sack!  If this is the mentality of politicians, then its no wonder that every thing the Capitalist State gets involved in ends up being bureaucratic, inefficient, and hugely expensive.

And, that is the answer to incompetent MP's.  If they do a bad job, then it is up to us the electors to give them the sack, not for some of their mates to be lucratively paid to cover their backs.  If we had Annual Elections as the Chartists demanded, if we had the right to recall MP's if we thought individually they were doing a bad job - as they have the right to do in the US - then we could make sure the politicians got their finger out, and did their job properly.  And, if they can't then it clearly means we need to bring forward new, different politicians of our own who can.

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