Friday 5 August 2016

David Cameron's cronyism is an affront to democracy

David Cameron has given 62 honours to his mates in easily the most controversial resignation honours handout since Harold Wilson's "Lavender List" in 1976.

Aside from showering a load of knighthoods and other gongs on his Tory cronies (including Samantha Cameron's stylist and George Osborne's image consultant!), David Cameron also appointed yet another 13 Tories into the unelected House of Lords along with two unelected crossbench peers and one unelected Labour peer.

During his six years as Prime Minister David Cameron has stuffed the House of Lords with unelected cronies at a faster rate than any Prime Minister in history. The House of Lords now has an incredible 813 members thanks to the sheer number of former politicians, major party donors and party hacks Cameron has shovelled into it.

Thanks to David Cameron's six years of cronyism the House of Lords is now the second biggest legislative chamber in the world, second only to the Chinese parliament. It's by far the biggest unelected chamber, and as such is an affront to democracy.

The 13 new unelected Tory peers include the massive Tory donors Jitesh Gadhia and Andrew Fraser, who can be added to the staggering number of millionaire Tory party bankrollers to have been handed seats in the House of Lords by David Cameron.

Katie Ghose of the Electoral Reform Society said: "For a prime minister who promised to cut the cost of politics, David Cameron is leaving a big bill for the taxpayer as he leaves office. His parting gift of 16 Lords is a sorry legacy, both in terms of cost to the taxpayer and the quality of our democracy. Mr Cameron’s Lords legacy could have been about real, democratic reform. Instead, he has unfortunately chosen to follow the well-trodden route of every other PM and packed the second chamber with former politicians, donors and party hacks. These unelected peers will cost the taxpayer millions over the long term – hardly a fitting goodbye."

Numerous political figures, including senior Conservatives have complained about David Cameron showering honours and peerages on his cronies like confetti, but it's unlikely anything will be done about it. The House of Lords as a cushy retirement club for retired and rejected politicians and party political hacks suits the Lib Dems and the Labour Party just as much as it suits the Tories.

Steve Hilton, who was David Cameron's director of strategy between 2010 and 2012 said that Cameron's cronyism was a symptom of Britain's "corrupt and decaying democracy". He then went on to highlight the contract between the rebellion against the undemocratic nature of the EU with the much more undemocratic nature of the House of Lords saying that "the corruption comes when the honors system starts to clash with democratic principles. The most obvious way this happens is when people who are not elected make the laws which we live under, ... we’ve just fought and won a referendum campaign on the principle that unelected bureaucrats in the EU should not have the power to impose laws on us [and] I’m not clear why this principle applies to unelected foreigners but not to home-grown appointees."

The Labour response to this almost unbelievable display of cronyism has been typically idiotic. Instead of attacking Cameron for yet again stuffing millionaire Tory donors into the House of Lords and showering a load of honours on his Tory mates, a load of Labour MPs from the Anyone But Corbyn faction have actually focused their criticism on the one Labour appointment in order to score political points against Jeremy Corbyn!

Not only did the Anyone But Corbyn camp give the Tories a free pass on their Brexit shambles by using it as a (rubbish) excuse to launch their hopelessly inept pre-planned coup against their own leader, they're now trying to let the Tories off the hook for the most overt display of political cronyism in 40 years by using it as an excuse to attack Corbyn again!

The Lib-Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party pretend to oppose the unelected House of Lords, but when it comes to undemocratic peerages for their politicians, they don't turn them down.

The only significant political party to properly oppose the unelected House of Lords establishment club is the SNP so it's fitting that I leave the last word to one of their elected politicians:
"This list confirms what we already knew - the Westminster honours system is rotten to the core.The former Prime Minister has well and truly overstepped the mark of acceptability with these awards by choosing to use his resignation to hand out knighthoods and honours as a form of personal patronage." Tommy Sheppard MP

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